10 Tips for Helping Your Employees Love Their Jobs

The more you love your job, the better you’ll do at it. But the reverse is true: The better job you do, the more you love your job. So if you can raise both simultaneously within your team, you stand to gain exponentially in terms of productivity and generally having a good time. Neat and tidy, isn’t it? In reality, it’s not easy. People get disgruntled. You try and help them do a better job and they bark back, go sullen or simply quit. Face it, people react and emote. They aren’t perfect. Despite the best of intentions, they aren’t always in sync with what you’re trying to do. Here are 10 ways to remedy these things:

1. Love your job first.

Happy Employees

Help Your Employees by Loving Your Job!

It’s hard to get someone to adore their job when you despise yours. As an owner or manager, if you are upset about things, it will rub off on people. So how do you love your job at all times when obviously that is impossible? There isn’t any rote answer to that, but a good start is determining why you’re there in the first place and deciding it’s worth it. Another way is making it a game and an adventure. Yet another way is to simply decide that you’re going to have a good time, and going ahead and having a good time.

2. When they aren’t doing it right, tell them.

In general, people appreciate – despite what they might tell you – when you tell them the truth. If someone didn’t do a good job, tell them so. If they don’t appreciate it now, hopefully they will later. Being honest doesn’t mean cutting them down. “You can’t do it!” is not accurate. “You can do it and here’s how…” is a much more helpful statement. The arts, for example, is a field rife with criticism. Without being hyper-critical, help people do a better job. When you do so, they end up feeling better about themselves. In fact, it could mark a turning point in their career.

3. Validate a job well done.

Obviously it works both ways. When someone does a good job, don’t hesitate to let them know. People really appreciate a pat on the back. It reinforces their good intentions and orients them to what is considered a “good job” at your place of business. You don’t have to make it a competition, and certainly don’t pick favorites, but telling the team when someone has done a particularly good job helps to motivate people. People also respond to the employee of the month system with the better parking spot. Just make sure it’s a game that anyone can win if they apply themselves. Additionally, do a survey or take it up at the next meeting to make sure you’re offering something people are genuinely interested in.

4. Find strong suits.

A good manager will note who is good at what and take advantage of it. People generally enjoy things at which they excel. Just because someone was originally hired for a specific job does not mean they must always do that job. A clerk with great communication skills could potentially be more valuable in sales or PR, while someone skilled in computers might do better in IT than in the storeroom. Always be on the lookout for special talents. You help your company while allowing people to expand their horizons.

5. Offer incentives.

There should be reward in doing a good job and reaching higher levels of productivity. Many corporations offer their employees a stake in overall achievement. A number of successful corporations are even employee-owned. Work out what incentives work for your business. You can set goals (targets) for productivity and issue a bonus or reward when they are met. It’s not always a bonus in their paycheck that people want, so doing a survey will help. Offer a number of choices plus a blank line for something not on the list. Get agreement on what they’ll move mountains for, and be sure to make good on any promises.

6. Foster creativity.

People like to work in a fun and creative atmosphere. In fact, such an atmosphere, combined with competence and professionalism, makes for a high-caliber workplace. You can tailor creativity to your own business and brand. Not everyone will do ‘70s Fridays or the outrageous cubicle contest, but you should cultivate creativity that integrates well with your company culture. For instance, I know of an organization that held staff talent shows and a writing contest. In so doing, they provided a fun outlet for their staff while uncovering previously unknown but promising abilities.

7. Be family friendly.

People love and live for their kids. They work long and hard hours all for their children. No matter what, we must enhance and mentor the next generation. Hold a family day where everyone brings their kids in. Tour the youth around the office or plant (adhering to safety precautions of course). Show them how their parents get things done. Many companies offer benefits for employees and their families. Survey your staff and find out what would help them manage their familial and job responsibilities better.

8. Listen to new ideas.

You employees have a lot to offer in terms of new ideas and how to do things better. They are right there at street level, so to speak, and they see up close what may not be visible from a distance. Listen to their ideas. Hold brainstorming sessions. Announce a competition for the best idea to solve a specific problem. Just make sure that in any contest, everyone wins something. When people know that their contribution matters, they feel better about themselves and are motivated to do better.

9. Hold people responsible.

Once you make sure someone knows how to do something, there comes a point where you hand over the reins. It takes trust. People want to be trusted and they aspire to live up to that trust. There are dishonest people around, and yes, you’ll get a few in your company. They either straighten up or they don’t last. Any group is built upon responsibility and trust. When you see that growing, you are witnessing your team maturing into its true potential. Pride is another crucial element in the equation. When people know they’re part of something worthwhile, when they take pride in their contribution, they do a good job because they want to, not because someone told them to.

10. Coordinate your strategy.

Let your team in on your goals, strategy and planning. Make sure these are foremost in people’s minds. Any team should have a clear concept of how their actions, no matter how “small” or “insignificant”, add up to the bigger picture. This is done by setting attainable goals and sound planning and their integration into each echelon of the company. It’s simpler than it may sound and can be summed up in the word strategy. Strategic planning and strategic action necessitate that all concerned are moving in the same direction. When strategy is crystal clear and communicated, organizational confusion will dissipate. Combined with all the above points and people really knowing their jobs, you can’t help but expand – and have loads of fun doing it!

 

Tips for Marketing Yourself as a Leader in Your Field

Thought Leadership

In our wired, wireless, digitized, cloud-based, internet age, the subject of“marketing” has taken on broader and broader meaning due to the vast number of channels
Leadership with which to market your company, your services, and yourself. While I do not claim to be a marketing expert, I have gravitated toward a leadership position by sheer necessity. I wanted to make a difference and I found that others did too, so I brought them on board. There is a buzzword buzzing around: thought leader. It means someone whose opinions others value. It’s someone regarded as influential on a specific subject (or in general). It’s who people respect and listen to. A lot of people are trying to market themselves as thought leaders by using social media and other electronic means. While this can have value, it can also terribly misfire if done wrong. How does one successfully market oneself as a leader in a given field?

What is Real Leadership?

If you wish to market yourself as a leader, the first thing you’ll have to do is be one. You have to be a leader, period! What is a leader? It is someone who sets out to do something and who elicits the cooperation of others. A leader points to the horizon and says “Let’s go there!” and others follow. A leader isn’t necessarily the one appointed as having power or authority in an “official” capacity. After all, what is “official”? Let’s say it’s a government or learning institution. Who bestowed that authority? People did. People like you and me. Just read some of the documents of America’s Founding Fathers and you’ll begin to see that any “authority” is only bestowed in order to serve others, nothing more. Authority does not exist to benefit the one given authority. Any leadership is a privilege.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Many leaders have the ability to affect people emotionally. That is why artists become leaders. They use art and aesthetics to instill an emotional impact or convey a story or message. But there are different kinds of leaders. Some people influence others by being excellent communicators or making living an art form. Some are simply so good at something, so competent that others fall silent when they speak. A rare breed of leader is all of the above.

So you have to decide what kind of leader you are. What defines you as a leader? What are you offering the world? People want things that make their lives better. Any leader worthy of the title knows that when they are leading, they are really serving. A leader – to be a true leader – has to walk the walk. You have to excel at something, whether it’s an art form, a science, a business, a profession. Maybe you just have a way of reaching people. Whatever your field, you should have a good grasp of what makes you a leader in it.

