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.

There For Friends Who Suffer In Addiction

Good friends are key to happiness and health

Battling with addiction can be very difficult and requires a lot of love and support from family, friends and loved ones to help the person come out a survivor. Addiction can be in different forms, it could be addiction to substance, addiction to drugs, addiction to alcohol, addiction to porn, etc. There is a very wide range of addictions a person might be battling with.

A lot of people carry the opinion that you need to dissociate yourself from people who have addiction issues for the sake of your own self. A lot of people go with the belief that the best way to help addicted loved ones is by letting them be. However, contrary to this belief, research has proven that partners of those who battle with a type of addiction or another can actually play a very important role in bringing them to change.

friend helping another friend deal with addiction and sober livign nyc

In 2008, Debra Jay and her husband Jeff Jay co-authored a book, ‘love first: a family’s guide to intervention’ which challenged the popular opinion that you can’t help an alcoholic until he wants to help himself by saying “it’s a completely different story if you say “If you can’t help an alcoholic until he wants help, what will get him to want help? Now that opens up the door to possibilities, I can start looking for solutions and answers”. Here are a few reasons why you need to be there for friends who suffer addiction:

They Are Stronger With Your Support:

  • This is a natural human phenomenon, when you are aware of your loved ones’ support for you, it pushes you to be strong and more confident in yourself. This feeling can help give addicts a boost as they battle their addictions. Always be there to encourage him physically and emotionally even when he falls or make mistakes. Make him understand that you believe in his ability to fight and conquer the addiction.

Your Constant Love Can Make Them Seek Help:

  • If you continue to love a family or friend irrespective of his addiction, it pushes such person to have a rethink about his addiction and even if not because of himself to seek help because of your love for them.

Your Guidance Can Help Him Find His Way Out:

  • Once a person who is battling with addiction decides to stop, he needs someone to him and walk him through the fight against the addiction. This is where a friends guidance comes to play a very important role, you should make sure to learn as much as you can about addiction because this will help you in guiding him accurately.  Take him to a psychologist. You also need to stay with him whenever he needs your support. Help him find support groups for addicts and register him.


If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and unsure how to proceed, Valley Spring will help get you connected to quality recovery services and even to sober living if necessary. Feel free to learn more general information about sober houses and to read our previous blog article about why a sober living plan is a good idea

5 Myths That May Interfere With Sobriety

There is a lot of information and many alternatives available, try your best not to overcomplicate matters and to keep it simple.

You cannot discuss sobriety without mention of alcohol and substance misuse coming to mind.

Getting sober indicates that alcohol or drugs are in the equation and are problematic. How each individual’s system reacts to a given substance differs on an individual level. Obviously to begin at a straightforward baseline, being sober indicates that the blood level of alcohol in your system is zero. To be sober is in essence to come back to reality, sometimes after experiencing a rock bottom of sorts from alcohol and/or drug abuse.

For those proponents of alternative medicine,  the latest drug in the market is the Chinese tree extract which some studies show has an effect of “keeping one sober” no matter the alcohol quantity consumed and claims to be a potential cure alcohol addiction. Though attractive, not very likely.

Another proposed alternative is a drug is called the DHM, dihydromyricetin, which is derived from a variety of Chinese raisin tree; it is said to have rather an immediate effect for sobriety and that when swallowed, acts as a potential cure for hangovers. If approved would be the first synthesized formulation  to combat a hangover. Again, only time and science will tell..

Drug myths around the world sober living nyc

There is always going to be noise surrounding “new alternative ways” to get sober, but one of the more recent popularized drug treatment programs involves suboxone or naloxone. Suboxone receives almost equal amounts praise and criticism,  however, some of the speculation surrounding this drug is outlined below:

