What Does One Day at a Time Mean?

What Does One Day at a Time Mean?

Taking recovery “one day at a time” is a familiar idea. There are several layers built into it. The most important meaning is that you don’t have to quit using forever; you only have to quit for today. It’s the first step on a journey of a thousand miles.

Of course, “one day at a time” is the only way to do anything. It’s physically impossible to do it any other way. We need the reminder because the brain likes to play tricks on us. Our brains immediately want to deal with every problem we may face in the future. Most people have only vague anxieties about the future but recovering addicts, in addition to these vague anxieties, have a specific fear–that they will relapse.

You know the danger will be there every day for the foreseeable future and it takes a bit of practice to remember that you don’t face a lifetime’s worth of danger all at once. You can face today’s danger today and tomorrow’s danger tomorrow.

“One day at a time” is not just looking forward but backward as well. Or rather, not looking backward. Shame, regret, and failure are in the past. It’s important to learn from failure to the extent that it may help you avoid familiar traps, but don’t dwell on past failures and rationalize it as “learning.” Addiction is in the past and today is something else.

Maybe yesterday didn’t go so well; just start again today. Recovery, like any long-term effort, will have good days and bad days. The bad days make you feel like it will never get easier and the good days make you feel like there will never be any more bad days. Neither is true. It will get easier in the long run but day to day is up and down.

Dealing with what’s happening today will moderate the extremes. A bad day today does not mean all future days will also be bad. A good day yesterday does not set too high a bar. Dealing with today allows you focus your mental resources on your immediate challenges without being distracted by worries about the future.

All this is not to say the future doesn’t exist. It does–or at least we hope it does. For recovery purposes, the future matters in two ways. Recovery is a skill and skills get better with practice. Imagine practicing the piano every day for a year, for five years, for ten years. Improvement is inevitable. What was hard at first will soon become easy and what was impossible eventually becomes possible. You need that belief that you will improve with practice.

At Serenity Oaks Wellness, we are working to adorn each individual’s life with recovery. By making life more beautiful, we believe sobriety can be sustained. Call us today for information on our treatment programs for addiction and alcoholism: 855.652.2683

How Methamphetamine Affects The Body

How Methamphetamine Affects The Body

Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive substance that affects the body as well as the brain. As a matter of fact, the addictive properties of meth make it one of the most targeted drugs in the country today.

How Meth Works In The Body

Meth is a stimulant and it affects the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system. It changes the way the body processes neurotransmitters, especially dopamine which gets released in large quantities when you use meth. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward, and creates a sense of euphoria in the user known as a “rush.” During this rush, heart rate, blood pressure, and libido increase an intense feeling of well-being.

How long does meth stay in the system? That depends on what you are taking. Generally speaking, the effects of meth wear out within a couple of days. During a meth binge, a post-rush phase known as “tweaking” can occur. This means that the euphoria meth causes is replaced with possible paranoia, irritability, hallucination, and delusion. Since meth quickly depletes the body’s dopamine supply, users can experience a period of depression or “crash.”

How Meth Affects The Brain And Nervous System

Chronic use of meth can permanently alter how the brain processes memories and emotions, leading to mood disturbances, paranoia, violent behavior, and symptoms consistent with psychosis. Long-term abuse of meth can also damage your motor skills.

How Quickly Meth Works

The speed with which meth works depends on the method of administration. If the drug is smoked or injected, it works very rapidly and the effects are felt immediately. However, if it is ingested orally, then the effects occur slower but tend to last longer.

How Long Meth’s Effects Last

This also depends on the method of administration. The effects of meth can last between four and eight hours, and residual effects may last as long as twelve hours. After effects of binge meth use can last for several days and can lead to meth cravings.

Does Meth Work For Everyone?

Like any other drug, not everyone who uses meth recreationally becomes addicted to it. However, meth has a high addictive potential. The crash that comes after a meth binge makes the person seek out more meth to relieve its negative effects. And as the person develops a tolerance to meth, he takes more and more of it.

