Advice for Living Sober in Chicago | Stairway to Freedom

Addiction Warning Signs Aren’t Always Obvious: Here’s What You Need to Know

Addiction Warning SignsRecognizing the warning signs of addiction isn’t as easy as you might think. When it comes to loved loves, we like to think a change in behavior and appearance would never go unnoticed, but that’s not always the case. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the initial signs of addiction often go unnoticed more times than not.

Knowing the warning signs in advance is critical to avoid missing the initial indicators of addiction. Stairway to Freedom, a network of sober living housing in Chicago, has put together a list of some general signs of addiction as well as a few substance related addiction signs below.  

General Signals of Addiction

Addiction looks different from person to person. There is no single way for signs of addiction to present themselves, but there are a few general signs to look out for if you suspect a loved one is suffering from substance abuse.

The general addiction warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden disregard for personal hygiene
  • Poor coordination
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paranoia

While there are general warning signs that signal addictive behavior, various substances will produce their own set of symptoms and behavioral cues to look for.

All addictive substances can have fatal consequences, and the risk of overdose increases as time spent using increases. Take all warning signs seriously and seek action immediately.

Heroin Abuse Signs

Heroin warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Constricted pupils for 4–5 hours
  • Disorientation
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unkempt, dirty appearance
  • Track marks on arms or other body parts
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach and muscle cramps or diarrhea
  • Tremors

Cocaine Abuse Signs

Cocaine warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased energy
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Elevated mood
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling invincible
  • Excited speech
  • Dilated pupils

Prescription Drug Abuse Signs

Prescription drug abuse warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight loss

What to do after Noticing the Warning Signs

Identifying the problem is only the first step. Addressing an addiction with the user is a sensitive subject that will need to be addressed with careful consideration. Bombarding an addict with accusations and anger will only drive them further down the road of addiction.

Prior to approaching concerns of a present addiction, gather a group of close friends and family members to provide support. Approach the topic in a calm and caring tone, reminding the addict that you love them no matter what, and want to help them on their journey to recovery.

Suggest a plan of action to help the addict on the road to recovery. Provide options for rehab centers, and aftercare facilities to promote recovery. Create a recovery plan for yourself too, and learn how to help a recovering addict.

Build A Foundation for Ongoing Recovery

Recovery doesn’t stop after rehab, it’s a constant battle that is made easier in the right environment. Contact Stairway to Freedom to learn more about the Chicago sober living home opportunities.

How to Help a Recovering Addict

Recovering addiction patients just want to return to normal, but they often feel like friends and family are walking on eggshells creating an environment with added stress and anxiety. Intentions are usually in the right place, but often develop an uncomfortable environment for recovering addicts. Stairway to Freedom, a sober living community in Chicago, knows you just want to help, so here are tools from professionals and advice on how to help a recovering family or friend.

Help a Recovering Addict - Stairway Sober Living in Chicago

Educate Yourself on the Recovery Process

Coming into a situation educated and prepared is the best thing you can do for your recovering friends or family members. Recovery is a complicated process, and you won’t know much about how to help a recovering addict if you don’t know anything about it yourself.

Take some time to learn about both addiction and recovery, focusing on triggers, health issues, and the overall steps to a successful recovery.

Join a Support Group

Support groups aren’t just meant for those recovering. There are plenty of helpful groups and resources for those helping a recovering addict that can ease your own stress.

Even if you’ve spent the time to educate yourself, it’s easy to feel lost once you are in the thick of helping a recovering addict. Support groups are there to put you in contact with others in your situation who can guide you through the hard times.

Set Realistic Expectations

The road to recovery is never an easy drive. Don’t come in with an expectation that life is going to go back to normal now that your friend or relative is clean and sober. There is no quick fix or “cure all.” There will be highs and lows. You need to be supportive though every step of the journey. Even if that includes a relapse.

Reduce Stressors

The best way to help a recurring addict is to create as peaceful of an environment as possible, especially at the beginning of the recovery process. For newly recovering addicts, even minor slightest stressor can send them into a spiral leading right beach to addiction.

