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Why do so many people who are striving to live a life of sobriety relapse during this time of the year? How do we help ourselves or our loved ones be safe during the holidays?
The Holiday Season seems to bring out the best in people. We see generous acts of kindness on the streets, we share baked goods with our neighbors and the thought of giving permeates the air like the smell of the pine trees in our living rooms. So why do so many people who are striving to live a life of sobriety relapse during this time of the year? I want to share my thoughts on this to help those that may not see the signs, either in themselves or in a loved one that may be at risk for relapse.
First, the holidays seem to be very polarizing emotionally. There are times when it is a struggle to recall memories of being loved. Often this can be accompanied by feelings of loneliness. These kinds of thoughts also tend to bring similar emotional experiences that individuals had when using drugs or alcohol. Without even knowing it, those in recovery replicate an extreme emotional roller-coaster that offers a sense of familiarity and comfort. These extreme emotions cause the individual to start responding similarly to family, work and community situations as they did when using, namely isolating, fault finding and playing the victim.
Another point that needs to be mentioned is the over-stimulation of our senses during the holidays. So much of life around the holidays is extreme and overwhelming. There are the flashing lights, the constant music and the crowded stores that can be stressful. People’s day to day routines are set aside to run around and buy gifts, go to parties and celebrate with others.
There is also a change in diet during this time of year where we eat more sugar and starch. Our bodies respond as they are supposed to, with this onslaught of food, through intense stimulation followed by an emotional crash. Again, we replicate, to a much smaller degree, the effects of alcohol and drugs. This cycle may take many people closer to the urges and cravings associated with drugs and alcohol use.
So, the questions is, how do we help ourselves or our loved ones be safe during the holidays?
Here are a few tips:
· Keep as close to a normal schedule as possible. Don’t skip meetings or appointments that have to do with your sobriety.
· Maintain a healthy diet. Enjoy some treats, but don’t overindulge on snacks and candy.
· Attempt to keep expectations for the holidays realistic. Communicate with family and friends about what to expect in terms of visits and other holiday interactions.
· Focus on what you control. Remember that your thoughts and actions are all that you have control over, so focus on that.
Happy Holidays to everyone and may the New Year be a happy one!
Part 2 – Discovery Academy teen students share their thoughts on their moment with nature and the boarding school campus!
Read Part 1 Here
“I’ve come to notice that when your life is extremely simplified, even small decisions or tasks strike a long thought process.” -two of our favorite DA students
By Two of Our Favorite DA Students!
THE POT BELLY PIG
I’ve come to notice that when your life is extremely simplified, even small decisions or tasks strike a long thought process. With that, let me bring you into the life of a treatment center kid – or rather a particular scene of it.
Once upon a sunny day in Utah, my friend and I, who we will call Georgia, were contemplating which section of our “yard” to sit in. This looked like we were someone with amnesia attempting to pace, never knowing which way we were coming or going, just jumping around aimlessly. Maybe we were just looking for something to do, and maybe that’s why we became so intrigued by this gnarly looking praying mantis.
Georgia saw him first and when she swooped down to pick him up we discovered this obscure looking bug had wings! Of course, we quickly reached some level of excitement, almost to the point of making a scene. At last we captured this poor soul on a leaf and this is where our friend Steve entered the picture. I was holding Pot Belly Pig (that’s what we named him) to Georgia’s face because any bug is creepy when you are staring directly into their beady-black-eyes. Then, being the generous people we are of course, when stranger-Steve walks by holding no sort of insect, we offer up ours! Disappointingly enough though, he wasn’t squeamish towards what we he told us was a Praying Mantis, but he was wearing my wilderness jacket so we accepted him as a person because he could no longer be a victim!
Not going to lie, Pot Belly Pig was not the first and isn’t to be the last living species to crawl onto our campus and be forced to accept our love. And, as the newest member our our community we decided he needed a tour of the campus – which pretty much consisted of us walking around talking about our new lives with Pot Belly Pig and deciding where to sit. During this, we then came across a – I shouldn’t say – “prissy” therapist who we will call Oval. We FOR SURE thought Oval would squirm or scream but no, no, no…rather we had a quite interesting conversation on what brought Pot Belly Pig to us and what his life was like. We all agreed he was a Veteran and probably served in the Garden, but then honorably discharged when he was damaged by a tomato bomb. (Conditions: broken antenna and a perma case of the “stink-eye”. I thought since he probably had PTSD, Oval should take him on as a client. She felt that Pot Belly Pig would do better with a Praying Mantis therapist ’cause they could “relate better” … cop out!
