Thanksgiving: How It Helps in Recovering from Alcohol and Mental Health Issues 

Family enjoying Thanksgiving recovery

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family and friends to gather and share delicious food and happy memories. However, it’s also a time where alcohol consumption runs higher than usual. It has become so rampant that states like Pennsylvania are cracking down on reducing alcohol-related accidents, with the years 2016 to 2020 seeing 138 DUI-related (driving under the influence) accidents due to alcohol intoxication. 

This can make Thanksgiving sound scary for those recovering from alcohol abuse. On the contrary, Thanksgiving shouldn’t be intimidating but exciting for those in recovery. 

Here’s how: 

What is Thanksgiving? 

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is dedicated to celebrating a good harvest for the year. People usually celebrate the event by preparing meals like turkey, fruits, vegetables, and grain-based foods. 

Like many other holidays, Thanksgiving is seen by many people as an opportunity to drink alcohol. For those recovering from alcohol dependence, this can make Thanksgiving pretty intimidating. 

They may be afraid of accidentally drinking a beverage that turns out to have traces of alcohol. Plus, it can discourage them from going to social gatherings and parties out of fear of missing out when everyone else is drinking alcohol. 

Thus, instead of being a wholesome holiday, Thanksgiving can become a challenging time for recovering alcohol abuse patients. However, this shouldn’t be so – the essence of Thanksgiving is not about drinking alcohol. It’s about being grateful for what we have and expressing our hopes for fortune in the future. 

In fact, Thanksgiving is an incredible opportunity to help recover from co-occurring alcohol and mental health issues. It’s just a matter of perspective and surrounding yourself with the right people to celebrate it with. 

How can Thanksgiving help with your mental health? 

Gratitude, unity, and hope are some of the values that we’re reminded of as we celebrate Thanksgiving. The best example of how these values manifest is the fact that we’re always with our loved ones during the holiday. 

One of the most common images that come to mind when thinking about Thanksgiving is a family on a table eating a roasted turkey together. It may seem like a simplistic reduction of what Thanksgiving is about. Yet, it also accurately represents part of what Thanksgiving is about: sharing happiness with each other. 

Altogether, this happiness comes in three ways: 

  • Eating the delicious food on the table 
  • Spending time with your friends and family 
  • Recalling the happy memories that you have together 

These make up the experience of celebrating Thanksgiving — no alcohol necessary.  

Seeing it this way, Thanksgiving sounds like an incredible time for those recovering from alcohol dependence. 

One of the key aspects of recovery is to eliminate the unhealthy positive association that your brain perceives with alcohol. Rather than seeing alcohol as the only way to achieve happiness, you’ll eventually see ways to be happy that are also healthy at the same time. 

Thanksgiving helps tremendously in this by giving you opportunities to: 

  • Strengthen relationships. Acknowledging the people that appreciate your existence is a massive step towards sobriety. 
  • Remember the positive aspects of life. The good people, food, and laughs you share on the table will show you that happiness without alcohol is possible (and better). 
  • Be more hopeful of the future. Alcohol wasn’t there when you were born, but your family and friends were, and you made wonderful memories with them. Besides reminiscing on the past, this makes you realize that a happy future is possible beyond alcohol. 

Tips for celebrating Thanksgiving in recovery 

With all that said, the challenge still remains: how can you celebrate Thanksgiving while recovering from alcohol dependence? 

There are actually numerous ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, and these all entail participating actively in the celebration. Of course, these are also all while avoiding alcohol. 

Here are some tips for celebrating Thanksgiving in recovery: 

  • Stay with family and friends who support your recovery. These people are the key to helping you make the most out of Thanksgiving. Their support means that they value your well-being, which makes their presence valuable not only during the holiday but for life. 
  • Maintain your distance from people who are otherwise unsupportive. Admittedly, some of your loved ones may be indifferent to your recovery. Whatever their reason may be, it may be best to celebrate Thanksgiving without them. Express what you feel about their lack of support, that you want to retain a good relationship with them still and that you would prefer to celebrate Thanksgiving with the right people. 
  • Join in the cooking. With a lot of food comes a lot of preparation. Even if you’re not quite skilled in cooking, you can do simple tasks like cutting up the ingredients or even washing the dishes. This establishes a sense of unity with your loved ones, because you’re all acting towards the same goal. 
  • Plan fun group activities. Play games, watch a movie, have a road trip — these are some of the ways you can express gratitude for your loved ones sticking with you until the end. 
  • Take pictures and videos of the celebration. Thanksgiving isn’t an annual holiday, but a reminder to be thankful. And what better way to remember the good memories of celebrating Thanksgiving than memorializing them through videos and pictures? 