Instead of encouraging your friend or family member to jump right back into stressful work schedules and busy weekends, suggest participating in some stress-free activities to put them at ease. A few of the best stress alleviating activities include:

  • Running
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Meditating
  • Painting or drawing

Remove Temptations

Once you’ve created a stress-free environment, it’s time to create a temptation free environment. At the start of recovery, former addicts do not have the strength to resist constant temptation.

Helping a recovering addict means removing all alcohol and drugs from their home and social surroundings. If it’s not possible to create a temptation free environment in their current situation, consider suggesting a sober living community.

Looking for More Information on How to Help a Recovering Addict? 

At Stairway to Freedom, we help recovering addicts and alcoholics rebuild their lives and build a strong foundation for a successful and ongoing recovery by providing a safe and structured living environment.

Do you you or someone you know need a helping hand down the road to recovery? Get in touch to learn more about the services Stairway to Freedom provides for recovering addicts.

Steps for Finding Employment After Rehab

You’ve taken the first giant step and completed rehab to get your life back on track, but now that it’s back to the real world what do you do now? To succeed with a clean life after rehab, it’s important to get back into a normal routine.

Gaining a sense of normalcy all starts with finding a new job and while that might sound like an impossible task, there are plenty of job opportunities for recovering addicts.

Get your job search started on the right foot with these steps for finding employment after rehab.

Continue reading below…

Finding Employment After Rehab


Utilize Your Resources
You are not alone in finding employment after addiction, there are always people and services around to help guide you through the process.

Check with your local recovery center and ask about their employment resources. Many centers host workshops, and provide job posting lists to help you further your education and network with other working professionals who were in the same place once. You can also find many free podcasts and videos that talk through getting back into the workforce.

Adjust Expectations
Jobs for recovering addicts might not come easily, but it’s not impossible. You’ll need to go into the process with realistic expectations and a set of attainable goals, that might look different than what you were capable of before rehab.

Don’t get caught up in what you were qualified to do before, and consider this a fresh start. Staying open to the idea of starting from the bottom and working your way up will heighten your odds of finding employment after rehab. Any job is only as good as you make it, and with hard work and dedication, even the lowest level jobs can turn into a great career.

Don’t Feel Pressured to Overshare

It’s important to be honest when looking for a job after rehab, but don’t feel like you have to lead an interview trying to explain every detail of your addiction recovery journey. If you have a criminal past then you’ll need to divulge those details from the start, but other than that you are not legally obligated to discuss your history with addiction.

How much you choose to share is completely up to you. Whether it’s sharing everything so you can go in and be completely yourself, or being discreet with the hope of starting with a clean slate, there’s no wrong way to go about discussing your past.

Avoid High Stress Jobs
You might think you have your sobriety completely under control, but you would be surprised how things can spiral in stressful situations. While maybe you used to be able to handle a stressful work environment, remember there’s now more on your plate than ever before.

Research the work environment, and thoroughly read through all job expectations before agreeing to move forward. It’s best to aim for jobs that have set hours so can effectively manage both work and recovery.

Stay Focused on Recovery
Isolating yourself, and internalizing the pressure will only heighten the stress that comes with trying to juggle sobriety and work life.

While it’s important to find a job that provides a steady source of income, sobriety should always be a constant priority. Don’t use a job search, or work obligations as an excuse to miss meetings, or neglect the necessary recovery steps.

Whenever you need a helping hand, or someone to talk to, remember that your Stairway to Freedom Chicago sober living community is always here to help. Contact us now to learn more about our housing facilities, and the way we help recovering addicts stay clean after rehab.

3 Tips to Conquer Holiday Work Events as a Recovering Alcoholic

Holiday Work Events as a Recovering Alcoholic

While many look forward to holiday parties and end of the year celebrations, this time of year can be extremely stressful if you’re a recovering alcoholic. It can be difficult to integrate back into social events and holidays amplify your challenge to stay sober with open bars and alcohol everywhere you look. You know that staying sober takes effort, patience, and skills to combat difficult situations. So preparation is going to be key as you embark on this holiday season. These tips can help you avoid relapse and come out on the other side even stronger.

Should You Go?