Now at this point of my story…my point is the end, while finishing the tour, we came at last to a group of squeamish boys. Too easy of a target! The natural reaction was to transform our new friend into a bomb and launch him into their circle. Ah yes, we finally got the reaction necessary and all it took was a little sacrifice on Pot Belly’s behalf. Georgia and I then left that commotion, and our Pig, to proceed in finding the perfect place to sit.
…I must say, the weirdest part of the whole ordeal though, was being asked to write about it!
Bugs & Teen Girls – An Unlikely Match at Discovery Academy
Stephen C. Schultz
“I was amazed at the kindness, manners and gentleness of these two young women. They had a good sense of humor and were easy to talk with. There was a sense of confidence in their communication and a sparkle in their eye. I only mention this because these two young ladies have struggled through some emotional concerns and family discord well beyond their young years. They have worked hard and most likely cried often as they have navigated the therapeutic process toward wellness.”
The air was cool, but not too bad. The sky was clear and there was a definite feeling that winter was taking it’s time this year. The temperature was about 50 degree’s, which for mid November at almost 5000 feet above sea level, is an unusual gift.
I was walking across the parking lot to attend a clinical treatment team meeting at Discovery Academy. I glanced up and saw two young women right at the edge of the grass. Suddenly one of the girls screeched and they both leaped backward a few feet, jumping up and down quickly. This immediately caught my attention and I started toward them. As I got closer, I could see a small green insect on the ground. The girls were now squatting down on their heels looking at the bug. They weren’t sure what it was or if it was harmful. Caution is always a good policy when interacting with insects. However, this particular insect happened to be a Praying Mantis.
I stepped up to the girls and said hi. They returned the salutation. I mentioned it was somewhat comical to see them jumping around the parking lot and I asked if they knew what kind of insect that was. Neither of them knew what it was since both were from separate parts of the country. I bent down and picked up a leaf that the Praying Mantis was perched on. I held the leaf in my hand and mentioned that it wouldn’t hurt them and they could even let it crawl on their own hands.
I stood there as they moved closer and put their hands out. I held the leaf while one of the girls coaxed the little critter onto her hand and watched it crawl to the tips of her fingers. I needed to continue on to my meeting so I said goodbye and headed off as they continued to observe and play with this unique looking insect.
As the father of four, three of which are daughters, I was amazed at the kindness, manners and gentleness of these two young women. They had a good sense of humor and were easy to talk with. There was a sense of confidence in their communication and a sparkle in their eye. I only mention this because these two young ladies have struggled through some emotional concerns and family discord well beyond their young years. They have worked hard and most likely cried often as they have navigated the therapeutic process toward wellness.
It’s a humbling experience to witness the hard work needed to work through some of the emotional issues that these girls worked through. It is also amazing to understand just how determined they are in their academics. Students at Discovery Academy score higher than the national average on the ACT and SAT exams. They also get accepted to major universities around the country.
If you are alumni of Discovery Academy and have moved on to university studies, I would love to hear your story. Where are you now? What successes have you enjoyed?
Janeen Martin is a therapist who says drama’s not a bad thing when it comes to troubled teen therapy. In fact, she encourages teens to try on different “roles” as they work through issues that include trauma, substance abuse, and behavioral issues. Meet Janeen and hear why she uses her love of the arts to help adolescents find their own voice. http://www.discoveryacademy.com/videos/index.php?video=Janeen_Martin_Therapist
You may have hated us, then loved us, but have you “liked” us? In honor of our new Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DiscoveryAcademyUtah, we’re giving you a chance to enter to win an e-reader.
Just “like” us on our new page, DiscoveryAcademyUtah, and tell us why here on our blog and you could end up winning an e-reader.
Here are the official rules:
1. Like us on Facebook – Discovery AcademyUtah – and post a comment here about why you like us.
2. Post your comment here between April 1 and May 1, 2012.
3. No purchase necessary.
4. Winners may not be Ascent employees or family members of any Ascent employees.
5. Winners chosen at random and will be notified by email.
Thanks for being part of the Discovery Academy family and good luck! We can’t wait to hear from you.