What about Black Friday? 

For many people, one of the most exciting aspects of Thanksgiving is Black Friday. The massive product deals that stores and malls put up can make nearly everyone want to wait in line. 

At first, this may seem like a good time for recovering alcohol patients. After all, the feeling of getting what you want at a huge discount feels extremely rewarding. 

However, it’s a different experience for everyone, as Black Friday usually experiences a lot of physical injuries due to the rush of other people getting to the items that they want. 

It is still possible to make the most out of the sales, though it’s best to do it safely. Here are two ways you can celebrate Black Friday while in recovery: 

  1. Go online shopping. Some ecommerce platforms and online stores offer massive discounts during Black Friday. While there’s still a chance that you won’t get what you want, at least you’ll still be in the safety of your home. 
  2. Ask a loved one to get your desired products for you. This only works if you do have a family member or friend who will actively participate in the sales. 

Celebrate Thanksgiving in recovery with California Recovery Center on speed dial 

Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity for recovering substance abuse patients to reinforce relationships, recall happy memories, and speed up their recovery. However, it still poses risks and challenges that you need to anticipate ahead of time to avoid curbing your recovery or falling into relapse. 

No matter the holiday, it’s always best to keep a recovery center on speed dial in case you accidentally consume alcohol. Here at California Recovery Center, we firmly believe in the power of holidays in substance abuse recovery. At the same time, we also acknowledge its risks. If you feel that you’re at risk of consuming alcohol or any other substance while recovering in Thanksgiving, feel free to reach out to us at (866) 864-1986. 

Telehealth vs. In-Person Therapy: Which is Better for Substance Abuse Recovery? 

Therapist explaining telehealth vs in person therapy

You may have heard about the idea of telehealth for therapy and wonder one of two questions: “How does that even work?” and “Telehealth vs. In-person therapy – which one is better for substance abuse recovery?” 

Understandably, a lot of people would wonder why there’s even a consideration to have remote options for addiction therapy. The main concern is effectiveness: can you achieve the same safe space of comfort and empathy in in-person therapy through a screen? 

Telehealth for therapy does have its own merits. Since the start of COVID-19, remote options for all facets of daily life have grown in demand. In the ecommerce industry, for example, Amazon had 3.68 billion monthly visitors in 2021. Other industries, including healthcare, are expected to follow suit. 

Still, comparing telehealth to in-person therapy is a legitimate concern for those who want the best possible treatment. With that said, here are some factors to consider if you’re deciding between in-person therapy or a telehealth program for substance abuse recovery: 

Factors to consider

1. Severity of symptoms

In-person therapy works with all forms of substance abuse treatments. This includes the two main types of treatment: 

  1. Outpatient treatment – The patient goes to the facility on a scheduled basis 
  2. Inpatient treatment – The patient stays at the facility for more than one night 

Outpatient treatment is ideal for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of substance dependence. On the other hand, inpatient treatment is best for patients with a severe degree of substance dependence that requires extensive supervision. 

The only type of treatment that telehealth can provide is outpatient treatment. This is because in many cases, those who undergo inpatient treatment require more involvement from therapists than those under outpatient treatment. 

It does boil down on the discretion of the recovery center. If the therapist believes that you can manage your symptoms well on your own, telehealth may be a viable option. Otherwise, they’ll recommend that you receive treatment in the facility.

Convenience versus flexibility

One of the main advantages of telehealth is that it doesn’t require you to travel to the facility. You simply have to hop on your device and connect with your therapist to receive treatment. 

This benefits a lot of people who are too busy with their commitments and cannot travel consistently, such as: 

Plus, a telehealth program may also be great for those who have already received in-person treatment and want to continue their recovery. 

In contrast, in-person therapy gives you access to facilities you’ll otherwise be unable to enjoy virtually. For instance, recovery centers have serene, open dedicated spaces that promote peace of mind. 

