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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Habits That Make You More Stressed Out

Everyone deals with stress and, if left uncontrolled, it can be very damaging to your physical and mental health – and, of course, to your long-term sobriety. In fact, it’s the leading cause of relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

While we’re all likely familiar with common stressors – for example, relationships, family, finances, health, school, career – some simple everyday habits can incite anxiety, too, according to a recent article on 

This is especially true if you’re a millennial. Twelve percent of millennials have a diagnosed anxiety disorder — almost twice the percentage of Boomers, according to the American Psychological Association.

Here are a few behaviors outlined in the article:  
  • Poor sleep. Lack of sleep has been found to “ramp up the brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying,” according to a study by the University of California at Berkeley.  
  • Erratic eating. Skipping meals can cause unsteady blood sugar levels, which can lead to dehydration, which is an anxiety trigger, as well as shakiness, dizziness, confusion and difficulty speaking.
  • Too much caffeine. Drinking too much coffee (or other caffeinated beverages like energy drinks) can make you jittery, irritable and nervous, especially if you’re already predisposed to anxiety. It can also cause dehydration.
  • Smartphone overuse. Too much time on your smartphone can increases central nervous system arousal, which can amplify anxiety. What’s more, social media has been linked with low moods and depressions.
  • Hanging out with anxious people. Venting to a friend who also tends to stress a lot may seem therapeutic but it can actually make anxiety worse, according to research. 
Learn to Manage Stress at Red Oak
Our addiction programs focus on the unique needs of young adults in early recovery, including managing anxiety, depression and anger. Our clients learn about what triggers and motivates them to use in the first place, and work to develop new healthy coping strategies and positive skills for lasting recovery. To learn more, call today: 866-831-9107.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Beginner's Guide to Running

Running is great for recovery – it will help you get fit, fend off stress, improve sleep and form friendships with other runners. 

Starting a new running habit doesn’t have to be daunting – all that’s required is some well-fitted sneakers and a willingness to get moving. These strategies will help keep you safe and self-confident along the way.

  • Talk to you doctor. Prior to beginning a running routine it’s important to get medical clearance. This is especially crucial if you’re overweight, have a history of diabetes or high blood pressure or if you’ve been sedentary for over a year. 
  • Take it slow. The motto “slow and steady wins the race” is a good one to follow when beginning to run. Along the same lines, it’s essential to listen to your body. Pushing yourself too hard or too quickly can lead to burnout and injuries. 
  • Try the run-walk method. The point of this technique is not to walk when you’re tired but to take brief walk breaks when you’re not. Try a few walking/running ratios to see what works for you. For example: run 10 to 30 seconds, then walk one to two minutes and repeat for the duration of your run.
  • Recruit a running buddy. Whether you pair up with a friend or join a local running club, exercising with another person will help keep you motivated and accountable. 
  • Track your progress. Keep an exercise journal and jot down duration or miles or however you’d like to measure your hard work. And don’t forget to celebrate any reached fitness goals. 
Exercise to Support Your Sobriety 
When young adults physically feel good, they are less likely to fall back on substance abuse as a coping mechanism. Our young adult program encourages exercise and healthy eating to reinforce sobriety. To learn more, call today: 866-831-9107.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

5 Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar

Feeling bloated? Breaking out? Can’t seem to focus? A diet loaded with processed, sugary foods can cause inflammation in the body, erratic energy levels and can even lead to a sugar addiction.

