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Category: Chemical Dependency

When the days get short, it’s time to get moving

When the days get short, it’s time to get moving

Happy Fall Sober People!

Whether you welcome fall or mourn the end of summer this time of year can be tough. Shorter days, less sunshine and more time spent indoors can reduce energy levels and negatively impact mood. Which is what makes this the perfect time to recommit to a healthy activity routine. This isn’t about a beach body or losing weight: this is about committing to move your body a little every day because it’s really good for your mental health, your daily living and your recovery. Think of it as pumpkin spice for the soul.

Exercise and Sobriety

It’s scientific. One recent study on mental health and exercise found that regular, moderate-intensity exercise helped reduce cravings, improved overall mood and could serve as a useful coping strategy. There is also a strong correlation between the behavior modification recommended for people in early sobriety and the physical and mental changes that happen with regular exercises. In other words: exercise can change a person’s metabolism, fight stress and prime the mind for more learning.

Killing Time, Sleeping Soundly

Regular, moderate-to-high intensity workouts also have a documented impact on sleep. Studies have shown 15-30 minutes of exercise daily helps regulate natural processes in the body, including the production on melatonin. Exercise is also a great way to fill time — which people new in sobriety often find they have a lot of!

Where to Start

There is always the gym. Whether you have a membership collecting dust or have never joined a gym in your entire life: these can be social places where you’ll find many options for group classes or a variety of machines to try. We recommend starting with a gym that is located somewhere close to work or home and provides a comfortable atmosphere. There are some big chains to choose from and there are also smaller, more boutique gyms that provide one-on-one training and a much smaller, intimate workout space.

Online Workouts

You name it, there’s a workout for it. Want to pretend you’re a ballerina? Try Barre. Want a little of the flow of yoga+ the strength training of pilates? Piyo has got you covered. Want a little of everything? There are multiple providers such as DailyBurn that feature lots of programs for a monthly subscription.

There’s an App for That

There are a lot of great workout apps that you can have with you at all times. From virtual running coaches for those looking to tackle a marathon in the spring to those looking to get in a little yoga every day — there’s a lot to choose from. This can be ideal as sometimes you just need to shut the door and punch up a 14 minute “Yoga for Relaxation” routine.

Just remember as the days grow shorter and the couch/Netflix beckons that your body and mind need to be extra-nurtured.

 

 

 

Calling all sober job seekers!

Calling all sober job seekers!

Join us Saturday, September 16th @ Serenity Lane West 11th Intensive Outpatient Office, 4211 West 11th, Eugene for a Serenity Lane Alumni resume building and job seeker skills workshop. 9:00am-Noon

To Register call Layne Frambes 541-733-6698 or Email: lframbes@serenitylane.org 

The workshop will be led by Heather McBride whose business, Inclarity 360 helps job seekers with everything from resume writing to interview techniques.

  • Fee is $10.00 per person.
  • We have 20 spaces for this class available so sign up ahead of time to reserve your place!
  • SL will provide breakfast rolls& coffee
  • Family Members are welcome but need to pay the class fee

The class will cover the following:
1. Principles of resume writing
2. Reviewing a model template
3. Worksheets in group breakouts with Heather.
4. Dos and Don’ts.
5. Q&A regarding alumni concerns – job gaps, job hopping,
tapping into skills, etc.
6. 1:1 reviewing their current resume and feedback or group review

Seeing The Unseen Heroes

Seeing The Unseen Heroes

by Jerry Gjesvold

One of the most painful moments we treatment providers ever experience is seeing the damage that chemical dependency does to “innocent bystanders” – particularly the children growing up in these families.

If you haven’t experienced it yourself, it’s hard to imagine.

These young people are raised in a system that’s in full-on denial of reality. Not just in the little ways we all sometimes fool ourselves, but a denial so deep that some of the most outrageous ways of seeing things can seem normal.

These children grow up with at least one parent who distorts the entire family’s perceptions of people and situations so they can maintain the flow of alcohol or other drugs. Drug-seeking is virtually always under the surface.