Another distinct advantage of in-person therapy is keeping in touch with people. You may prefer the warmth of the human touch over words of reassurance through a screen, which can be a deciding factor in your road to recovery. 

In other words, while telehealth programs have the advantage of letting you stay at home, in-person therapy offers a wide range of amenities and benefits that you can only enjoy if you go to the facility.


The price difference between telehealth and in-person therapy varies depending on a lot of factors. What you can accurately estimate is your personal expenses as you receive treatment. 

These include: 

  • Travel cost – Commute or gas for your car 
  • Equipment – Internet connection and a device for virtual therapy sessions 
  • Lifestyle amenities – Food, beverages, and other items that you might buy as you move along your recovery 

In this regard, telehealth does hold the advantage of in-person therapy. It only requires internet access and smart devices, which are very commonplace today. Thus, you barely have to spend more out of your pocket with telehealth. 

With in-person therapy, you have to worry about the costs of traveling which come not only in the form of financial expenses but also time. Travel time can vary wildly, which can make it challenging to manage your personal schedule. 

How do you know which one is right for you? 

In the end, the telehealth vs. in-person therapy debate comes down not to “Which one is better?” but “Which one is better for me?” Neither option is completely better than the other. The nature of substance abuse recovery is that it depends on the unique needs of every individual. 

That’s why when you first inquire about the services of a treatment facility, you have to undergo a series of assessments to determine the best kind of treatment for you. 

In terms of virtual therapy vs. in-person therapy, some factors of this process include: 

  • Therapist’s opinion – Does your therapist think that effective treatment at home is possible? Or will it be best in the facility? Do they think that your symptoms are manageable on your own, or do you require extensive supervision from therapists? 
  • Circumstances – Are you busy with work or school? Far or near to the facility? Can you travel consistently to the facility? 
  • Your discretion – Do you think that you can recover better in the facility? Or can you recover just as well remotely? 

Ultimately, it boils down to your choice. You may choose telehealth because you’re too busy with other commitments, cannot travel, or simply prefer receiving treatment remotely. Conversely, in-person therapy may be your most desired option if you think that you’ll recover better in a facility. 

Find the best treatment for you with California Recovery Center 

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment when recovering from substance dependence. Each abuse case is as unique as the patient itself. While telehealth may be attractive to you as a therapy option at first, it may not be the best treatment for you. At the same time, in-person therapy may seem effective because of the physical access to the facility. But if the daily commute and expenses make it stressful to maintain the program, it can actually be counterproductive. 

That’s why it’s vital that your treatment centers deeply assess your specific case so they can best help you recover. Here at California Recovery Center, we take the unique needs and circumstances of each patient into very close consideration to create the most effective treatment plan for them. Our therapists are dedicated to letting you know the best options that are available for you.  

Each of our in-person outpatient and inpatient treatment services is equipped with proven professionals and equipment to secure the success of your road to recovery. If you decide to receive treatment remotely, our telehealth programs have the same continuum of care as our in-person services. This means that the quality of care you receive will always be the same, whether you receive treatment in-person or remotely. 

Learn more about our services by viewing our treatment page or reaching out to our experts at (866) 864-1986. 

Alcohol Relapse: How to Deal with the Temptations 

Man with drink struggling with alcohol relapse

No matter where you are on your path to recovery, one day, it will just happen: alcohol relapse. You may feel like your progress has gone to waste as thoughts of alcohol start taking over your mind. 

Fortunately, there’s still time to put a stop to relapse. Here’s what you need to know to deal with the temptations of alcohol relapse: 

What are the signs that you’re at risk of falling to alcohol relapse?

Alcoholic relapse is a gradual process. It builds up from a slowly growing set of symptoms, eventually culminating in a return to the same state of alcohol dependence prior to your recovery. 