Long term abuse of meth can take a great toll on the body and can cause skin lesions, tooth decay, and even a stroke or heart attack. Meth also increases one’s sex drive and decreases inhibition, so there is the added risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The dangerous side effects of an addiction to methamphetamine can certainly stack up, making it extremely important to address the substance addiction as early as possible with professional treatment and recovery solutions.


Serenity Oaks Wellness is a 5-week long treatment program where clients regain their ability to live and restore their confidence in living without drugs and alcohol. We seek to adorn each client with the tools and foundation they need for living a beautiful life of recovery. Call us today for information: 855.652.2683

What Is Addiction? What Is Addiction Not?

What Is Addiction? What Is Addiction Not?

An addiction is something you do habitually and compulsively to the extent that it interferes with other aspects of your life or endangers your health.

Often, there is a physical component. Alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and prescription painkillers can alter your physiology to the point where not using them becomes physically painful or even dangerous. Over time, users build up a tolerance and need larger doses to feel the same effects.

Other addictions, such as gambling, sex, or internet porn are psychological. They are based on habit, routine, cues, and social pressure. These factors are also present in physical addictions too, but a physiologically addictive substance is not necessary to form an addiction.

What physical and psychological addictions have in common is that they tend to be triggered by stress. When people feel overwhelmed they want some kind of reprieve, even a brief one that solves none of their problems and will likely make them worse.

Addiction is a disease in the same sense as diabetes. That is, it is a condition in the person. It may be true that some people are more prone to addictive behavior, but that predisposition is only one factor among many. Addiction is complex and almost anyone can become addicted under the right circumstances.

This distinction between addiction and disease is subtle but important. One reason is that it prevents the division of the world into “normal people” and “addicts.” The idea that an addict is sick has the advantage of encouraging compassion rather than condemnation, but has the disadvantage of ignoring some of the most important factors of addiction.

Looking at addiction as the interaction of predisposition and circumstances, on the other hand, promotes a more comprehensive approach that requires self-reflection, building social support, managing stress, and finding constructive ways to deal with adversity–things that are good for everyone and increase the chances of long-term recovery.

Addiction is the beginning of a new life in recovery. Serenity Oaks Wellness Center offers a treatment program to men and women built on the foundation of adorning our clients with a way of living to make life more beautiful. Call us today for information: 855.652.2683

Helping Someone Quit Heroin And Stay Clean

Ways Rehab Can Influence Sobriety

How would you feel if you discovered that someone close to you was using heroin? Confused? Fearful? Powerless to help? Such feelings can be overwhelming. You want to know how it happened, and if there is anything you can do to help. Most importantly, you want to know if someone can overcome a heroin addiction and live a clean, sober life. Rest assured that recovery is possible, and your support will be the driving force that sees your loved one through to the end. It is possible for a user to quit heroin and stay clean, as long as they follow through on recovery.

Getting Past Anger

Getting angry when you find out about your loved one’s heroin problem is a natural reaction. However, it doesn’t help the situation and can even make things worse. The first step towards helping someone with an addiction is to let go of your anger toward them and the situation. Pointing out all the things they’re doing to hurt you and others is often fruitless. So how can you get past the anger?

Getting Educated

The answer is to educate yourself. It’s difficult to help another person when you don’t understand the problem. Addiction can affect anyone, and it’s not necessary to have a genetic predisposition, or a dysfunctional childhood or a lack of moral standards to become addicted. Which is why it is important for you to get educated about what addiction is. There are many resources available, starting with Google, the library, or addiction resources like AA. When you learn about addiction, that’s when you are able to help the other person heal.  Our website and blog are a great starting point for learning about addiction and recovery.

Getting Yourself Help

You are not going to be able to control the person who has the addiction, but you can control your own behavior. A good place to start is to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting, where you can get advice on your specific situation. You can also learn how to set healthy boundaries with your loved one. Key among this is learning how to avoid enabling behavior. As upsetting as it might be, you need to learn to let the person with addiction face the consequences of their actions.

