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  • Writer's pictureChoice Recovery

Sunscreen for Recovery

“I understood myself only after I destroyed myself. And only in the process of fixing myself did I know who I really was.” - Anonymous When I was young, I used to love the being in the sun. I cherished the feeling of warmth on my skin and reveled in a great sense of pride as my skin turned into a shimmering bronze. I was warned, many times, about the dangers of being in the sun. I didn’t listen. It was something I looked forward to every summer, despite the warnings that grew more grave every year.

Like clockwork, at a minimum once each summer I would overdo it, literally cooking my skin. Instead of a few hours, I spent all day tanning and my bronzed shoulders turned lobster red. I was burned so badly my skin ached and I remember the stinging sensation of simply taking a shower. Inevitably, that was followed by the peeling skin I shed like a snake as my body extracted the layers I’d damaged. What emerged was soft new skin which made me realize what I’d injured. I was regretful and swore I would not do it again. Until the next time. The sunburn is a physical transformation we can see and witness the steps from rejection to renewal, all very reminiscent of PAWS – Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. This is the process of your brain recalibrating to normal functioning after prolonged use of substances. The endocrine system must adjust to the stimulation and release of specific hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine without mechanical stimulation. This process is often referred to as the “ups and down’s” of early recovery. So, like your skin in the example above, these feelings are proof your brain is regenerating and recalibrating, you just can’t visually witness the transformation like you can with your skin. PAWS might manifest itself in foggy thinking, urges and cravings, anxiety, and panic attacks, for example. No different than putting on aloe vera to soothe tender skin, you can mitigate these symptoms, or even better put good daily practices in place such as…

  • Regular emotional inventory (how am I feeling today? ie; online check-ins)

  • When mood changes, ask yourself why you are feeling so strongly regarding any particular situation. (ie; is this really that important to get upset over?)

  • Discuss feelings and mood with trusted friend/mentor/therapist.

  • Make a concerted effort to get 8 hours of sleep each night.

  • Keep your body hydrated, (ie; 8-10 glasses of water daily, and more in the summer.)

  • Journal thoughts and feelings as you experience them in order to find a pattern.

This is your “sunscreen”. Embrace these practices every day and remember just because you can’t witness the transformation, your body is busy in repair and regrowth mode

About Choice Recovery

Choice Recovery offers intensive outpatient (IOP) services to individuals struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. Our program is evidence-based and focused on the whole-body, not simply the disease of addiction. Individuals enrolled in the Choice Recovery program attend group counseling and individual counseling as well as work with a coach on the goals they hope to achieve.

Located in Mesa, Arizona, Choice Recovery is conveniently located to Tempe, South Scottsdale, Gilbert, Chandler, and Phoenix. We offer services in the morning and evening and via telehealth in certain situations. We accept most insurance plans including the AHCCCCS health plans: Mercy Care, Banner University, AZ Complete Care, and United Healthcare. For more information, please contact us via email at or phone at 480-527-0337.


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