Personal Branding

You may have heard of branding. It’s another buzzword that means identifying who you are. What are your core values? What is important to you? When people hear your name, what do you want them to think of? What is your message? What is your mission? Personal branding relates to you as an individual or as a leader in your respective field. Working this out requires some soul-searching because you’ll have to talk and act accordingly, and it must be honest. People will detect when it is false. You’ve got to be yourself.

Leading by example means if you represent certain values, you had better exemplify those values in your words and actions. Another way to put it is demonstration of competence. Do you achieve the intended and stated result? And when things do not go as intended or stated, do you then persevere until the result is achieved? You may ask what all this has to do with marketing? Factually, it has everything to do with it or you don’t have anything to market.

Money = Energy

Some seek to achieve leadership status through giving money. This is a valid pursuit but it is not everything. Money is energy. It is a means to an end. When I give money I make sure it is for something I personally believe in. But I don’t leave it at that. I get personally involved in whatever it is. If I’m going to donate to something, whether it’s a school or a baseball field, I want to ensure the results are achieved. If you have the resources to invest or donate, make sure it is something that aligns with your personal brand of leadership.

Marketing Channels

There are an infinite number of channels with which to market yourself or your mission. Be sure to research them out so they align with your aims. If you don’t have the time or know-how to do this, you may need enlist others’ help or hire a firm. Potential channels include websites, blogs, white papers, podcasts, videos, news media, email, infographics, social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), PR events, interviews, public speaking engagements, and many others. You can write a book, either by writing it yourself or hiring a ghostwriter. The purpose of writing a book is not necessarily to sell millions of copies, but to identify yourself as an author who possesses knowledge and experience, and to use this fact in an array of other channels. Whatever channels you use, it is important to be consistent and not waver from your personal integrity and unique identity.

Your Message & Your Mission

Act on channels that are near and dear to you. For me, helping young people is the number one priority. In light of this, I focus on the channels of education, sports and the arts. For two decades I’ve been helping people get off drugs and lead better lives. A lot of them are young people. Some are not. For youth, I wish someone had reached them earlier so they never used drugs in the first place. For the older ones, they tell me that if they only knew years or decades earlier what they know now, they never would have wandered down that road. So I work a lot in drug education and awareness.

I use the avenue of sports not just because I love sports, but because it is a great way to get kids off the street and channel that youthful energy into something healthy. I use the arts and music not just because of personal appreciation, but because it gets people’s attention, affects them emotionally and drives home a positive message.

There are many negative messages these days on television, in music videos, on social media, etc., but there are also people who bring positive communication and guidance. I consider them allies and have teamed up with educators, athletes and artists who bring home that creativity and positivity. I work with like-mined individuals and organizations in order to forward our message. Whatever your field, choose channels that relate to your expertise and your mission.

Impart Knowledge

People flock to the internet these days in search of knowledge. Knowledge is a commodity. Unfortunately, there is a lot of dubious information out there. Impart knowledge that people can use. Write articles or blog posts, conduct interviews, and use other means with the purpose of providing people with useful knowledge. Just make sure it is something you know something about. Normally this would be your specific area of expertise, but it can also encompass other fields for which you have a connection or passion. You can utilize all the internet criteria, analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), etc., but remember that you are imparting knowledge and wisdom and making personal contact.

Mentorship

But it goes way beyond the digital realm. As a leader, you are expected to mentor others and guide them toward a higher level of survival and prosperity. You are the one pointing to the horizon and telling people, “Let’s go there!” Don’t let them down.

Why ‘Smart Drugs’ Are Not a Smart Choice After All

A New Drug Trend – Smart Drugs

Nootropic: A drug used in an attempt to enhance memory or other cognitive function.

Smart Drugs

Smart Drugs – Good or Bad?

There’s a new set of drugs gaining popularity and they’re called “smart drugs” or “nootropics”. These drugs are considered the “legal” answer to amphetamines. That is, a drug which is supposed to enhance energy and speed thinking. The concept is that there is a pill that literally makes the individual smarter.

These drugs are used all over the academic world and in other high-pressure industries. According to a study done by Columbia University, 62% of students report using prescription drugs to study, stay focused, play sports or to get an “edge” in some other activity. Another study done by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital showed that prescription stimulant use has increased in the United States by 75% over a seven year period.

What are Smart Drugs?

The name “smart drugs” covers a wide gamut of medications. These include “wakefulness” drugs Provigil and Nuvigil which are commonly prescribed for the serious sleep disorder known as narcolepsy (a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep). However, it’s fairly easy to get a prescription for these drugs. Many individuals tell their doctor they have to travel for work and therefore suffer from chronic jet lag. Others skip the doctor and order it illegally online.

There are other drugs whose manufacturers state will increase the user’s concentration and which fall into the category of nootropics. A large group of these consists of various chemical formulations known as racetams. Drugs in the racetam grouping are believed to improve cognitive function in the elderly and are considered by some as an option in fighting cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s. According to studies, these drugs have no cognitive benefit when used by a healthy individual.

There are also vitamin and herbal supplements which are referred to by some as “smart drugs”. Two common nootropic supplements are New Mood and Alpha Brain. New Mood claims relaxation and reduced stress while Alpha Brain states it improves brain function. Both supplements contain B vitamins, which are natural building blocks of the brain’s cells. Vitamins are nutrients which are used or produced by the human body and are by definition not drugs. Herbs however can fall into various categories. Some concern has been expressed regarding the herbal portions of some of these nootropic supplements, specifically an herb known as Huperzine A. One doctor stated in an interview that this extract can induce psychosis if taken in very high quantity all at once.

Do Nootropics Really Make You Smarter?

More people seem to believe they can reach the sci-fi dream of obtaining knowledge through a miracle pill. The question remains: Do these nootropics make anyone any smarter?

The short answer: No. Different types of nootropics have very real downsides. The main one being that, while a drug may appear to briefly increase concentration, this state does not last. The perceived concentration or intelligence is really just a temporary effect or is in fact a delusory effect. Amphetamines or any other stimulant drug, including caffeine and nicotine, will make the brain more active for a short period of time. When a human body has been operating in a state of wakefulness that is not natural, there are always consequences. When the drug wears off, the brain activity slows down to sub-normal. The user will then seek more of the drug in an attempt to induce the same effect, and each time the slow-down occurs. No one gets any smarter. The brain and body just get artificially stimulated. The user will tend to feel rather dull and fatigued after a while.

Other Problems with Nootropics

Prescription drugs which are used to treat sleep disorders, such as Provigil and Nuvigil, have very definite problems.

These drugs do not treat the underlying causes of tiredness and exhaustion. Much like amphetamines, they only boost the individual into a state of wakefulness. This means that the user may be exhausted due to sleep deprivation, adrenal fatigue, malnutrition, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems, viral infection, and even undiagnosed heart disease. Treating only the symptom of exhaustion may cover up severe health problems which need immediate treatment. Treating solely the symptoms rather than the causes is dangerous to one’s health in the long run.