Here are some of the signs that you’re at risk of relapse: 

  • Post-acute withdrawal symptoms – You’ll feel the same symptoms you experienced in your first withdrawal like sleepiness, irritability, and forgetfulness. These symptoms return especially during very stressful situations. 
  • Self-isolation – Being with friends and loved ones suddenly becomes uninteresting or irritating to you. You now prefer to stay by yourself and immediately turn down invitations to social events. 
  • Loss of interest in recovery – When you first started recovering, you were eager and hopeful to achieve sobriety. Those sentiments, however, gradually faded, and you were no longer interested in making a full recovery. 
  • Losing track of routine and structure – You probably also established a systematic lifestyle for yourself earlier in your recovery, which recently started breaking down due to an apparent lack of focus or interest in maintaining it. 
  • Clouded judgment and decision-making Your actions and choices have started to become illogical, and you’ve become frequently unsure of what to do. 

No matter which symptoms are present, and how severe they are, the moment you experience one of them, you have to start defending yourself from relapsing. 

How to avoid falling into alcohol relapse

When it comes to dealing with alcoholism relapse, prevention is the best cure. You have to create a strong system that proactively ensures that you stay on your path to recovery. 

This involves planning and coordination with your family and friends to become successful. 

Here are very effective ways of preventing yourself from falling into relapse: 

  • Coordinate with your loved ones. Discuss the best course of action when you feel the symptoms of relapse. Create emergency protocols for when the temptations become too overwhelming. Knowing that you have a safety net adds a level of assurance that you’ll triumph against relapse. 
  • Access a strong support system. Whether it’s family, friends, or support groups, establishing rapport with other people is fantastic for curbing relapse. If possible, make friends with people who are also undergoing recovery from alcohol so you can have someone to relate to. 
  • Learn how to manage your stress. Wherever you are in life, stress will always be present — it’s just a matter of managing it. Learning stress management techniques allows you to stay ahead of temptations. 
  • Take up a new hobby or interest. Diverting your attention to doing and learning something new is a very powerful tool against relapse. This gives you something transformative and positive to look forward to and takes you further away from alcohol dependence. 
  • Avoid places and objects that remind you of alcohol. When you’re early into your recovery phase, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is an important motto to live by. Stay away or steer clear of anything that makes you remember the pleasure of alcohol. For best results, ask your family and friends to help out. 

What to do if the temptations still happen

Unfortunately, no matter how much you’ve planned to avoid temptations, they will somehow find their way into your lives. 

Thus, besides finding ways to prevent getting tempted, it’s also crucial to plan what to do if you receive sudden urges to fall into relapse. 

Such protocols should be short, straight to the point, and easy to execute on the spot. Some examples include: 

  • Call a friend or family member about your urges 
  • Leave or remove the trigger out of your sight immediately 
  • Take deep breaths and clear your mind 
  • Distract yourself with something fun or engaging 
  • Return your focus on whatever you were doing prior to the urges 

The most effective technique is to remember that you always have a shoulder to lean on through your loved ones. Part of how relapse occurs is when you feel hopeless and alone. Always remind yourself that, no matter how hard the road to recovery is, your family and friends are there to help you in every step of the way. 

Can I prevent relapse from ever happening again? 

Relapse is a constant challenge to those recovering from alcohol dependence. It’s extremely difficult to overcome in the early stages of recovery. According to a 2011 study on addiction relapse, between 50-75% of patients recovering from alcohol abuse relapse within their 1st year of treatment. 

The rate of relapse decreases over the years, but the challenge still remains. Hence, you must manage your expectations with your recovery and anticipate alcohol relapse as a recurring challenge of the process. 

At the same time, sobriety is a goal that is still very much possible to achieve. Detoxing yourself from alcohol dependence is, in truth, an uphill battle. Stumbling on the way to the top is a natural part of recovery. Besides, if you’re struggling, it means that you’re progressing. 

Fight alcohol relapse with professional treatment 

Recovering from alcohol dependence is never a one-man job. It requires not only focus and dedication on your part, but also a thorough support system from your family and friends. However, if you do fall into relapse, you have to speak with a professional therapist who knows what to do when an alcoholic relapses. 

At California Recovery Center, we believe that every individual has the strength to grow and overcome those challenges. Our therapists will be beside you through thick or thin on your path to recovery. We have custom-tailored outpatient programs to suit the unique needs of patients who want to recover while achieving a healthy work-life balance. Plus, we make sure that patients who completed treatment still receive support through our lifetime aftercare plans for alumni. Whether you’ve relapsed or want someone to talk to, we’ll always be there for you. 