Though you likely know that controlling your sugar is a smart recovery move, it may not be that easy. Manufacturers sneak the white stuff into a bunch of so-called  “healthy” foods, including flavored yogurt, nut butters and protein bars. It’s even found in foods that don’t taste sweet, like deli meat. What's more, studies have shown that there are nearly 60 different names for sugar.
So beyond reading food labels, what’s the best way to monitor your intake of sugar – which, according to the World Health Organization, is about six teaspoons of the sweet stuff per day? Listen to your body: Here are some common warning signs: 
  • Your skin: A high-sugar diet can cause inflammation throughout the body. The result: acne. 
  • Your energy: They don't call it a sugar crash for nothing. Loading up on high levels of sugar can create a sudden rise and fall in blood sugar levels. 
  • Your teeth: Cavities are a surefire sign of sugar overload. The sweet stuff causes the bacteria in your mouth to produce the acid that eventually damages your teeth and leads to tooth decay.
  • Your tastebuds: Eating too much sugar basically builds up tolerance so foods won’t taste as sweet and you’ll need more and more sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. 
  • Your mental health: Too much sweet stuff can wreak havoc on your mood, leading to anxiety and depression. Plus, dips in blood sugar can cause mental fog.
Our Food Philosophy at Red Oak Recovery
Our nutritional therapy program, as part of our drug and alcohol treatment, approaches food and eating holistically. The food we prepare is designed to heal the body from the malnutrition and dehydration that substance abuse can cause. To learn more, call: 866-831-9107.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Got Anxiety? Mindful Meditation May Help

A bout of meditation may do wonders to minimize mind wandering, especially if you or someone you love is coping with anxiety or experiencing anxious thoughts, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo. 

Researchers found that a mere 10 minutes of daily mindful meditation can reduce incidents of repetitive, off-task thinking, which is a hallmark of anxiety. The term mindfulness is often defined as purposefully paying attention to the present moment and without judgement.

This news is especially important considering that people’s minds wander about 50 percent of the time, according to a Harvard study. What’s more, anxious people, as well as those with depression, tend to get caught in the vicious thought cycle in which they hash and rehash what they have to do, what they didn’t do, whether someone is mad at them, and so on. 

"We found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand," said Mengran Xu, a researcher and PhD candidate at Waterloo. "For people with anxiety, repetitive off-task thoughts can negatively affect their ability to learn, to complete tasks, or even function safely.”

Meditation for Addiction Recovery
In addition to helping people with anxiety gain greater focus, mindful meditation has been found to be a powerful tool in addiction recovery. A few of the benefits include: 
  • Fending off stress 
  • Identifying and fighting cravings
  • Having greater self-acceptance
  • Taming emotional turbulence
Help for a Dual Diagnosis
Are you or someone you love suffering from anxiety and a substance use disorder? Our addiction facility utilizes the latest clinical practices and state-of-the-art techniques to treat young adults with co-occurring disorders. At Red Oak Recovery, we believe in addressing issues in a simultaneous, holistic and integrated fashion. To learn more, call 866-831-9107.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

6 Healthy Ways to Express Your Emotions

Recovery is a roller coaster of emotions – from frustration to fear to anger to guilt. While it’s certainly not easy, taking control of these oft-misunderstood emotions is essential for lasting sobriety. Alcohol and drug addiction can numb your emotions and they may even feel more intense once you get sober. Part of recovery is learning how to manage those feelings without relapsing. Here are a few healthy ways to better cope with and release any feelings felt during recovery.
  • Talk about it. Whether it’s a parent, aunt or uncle, guidance counselor or sponsor, seek out someone you trust to be your sounding board. 
  • Start a journal. Writing down your thoughts and emotions can help you figure out what you’re feeling and why – and then help you let it all go. Try it: Take just 15 minutes per day and write freely, without censoring yourself. 
  • Tap into your creative side. Creativity is a great way to work out your feelings. Choose something you enjoy or try something new, whether writing poetry, painting, playing an instrument, singing or dancing. 
  • Take a long breath in. And now breathe out for the count of five. Repeat. This type of deep breathing can help you quell any negative feelings.
  • Practice meditation. Meditating is gaining more and more ground when it comes to mental health. It’s a simple technique and it’s super powerful for moving through “stuck” feelings into a place of healing. 
  • Let it out. Feeling your emotions fully can certainly help you feel better in the short-term, so go ahead and have a good cry once in a while. 
Finding Emotional Support at Red Oak
Our serene campuses provide a place where our clients can step away from the distractions of daily life and focus on inward reflection. There are many paths we take for emotional healing and spiritual growth. To learn more, call 866-831-9107.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can Poor Sleep Lead to Pessimism?