Prescription energy enhancers have serious side effects, which include:

  • Headache, dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness, burning or tingling of extremities
  • Peeling skin
  • Difficulty concentrating or exercising good judgment
  • Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Feelings of weakness
  • Frenzied or abnormally excited behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Delusion, hallucination
  • Chest pain
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Addictive behavior

There are also adverse side effects associated with the racetam group of nootropics, which include:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety, nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Reduced ability to focus or concentrate
  • Decrease in short-term memory
  • Feeling of disconnection from one’s surroundings
  • Depression
  • Dependence upon these drugs in order to concentrate
  • Addictive behavior

The Cause, Not the Symptom

Individuals taking the racetam family of drugs are often attempting to treat an inability to concentrate or some cognitive dysfunction. Such problems can be symptoms of real, treatable medical conditions including: sleep deprivation, dehydration, Parkinson’s disease, Lyme disease, heart problems, anemia, low blood pressure, a reaction to other medications, multiple sclerosis, thyroid dysfunction, arthritis, hepatitis, diabetes, tuberculosis, problems in the digestive system, and kidney disease.

Those are just a few of the many medical issues which could cause lower concentration levels. Many people suffer from asthma or allergies without even knowing it, and there are a whole series of tests which can be done to pinpoint such problems. Anything going on physically can also have a profound mental effect on an individual.

Real Problems = Real Solutions

There is no “magic bullet” which will allow a human body to work for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with perfect concentration. Drugs can make one feel invincible for short periods of time, while they slowly or quickly bring about physical and mental deterioration.

Problems and Solutions

Real Problems – Real Solutions

The real solution is maintaining one’s health. If you or someone you know has a difficult time concentrating or is chronically exhausted, they could have an underlying physical condition, the treatment of which may resolve the symptoms being experienced.

Your best bet is a practitioner who is versed not only in general medicine but in a field such as nutrition, naturopathy, chiropractic, etc. These studies, while they do not supplant “conventional” medicine, offer a holistic view. Anything focused on the cause of something and not just the symptoms is worth looking into. Similarly, disciplines which do not employ addictive, psychoactive drugs are far more likely to help an individual lead a healthier life.

Maintaining good diet, exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, a healthy lifestyle, abstaining from psychoactive drugs: All of these things add up to better brain health, more energy, and an overall sense of well-being.

 

 

Self-Efficacy: What Influence Does It Have on Addiction Recovery?

What is Self-Efficacy?

Per Wickstrom

Success It depends on you!

The term self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations, complete tasks, confront challenges, and achieve objectives. Self-efficacy is synonymous with self-confidence. It means you have confidence in your own abilities and you have a tendency to accomplish whatever it is you set out to do. Self-esteem (a favorable opinion of oneself) and self-respect (proper regard for oneself and one’s dignity and principles) play a significant role in an individual’s self-efficacy and self-confidence. All this talk of self-this and self-that may lead you to believe that someone must be self-centered and narcissistic to get anything done, but that is not true at all. Underlying all these things is another, more fundamental concept: SELF-DISCOVERY. 

Who Am I?

I’ve heard it said that there is one plot to every story and every film, summed up as “WHO AM I?” While one could argue the point, it is true that “Who am I?” is the central plot device in countless books, plays and movies. The hero endures adversity, has trouble dealing with it, and eventually comes to terms with who he really is and realizes his true potential, usually emerging victorious. They come up with some sort of answer to “Who am I?” and this is reflected in their actions. Perhaps it was their actions in the face of adversity that led them to discover who they really are. Arguably, the sole exception is the Clint Eastwood character “The Man With No Name” who has a good grasp of who he is from the very beginning!

Life however does not play out like a movie, particularly when faced with a serious problem like drug and alcohol dependence. What role does self-efficacy, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, and self-discovery play in addiction recovery? As it turns out, quite a bit.

Perseverance

When someone has confidence in their abilities, they have a tendency to persevere on a given course. They are not easily deterred. If someone has tried quitting drugs several times and failed each time, when their willpower was never enough, they will fall into a defeated state of mind. In recovery – when it is effective – the addict or alcoholic is helped through this dilemma. This does not mean “cheerleading” them through it, but rather guiding them through exactly defined steps. The ability to persist on a given course must be built up one step at a time.

Addictive Traits

Many addicts have a specific personality trait, which is that when they decide to start doing something, they have a lot of trouble stopping. This is the other side of the coin when it comes to persistence. The word addiction indicates one cannot stop doing something. When one is addicted to something destructive, it wreaks havoc in their life and the lives of those around them. But someone can be addicted to something beneficial like exercise or be obsessed with their work (called a workaholic). Exercise and work are good things. Anything can be taken to an extreme, but going to the gym all the time is substantially better than compulsively popping pills or shooting drugs in one’s veins.

Sublimation

In recovery, we can take the tendency to persist and obsess and turn it to our advantage. People can find things that interest them and re-direct their attention. It could be virtually anything as long as it is not harmful to the individual or those around them. There is the word sublimate which means to re-direct or modify an impulse or energy (usually one that is unacceptable in some way) into a culturally higher or aesthetic activity. Sublimation is a means by which one can re-direct an addictive impulse into something creative or conducive to survival.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. famously got off drugs and re-directed his impulses and artistry into his career, his family, and his adherence to the martial arts discipline of Wing Chun. Anyone getting off drugs would do well to discover creative and constructive pursuits with which to re-direct their impulses and energies – all part of the equation which starts with “Who am I?”

Positive Orientation

I’m sure you’ve heard the mantra “think positive” and felt more than a tinge of cynicism. The person telling you to “think positive” hasn’t walked in your shoes, so how could they have any idea what you’ve been through? That may be true, but a positive orientation is nonetheless invaluable. If you are convinced you’ll fail, you’ll fail (and if you happen to not fail, it was pure luck!) Positive thinking and positive doing go hand in hand. It’s not enough to think something. It takes doing. Success breeds more confidence – and more success. Failure breeds more apathy – and more failure. So it becomes even more crucial to maintain a positive outlook in times of adversity. In holistic rehab, techniques are employed to help a former addict assemble and reaffirm their positive outlook and re-build their confidence.

From the Ground Up

Success at Work

Achieving success during recovery.

It is often necessary to build self-confidence. Not everyone is born with it nor does everyone maintain it throughout their lives. Drug addiction drains the life essence out of people and with it their sense of self-worth. So, the approach is brick by brick, from the ground up. Two of the fundamentals which must be addressed are confront and communication. By confront I do not mean opposing in a belligerent manner. Rather, it refers to being able to face up to one’s problems and life in general instead of running away or going numb. Communication means being able to listen, expressing one’s thoughts, reaching people, being in harmony with others. Confront and communication work together and form the foundation for a successful existence.

Influencing Factors

When interviewing people who’ve been drug-addicted, one particular factor comes up time and time again: They have associations that fuel and exacerbate substance abuse. They have “friends” who are drug users and it is virtually impossible to stay clean with these associations. These are people that need help just as much as the person trying to get clean, but in order to get clean and stay clean, the user must sort out who to choose as friends. These are the people that are pushing drugs on the user, either because that is just “what they do” or because they are selling drugs. At the very least they are using and talking about drug use. None of this is healthy for someone trying to get cleaned up.

It is similar for the alcoholic but even more delicate. A lot of their legitimate friends are social drinkers; they can have a few drinks and stop. The alcoholic cannot stop drinking. So the friends must either refrain from drinking around the alcoholic, or the alcoholic must stop attending social occasions where people are drinking. Some former alcoholics can refrain from drinking even when there is booze in the room, and some thoughtful groups of friends know how to monitor who is doing the drinking. But the exact strategy should remain at the discretion of addiction specialists and the recovering alcoholic himself or herself.