If you feel like you’re at risk of falling, or have already fallen into alcohol relapse, remember that you’re never alone. Our therapists and facilities here at California Recovery Center are always just a call away. 

Supporting Our Veterans: Substance Abuse and Mental Health 

Veterans substance abuse affecting him

The pressure of military life often leads to veterans undergoing substance abuse. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day later this week, we must remember not only their accomplishments and courage but also their struggles both during and after service. 

Co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders continue to haunt our veterans, and we must always be there to support them. Here’s how we can celebrate Veteran’s Day in a meaningful way. 

Why do veterans turn to drug and alcohol? 

Military life is stressful for many veterans. Some of the things they experienced include: 

  • Constant risks of injury or death on the field 
  • Losing colleagues while on duty 
  • Worrying about their loved ones back home 

To cope with the stress, some of them abuse substances. The most abused substance is alcohol, with 1 in 3 service military personnel found to be “binge drinkers.” 

This abuse continues well after service, as they face difficulties rejoining civilian life like: 

  • Catching up with the rest of the world 
  • Mending relationships formed before the war 
  • Finding stable employment 

Many studies have dug into the incidence of veterans and substance abuse. A 2019 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed the following statistics: 

  • 11% of veterans are diagnosed with having a substance use disorder (SUD). 
  • Veterans diagnosed with having an SUD are 3-4 more likely to be found with co-occurring PTSD or depression. 
  • Between 37 to 50% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were diagnosed with co-occurring SUD and mental disorders. 

Solving this issue has turned out to be challenging as well. In the 2015 Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) that studied drug use among veterans, only 8.6% of respondents self-reported their substance abuse. 

Besides wanting to avoid the punishment of discharge, this is because they want to steer clear of: 

  • Being mocked by their peers for being “weak” and seeking support for their addiction 
  • The stigma towards substance use victims 
  • Facing the risk of losing job prospects and relationships 

In other words, veterans turn to substance use because of their experiences both during and after service. Even with treatment services like Veterans Affairs (VA) drug rehab, many veterans prefer to hide their issues than risk facing judgment by society. 

How to support veterans against substance abuse 

The first thing you need to do to help veterans is to determine if they’re undergoing substance abuse. To do that, you need to look out for the signs. 

In particular, there are 3 types of signs that you have to look out for: 

  1. Appearance – Disheveled image, wearing the same clothes for extended periods of time, lack of hygiene 

  1. Behavior – Occasionally spacing out while being with someone, forgetfulness, staring into the distance on their own 

  1. Sociability – Isolating themselves during social events, constantly stuttering while talking, unenthusiastic responses when being talked to 

The key to supporting veterans against substance abuse is to help them reintegrate with daily life. They have been away from home for a long time — the last thing they need is to be alienated for their substance abuse problems. 

Of course, reducing their substance usage is one of your main objectives, but you have to do it in a very supportive and welcoming way. This means that you have to avoid being upfront about it as much as possible. 

Here are very effective ways you can help them combat their substance use: 

  • Always engage in casual, friendly conversations with them. Most of their social interactions in the field were often serious, stressful, and required quick responses. Talking to them in a relaxed, easygoing way helps them socially reintegrate with normal daily life. 
  • Help them through their personal problems. Be it financial or social, supporting them through their current problems keeps them away from the substances. 
  • Suggest recreational activities that don’t involve alcohol. Sports, board games, hobbies—these activities, in general, help them redirect their energy to something that utilizes their physical prowess in a fun way. 
  • Encourage seeking professional treatment. Seeking professional assistance will provide them with the necessary coping tools and strategies. They’ll be able to navigate difficult situations with greater awareness.

Remember to always exercise patience and empathy, as this process will take time. 

Helping veterans with their mental health 

All veterans deserve support and care for what they experienced during their service. Even if a veteran currently doesn’t consume any substances, at some point, they eventually might. 

They may have been mentally and emotionally drained from the stress of military service. Returning home should mean more than just being away from the battlefield — it has to be a genuine, fruitful reintegration into normal daily life. Otherwise, they might be unable to cope with their negative experiences and eventually resort to substances. 

