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Massage Therapy: An Effective Tool for Recovery from Addiction

For individuals trying to stop using alcohol or drugs, regular Massage Therapy can be very helpful. People struggling with stressful lives often turn to these substances in an effort to feel better. The process of learning how to live without using alcohol and/or drugs can also produce a lot of anxiety. At Bellwood, we offer massage along with several other ways to help reduce stress.  Our feedback is consistently positive that massage is helpful. Most of our clients report that they plan to continue receiving massage therapy after treatment.massage-therapy

Massage helps to decrease muscular pain. Often, this type of pain is caused by tension, especially in our neck, shoulders and back.. Alleviating pain makes us feel happier. Human touch itself has been found to improve anxiety and depression. We also usually sleep better when we are more relaxed. Better sleep helps us to be more motivated and more productive. At Bellwood, we offer a consistent schedule of classes and activities that mimic a healthy lifestyle in recovery.

Muscular tension can cause headaches. Withdrawal from alcohol, drugs and caffeine often causes headaches. Massage can help relieve headaches, also helping to improve mood. Regular massage therapy may also lead to less need for pain medication.

Lastly, massage therapy helps boost immunity against disease. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study in 2010 about massage having a positive effect on patients’ white blood cell count. This is particularly important in the addict population. Addicts tend to have weak immune systems due the physical stress of alcohol and/or drugs abuse.

A Day in the Life of Bellwood – Part One

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Rise and Shine to Noon Day Break

One of the most frequent questions people ask us is, “What will I be doing while I am at Bellwood?”  Considering that the frame of reference for residential addiction treatment programs for many people consists of movies and reality television shows, it is no wonder the average person would not know what to expect.  Over the course of this two-part blog, we hope to paint a helpful picture of the morning and afternoon schedules, routines, and experiences that make up the two parts of a typical day in the life of Bellwood.

Before we begin, it is important to know that Bellwood’s programs are based on a holistic treatment model.  This model looks at addiction and recovery from the integrated perspective of physical, mental, social, and spiritual health.  This means that program sessions and activities all revolve around this holistic approach.  From the beginning to the end of the day, you will see how these themes are at the core of every scheduled activity.

For most Bellwood clients, the day begins at 7:30 with a morning stretch, designed to get everyone loosened up and ready for the day ahead.  Of course, some people prefer an earlier and more robust start to the day, and can be found in the fitness room as early as 6 am. 

Bellwood Health Services July 03 2013 - 182Breakfast is served in the Bellwood Bistro at 8:00 am, and is the first meal in the daily schedule of three meals and three snacks.  Each of these meals and snacks is required, signifying the importance of nutrition and healthy eating in the recovery process.  Healthy eating is important for all of our clients to correct nutritional deficiencies and promote physical and mental recovery.

Free time is available after breakfast until 8:45 am, when formal programs begin with Reflections.  It is a special time set aside to help the community prepare themselves for the day ahead. Led by a senior member of the client community and a Bellwood Program Assistant, you hear a message of inspiration and any special announcements for the day. 

Reflections is followed by our daily Physician Lecture, which is delivered by one of Bellwood’s doctors from 9:00-10:00.  These lectures are tools to help you begin to understand the inner workings of addiction and recovery.  There is a wide range of lectures that include topics such as the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, the effects of substances and behaviours, and recovery tools. The Physician Lectures are one of the most popular aspects of programming.

The Physician Lecture is followed by the first of three required daily nutritional breaks from 10:00-10:20.  Having just participated in a heavy knowledge-based lecture, you appreciate the opportunity to relax and enjoy your morning snack. 

Bellwood Health Services July 03 2013 - 081Next up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:20-12:20 is Group Therapy, one of the cornerstones of our program.  When you are admitted to our program, you become part of a small group which is led by your primary therapist.  Each group consists of a diverse range of individuals: men and women, older and younger, businessmen, mothers, soldiers, or nurses. Individuals in the group come to Bellwood for different reasons, such as drug or alcohol addiction, eating disorders, problem gambling sex addiction, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Addiction can affect anyone, does not pick and choose, and the group composition reflects this.  Group Therapy is also one of our highest rated sessions, a powerful tool where many breakthroughs are made and support is provided.  The sessions can sometimes be very intense; you will have the opportunity to express your feelings and examine the reasons for your feelings, all within the confidential and caring setting of your small group.  Group members become accountable to each other for their behaviours and help each other develop new ways of behaving and thinking. 

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What happens on Tuesdays and Thursdays during this time?  Other morning sessions consist of a variety of practical teaching sessions relating to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Relapse Prevention, and Communication.  During the CBT sessions, you learn about ways of thinking that better serve you in recovery. For example, we all make assumptions or mental shortcuts about people and events. Sometimes these assumptions make us feel bad about ourselves (e.g. “I’m no good at anything…”) resulting in negative feelings that may perpetuate self-medication or other problematic behaviours.  CBT tools get us to reappraise situations in a more accurate or realistic way (e.g. “Maybe I struggle with some things, but I am good in others…).”  The Relapse Prevention sessions focus on tools and techniques for managing triggers and situations in order to avoid relapse.  These sessions are followed by a half hour of meditation, and a chance to decompress after a morning of significant insight and activity.

Lunch is served at 12:20 in the Bellwood Bistro.  During your time at Bellwood, you will enjoy a wide selection of menus.  The main entrée includes both a meat and vegetarian option, there is always soup available, and a creative salad bar.  On Group Therapy days, you can enjoy an added treat – dessert!  During this time on Fridays, you can celebrate with the week’s graduating clients as they receive their Bellwood medallions and everyone’s best wishes. 

Bellwood Health Services July 03 2013 - 123This brings us to the end of the morning schedule.  If you have the feeling that our program has a look and feel of a high school timetable, you are right!  For most of our clients, this type of structure is a welcome change from the chaos of their lives before they came to Bellwood.  You may have also noticed that the morning sessions are very cognitively-focused.  If you are like most people, you are most energized and able to focus and retain information in the morning.  We kept that in mind as we developed the schedules.  You will notice that many of the afternoon programs take on a different focus.  Stay tuned for part two of this blog,  Après Lunch to Lights Out, as we walk through the second half of a day at Bellwood Health Services