Initially, recovering alcoholics may find themselves asking if they should even go to the holiday work event. At first it may seem that just avoiding the awkward moments, social anxiety, and chance of embarrassment all together is enough reason to make up an excuse not to go. However, more often than not, isolating oneself increases your potential to feel depressed and lonely, which often triggers the desire to drink. Now, you may be thinking, “but what if my coworkers also have the tendency to make me feel just as isolated and depressed?” Below you will find some tips to overcome these social difficulties. However, ultimately consulting with your Stairway to Freedom counselor will help you decide what the right choice is for you at this time. But keep in mind that every day you succeed without alcohol, you get stronger, and the confidence to simply get your foot in the door will carry you another step further from the depths of addiction. If you’re ready for this next challenge in your on-going journey of recovery, these tools can help you conquer the holiday evening.

Work Event Tips for Recovering Alcoholics

Coworkers and newer friends may not know that you are recovering. What is nice about this is you have a clean slate. No one looking over your shoulder and judging your choices. No one is questioning how you’re managing and functioning. No one is making awkward comments about alcohol being “bad anyways” and they should “probably quit too.” You avoid all these awkward stressors, but are confronted with the unfortunate task of how to respond when someone asks to get you a refill or how to not pull attention to your lack of alcohol without going down a personal path you don’t want to talk about.


If you can, bring your own drink to the party, or if there’s a bartender, get to the event a little early and talk to that bartender. You don’t have to tell them your life story, but some interaction to get to know them will help that server remember your face and your drink. Ease into the conversation a question about what types of mocktails the bar could concoct up for you for the evening or introduce them to one of your favorite recipes. Bartenders are usually excited to mix it up and this is an easy creative task that will leave you feeling at ease as you approach the bar throughout the night and able to hold a drink in your hand without discomfort.

Prepared Answers

One of the biggest stressors at a holiday party is knowing how to manage the bits of peer pressure and what to say when someone asks you what you’re drinking. Having answers prepared will help you sail through these otherwise awkward moments with ease.

What are you drinking?
This common question can raise your anxiety, but a plan to answer will get you through it. Let them know it’s a specialty mocktail the bartender agreed to make for you since you are watching your sugar intake. The other person may joke that they should be watching their sugar too, but the reality is they are not going to start tonight and will most likely leave the drink alone. This can also seamlessly lead to other dietary conversations outside of drinks that will quickly get you out of the beverage discussion.

Can I get you a refill?
If someone asks to get you a drink, tell them you were actually on your way over there already or you are on your way to the bathroom and will grab it on the way back. This will help you dodge any further drink questions, get you out of the situation and allow you to go up to the bar and order your mocktail yourself.

Come on, celebrate with us, will you take a shot?
There’s always that one at the party who gathers a bunch together and pushes for a group shot. Keep in mind that though there is a lot of build up in this situation, the actual shot takes seconds and you are certainly not missing out on anything. Bow out of this quick situation with an easy excuse to have to be up early the next morning and find new people to talk to for the night.

Have an Excuse to Leave

It’s important to always have a couple excuses up your sleeve to quickly leave if you get uncomfortable or if you still have a curfew to meet with your chicago sober living community. An excuse to check your phone (like you’re waiting on a call/text) will give you the opportunity to connect with a support group or fellow Stairway to Freedom members as needed throughout the night to provide that extra encouragement to conquer any challenges. It will be helpful to also have an excuse to leave the event early.

You don’t have to spend the entire night at the party, give yourself a timeline that makes sense for you and stick to it. Set an alarm on your phone and let them know you have to go take the dog out, pick up a kid, get to the pharmacy before it closes..etc. Essentially just give yourself an easy out.

Discuss and share these holiday work event tips for recovering alcoholics with your friends and Chicago sober living community. Talking through any anxiety and preparing for any challenges that may arise will help get you ready to take this next step toward a sense of normalcy. Mocktails, rehearsed answers, and an easy out will provide you with little tools to triumph through the night. Take each moment one at a time and remember that your Stairway to Freedom Chicago sober living community is always a text away and will be ready to celebrate your return from the night sober and stronger.

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