The Importance of Stimulating Environment


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The Importance of Stimulating Environment

Environmental factors play a large role addiction

A few decades ago, the Rat Park experiment done by Alexander made a big splash in the scientific community, especially in regards to addiction research. Since then, the validity and implications of the study have been explored significantly. Despite the many questions that may be associated with this study, it did bring an important topic into the discussion of addiction that had been, until then, focused mainly on the biological elements of addiction. This was the concept of stimulation or having a stimulating environment. This is a key concept for addiction prevention and recovery. So, let’s talk about the importance of having a stimulating environment.

The Rat Park experiment found, among other things, that when rats were given an environment in which they could thrive, they preferred to drink water and not morphine-laced water, even if morphine had addictive properties. When rats who were put from a restricted and isolated environment into an environment that had everything a rat needed to be happy, the rats stopped drinking the morphine-laced water, albeit they preferred it before that. Now, people are not rats and have more complicated preferences and desires. While rats needed only places to run and explore, as well as the opportunity to eat, mate, and interact with other rats, what constitutes a stimulating environment for a person is more complex to define.

What does it mean to have a stimulating environment in general? It means to have an environment that allows the person to thrive and grow, as well as to stay busy with different activities that are interesting, engaging, and satisfying.

How does this environment connect to addiction? A more stimulating environment contributes to a higher well-being and makes the individual happier and more satisfied. It reduces their distress and provides them with new tools to manage their negative emotions and structure their time.

What might we include in a stimulating environment? There are many different things that may also vary depending on the individual’s preferences and tastes. However, there are some key aspects. The first one is the need to have opportunities for work and education. Some small cities suffer from this, as there are limited opportunities for work or study within the town. An example of this is a town that depends, primarily on a single source of jobs, like a factory or a mine, that quickly goes downhill when the source closes down. A lack of opportunities for education and work lead to a lack of development and financial resources. Secondly, one might consider the need for relationships. All people, even introverted ones, need to have meaningful and close relationships. An environment that contributes to isolation might promote addiction because people feel lonely and depressed. The next aspect of a stimulating environment is access to different types of activities. For instance, having green spaces around to walk in and opportunities for physical activity, having courses or cultural centers, having libraries and movie theaters and even malls are all aspects of a stimulating environment. A lot of attention in the prevention of addictive behaviors in latter years has been focused on creating, for instance, urban environments where young people can entertain themselves and engage in sports or artistic activities.

When talking about not just prevention but addiction recovery, it becomes very important to create a new, more stimulating environment for the person who is struggling with addiction. This means that the person should find new and better ways to occupy their time and foster all aspects that promote their well-being, for instance, positive relationships, hobbies, volunteering, artistic activities, sports, and others. This allows the person to find new ways to feel happy and satisfied without needing to resort to drugs.

A stimulating environment has lower levels of distress as well as different things that promote positive emotions, enjoyment, connectedness, and other things. People have needs beyond the basic ones: needs to be entertained, need to be close to other people, need to grow and practice their abilities. By creating an environment that is more in line with these needs, individuals with addiction can more effectively stay sober.

The Rat Park experiment remains controversial and has had limited testability with people, as opposed to rats. However, interestingly, some support for the finding came from war veterans. When veterans came back from Vietnam, many came back with drug problems. However, at home, at environments that were free of distress and much more stimulation, most kicked the habit with little issue despite the addictive properties of the drugs. It may be important to create a stimulating environment to promote well-being and recovery from addiction.


If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction reach out to the professionals at Valley Spring. If you want to learn more about our sober community 0r you’d like to learn more information, we can help you take the next step. Feel free to read our previous blog about what is the opioid epidemic.

DRUGS: Destroying You Faster Than You Think

It’s all fun and games, until it’s not..


With over 300 million and more drugs users across the globe, it is safe to say that the drugs abuse and addiction rate has reached an epidemic level. The problem with illicit drugs is the easy access to acquiring for individuals of all ages. Drug abuse and addiction is no respecter of age, class, background, educational qualification and standards.

Drug addiction and abuse are the result of ingesting, sniffing, injecting, at least one mind altering chemical for what might have started as a feel-good high eventually develops into mental obsession and sometimes even physical dependence.

Drugs can be classified into how the body and brain react when they get into our system. Based on the above, they are classified into 4 categories, namely as:

  • Stimulants: they are drugs that increase the activity of the brain by increasing the arousal rate of the body. Example of such drugs is caffeine in our everyday coffee, nicotine from cigarettes and amphetamines from sleeping pills, tranquilizer and alcohols. These drugs make you feel excited, happy and talk too much.
  • Depressant: these are chemicals that slow down the alertness of the central nervous system. Examples include analgesics such as codeine found in cough syrups and heroin. These drugs chill you out, making you feel over relaxed.
  • Opium-related: these are drugs that stimulate the opioid receptor of the brain and central nervous system. The come as powder, pills, and patches. Examples are heroin and morphine. They give you a dreamy feeling of ecstasy.
  • Hallucinogen: as the name suggests you lose total control of your nervous system for the duration that you are on the drugs. It works by altering the awareness of your immediate surroundings, feelings, perceptions and feeling as well as the sensation and creates an illusion of images and sounds that are non-existent. The popularity of this recreational drug is LSD. They alter your mood, your sense of space and time, detach you from your environment and put you in a trans- making you feel spiritual.