Secrets & Lies

Nothing cripples self-confidence quite like secrets and lies. People want to be honest with their family and friends. When they aren’t, they punish themselves in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, even without realizing it. Keeping secrets and lying is unfortunately a big part of the addiction problem. But who wants to hear someone moralizing and telling them how to act? The correct angle then involves helping a person realize their own sense of personal integrity, one step at a time. Drugs change personality; people don’t act like themselves anymore. The recovery process helps them re-discover who they are. In the past they didn’t want to find out about themselves because they knew they wouldn’t like what they found. But as they go through the process, they come to see themselves much more clearly – and they like what they see this time.

The Hazards of Labeling

Quite a few “disorders” are diagnosed not by scientific or medical testing but by lists of arbitrary behavioral attributes. Such labeling is detrimental – if for no other reason than it often leads to drugging the individual. And what are those drugs? Psycho-stimulants, benzodiazepines, and others which easily lead to dependence and addiction. So for “rehab” to slap labels on people and give them more drugs counteracts the purpose of rehab. Young people get labeled with various disorders, are put on psychoactive drugs, get addicted, and wind up in rehab to kick the habit. Holistic rehab does not seek to perpetuate this vicious cycle. When young people realize they can succeed and prosper without drugs, they do substantially better in life.

Self-Affirmation

When a person has been told enough times that they are inferior, sick, criminal, and things of this nature, they’ll start believing it and telling themselves the same thing. When others make less of them, they’ll follow suit and make less of themselves. By isolating who told them what, and enlightenment on the truth, we give a person a serious boost in self-confidence. In fact, such self-affirmation can mark a turning point in a person’s life.

Alignment of Forces

Once someone gets a little momentum going in their life, it is wise to “align forces and flows” – meaning to coordinate actions in a positive and constructive manner. Let’s say a recovering addict decided to go back to school and get a degree: A good idea would be a degree which is practical and can be used to build a career. If he needs to work at the same time, getting a job which doesn’t put him in the vicinity of drug users would also be of importance, and a rehab facility’s aftercare department could be of assistance in that regard. Meanwhile, his family may wish to help make things a little easier in the transitional period. These things and many more add up to aligned and coordinated actions.

All told, self-efficacy and confidence are considerably bolstered through self-discovery, perseverance, sublimation, positivity, confront, communication, re-orientation, honesty, self-affirmation, setting goals, intelligent planning, hard work, and team action.

How to Find Hope in the Hopelessness of Addiction

The Depths of Despair

finding hope during your addiction

How to find hope during addiction.

I for one can speak from personal experience on the subject of hopelessness. I was addicted to alcohol and cocaine for years. I had started using these substances at a young age and for a while thought I was invincible. But gradually things got worse and worse. I hit several points that I thought were “rock bottom” only to find I could sink even lower than that. I tried four different rehab programs but relapsed every time. I was without hope. Later on, I started upon a new program yet again. But something was different this time: It seemed to be working! It helped me come to terms with who I was, versus this “other personality”. It turned out this “other me” wasn’t me at all. It was a personality brought on by drug and alcohol abuse. That was one realization I had.

As I progressed I had many more startling realizations. This was all in addition to full detoxification from the devastating effects of chemical abuse. By the time I was done, I felt like a new person. Only I wasn’t really a new person. I was simply me, but this time I was more than happy with that. A “new me” wasn’t the end of it. I decided my purpose was to help others by using the same principles that had pulled me out of my own personal hell of hopelessness and despair. It became my driving purpose to help others free themselves from the chains of addiction.

Biochemical Causes

Addiction can appear utterly hopeless, and there are many reasons for this. A primary one is the effect drugs have on the biochemistry of the individual. “Biochemistry” refers to the complex interaction of chemicals (substances, fluids) within a living organism, in this case the human body. The body breaks down food, vitamins and nutrients into chemicals which it uses to function properly. Drugs and other toxins are foreign to the body and disrupt its natural biochemistry, in particular the nervous system and the intricate system of over 100 neurotransmitters (chemicals produced and used within the nervous system and the brain).

One profound way that a drug interferes with biochemistry is that it will trigger the release excessive amounts of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and endorphins. These chemicals are released in small quantities by everyday actions such as eating an apple or going for a jog. Drugs trigger a flood of these chemicals, which accounts – at least in part – for the “high” the user feels. But as any drug user will tell you, the high is commonly followed by intense depression as the body goes back to its normal (or lower) level of neurotransmitter flow.

The upshot of this is that the body is “fooled” into perceiving it needs more of the drug to “feel good” again. This vicious cycle gets progressively worse and worse as the individual uses more and more of a drug – to the point of severe dependence and addiction. As we all know, some drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and methamphetamine are known for producing such a level of addiction that the addict will act extremely irrational – even psychotic – depending on the length and severity of the addiction. As if that weren’t enough, drugs deplete the body of vital nutrients and vitamins, making addiction even harder to overcome.

The Value of Detoxification

The addicted individual’s body has been drained of its natural nutrients while at the same time it craves a drug or drugs in order to obtain a chemical high. The person experiences dramatic highs followed by abysmal – even suicidal – lows. It is a roller coaster ride that is – to put it mildly – simply not fun anymore.

The addict who feels hopeless must recognize that they are putting the body through an arduous series of ups and downs and the immediate answer is DETOXIFICATION. Detox is the action of letting the drugs exit the bloodstream. A thorough detox process results in drug residuals leaving the tissues of the body. Detox should be done in a supervised setting for the comfort and safety of the recovering addict. Attempting detox without help is not advisable nor is it safe.

Rehabilitation and Trust

Once the person is off drugs, the process of rehabilitation begins. There are always underlying issues at the root of addiction. In other words, physical addiction is very real indeed, but it is never solely a physical problem. Rehab works to deal with these fundamental problems.

Many people who have fallen into addiction have trust issues. They instinctively do not trust anyone who claims they can “help” them. Establishing a degree of trust, even a little at a time, is essential for the rehab process. That is one reason former addicts do so well with recovering addicts. An addict will often feel that anyone who has never been addicted could not possibly understand what they are going through, and they are in many ways correct. But a former addict understands all too well. No matter the setting, the value of someone who really listens and understands is immeasurable.

Drugs Change Personality

How to Find Hope in the Hopelessness of Addiction

How to Find Hope in Addiction

Drugs change personality. A once bright and cheerful person can change into one who is depressed, angry at the world, without a sense of hope, without purpose. Anyone struggling with addiction must recognize the fact that the addiction is rigged to perpetuate itself. In other words, addiction is wired to bring about continued addiction. By its very nature, it is difficult to escape. Simply understanding these facts is a good first step. Then comes the recognition that something can be done about it. This is immediately followed by the willingness to at least try.

Change of Environment

An inpatient setting for recovery is usually the best approach. This is because of the value of the CHANGE OF ENVIRONMENT. In the person’s current environment, he or she continued drug abuse, thus there is probably something wrong with the environment. So we change the environment and provide a safe space in which to recover. From there we look at what environmental factors have been causing or exacerbating the addiction and take effective remedial action.

The Spiritual Element

Quite in addition to addressing the physical and mental influences of addiction, one must not neglect the spiritual side of existence. Faith, religion and spirituality are of course unique to each individual. No one should force anyone to believe anything. But if a person feels they should be looking at the spiritual aspects of their addiction and their life in general, they should be encouraged and helped in doing so. Countless people have found renewed hope when they have fallen back on faith and sought spiritual guidance. It can make all the difference.