Find An Expert

Heroin withdrawal  can cause extreme symptoms including restlessness, insomnia, vomiting, muscle and/or bone pain, and others. In some cases, sudden withdrawal can be fatal. If your loved one agrees to stop using heroin, it would be wise to seek help from a treatment center or doctor to safely withdrawal from the substance and begin a healthy recovery.

The longer someone has been using heroin, the more difficult long term recovery can be. Contrary to popular belief, someone does not have to hit rock bottom before getting treatment. One effective way you can help break the cycle is through an intervention. A good treatment program can help you with that process so that you can bring your loved one into a healthy, supportive environment for recovery.

Serenity Oaks Wellness is a 5-week long treatment program where clients regain their ability to live and restore their confidence in living without drugs and alcohol. We seek to adorn each client with the tools and foundation they need for living a beautiful life of recovery. Call us today for information: 855.652.2683

What Is The Role of Shame And Stigma In Recovery?

What Is The Role of Shame And Stigma In Recovery?

Shame is socially useful in that it’s a potent emotion that no one wants to feel. If honor is the carrot of noble behavior, shame is the stick. We instinctively dislike people with no sense of shame.

Shame can also be destructive. Shame, in a sense, is pathological guilt. Whereas guilt typically applies to a specific action–maybe you feel guilty for not paying for your share of the pizza–shame is sticky and we tend to internalize it. There is a sense in which shame is only extreme guilt–if you feel ashamed for treating a friend badly, for example–but shame is most dangerous when it becomes part of you. That is, you don’t feel ashamed of something you did, but you feel ashamed for who you are.

What makes this kind of shame much worse than guilt is that while guilt is often a result of how you judge your own actions, you can feel shame even if you’ve done nothing wrong. This is often the case with people who have been victims of abuse or have been ridiculed for being different in some way. The shame is foisted on them, often at an age when they didn’t know any better than to accept it.

People who carry shame inside them are in a tough position. They can’t apologize or make amends because they did nothing wrong. It’s precisely the kind of no-win stress that pushes people to take comfort in addictive behavior.

Shame also makes people feel like they are inherently bad and deserve to be punished. This makes recovery from addiction especially difficult. Addicts often deny their addiction is harming them. If an addict believes he deserves to be harmed, he is less likely to seek help even if sees his addiction is destructive. What’s more, the addiction itself can add to the feeling of shame.

Stigma is the external validation of shame. It’s what we imagine people see when they look at us. It can be a further barrier to seeking treatment because it’s like admitting to the world the private shame. Although stigmas do exist, they never matter as much as we imagine they do. People may whisper in private but it rarely has any real consequence and it certainly isn’t as bad as continuing the addiction.

Dealing with shame is an important part of recovery and is best done with the help of a therapist. Separating shame and guilt, letting go of the former and addressing the latter, are central to overcoming addiction and living a happier life.

At Serenity Oaks Wellness, we seek to adorn each client with the tools they need to live a beautiful life in recovery. Call us today for information on our treatment programs for addiction and alcoholism: 855.652.2683

Understanding Addiction as a Disease

Understanding Addiction as a Disease

Most medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, define addiction as a disease. Just like cancer or diabetes, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental, and biological factors. Genetic risk factors account for about half of the likelihood that someone will develop addiction.

Substance Abuse and the Brain

We feel pleasure when basic needs such as hunger and thirst are satisfied. This is due to the release of dopamine in the brain, which is the chemical associated with rewards. Most addictive substances cause the brain to release high levels of dopamine. The continued release of dopamine over time causes changes in our brain systems. When these changes occur, a person may need to take the substance just to feel normal. These changes in the brain can remain for a long time, even after one stops using substances. Researchers believe that these changes may leave people with addiction vulnerable to physical and environmental cues that they associate with substance use, also known as triggers, which can increase their risk of relapse.

Addiction – A Chronic Disease

What is a chronic disease? It is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but can’t be cured. Approximately 25-50% of people who have a substance abuse problem also appear to have a severe, chronic disorder. For such people, addiction is a progressive, relapsing disease that requires intensive treatments and continuing aftercare to manage their recovery. However there is good news. Even the most severe, chronic form of the disorder can be manageable and reversible, usually with long term treatment and continued monitoring and support for recovery.