Having trouble sleeping? You may have a more difficult time seeing the positive side of things, according to a new study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety. And the link is especially strong if you suffer from anxiety disorder or a major depressive disorder, say researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. 

This is because poor sleep affects a specific region of the brain, called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which plays a role in regulating negative emotional responses. Study participants, who had anxiety or depression (or both) as well as severe sleep troubles, were shown disturbing images of violence — from war or accidents — and were asked to not control their reaction or to "reappraise" what they saw in a more positive light. 

An example of reappraisal: Imagining a woman with a badly bruised face as an actress in makeup rather than a survivor of violence, explained researchers.  

"Reappraisal is something that requires significant mental energy," said Heide Klumpp, assistant professor of psychiatry at UIC, in a statement. "In people with depression or anxiety, reappraisal can be even more difficult, because these disorders are characterized by chronic negativity or negative rumination, which makes seeing the good in things difficult."

Sleep Troubles: 5 Steps for Better Sleep
Shortchanging yourself on sleep can harm your recovery efforts and lead to some serious health consequences. Try these tips to set yourself up for sound slumber:
  1. Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m.
  2. Create a sleep schedule, and don’t stray on weekends.
  3. Make your bedroom a smartphone-free zone. 
  4. Don’t study or work on your computer in bed.
  5. Exercise earlier in the day, never just before shut-eye.
Depression and Anxiety Treatment at Red Oak Recovery®
Whether drug and alcohol abuse led to your depression or anxiety or you began self-medicating to escape the pain of a mood disorder, chances of successful long-term recovery are greatest when co-occurring conditions are treated together. To learn more about our individualized and integrative depression treatment and anxiety treatmentcall: 866-831-9107.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Is Your Smartphone Use Becoming a Problem?

Your smartphone may be causing personal, social, and workplace problems – and females are even more susceptible to smartphone addiction, according to small study by researchers from Binghamton University-State University of New York. 

Participants were placed into one of the following types: 
  • Thoughtful
  • Regular
  • Highly Engaged
  • Fanatic
  • Addict
The users in both the “fanatic” and “addict” categories were found to exhibit depression, social isolation, social anxiety, shyness, impulsivity and low self-esteem, with females most likely to exhibit susceptibility to addiction.

"Our smartphones have turned into a tool that provides short, quick, immediate satisfaction, which is very triggering," said Isaac Vaghefi, assistant professor of management information systems at Binghamton University-State University of New York. "Our neurons get fired and dopamine is being released, and over time this makes us acquire a desire for quick feedback and immediate satisfaction. This process also has contributed to developing shorter attention spans and being more and more prone to boredom."

Some warning signs of smartphone addiction, according to Vaghefi: 
  • You use technology to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression.
  • You ignore what's happening in real time in favor of what's happening virtually.
  • You constantly check your smartphone, even when it doesn't ring or vibrate.
  • You get paranoid when you do not have your smartphone with you.
3 Steps to Curb Smartphone Use
  1. Do track how much time you’re spending on your phone. Download a free app to help you track your smartphone usage and then set goals to help you scale back. Some apps even have features to let you lock yourself out of your phone if you go over a pre-set limit. 
  2. Don’t charge your phone bedside. In fact, your bedroom is one place that your phone should never be. This is because the blue-hued light can prevent your brain from releasing sleep-inducing melatonin. Plus, making your bedroom a smartphone-free zone will eliminate the temptation to pick up your phone when you can’t sleep.
  3. Don’t use your phone in the company of others. Unless it’s really necessary, do your best to put away your phone when you’re with family, friends and colleagues. Not only will this help curb your use but it will also help you develop stronger relationships. After all, staring at your phone in the company of others is just plain rude. 
Help for a Dual Diagnosis
Geared toward young adults, our addiction facility utilizes the latest clinical practices and state-of-the-art techniques to treat alcohol and substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. At Red Oak Recovery, we believe in addressing issues in a simultaneous, holistic and integrated fashion. To learn more, call 866-831-9107.