New Friends

An addict often needs to make new friends. Plain and simple, they need to hang out with people who are not drug users. This takes some getting used to, and it is often in rehab where this occurs. They are in there pitching with others in the same boat. Everyone there is bailing water, so to speak, in order to stay afloat. They are part of a group with a worthwhile objective and this makes a huge difference.

A miracle I have witnessed countless times is the addict or alcoholic who starts taking responsibility for other people. They look beyond their own personal problems and see that others have had it just as bad or worse. They start to lead by example. This can mark the beginning of a new life for the individual, one where they care for themselves, their friends and their family. The idea of “hopelessness” doesn’t even exist after that. There is an abundance of hope.

Finding a Purpose

After emerging from the hell that was my addiction, I found a purpose: TO HELP OTHERS WHO HAD FALLEN INTO ADDICTION. This was two decades ago and I have not looked back. Anyone can find a purpose for their life, a higher calling, the thing that gets them up in the morning and motivates them to do better each day. Without a destination, without a strong sense of purpose, we are just drifting with the tide – we are not in control. To take control, it is necessary to decide upon a constructive goal.

The first goal of an addict is to “get more drugs” or “stay high”. Given some insight, they hopefully change that to “conquering the addiction”. When the addiction no longer has a firm grip, it is vital to formulate new purposes or rekindle the old ones that were abandoned. Adopting new objectives, new interests, and a new level of self-discipline in order to pursue those objectives and interests are all part of restoring hope and faith in oneself. There is indeed hope after the hopelessness of addiction. More hope than you could possibly imagine.

Debunking the Stigma About Rehab: How and Why It Works

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said, ‘No, no, no.
Yes, I’ve been black but when I come back you’ll know, know, know.
I don’t ever wanna drink again, I just…I just need a friend.
I’m not gonna spend ten weeks, have everyone think I’m on the mend.
It’s not just my pride, it’s just ’til these tears have dried.”

 -Amy Winehouse (1983-2011) from “Rehab”

Tragic Consequences

Alcoholism

Tragic Consequences

British singer Amy Winehouse was a revelation in the music world with her diverse blend of musical styles that included soul, jazz, reggae, and pop, all accented with a soul-drenched voice which at once evoked the best of Motown while sounding altogether modern. Amy Jade Winehouse was found dead in her London home on July 23, 2011. The cause of death, ruled in October 2011 and again in December 2012, was “accidental alcohol poisoning.” Amy’s struggle with drug and alcohol abuse was a favorite topic for the cold and twisted glare of the tabloids both in the US and in Britain.

Her award-wining song “Rehab” was autobiographical. On the influence for the song, Amy stated, “I asked my dad if he thought I needed to go. He said no, but I should give it a try. So I did, for just 15 minutes. I went in said ‘hello’ and explained that I drink because I am in love and have screwed up the relationship. Then I walked out.”

Why the “Stigma”?

Why do some perceive there is a stigma about “going to rehab”? Why do people refuse to go to rehab when it could obviously do them a great deal of good and could even save their life? What does “rehab” even mean?

Rehab is short for rehabilitation. To rehabilitate is “to promote or restore happiness, success, health and vitality to an individual by training and therapy after addiction, illness, or imprisonment.” It means “restore to a previous condition,” “bring ability back,” or “return what was missing or lost.”

Some attach a stigma or negative connotation to drug and alcohol rehab because a person who is addicted is often slapped with one or more labels from the get-go. Their “behavior” is deemed unacceptable to society at large and they are already made to feel like an outcast or outsider in various ways.

Let’s get something clear, when “rehab” is in the “behavior business,” when it seeks to judge and label people, it is prone to failure. On the other hand, rehabilitation geared toward helping people to be more themselves, which helps bring out the inherent goodness in people, is prone to success. Rehab should NOT have the purpose of “making someone normal.” Its focus should be on assisting and positively guiding an individual in raising their level of survival, happiness, health and vitality.

UntrDebunking the Stigma About Rehab: How and Why It Workseated Addiction

In a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 23 million Americans, from age 12 on up, need treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse. However, only about 2.4 million receive that treatment. Thus almost 21 million individuals go untreated. Those numbers are conservative at best as they do not take into account the 49 million Americans that take prescription psychotropic drugs on a regular basis. A large percentage of these individuals, though they may or may not abuse these drugs, suffer from what could be termed Rx addiction.

The First Step: Detoxification

While the government’s “War on Drugs” seeks to slow or stop the illicit drug trade, only effective rehabilitation will help the drug addict with the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make life a living hell. The first step of rehab is detoxification. “Going it alone” or “cold turkey” is dangerous and highly inadvisable. Modern and effective detox systems employ medical and holistic approaches to help an addict or alcoholic through withdrawal in safety and relative comfort. It doesn’t do much good to talk to a heroin addict about their “relationship problems” while they are experiencing the pain, sickness and nausea of opiate withdrawal. The combination of medical and holistic methodologies makes withdrawal comparatively painless, but only after detoxification is accomplished and the person is reasonably comfortable do we even attempt the next steps of rehabilitation.

Causes and Results

Rehab confronts the CAUSES and the RESULTS. It looks at what caused or motivated a person’s drug or alcohol abuse. And it looks at the results and ramifications of that substance abuse. This should not be done by telling someone who or what they are or how they should think and act. One of the most effective tools for use in rehab is EDUCATION. In countless cases, a person started into drug use because they didn’t know how to handle something and sought an escape, an “out,” through drugs. They sought to numb or suppress an emotion, pain, problem or dilemma. The drug use then overshadowed the original problem. But what if they knew how to treat the original problem? What if they were educated in how to solve problems and trained in skills to effectively deal with their lives? Such education and applied knowledge becomes a primary focus of holistic and evidence-based rehabilitation.

Getting Back Self-Respect

A recovering addict or alcoholic will benefit from looking at the results of their substance abuse, in regards to themselves and others around them. This is not always easy as it requires one look at any wreckage they may have personally caused. Again, this is not accomplished by labeling someone or telling them they’re a bad person. In most cases they are willing to look, which is an excellent start. True, others did things to them which must be significantly addressed, but ignoring what one did to others is a fatal mistake. Why? Because it denies the person the opportunity to restore their sense of integrity, responsibility and self-respect! Recovery of self-respect and self-esteem is integral to the rehab process.

The Whole Approach

Holistic implies addressing the WHOLE person, their BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT. That’s not a catchphrase. It breaks down to providing a number of paths for individual recovery. These include: Dealing with underlying medical issues, physical fitness, healing practices such as acupuncture and nutritional development, cognitive therapy, group workshops, training on personal responsibility and morals, as well as faith-based and spiritual recovery. All these and more combine to form what we term the holistic approach. It is the polar opposite of pigeon-holing people, telling them how they should think, how they should act or what they should be. You will find that when rehab adopts a guiding, helping, individualized, and educational approach, the vast majority respond with heightened responsibility, love for others, and a desire to build a better life for themselves, their family, their friends, and the world at large.