When someone decides to start using substances, they are making a choice. Later, when their brain has been changed due to addiction, their decision making becomes impaired. The very essence of addiction is that the person has no control over their substance use. This is why it is said that people with addiction should not be blamed for being addicted.

However, there is another school of thought that says addiction is not a disease, and that it cannot be a disease, because it is caused by a person’s choice to use drugs. It is important to understand that while the initial use might be by choice, subsequent uses may not be since the brain has been changed by addiction.

Others argue against addiction being a disease because some people with addiction can get better without treatment. Only those who have a mild substance use disorder are able to recover with little or no treatment, but not usually those who have a serious form of addiction. The fact is, we don’t really understand why some people can quit an addiction without treatment and why others can’t. This is why treatment is always recommended for people who suffer from addiction and should be sought by families concerned for their addicted loved one’s well being and long term sobriety.

Serenity Oaks Wellness is a 5-week long treatment program where clients regain their ability to live and restore their confidence in living without drugs and alcohol. We seek to adorn each client with the tools and foundation they need for living a beautiful life of recovery. Call us today for information: 855.652.2683

What Is The Best Balance Of Nutrition For Recovery?

6 Healing Foods That Help in Recovery

A good diet is absolutely foundational for mental health as well physical health. In reality, there is no distinction between mental and physical health. Anything you can do to make yourself healthier will almost certainly make you feel better and think better too.

Trying to figure out what is actually the healthiest way to eat can be maddening. Everyone is pushing his own miracle diet–vegan, paleo, high fat/low carb, low fat/high carb. They all claim the same benefits and put forth testimonials of people who who have lost 40 pounds or cured some chronic disease.

The basic principles of healthy eating are pretty simple. As food writer Michael Pollan said, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Most of what grocery stores sell is not actually food, although much of it is technically edible. “Food” means anything a great-grandparent would recognize as food. Real food has much less sugar and salt than processed packaged food. Foods high in sugar and salt–pizza and ice cream, for example–are great while you’re eating them but they make you feel terrible later. Avoiding foods that sabotage you is half the battle.

The caveat to real food is to be careful how much fruit you eat. Fruit is bred to be sweet and tends to have a lot of sugar. If you like fruit, go for berries. They have less sugar than other fruit and they are high in nutrients, including antioxidants. It’s best to avoid juice.

Don’t eat too much. This is easier when you eat real food because real food tends to have more protein and fiber, which fill you up, and less salt and sugar, which make you eat more. This helps you maintain a healthy weight, which makes you feel better and feel better about yourself.

Eating mostly plants is where most of the positive benefits come from. Limiting salt and sugar can help prevent poor concentration and energy crashes, but eating nutrient-dense plants supports long term health. Your body needs a huge variety of molecules to function properly. It can make many of them but some you have to supply. For example, your body isn’t great at making omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health, so you have to eat fish or take a supplement to get enough.

Eating a variety of plant foods and a moderate amount of meat–probably less than you eat now–is the best way to be sure your body and brain are getting what they need to function properly. Leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens, spinach, and mustard greens are easy to prepare and nutrient dense. Eat at least one serving of vegetables with every meal.

Whole grains, although much vilified in certain circles, are important because they provide the fuel your brain uses. Choose brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat over white rice or refined flour, which can crash your energy. A variety of nuts, beans, and lentils provide fiber and additional nutrients.

Serenity Oaks Wellness seeks to adorn each client with the tools and foundation they need to live a beautiful life of recovery. Call us today for information on our treatment programs for addiction and alcoholism: 855.652.2683

How the Brain’s Dopamine Reward System Affects Addiction

Are Bath Salts Addictive?

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), drugs and chemicals affect the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way neurons send, receive and process information. Certain drugs like heroin and marijuana can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of natural neurotransmitters, which fools the brain receptors and lets the drugs attach onto and activate the neurons. Recent developments in neurobiology have given a better insight into what addiction actually is. By studying the brain’s reaction to different substances, scientists have been able to discover that drug abuse can actually alter the chemical makeup of the brain, which is what causes addiction.