  • Invite them to social gatherings. They lost time away from home and may have greatly missed their family and friends. Inviting them is a good way for them to catch up with loved ones while reintegrating themselves to peacetime. 
  • As much as possible, try to avoid asking about their experiences in the field. You may unknowingly cause them to feel discomfort as they remember harrowing moments while in service. 

  • If they are vocal about their experiences, talk about them in a positive light. Compliment their bravery, resourcefulness, or physical prowess as an acknowledgment of their accomplishments. Avoid asking about touchy subjects and be polite if you do decide to ask. 
  • Always ask them how they’re doing. Give them a phone call or shoot them a message every once in a while. Doing this lets them acknowledge that they are, indeed, back home and that their presence is appreciated outside of military life. 

Alcohol and drug rehab for veterans 

Remembering Veteran’s Day should not be confined to just 1 day. It’s a continuous process of establishing a strong, holistic support system for veterans undergoing substance abuse. If we continue to aid veterans struggling with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, we can open up a culture where other veterans can feel welcome in showing their vulnerabilities — we can show that life after the military is filled with hope and support. 

At California Recovery Center, we solemnly salute our troops for braving struggles even after the line of duty. Our line of treatments includes specialized veteran substance abuse programs for our heroes returning from the battlefield. If you or your loved one is a veteran struggling with alcohol or drugs after service, we eagerly welcome you with open arms and a sure plan for your recovery. 

5 Signs a Family Member Is Living With Addiction and Mental Health Issues 

Husband comforting wife undergoing family addiction

Family addiction is a serious issue that affects 46% of families in the U.S. alone. Left untreated, it can cause a devastating rift between family members. This also comes in conjunction with mental health issues, which comes either as the result or the cause of substance abuse. The worst part is that loved ones tend to hide these problems out of fear that they’ll be stigmatized or kicked out by their family. 

The best way to deal with family addiction is rehabilitation, not punishment. Of course, you should take action only when you’ve identified that substance abuse or mental health is truly the issue. However, your loved ones may be afraid to express their problems to you outright. In this case, you have to look out for signs of their trouble. 

Here are 5 signs that a loved one is dealing with addiction in the family: 

1. Self-isolation from family

One of the most common signs of addiction or mental health is self-isolation. With a lot of social stigmas associated with substance abuse, victims tend to keep to themselves while living with addiction. 

You can clearly see this when your loved one becomes: 

  • Less communicative. They no longer start conversations on their own and give brief disinterested responses when talked to. 
  • More irritable than usual.  They’ve built a bubble around themselves and become frustrated when someone tries to intrude into their comfort zone. 
  • Secretive and defensive. If they’re pushed about their issues, they either deny them or avoid the topic altogether. 

If you’ve observed these in your loved one, be more lenient and accommodating. Foster a welcoming space that lets them feel free to express themselves without prejudice. For instance, you can stay beside them as you go about your usual day-to-day activities and strike a smile at them every once in a while as a positive acknowledgment of their presence. 

They may not immediately open up right away when you do this, but it’s an effective first step to helping them. 

2. Changes in appearance and demeanor

Substance abuse and mental health issues can also take a toll on how your loved one appears and behaves. Generally, they become less interested in keeping themselves well-presented to other people or, sometimes, maintaining their hygiene. 

Observe your loved one and watch out for these signs: 

  • Frequently disheveled appearance
  • Wearing the same clothes for extended periods of time
  • Occasionally spacing out
  • Unresponsiveness when talked to
  • Forgetfulness

Some of these signs may be inconvenient to you or your family. If your loved one is in charge of chores, for example, they may either forget to do them or leave them unfinished, which may become a habit over time. Family members may also use their lack of hygiene as a reason to stay away from them out of shame. 

In any case, you have to exercise patience and understanding. Instead of scolding them, for instance, gently remind them or assist them with their chores. Avoid being confrontational about their behavior or appearance. Instead, be more encouraging of healthy habits with the express intent of helping them out. 

3. Psychosomatic symptoms

The idea that “It’s all in the mind” couldn’t be farther from the truth when there are psychosomatic conditions that occur due to struggling with mental health. Lethargy or lack of energy is one of the most common psychosomatic symptoms that affect those suffering from substance use or mental health issues. 