Self-Imposed Exile

The “stigma” of rehab is often self-imposed. A person feels their pride may be shattered if they admit they have a problem or if they admit they are unequipped to deal with the problem alone. But their pride could spell their hospitalization or their death. The primary tool used to get through this first barrier is COMMUNICATION. Sometimes an organized intervention is necessary. Ideally, an intervention is NOT a surprise attack or a bait and switch. A person can be told they are requested at a family meeting or can even be told it is an intervention ahead of time. The approach used depends on the individual and the circumstances involved. But regardless, the purpose of intervention is still communication. If done right, the result is realization.

Freedom from Drug Abuse

Is there a stigma to rehab? Only a false one! Anyone attaching a stigma to it is at the very least not helping and at the worst actively trying to prevent recovery. As far as the self-imposed stigma is concerned, one could ask the question, what is more stigmatizing: “I did rehab and I am living happily drug-free” or “Found dead by overdose”?

Effective rehab techniques have put full recovery squarely on the map. A drug addict or alcoholic can recover and live successfully without the devastating burden of a chemical straitjacket. And no one needs to sacrifice their individuality. Quite the contrary, such things as individuality and creativity are augmented through effective, holistic techniques. A rehabilitated existence is marked by health, vitality, knowledge, and a renewed sense of meaning and accomplishment.

Music and Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

There are many benefits that music and art therapy add to an addiction treatment program. This is why we include them in our program at Best Drug Rehabilitation. At BDR, we have Dan as one of our instructors of music therapy. He’s also putting a concert together for some of the MoTown Greats Against Addiction coming up probably this fall. Our instructors, like Dan, make participating in music and art therapy fun and beneficial.

The Benefits of Music and Art Therapy

Music and art therapy

Music and Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

One of the major reasons that you get success with art and music therapy is that it helps people extrovert. That means they are able to take their focus off of themselves and look out into the environment. When you extrovert, you expand your goals and purposes. It is like an expansion process of a drug addict raising their tone level, heightening their activities, cleaning away the barriers, getting rid of distractions, and finding a purpose. This all leads to the addict kicking the opposition (which is drugs) to the curb, because he or she makes the decision to be more alive. They become more alive as a group, more alive as a husband or wife, and more alive as a child or parent. This is extrovert.

The person is not being an introvert and thinking, “poor me” or “I’m depressed.” The person is not loathing around because they were fired or their spouse left them. If you look at all that stuff, anyone would be depressed. Things like that are depressing, but when one extroverts and expands oneself, it is probably one of the best ways for therapy.

Music builds emotion, creativity, and allows the individual to extrovert. Art works in the same way. I don’t care if you are a bad painter, just go paint something or do something different. Engaging in music and arts tends to relieve the system of addiction. An individual can use music and art therapy to relieve pressures of life and become more extroverted. This will enable them to look around in their environment and look at the world around them. An extrovert will be able to look at their family, work, and outside situations and handle and control those things. Once you are able to handle and control those things, you minimize on your problems. I like to say, if you confront a problem, and I mean really confront it, is it really a problem? If you confront that addiction with the right guidance, you can look at that problem and make it vanish. That is successful treatment. Music and art help that vision.

Best Drug Rehabilitation and Music With a Mission

At Best Drug Rehabilitation, we recently paired with Music With a Mission for a concert raising funds for the Unity Schools of Mendon, Illinois. The motivation was that I have very good friends from that area and I wanted to help. I also wanted to let the people of Mendon get some extroversion and be able to do some different things. I went out and met the kids and worked on a popular program. My goal is to be a good leader and issue a positive order that I enforce. I genuinely care about what happens to the kids, along with my team from Best Drug Rehabilitation. We want them to be prosperous. We want their school to be well-funded and have money for things such as a baseball team. Those kids came out and helped to set things up. It was a great service for everyone involved. It was a very well scheduled and positive show that got to address addiction. We obtained what is called the “ideal scene,” which was young kids having clean fun and listening to good music.

We are going to do this for four other schools. Our goal is to bring and execute a story against addiction. We hope to see continued success in promoting a great cause for young men and women.

How Entrepreneurs Become and Remain Successful

In my business, I have connections to quite a bit of different people at drug rehabilitation centers. I also know people who run online marketing companies, movie theaters, people that run golf courses and baseball teams. I know a variety of people, because addiction does not discriminate. It takes rich people, poor people, whether they are black, white, Asian, male, or female. Addiction affects every religion, every walk of life, and stabs individuals right in the heart. Now the sum of the people I deal with while combating addiction are in the rehabilitation industry, but a lot of them are just in various fields of business.

Successful Entrepreneurs

How Entrepreneurs Become and Remain Successful

Here are some great examples of how entrepreneurs become and remain successful:

No Quitting

Some of the basic values of being an entrepreneur is that you don’t quit. That is by far number one. There is a word that is not in the vocabulary of successful entrepreneurs, and that word is “CAN’T.” Now you might say, “I won’t,” but never, “I can’t.” If you say that you can’t do something, then you take away the challenge and limit yourself. Suddenly, you are not going to be able to do it, because you have determined that it isn’t possible.

Leading by Example

As entrepreneurs, there is a certain trait you share in common with the people you work with and the people that you affect everyday. This trait is leading by example. For example, if you come into a lot of contact with addicts, it is important to lead by example to encourage them. You lead by being happy and by having dreams and pursuing those dreams.

Motivating

Entrepreneurs must know how to motivate. You have to be able to motivate those around you, a motivator of everyone that you come into contact with.

Creating

Another great trait of entrepreneurs is that they are creators. This is not just in business. In a recent conversation with a young man in my office, we began talking about life and being married. You have to create to be successful and in marriage, this might be how many times you hold your loved one’s hand or how many times you tell them that you love them each day and thank them for sharing their life with you. This is creating. Unfortunately, life gets busy and we forget how lucky we are and then we don’t remember until we lose that individual. If you stop creating with your loved one, you will think the grass is greener somewhere else and you will leave. It does not matter what the reason is, if you don’t continuously create in a relationship, you will lose it. The same is true with business. You must continue to be innovative in business operations and creating relationships.

Mentoring

Successful entrepreneurs are great mentors and they love to inspire. While you are inspiring, you are teaching. When you are teaching, you must point to the individual and try to bring out his or her own vision. It cannot be your vision, it has to be their vision. You have to have vision, but you have to ask them what are their visions, what they want to do in life, and how they want to change the world.

Knowing the Importance of Teamwork

Entrepreneurs know the importance of teamwork. When it comes to the ones working for you, it comes down to asking the individual you are teaching if they want to join the team. There is no ‘I’ in team. Everyone needs to know what the other teammates are doing and thinking. The definition of a team is people who are cooperative together for a common purpose. The problem with a team is the downfall you can have when someone who is not assisting, not bonding together as a group with a common cause, purpose, and goal. In addiction, we play the game of life. Things don’t always go right, and unfortunately, people get sick, people go back to addiction, and people die in this game. We lose great individuals. Get on Google and research individuals who lost their life to addiction. There are thousands of them. You can probably think of a few at the top of your mind. Maybe people who were famous. Maybe even people who were family. For me, creating an effective team is a matter of saving lives. A great entrepreneur knows the importance of creating a team with a common purpose and goal.

In Conclusion

I’d like to end with a quote from a man who knew a lot about team building, Vince Lombardi. What Lombardi thought as being an entrepreneurship is that the entrepreneur’s final grade is: Was he winner? Lombardi famously said, “Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.” Winning is a habit, unfortunately, so is losing. You have to learn that when you go home at night and put your head on that pillow that you did everything in your power to accomplish whatever your purpose is to do. Whether it is getting people off drugs, selling cars, painting pictures or making music, you can rest at ease knowing you worked as hard as you could that day to forward your common goal with your teammates and yourself. That’s winning.