The Brain’s Reward System

When a person does something pleasurable, the brain processes any such activity in the same way, whether it is pleasure received through a delicious meal or a sexual encounter. In each case the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is also known as the brain’s reward center. Essentially, the reward system of the brain ensures that we as humans keep doing life sustaining activities like eating food and drinking water. However, the system goes into overdrive when people use drugs or alcohol.

Drug Abuse and the Reward System

A person using drugs will experience a massive surge of dopamine in the brain, much more than he would experience during a meal or similar mundane activity. This is because the amount of dopamine released due to drug use is between two and ten times higher than natural rewards, and the sensation lasts longer.  Furthermore, the dopamine is released faster. So what causes a drug to be addictive? There are three main contributing factors:


  • The speed with which it promotes dopamine release.
  • The intensity or strength of the dopamine release.
  • The reliability of the dopamine release.


This is why the most addictive drugs of abuse are often smoked or injected, since that causes the drug to get to the brain much quicker. And because the feeling of pleasure is so much greater than that of natural rewards, the brain begins to want more and more of it to produce the same feeling.

Of course, for a person to become addicted to a harmful substance, he must take the substance to begin with. However, many people are able to experiment with drugs without getting addicted. The question is, what makes some people get addicted? Science says that addiction is caused partly by genetics and partly by environment. Some people have a less active reward center, which makes them depressed even before they start taking drugs. In other cases, mental illness might play a role. Whatever the reason, it is important to know that once the brain’s reward system has been affected by drug abuse, it becomes incredibly difficult to stop.


Serenity Oaks Wellness is a 5-week long treatment program where clients regain their ability to live and restore their confidence in living without drugs and alcohol. We seek to adorn each client with the tools and foundation they need for living a beautiful life of recovery. Call us today for information: 855.652.2683

How Good For You is Coffee?

How Good For You is Coffee?

The short answer is “all of the good.” It’s high in antioxidants, it keeps you awake and focused, and it’s delicious. Teddy Roosevelt drank his coffee from a cup that was really more of a bowl, and he ran the country while learning jiu-jitsu and reading a book a day.

There are some caveats. The first is that you have to drink real coffee. Don’t fool yourself that a milkshake with a splash of coffee from Starbucks is good for you. A bit of sugar or cream is fine if you don’t get carried away. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that sugar doesn’t count when it’s in coffee. You’re drinking calories.

Mass produced coffee in tubs is not nearly as good for you as single source beans you grind yourself. Like any other food, the more coffee is processed and the longer it sits on the shelf, the less healthy–and tasty–it gets. Decaffeinated coffee is the worst because it has been chemically treated to remove most of the caffeine. It affects the taste and introduces extra chemicals, which is generally bad.

There may be factors specific to your situation that influence how much coffee you want to drink or if you want to drink coffee at all. If you’re prone to anxiety, for example, coffee can make you extra jittery. If you have trouble sleeping, you may want to drink less coffee or set a firm cut-off time, like no coffee after noon.

If you have occasional heart palpitations or arrhythmias coffee may make them worse. This is a particular concern if you have a history of smoking, alcoholism, or stimulant use, which may have caused heart damage. Even if you are generally in good health, arrhythmias are distressing. Cutting back on coffee may help resolve the problem.

Something else to consider is opportunity cost. If you’re drinking coffee, that means you’re not drinking something else. If your top priority is health, you may prefer to drink tea, which is higher in antioxidants but lower in caffeine. Coffee isn’t quite as good for you as tea, but it will keep you awake during meetings and help stave off the uncomfortable cravings that can come with early recovery.

Serenity Oaks Wellness is a 5-week long treatment program where clients regain their ability to live and restore their confidence in living without drugs and alcohol. We seek to adorn each client with the tools and foundation they need for living a beautiful life of recovery. Call us today for information: 855.652.2683