Other symptoms include: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Unhealthy diet or irregular appetite
  • Inconsistent or excessive sleep

Lacking energy for everyday activities can lead to long-term deterioration physically and mentally. While you can help alleviate their physical symptoms, this is only a band aid solution at best. You have to solve the issue from its roots by focusing on the substance abuse and mental health issues at the core of the problem. As said before, this comes by promoting a positive environment for the struggling loved one. 

4. Showing lack of interest in hobbies

One of the tragic results of suffering from addiction and mental health issues is the loss of interest in hobbies that your loved one was once passionate about. Dopamine is responsible for providing pleasure in the midst of a reward. Substance abuse can affect how dopamine is produced and released by stimulating only when the victim consumes the substance. However, this also leads to a decrease of dopamine when the loved one is doing their actual hobbies. 

When this happens, you can’t just force them to return to their hobbies as a way of averting substance use. At worst, this further discourages them from taking up the hobby again. Instead, use a positive, gentle approach in encouraging them about their hobbies. 

Try some of these out, for instance: 

  • Recall happy memories about their hobbies 
  • Compliment their skills in a specific hobby 
  • Take up the hobby yourself, even if briefly, and ask your loved one to join you 

These can rekindle the spark within your loved one and encourage them to return to the hobby. It can also be effective in curbing the effects of substance abuse to some degree. Even if it isn’t, helping them return to their hobbies assures them that there’s something to look forward to outside of using substances. 

5. Struggling with school or work 

Another common sign of addiction and mental health is the impact on their performance either at work or in school. There are two ways that substance use affects their performance: 

  1. Impact on their mental state. Lack of focus, forgetfulness, and decrease in creativity and innovation are some of the symptoms of substance use that can affect how your loved ones perform. 
  2. Social stigma from colleagues. The fear of being discovered and stigmatized for substance abuse is highly prevalent in a school or workplace environment. Chances are, a vast majority of your loved one’s colleagues (even the management in a company or school) will become prejudicial towards them. 

The worst part about impaired performance is that this can also be a contributing factor to substance use, further proliferating it. 

Coping with substance use requires a significant amount of time and dedication. Spending time away from professional or academic responsibilities will be vital for this. It may sound detrimental and counterproductive, but it’s actually very beneficial for your loved ones. If they’re given time to focus on their personal lives and cope with their addiction and mental health, the other aspects of their lives will also improve – that includes their other responsibilities. 

Parents of addicted loved ones should discuss with the school’s guidance counselor to come up with a solution that can help the student cope with substance use while improving their academic performance. On the other hand, professionals undergoing substance abuse should consider taking an FMLA leave. 

Solve family addiction with professional treatment

Discovering that your loved one is undergoing substance use and mental health issues can be heartbreaking for the family. You may feel like you were unable to become a meaningful, positive presence to them, enough to lead them towards consuming substances. However, this is not the case – perhaps your loved ones are going through tough times in their lives that they didn’t feel that they should express. Whatever the root cause behind their substance use may be, the most effective solution is professional treatment. 

At California Recovery Center, our mission is to give extensive family help for addiction in a systematic, extensive manner. We provide outpatient and inpatient treatment options for your loved ones so that they can have flexibility in coping with their addiction and mental health issues. Feel free to reach out to us so we can discuss the best way to help your loved ones through their struggles. 

FMLA and Substance Abuse: What You Need to Know

confused man with fmla substance abuse letter

You’ve probably heard of FMLA and how employees use it to take time off in order to take care of medical conditions. In many cases, employees utilize FMLA for physical injuries and illnesses – but do you know FMLA also applies to mental health and addiction? Here’s what you need to know about FMLA, substance abuse, and mental health: 

What is FMLA? 

The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, is a federal law that allows employees to have up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave in the face of a serious health condition. An FMLA leave is valid if at least one of the 5 following scenarios is present: 

  1. Their child was recently born and they have to look after them 
  2. They recently adopted a child and must take care of them 
  3. Their spouse, child, or parent is suffering from a serious medical condition 
  4. The employee is undergoing a serious medical condition that hinders their ability to perform the primary responsibilities of their work 
  5. An applicable urgent matter concerning a spouse, child, or parent who is on, or is notified to join, covered active duty in the armed forces 

The FMLA leave protects the employee by ensuring that they return to the same or almost identical position after the term of the leave. It also compels employers to continue the employee’s group health benefits as though the employee was not on leave. 