In my world, there is no room for second place. There is only one place in my business, because second place is death. I’ve never finished second in addiction, because I’d be dead. I’ve had times when I wished I was dead. I’ve had times when I thought about being dead, and I think every addict will relate to that. There is no “Almost Superbowl” or “Loserbowl.” There is only a Superbowl. Successful people think about winning. It’s always been an American zeal to win. Every inch of an individual from the bottom of their feet to the top of their head, they have to be smart in life and business. Don’t get discouraged and depressed. What is depression? Depression is not feeling worth your salt. Depression is not appreciating the work or discipline you had. There is something inside of us that yearns to have discipline and the harsh reality is that when men and women don’t have discipline, they don’t feel fulfilled. It’s that purpose that the individual has. The finest hour of an individual is when that person has put a goal out there to achieve and worked hard for that goal, when they get done with the day and they get that call they have been waiting to get. Maybe the advertising agency approved the ad that they have worked on for 3 weeks. Maybe the attorney goes into work and wins a not guilty plea. Maybe the stockbroker recommended a certain stock and it went up. Or just maybe the doctor dug his hands in a person’s heart and by massaging it slowly, got it to start beating again and saved that person’s life. A premature heroin-addicted baby was born and they put him or her in an incubator and they nursed him back to health. The attorney, doctor, stockbroker, and salesperson all went home and laid their heads on the pillow with relief, because they were entrepreneurs that day and they won. It is a great feeling. We can agree and disagree on a lot of things, but when you are sweaty and tired after doing what you have achieved to do, there is no more self-satisfaction than that.

Holistic Alternatives for Chronic Pain Management

Hazards of Pain Medication

Chronic pain can be a crippling problem. It can send you reaching for pain pills more than you would like, and leave you with the dullness many associate with those pills.

Prolonged exposure to prescription or over-the-counter medications to combat chronic pain may heighten your risk of addiction to those pills. An unfortunate fact is that opioid overdoses from abuse, intentional overdose, or accidental overdose now kills more people than overdoses of cocaine or heroin. Opioid addiction has also tripled over a ten year period.

These statistics and many others have chronic pain patients looking for drug-free methods of dealing with their pain. Pain management is a difficult and constant fight, but trying different actions may help you come up with the most effective solution for your pain.

Holistic Pain Treatment

Holistic Alternatives for Chronic Pain Management

Symptoms vs. Causes

Pain comes from somewhere. If the source of your chronic pain is unknown, you should consult with a doctor, chiropractor, naturopath, nutritionist, or any other specialist in order to locate the underlying cause (or causes) of the pain.

Top sources of chronic pain include bodily injury, nerve damage, infection, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and many autoimmune diseases. There are treatments available for these conditions that do not solely involve painkillers.

When it is fully known what is causing the pain, a treatment program can be worked out. Rather than just treating symptoms, a truly holistic approach will tend to utilize more than one methodology with a focus on remedying the root causes of a condition. Consulting with a physician who is versed in both conventional and holistic medicine is a good way to address chronic pain or any number of other physical conditions. Some medical centers employ practitioners who specialize in different disciplines in order to attain a balanced and holistic approach.

Alternatives

I am not a medical practitioner, so do not take any of this as “medical advice,” but I have looked into some holistic alternatives to pain medications due to the addictive nature of these drugs. None of this information should be used in place of a visit to a doctor, but I thought it would be useful to outline some of the more holistic approaches to pain:

Nutrition & Supplements

Drugs deplete the human body of essential vitamins and minerals. Even when drug-free, the “normal” American diet is seriously lacking in nutrition. In addition to a nutrient-rich diet, it is highly advisable to use vitamin and mineral supplements. Calcium and magnesium for example have been found to help alleviate joint and muscle pain. Physical ailments themselves, in addition to their own symptoms, can deplete the body of these nutrients thereby exacerbating an already difficult situation.

An easy-to-digest diet can alleviate the inflammation that causes many chronic pain conditions. Such foods are simple and unprocessed and include leafy greens, asparagus, low sugar fruits, and anything high in omega-3 fatty acids.

When adjusting your diet to nutritious foods and supplements and cutting out foods loaded with chemicals, additives, preservatives and sugar, you may find that your pain subsides. No need to get fanatical about it; common sense when it comes to nutrition is often what people are lacking. It is also advisable to discuss diet and nutrition from a holistic standpoint with a qualified physician, naturopath or nutritionist.

People can suffer from a deficiency in a specific nutrient. You can get blood tests to determine what you are low in and remedy it with vitamin and mineral supplements. Common deficiencies associated with chronic pain include: Vitamins D, A, E, C, B7, B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Allergies can also be a factor in pain, discomfort and even mental outlook. Extensive testing can be done to isolate and treat allergies.

Sleep

Lack of sleep and chronic pain are linked. It can be difficult to discover if it’s the pain that is causing the poor sleep, or the poor sleep that is causing the pain – or some combination of the two.

A key step to chronic pain management would be to ensure consistent, restful sleep. But adding addictive sleeping pills to the mix can cause other complications. Fortunately, there are many holistic solutions to help you in your journey to great rest. Here are just a few:

  • Calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin B1: Calcium and magnesium work to relax the body, while vitamin B1 helps the brain calm down.
  • Develop a healthy sleep schedule. Set aside the same time every night to prepare for bed, go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time. Your body will eventually find rhythm in the routine.
  • Cut out smoking, caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, etc.), and drinking alcohol before bed.
  • Get the right bed and mattress for you. Too soft or too stiff a mattress can cause further discomfort, and you don’t need that when you’re in chronic pain already.
  • Discuss sleep-boosting herbs and supplements with your doctor, nutritionist, etc. Some that have been found to help: valerian, California poppy, passion flower, tryptophan, melatonin, and hops.

Hydration

You may know the fun fact that around 60% of the human body is water. This is one reason that proper hydration is so important. Studies show that dehydration contributes to chronic pain, such as headaches and backaches. The only way to really hydrate is to drink plenty of water. If you drink coffee or alcohol, you must drink even more water.

Herbs

There are many herbs and spices on the market which work to fight inflammation, alleviate pain or simply help you relax. Many are taken in the form of a hot tea and some can be added to food. Here are some which have known pain-fighting characteristics:

  • Turmeric
  • Willow Bark
  • Kava (also called Kava-Kava)
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian (often blended with Skullcap)
  • Devil’s Claw
  • SAM-e
  • Arnica Montana
  • Angelica (also called Dong Quai)
  • California Poppy
  • Boswellia
  • • Ginger
  • • Green Tea
  • • Aloe Vera or Eucalyptus Oil used topically

NOTE: Certain herbs are also associated with specific side effects and some should not be taken by pregnant women or given to children. Consult with a qualified specialist regarding use of herbs in alleviating pain.

Treatment Methods

You have likely heard of at least one “alternative” method which may have the ability to ease your pain. Some of these are relatively new and some have been around for thousands of years. You can try them and discover what works for you:

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Chiropractic
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Reiki (Japanese spiritual massage)
  • Physical Therapy (conventional or alternative)

Such actions may not cure your chronic pain, but they can potentially alleviate the stress you are feeling, make your body healthier, and provide greater energy. You will likely need to give your chosen method some time, just as you would with medication for an illness.