Drugs can make you “feel good”, maybe even euphoric,  but believe the millions who are still struggling — the potentially fatal end result is anything but fun and the risks involved simple are not worth it.  The fact that drugs alter the physiology of your brain make drugs especially dangerous. Something like drug related crimes speak volumes about the inherit dangers often associated with substances — and not just crimes committed by those active users but– also considering the lifestyle surrounding the ‘drug game’. It’s no surprise that drug related crimes are the number 1 leading cause behind the imprisonment of youth. Aside from the criminal aspect, drugs also damage your nervous system by full damaging cells and preventing optimal performance.

drugs are bad for health sober living nyc valley spring

drugs are bad for health sober living nyc valley spring

Drugs affect your motor neurons and make you act abnormally due to the effects. It affects the proper functioning of the brain by stopping or hindering the production of serotonin, a chemical that helps control aggression, moods and other emotions. Stimulants, for instance, affect the heart rate by increasing the beats per minutes causing heart attacks even in youths. The problem of overheating is also a symptom of drug abuse that can cause organ failure and other medical related issues. Drugs also after the blood by inhibiting or activating the enzymes that produce new blood cell or hinder blood clots or the bursting of blood vessels. It can also make the body not to absorb the correct nutrients for our body thereby causing malnutrition or starvation. Over time, they kill brain cells and irregularities which may leave the user susceptible to disease and the inability to lead a normal life.

In addition to the physiological damages, drugs also affect relationships, family, and work and cause isolation of the individuals. The effects of drugs are not necessarily seen overnight but will accumulate over time with continuous usage — and in the case of many unfortunate stories  — the damage to the individual and/or loved ones becomes irrevocable.

If you’re thinking about detox or rehab, or just want to learn more about sober living homes, call Valley Spring and they will help get you connected. If you are ready to take the next step or have just completed rehab and looking to explore nyc sober living, Valley Spring is here to help.


Feel free to read our previous blog about how substance abuse can stop you from finding love


How Substance Abuse Can Stop You From Finding Love

What do you love more…? Sober living or substance use?

It’s all about love, right? From an observatory point of view, victims of substance abusers — yes, victims because they are at the mercy of something they literately cannot control — do not usually set out as abusers. Three major factors likely responsible for substance abuse is anxiety, depression and shame. An “unhealthy” individual burdened from pressures with work/responsibilities may likely find himself drowned with alcohol or other substances in a bid to keep the weight of the world of his shoulders.

A substance abuser does not necessarily have control over the circumstances he or she faces but they do have control in how they respond to a given situation. While a potential love interest might long for the desire of their partner, who is struggling with substance abuse, though interested in the relationship, a substance abuser’s excessive usage of these substances can have ripple effects on an otherwise healthy relationship.

Substance abuse can get in the way of good sober living nyc

It is akin to addiction and anyone who has seen the popular movie “THE FLIGHT” by veteran Hollywood actor Denzel Washington would know the dangers of abuse and addiction. In the movie, the actor was a pilot who was addicted to alcohol. He had a ‘love’ for alcohol which superseding any ethical responsibility to public safety or concerning the greater good.   His addiction led him to drink a bottle of vodka on a day he was to fly a plane. The regulation for pilots and flight crew is a standard one and drinking is not one on the list. His alcohol abuse caused the death of crew members on board the airplane including his love interest — second to alcohol of course.

Substance abusers do not admit they have a fundamental problem of abuse and still categorize themselves as casual users. The turnaround for most usually happens when the victims of their abuse (usually loved ones) get hurt. Spouses get emotionally hurt, physically abused, neglect sets in and emotional abuse is common.

Having concluded here that a lack of control and will to manage one’s intake of substance can affect one’s ability to make right and informed choices, it is safe to say that substance abuse tends to damage healthy relationships including relationships with siblings, parents, friends, work-place and even spousal relationships. There is, however, no love lost as some loved ones will go the extra mile to help their near-and-dear find rehabilitation centers for recovery. For some “addicts”, their first love is the alcohol or drugs, and it remains their true love until they realize that the relationship is only one-sided, and that the substance never loved them back. Until the relationship runs its course, and the individual begins to learn how to love him or herself, only then can positive change be a possibility.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Valley Spring Recovery Services and Sober Living NYC is always available to help you take to next step. You may feel alone but you are not. Don’t wait too long to step into new opportunity and possibilities. If you’re thinking about sober living and interesting in learning more general information about “sober houses near me“, feel free to click on the link to brief yourself.