An employee is eligible to FMLA leaves if they meet the following requirements: 

  • Have worked with the employer for at least 12 months 
  • Rendered at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during those 12 months 
  • Currently working at a location of the employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. 

The FMLA applies to an employer if it falls under one of the following categories: 

  • Any private or public employer that has at least 50 employees 
  • All government agencies 
  • All private and public elementary and high schools 

Take note that this means the FMLA doesn’t apply to employers with less than 50 employees. 

Is addiction and mental health covered by the FMLA? 

The FMLA concerns employees or their immediate family experiencing a serious health condition. This begs the question: does addiction and mental health qualify as a “serious health condition”? 

Fortunately, the answer is yes. The FMLA considers both physical and mental conditions as serious health conditions if these require one of the following two: 

  1. Inpatient care – Overnight stay at a healthcare facility such as a hospital or treatment center 
  2. Continuing treatment by a healthcare provider – More than three consecutive days of the condition incapacitating the individual which necessitates ongoing treatment; or, intermittent periods when the individual is incapacitated by a chronic disease 

This applies not only to an affected employee, but also to any immediate family member undergoing mental health and addiction issues. Thus, it allows employees to take leave in order to have the time to either take care of themselves or their loved ones in the face of a mental health crisis. 

Would your employer discriminate against you for using the FMLA for substance abuse and mental health? 

Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind with the FMLA is, “I think my employer would only be fine with me using an FMLA leave if it’s for a physical condition. They might discriminate against me if the leave is about something intangible like mental health or addiction.” 

Stigma against mental conditions in the workplace is a sad reality. Legally speaking, however, as long as you meet the requirements of the FMLA, your employer can’t refuse your FMLA leave for mental health and addiction. Likewise, they’re obligated to ensure that you return to the same or identical position after your leave expires. 

Besides, mental health and addiction issues are tangible. They can have a severe impact on your performance and lead to: 

  • Absenteeism 
  • More errors in the workplace 
  • Self-isolation from coworkers 
  • Lack of communication 
  • An overall lower drive to perform and excel 

Thus, it would be in the best interest of your employer to respect your FMLA leave due to a mental condition. Plus, despite your mental condition, your employer took you in because of your character, skills, and capabilities. If some time off is needed to allow you to perform at your best, your employer has to grant it. 

Why should you take a leave for mental health or addiction? 

Resilience in the workplace” is a term that gets thrown around whenever topics like workplace stress and challenges are mentioned. While it is a great characteristic to have, it alone is not enough to treat addiction and mental health conditions. 

Serious mental conditions require serious treatment. It involves a lot more than band aid solutions like short-lived motivation from inspirational videos. Mental health and addiction require a deep examination and resolution of the root of the problem affecting the individual. 

Left unchecked, these can affect all facets of life. Stress at work can compound this problem even more, and eventually, your performance will deteriorate. If you’re passionate about your work, this can lead to frustration for you because you know you can do better. 

That’s why you owe it to yourself to take the time you need to recover with the help of professional intervention and rehabilitation. 

Make the most out of FMLA with professional treatment 

If you do decide to take advantage of FMLA for substance abuse, great! You’re one step closer to improving your current condition and getting back to tiptop shape mentally. For best results, review the provisions of the FMLA to make sure that you’re eligible. 

There are individuals and organizations that take addiction and mental health seriously as having a deep impact on everyday life. Recovering from your condition requires rigorous, high-quality care from proven professionals – that’s why you have to start with a recovery center that will look after you in every step of the way. And fortunately, treating substance abuse has become highly flexible as patients can now choose how and where they receive professional treatment. 

At California Recovery Center, we take into heart the significance of professional holistic treatment in every client we have. One of our core missions is to help workers undergo long-term recovery while balancing their lives both at the workplace and in their personal life. We give our clients the option to receive outpatient treatment, where patients are treated both inside and outside the facility, or inpatient treatment, where they are observed and treated actively by healthcare providers inside the facility for an extended period of time.  If you want to make the most out of the FMLA to recover from your substance abuse and mental health issues, feel free to reach out – we’re eager to help you bounce back and stay up.