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Chasing Nirvana

Eagle Valley Behavioral Health

We are told how lucky we are to be living here; a place where others travel across the globe to experience, and we have it every day. We live in Nirvana, yet…

What does it take to live “the good life”? Those that consider the good life to be within a resort community, face a high cost of living, low wages, few childcare options, limited career opportunities, remote locations, and other daily challenges. Many choose the lifestyle; some feel trapped by it.

Inevitably, wherever you live, pressure builds up and an escape valve is necessary to prevent an explosion. When that explosion feels imminent, an immediate solution becomes oh-so-tempting. While alcohol has been a go-to release mechanism for centuries, many have praised the availability of marijuana as a substitute, but regulations make its consumption sometimes di cult, particularly if a need is felt during working hours or away from home.

Where then, can one seek solace from the day-to-day pressures? Expectations are increased if your role is that of a parent, an executive, or a prominent member of the community. When everyone praises your accomplishments or ability to “live the good life”, will you appear ungrateful for not appreciating your many blessings?

Escape can become an obsession, and discretion is key. You just want a little something to take the edge off. A small shot of that warm golden liquid or maybe, just one gummy.

Now, if we could just repeat that feeling again. Maybe one more, not a lot, just once more. You don’t really need it; you only want it to help you over this momentary situation. But, that second hit didn’t quite feel like the first. Perhaps, it wasn’t enough. Just one more… and then, only if needed, another.

It may not keep you as sharp as you could be, but when you were “sharp” you were edgy, moody, unable to concentrate, angry, and all of the things, you despise. With just one tiny sip or hit, you are now, more in control, and can do a much better job.

Addicted… of course not, you could stop at any time.

Yet, the times when you feel it necessary to open that escape hatch, are becoming more frequent, and it is taking more to help you feel less. Life in Nirvana comes at a price.

That price is often stress, and stress can be painful. Can you live up to the image… the perfect employee/business owner, parent, spouse, community member or person.

We logically realize that perfection is impossible, but still see others who are “perfect” in our eyes or on social media.

When is enough, okay? Everything comes at a price. Life is stressful because unanticipated events result in unpredictable results, which by its very nature, cause stress.

Rather than explode, we decide to take that hit or drink and suddenly everything is a bit softer, more calm, easier to deal with. What we fail to realize at that moment, is that it is only an illusion. As everyone coming o a high will tell you, the hangover is the easiest part; it’s dealing with the aftermath of your response or lack of action, that causes long-term disasters. Precisely, what you were trying to avoid.

What do people do to avoid the temptation of substance abuse, when there appears to be little substitute?

First, we must realize that if we’ve accustomed our bodies to ingesting alcohol or drugs on a regular basis, our body has adapted and there will be a physical withdrawal. It will be painful; much more so, than what we were avoiding to experience in the first place. Sometimes people will seek substitutes, such as smoking or eating, and if we are to evaluate the detrimental effects, those transitions may be temporarily acceptable.

Secondly, there is no such thing as cutting back. Both physically and psychologically, the body has adapted to needing a certain amount of what you are taking, and cutting back will only cause the body to crave its regular amount. Cold-turkey is the only way to spark the body into creating a different response and returning to its normal state. It will seek healthier, more traditional responses to the stress you experience.

How do you change your routine when the rest of your life remains the same?

While you may not be able to change your environment, you can change your response and routine. The new year is the perfect time to say, instead of going to Happy Hour, I have begun a workout routine. Maybe a gym membership, where you can engage in healthy activity while socializing with a new group of friends. It doesn’t have to be strenuous.

When friends o er a drink or something stronger, you can say, in a disappointed tone, that you’ve discovered that you are allergic to it. In a way, you are correct, as your body no longer responds well to alcohol or drugs.

We all know the triggers our body sends, as we begin to experience what prompted drinking or drugs in the past. As we feel that beginning to happen, create an alternative response before it becomes too intense. Shock our body into a different state and create new associations to the stress. Maybe, you excuse yourself for a 3-minute restroom break, while you blast your favorite music into your headphones. Nothing can change a mood quicker than music. Then return.

If you’re a parent, feeling stressed (and who doesn’t), do things that involve physical activity with your children, to engage and change up the routine.

Think about your passions, and you will certainly find kindred spirits. Are you a secret artist or wannabe? Take a class or join a club. If you like the outdoors but aren’t a skilled athlete, check out the nearest sporting goods store and ask for a club contact; chance are, you’ll discover people who simply want to take regular outdoor hikes (which may simply consist of walks on trails). If you like animals but don’t want to own one, volunteer; there are shelters and rescue organizations, who would love your help. Speaking of volunteering, nothing reminds you more of what you have, than being with those who have even less.

Drink alternatives at parties could be sparkling waters, sodas, or drink mixers. We live in a town where people pride themselves on being “health nuts” and you can simply say that you are on a body cleanse, or that you have made a commitment to eat and drink healthier. You don’t need to discuss addiction or anything else… just declare it, a matter-of-fact lifestyle choice.

Some people think that they must be intoxicated in order to loosen up and have fun… yet, nothing could be further from the truth. What people fear is making a fool of themselves. If you are not hindered by alcohol or drugs, you can develop ways in which you can be yourself, without being embarrassed. Substances will only make you apologetic the next day, and the excuses will get old, making you look weak, not better. The freedom to be the real you is more powerful than any drug you can take.

Make the decision to not drown in liquor or bury in drugs, the person you are meant to be. You were born with special gifts that only you can develop. There are so many people who would love to get to know you. Be present, and you will discover a new world, awaiting all that you have to give.

Behavioral Health Appointments
Colorado Mountain Medical- 970-445-2489

Mountain Family Health- 970-945-2840

Local Support Group Meetings AA:

http://www.vailalcoholicsanonymous.com/meetings

Local Support Group Meeting NA: http://www.narconon-colorado.org

Hope and Help for families and friends of alcoholics: al-anon.org

Colorado Crisis Services: 844-493-8255

Hope Center Eagle: 970-306-HOPE

Eagle Valley Behavioral Health

http://www.EagleValleyBH.org


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