Also, free free to read our previous blog about ways life can change when you quit alcohol and drugs

How Alcohol Can Affect Your Relationships

Those closest are likely to feel the devastating effects of alcohol the most

Alcohol addiction is a serious problem. It affects almost every aspect of your life and can create a lot of consequences to your family, colleagues, relationships, friends, finances and even more devastating, it can be fatal. It has potential to destroy a marriage and even create a barrier between close family members. Often times, alcoholics think the addiction affects just them. This is not the case as addiction takes over an entire household and creates holes in relationships. There are many reasons in favor of a good sober house, but here are few ways alcohol severs relationship with people.


Neglect of Duties

Alcohol abuse causes a neglect in both personal and professional responsibilities. This is because alcohol disturbs the normal bodily function, especially when taken in excess. This causes the alcoholic to withdraw from close relationships like from friends and family.  Most times, the addicts develop a new set of friends and social circle that is made of of similar alcoholics. This in essence causes a neglect in duties as they will no longer live a responsible life. Their bills will not be paid, their family will not be properly catered for and in extreme cases, it might affect their work life and lead to non-productivity which would eventually lead to job loss. Alcoholic people need to embrace a sober living so as to prevent all these from happening.

Alcohol affects relationships and good sober living in NYC

Abuse and Danger

Often times, alcoholism causes severe and reckless behavior which puts family members and loved ones at serious risk of injuries from domestic violence, car accident and neglect (when children are involved). When underage children are involved, they might be exposed to household hazards because no sober adult is present in the house to prevent them. It even raises fear in them, especially when they see the type of behaviors the alcoholic exhibits on a daily basis. Worse still, lives of innocent people on the street are endangered every time an alcoholic decides to drive under the influence. Sober living hinders any of these things, so it’s best to practice it.


Setting Bad Example For Children

Children always imitate what they see. Alcoholic people set a bad example for children around them because once children see adults drinking alcohol, they will think it’s okay and would want to do the same. This is particularly true if older children are involved, especially teenagers. They might go through illegal means just to buy alcohol. To avoid this kind of negativity creeping into your life, embrace a sober living and quit alcohol abuse, live a responsible life and set a good example for those around you.

Alcohol addiction poses a threat to not just the addicts life, but also the lives of the people around it. Although the effects might not be physical, they might be mental and psychological. Most will eventually suffer from depression, mood swings, quick tempers, and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. However, all these issues can be prevented with the right kind of help and recovery services available in Manhattan. Alcoholics should check out many of the treatment and recovery services available in NYC and pick the one best suitable for them. Valley Spring is available to help you or a loved one find the best sober living homes in Manhattan and get involved with the next level of recovery services in NYC.


Please feel free to read our previous blog about how being sober can change your life


The Damaging Power of Alcohol

Alcohol will F* you up!

New York City like many other developed cities around the world is constantly faced with the mundane task of trying to control the damaging powers of alcohol on its populace.

Glugging down a few glasses of alcohol as a way to relax after a hard day’s work may not sound harmful. The problem is how many littles soon becomes much and lead you into alcohol addiction.

Several researches have proven alcohol to have several damaging power on you, especially if you have become addicted to it. In this article, we will explain some of the most noticeable damaging powers of alcohol.

Ability to cause blackouts and memory failures.

Taking in large quantities of alcohol, especially rapidly and on an empty stomach can cause a memory blackout.

Partial blackouts happen when the intoxicated person cannot remember key details of events. Blackouts and memory lapses are clear damaging powers of alcohol and can happen to any alcohol consumer irrespective of age or medical condition.

Alcohol has a power to cause your brain to unintentionally sieve off information when you are tipsy.

Can cause severe dehydration.

Alcohol has a damaging power to cause severe dehydration. Excess alcohol consumption can reduce the body’s production of anti-diuretic hormone, which has a function of reabsorbing water in the body. The absence of this hormone will make your body lose more fluids through sweat and constant urination, causing a serious case of dehydration.

Alcohol damage prefer sober living

Power to damage the liver and other important organs.

Heavy, long term alcohol consumption overworks your liver and this can eventually cause the liver to wear out.

The liver is the organ that is mainly in charge of breaking down alcohol into harmless digestible by-products. A prolonged case of liver dysfunction resolving from alcohol consumption can cause serious damage on the brain and other important organs of the body.

Can disrupt sleep.

Although a few glasses of alcohol may cause you to sleep, heavy drinking has the power to disrupt your sleep pattern. Alcohol has its way of keeping you awake with a terrible knock, especially during the second half of the night.

Contains calories that can pump up body fat.

Alcoholic drinks contain high amount of calories. Consuming excess quantity of alcohol will add to the bulge in your stomach and other fatty parts of your body.

Apart from the calories that are contained in alcoholic drinks, consuming them can make you hungry and increase your want for food. This means that you will take in extra calories from junk foods that you may rely on when you get too drunk to fix a decent meal.

Addiction to alcohol is causing more harm than good in most cases. Sober homes in NYC and recovery services are excellent options that will help you to break free from your alcohol addiction and escape the damaging power of alcoholism! When you are ready to take the next step, Valley Spring will help you or your loved one! See what our NYC sober living residency is all about.

Please feel free to read out previous blog about 5 reasons why being sober is the new cool