These are families where one or more adults have little tolerance for long-term gratification. They typically want everything now, and often believe that life is stacked against them.

Moreover, these families experience powerful emotional swings. The alcoholic or addict can be over-sentimental and maudlin one minute – and quickly turn self-pitying and even cruel the next. This creates significant confusion for young minds.

These situations are often made even worse when the alcoholic or addict is supported by a “co-dependent” spouse – the person who was supposed to help prevent injury in the first place.

Unfortunately, the damage is very real. Given what children of alcoholics and addicts so often face, it’s easy to see why they learn to mistrust their judgment – even their own perceptions of reality. (This is sad, because they were so often right all along.)

Many come to believe that trusting other people is just too risky – so they have trouble developing relationships based on mutual trust and respect. They may well develop chemical dependency themselves, or go into relationships with those who do. All that feels familiar to them.

It’s also not unusual for them to develop the symptoms of post-traumatic stress: hyper-vigilance, over-control, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, eating disorders, and more. These are the responses of a sane person who’s exposed in their formative years to an insane world.

While witnessing this damage is painful, those of us who work in treatment centers like Serenity Lane also see inspiring stories of courage and strength come out of these situations.

After all, there are powerful and effective answers for people who grew up in these kinds of warped environments. There are Al-Anon and Alateen of course, for families, friends and children of alcoholics. And there are skilled therapists who specialize in these issues.

Men and women coming out of the most awful situations can and do find the path to healing.

Every day, we see people unlearn lessons taught by warped parents and re-establish a sense of confidence in their own view of reality. This recovery typically doesn’t get the kind of celebrations given to someone who’s staying clean and sober, but it is in no way a minor achievement.

It takes courage, fortitude and perseverance to overcome the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or addicted home – and people do it every day. Like so many treatment professionals, I see people coming from unhealthy situations who are deeply committed to having a better life. They’re getting it for themselves – and extending it to the next generation.


As the manager of employer services for Serenity Lane, Jerry Gjesvold helps companies manage their drug-free workplace programs. For more information, go to www.serenitylane.org. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer.

The Benefits of Naltrexone and Vivitrol

The Benefits of Naltrexone and Vivitrol

by Jerry Gjesvold

The physicians at Serenity Lane are board-certified in Addiction Medicine, a relatively new medical specialty. We endeavor to support an abstinence/twelve step program of recovery by providing a safer, more humane detoxification from substances of abuse. Advances have also resulted in the development of powerful anti-craving medications to support a strong recovery program. By themselves, medications have little effect on relapse rates. But when combined with treatment, long-term results are improved. Anti-craving medications are not a crutch, but rather a safety net to support sobriety in early recovery, a time when most alcoholics & other addicts are most vulnerable.

Naltrexone is the most effective of these medications. Available in both pill form and extended release injection, Naltrexone blocks the reward pathway in the brain responsible for cravings. The medication is a pure antagonist, and does not stimulate the pleasure sensation or “high” associated with alcohol or opiates. Some recent studies suggest that cravings for amphetamines and cannabis may also be diminished. Naltrexone has few side effects or drug interactions, and is considered quite safe. The primary side effect in 30-50 % of patients is transient nausea, which ordinarily resolves in 12-24 hours. Anti-nausea medications, such as Zofran, are often used during initiation of treatment.

In our experience, our patients on Vivitrol, (currently the only extended release Naltrexone formulation) have a dramatically reduced rate of relapse, and no overdose deaths. We have begun to encourage our residential treatment patients to consider taking this medication to support recovery for at least 3 to 6 months, or longer depending on the individual. Anyone struggling with cravings in recovery may benefit from adding this medication to his or her recovery program. We encourage outpatients to discuss this with their primary care physicians (PCPs). A good PCP who understands addiction is a valuable partner for one in recovery.

We hope to add addiction medical services to our outpatient offices in the near future. Meanwhile, our physicians are available to consult with any primary care provider as needed to support recovery.


As the manager of employer services for Serenity Lane, Jerry Gjesvold helps companies manage their drug-free workplace programs. For more information, go to www.serenitylane.org. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer.