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Dear reader,

From everyone at ChooseHelp, we’d like to wish you a very Happy New Year and lots of joy and peace for the coming 12 months!

As one of more than a million and a half visitors who’ve found ChooseHelp over the past 12 months we’d also like to thank you for your visit(s); we’re grateful for the opportunity to help people build recovery and better mental health and we hope you’ve found useful information and encouragement here.

Above all - we hope you’re happy and well and enjoying a meaningful life, and if you’re like most people - who need a little help with this from time to time - we hope you’re working toward serenity and good health.

  • Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect. Alan Cohen1

Now, in what’s become an annual tradition around these parts, here’s a recap of 2013’s very best addiction and mental health articles.

The Best of 2013!

A Timeline for the Restoration of Cognitive Abilities after Quitting Alcohol

Need a little extra motivation to keep your recovery on the right track? Well consider this – your brain has an enormous capacity to recover from alcohol-damage, so long as you give it time to get better.

  • At 2 weeks post abstinence your thinking abilities are still extremely diminished, but by 2 months sober you’ll already see substantially increased focus and calm – and the benefits continue to accrue for another 7 years.  If you can stay sober for 7 consecutive years, you can achieve a nearly complete cognitive recovery.

Learn about the recovery timeline – how your brain heals and which thinking abilities return on what schedule.

Discovering Your Spiritual Side - A How-to Guide

Addiction is a disease of the body, mind and spirit so recovery needs to happen across these 3 domains – but what do you do if you don’t identify with any religion and you don’t feel particularly spiritual?

Well, to start with, read Anna Deeds’ very useful article that explores the benefits of bringing spirituality into your life and offers hands-on tips on discovering your own personally-relevant spirituality.

Anyone wondering about spirituality will appreciate this practical information sheet on exploring and nurturing an essential aspect of the human experience.

Dual Diagnosis: The Problem with Diagnosing Mental Illness in Early Recovery

  1. Co-occurring disorders are common.
  2. Many people begin recovery with undiagnosed mental illness.
  3. Untreated mental illness can lead to relapse.
  4. However, the symptoms of withdrawal and early recovery can mimic those of common mental illnesses!

So this puts anyone in early recovery in a very tricky position, do you seek an early recovery diagnosis that might be inaccurate or do you risk not treating a treatable illness?

According to dual diagnosis specialist Jim LaPierre, accept any diagnosis with extreme caution during the turbulent first 6 months. Read on to learn more...

Recovery Road-Map: The First 5 Years

Recovery doesn’t happen overnight or on a convenient 28 day schedule - recovery is a better lifestyle choice that lasts a lifetime.

But that doesn’t mean that recovery looks the same at one month, one year or 5 years in – in fact, the tasks and stages of recovery change as your needs change.

New to recovery and wondering what life will look like at 6 months, 1 year or three years down the road? Well, here’s a road-map guide that describes the goals and activities associated with the first 4 stages (the first 5 years) of recovery.

Alcohol Detox – The Signs of Mild, Moderate or Dangerously Severe Alcohol Withdrawal

Straight-up answers to the questions you need answered when planning an alcohol detox:

  • Why is it so important to get treatment and medication before symptoms get severe?
  • Are you an appropriate candidate for home-detox (supervised and medicated)?
  • How do you know if you’re at risk of serious complications?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can intensify from moderate to dangerous very quickly and without warning, so get prepared first and stay safe and comfortable during this first essential step to sobriety.

In Recovery: Becoming an Addictions Counselor - How to Succeed and What to Consider

Working as an addictions counselor can be incredibly rewarding work, especially for anyone with a personal history of addiction and recovery, but the job doesn’t suit all people of all temperaments - after all, schools can’t teach empathy, compassion or respect for others. Is the job right for you?

Read on for an overview of the educational pathways to work in the field and for tips on avoiding some of the pitfalls along the way.

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Couples

With 30 years as therapist and 40 years of marriage under his belt, Ari Hahn’s learned more than his fair share about what helps and what hurts in keeping a relationship vibrant and loving.

So what’s the secret to relationship bliss and longevity?

It’s as easy as 7 loving habits to incorporate into your day-to-day life (for example, go to bed at the same time.)

Could a few small habitual changes increase your relationship satisfaction? Do you have anything to lose by trying these out?

Parenting Goal – Help Teens Delay Marijuana Use to Avoid Cognitive, Academic and Mental Illness Risks

Adults who use marijuana recreationally do themselves little harm – unfortunately, teens, with their still-developing brains, are more vulnerable to brain damage and lifelong consequences.

  • The earlier a teen starts using the greater their risks of lasting cognitive impairments, poor academic success, increased mental illness in adulthood and increased addiction into adulthood.

So get educated and sit down for an honest talk with your kids. Stick with the truth (don’t scaremonger) and explain why early marijuana use harms brain growth and development - anything you can do to delay initiation helps enormously.

What Happens at an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous Meeting?

It’s normal to feel apprehensive about going to your first meeting(s), but it’s tragic to let your worries deter you from this free and widely available source of community support.

To help ease your anxieties, read Anna Deeds’ comprehensive overview of what happens at meetings, the different types of meetings and some tips for getting the most out of the experience.

The 12 steps aren’t for everyone, but everyone in recovery should experience a meeting at least once. By the end of this article, you’ll feel good about walking through that door to your first meeting.

Gut Bacteria Influence Your Mental Health. Learn How to Protect Your Microbiome

Is it any wonder that the 100 trillion living bacteria in your gut influence more than just your digestive processes?

This is frontiers of science stuff, but the more we learn about microbial health the more we realize that bacterial colonies not only influence physical health, they affect mental health and wellness as well.

Learn about the research evidence that demonstrates links between your gut microbiome and depression, anxiety, weight management and general brain function and learn what you can do to foster a healthy microbiome through dietary and lifestyle choices.

Antidepressants in Drug Treatment – A Guide to SSRIs in Addiction Treatment

Is your depression caused by your substance abuse or does your substance abuse cause your depression?

It’s a commonly-faced question that’s tough to answer – so in early recovery, or even before starting recovery, should you consider antidepressants or should you wait for a while into sobriety to see if you start feeling better on your own?

The answer is – it depends! For some people, medicating depression right away makes the most sense, while for others, it’s wiser to wait and see for a bit.

Which is best for you? Learn the criteria that indicate a need for immediate medication and the criteria that indicate a need to wait and see.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal: What to Expect - How to Taper – How to Cope

There are few drugs (perhaps none) more difficult to get off than benzodiazepines.

Never do a cold-turkey benzo withdrawal and make sure you taper well to avoid very uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Read on for a guide to safe and comfortable tapering.

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Page last updated Dec 30, 2013

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