Exercise

Perhaps the last thing you want to do when you are in pain is workout. But dragging yourself out of bed and going for a light walk, a low-impact swim, doing some yoga, etc. have proven benefits for individuals with chronic pain.

In general, routine exercise is vital for our overall health and longevity. The action of exercise also releases your body’s natural analgesic neurotransmitters known as endorphins. Exercise is especially vital for anyone working at a desk for eight hours a day. So get outside and run, walk, do sports, get to the gym, workout, etc. You’ll thank yourself later.

Summary

Any of these tips should only be followed under the guidance of your doctor or health consultant. Do some research to zero in on which method or methods might work best for you. Good luck and here’s to a pain-free and drug-free life!

Sources:

www.Health.Harvard.edu
www.WebMD.com
www.Health.com
www.Healthline.com
www.NaturalNews.com
www.FoxNews.com
www.CNN.com

10 Ways to be Creative Without Drugs or Alcohol

Kurt Cobain Quote

The Search for Creativity

There have been schools of thought over the ages that taught that an artist or any creative person had to be neurotic or insane to produce meaningful art. Right alongside that has been the belief that a person had to be chemically induced in order to be creative, that drugs or alcohol were necessary for creative thought. This idea has held sway in countless circles of artists and people who attach themselves to artists. I suppose the idea has been that the mind is too narrow and needs psychoactive substances in order to expand. Or perhaps it is a marketing ploy by drug pushers and others seeking to make money and subvert and kill artists and musicians. Some creative individuals have even been under the impression that it is necessary to die from a drug overdose in order to have been truly creative – the only thing proven however, was that a drug overdose makes one truly dead.

The Infinite Canvas

Ways to be Creative Without Drugs or Alcohol

Ways to be Creative Without Drugs or Alcohol

Any skilled artist, musician, painter, novelist, etc. uses the entirety of human existence as a canvas, any strata of life is open, no color is off limits when it comes to illustrating and communicating the pain, joy, love, hate, sadness and elation that is life. But that doesn’t mean the artist has to experience every bad emotion and everything painful in order to create lasting and meaningful art. Taken to the extreme, one isn’t going to be particularly creative while lying in a hospital bed or a coffin. Many artists that were once addicted managed to quit and have chosen to enlighten others on the pitfalls of substance abuse. Whether one is a musician, an entrepreneur or anything that requires creativity, it is useful to know some lasting ways to be increasingly creative whilst remaining sober:

10 Ways to be Creative

1. Put order into your life.

Not an easy task, I know. “In order” is a relative term. It is a constant and continuous activity and is a means to an end. You can get your affairs reasonably straightened out and thus, free yourself up to pursue your creative interests. But sometimes there is something so insurmountable in the way that it overshadows everything else – like drug or alcohol addiction. A problem like that can cast a shadow so wide and dark that one sees only blackness and fails to see the problem at all. In such a scenario, getting real and honest help is the answer.

2. Look to positive examples.

Red Hot Chili Peppers QuoteAnthony Kiedis wrote about his recovery from years of drug addiction and has gone on to superstardom with his band mates. Musical legend Johnny Cash spoke extensively about his battles and victories against substance abuse. Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and many others have recounted their harrowing stories, their brushes with death, and how they kicked the habits that were eating away at their creative souls. Many an artist has been misled into drug use in order to “get creative” and found only fleeting pleasure followed by depression and pain. Look to people you admire who remain fully creative without a chemical crutch or hindrance.

3. Build a culture of creativity.

Construct a culture of creativity in your immediate vicinity. Start with your own room or home. Surround yourself with what inspires you. How you do this depends on your pursuits and what would constitute a creative environment for you personally. Ever meet someone with a LOT of guitars? Or someone who is really into cars (or motorcycles or woodworking) and what their garage looks like? You don’t have to stop with your own home. Taking into account obvious financial concerns, find what inspires you. It’s out there. It could be reading books or the experience of music or nature or places you visit.

4. Know your triggers.

Being aware of negative forces is also vital. We all have triggers of some kind or another. When it comes to substance abuse, certain situations, people, places, stresses, etc. can and do act as triggers of a highly negative nature. It is an action-reaction mechanism and it is not particularly rational. Instead of ignoring our emotions, we can recognize and understand them. And we can do something about them. It may be as simple as leaving the room, or calling a friend, or taking a walk. It is important to have a strategy.

5. Collaborate.

Some of the best art and music was created by collaboration. A prosperous business is the result of teamwork. Network with others who are creative AND clean and sober – THAT is a winning combination. If you don’t know anyone in that category, you can look online for like-minded people or groups, or seek them out in your area. Collaborate and team up with others who are committed to creativity without chemical interference.

6. Help others.

Just helping others in any number of capacities is a therapy in itself. There is no shortage of groups dedicated to selflessly helping others, and they are usually more than grateful for your assistance. It is a good way to balance out whatever else you may be doing in life. It certainly helps to put things in perspective and makes you more appreciative of what you do have. And it can also be a source of inspiration.

7. Self-Discipline.

I think you’ll find that the most creative minds don’t spend much time sitting around watching television. Getting really good at something requires hard work and practice, it requires dedication, and it requires that one spend time honing one’s skills while others may be goofing off. I guarantee that if you employ some self-discipline, you’ll enjoy your off time way more – i.e. work hard and play hard. Self-discipline is a valuable skill. And make no mistake, it is a skill which can be learned and developed. Maintaining sufficient self-discipline to stay focused on creative interests and goals is a continuous process.

8. Truth.

You probably know that it’s a good idea to be honest with yourself and others. I’m no philosopher but I’d say that truth and love and beauty all go together. Truth however isn’t always pretty. We’ve all told lies – some little white ones and some big ones. I have found that it is highly beneficial to sooner or later come to terms with the lies. One may find that some of the “little white” ones were in fact pretty major and some of the big ones were not as bad as one thought.

One can get rather snarled up in life when you have to constantly cover your tracks in an elaborate web of deceit, and it is often the little things stacking up that gnaw away at your soul. When one does come to terms with untruth and injects truth into one’s life, a result can be a surge in creativity. I have seen it over and over again in drug rehab, but the principle applies to anyone.

9. Always be learning.

Salespeople are told “ABC”: Always Be Closing. For anyone I say “Always Be Learning.” As soon as you think you know everything, you have given up on adventure. There are always lessons to be learned and some are learned the hard way. Being continuously open to knowledge, having a mind that is free, means you are giving yourself room to grow. The closed mind that thinks it “knows all” is stuck in its ways and will not progress.

In the 1960s people used psychedelic drugs in order to “expand their consciousness”. Unfortunately what they succeeded in doing was killing their brain cells. But their intention at the outset was rather noble in many cases – they were seeking to further their understanding. There is knowledge and wisdom and creativity to be found in infinite quantity. And you need not wander in a chemically-induced haze in order to find it. Always be learning.

10. Create!

“ABC” also means “Always Be Creating.” If you are a writer, write! If you are a painter, paint! If you are a musician, play! If you are an entrepreneur, prosper! Just keep creating no matter what. If you do this and keep learning in the process, you’ll get better at what you do. One of the best ways to get through a creative block is to simply start creating something. You don’t have to pop pills or drink booze. Have some faith in yourself. Create!