  • Number 1: It’s a drug. Old-timers are adamant that  you can’t use one drug to cure another drug problem. Feedback often heard from some members of  AA, and even some narcotics experts, that a drug can’t make one sober after injecting another. All drugs are not manufactured equally Even though it has been shown in a study to help hangover patients and reduce effects of alcohol in our system. This drug also helps in stabilizing your life  and with consistent counseling and treatment, can help you to reduce suffering.
  • It could make you feel high or it could create a state of euphoria when ingested (most definitely at the incorrect dosage). The noise is from the medication assisted treatment precursor: methadone. Contrary to such speculation, suboxone is of a lighter effect and levels off even when doses are increased, it could stop your harder drug use and will help you to reduce harm in efforts of being sober.
  • Creating new addicts. There are people that believe that indulging in suboxone is creating new breeds of drug-dependent addicts. This is not necessarily the case in regards to suboxone. This is so because it decreases the dependency on intoxicants and helps to keep you in the fight for sobriety.
  • Suboxone is mood altering. All narcotic drugs are mood-altering; they change the way you behave.  Depending how you view the chemical reactions taking place, you lose control of your brain when drugs are ingested.  Suboxone, on the other hand, arguably gives you more control of your senses than the harder opiates you might be coming really struggling with.

Aside suboxone, the most common “drug” is caffeine. This help to quiet drunks by combating the tiredness caused by alcohol and keeping the brain alert. Caffeine is definitely one of, if not the most, widely consumed drug in the world.

It is okay to get that notion that all drugs are dangerous especially when it comes to the world of drug addicts and getting sober. We have to remember there are no drugs that can make you 100% sober except for sobriety itself.

-Written and submitted by a guest blogger interested in the topic.

For more general information about sober houses, recovery service options, or nyc sober living, visit Valley Spring.

Please feel free to read our previous blog about reducing your thoughts about drugs


Reduce Your Thoughts About Drugs

Don’t add; reduce instead

Alcohol and drug addiction is one of the most problematic among several kinds of addiction. It starts off slow and eats deep into the body, mind and soul until an individual is totally dependent on it.

Drug and alcohol abuse or addiction is one of the leading causes of death in America today. In 2015, over 52,404 deaths in individuals above the age of 12 were caused by either unintended drug poisoning or homicide drug poisoning.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a menace which is why there are several rehabilitation centers and support groups, who aim to wipe it off the earth. Even though there have been many cases of drug addicts becoming totally sober, a greater percentage battle with thinking about drugs everyday and eventually relapse.


The obsession to use drugs and alcohol takes time to be lifted completed. The following tips can help you or your loved one reduce negative thoughts about drugs:


Seek Psychological Help

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “over 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression and other mental illnesses.” Amongst those, a larger percentage choose to overdose on  drugs to help with the pain. Most of the time, drug addiction is merely a symptom of major underlying issues an addict might be dealing with. An individual who decides to become sober without actually fixing what the major problems might be, will go back to drugs as his only hope to make everything go away. Talking about your problems with a therapist will definitely go a long way in battling your drug addiction and helping to reduce your negative thoughts about using.


Avoid Being Idle

  • One thing you should understand about addiction is that it literally consumes a person, up to the point that all you do is think about it. Being idle can drag you back on your path to complete healing. The only way to combat this is by involving yourself in productive hobbies you’re passionate about. Set out to achieve personal goals, and in no time you would forget about it.

obession with drugs reduce thoughts for good sober living

Keep Sober Friends

  • This is basic logic, as the saying goes “show me your friends…”. Even if this isn’t applicable in all situations because we are all adults and responsible for our action, it is true to an extent. Keeping addicts as friends can cause you to relapse and dabble in drugs again. On the other hand, sober friends will help you in your journey as you both share the same interests and beliefs. You could consider reconnecting with a sober friend, or starting a friendly relationship with other sober colleagues.


Detoxify Your System

  • Detoxification helps in cleansing your system and ridding it of toxins. There are several detoxification processes for drug addicts available in rehabilitation centers, and online. The most popular is the very popular ‘water fast’, which usually lasts for 4-10 days and  entails eating and drinking only water for several hours of the day. After the fast, your body would reject other food items for a while. It is also important to seek medical advice before partaking in this fast to prevent detrimental effects.


These tips will help you or your loved ones hopefully reduce their thoughts about drugs. Plus, it always helps to be consistent on your journey to good health.  For more information about recovery services and sober living in NYC, contact the professionals at Valley Spring.

 Feel free to read our previous blog about not hitting the ultimate rock bottom or learn more general information about sober houses.

Don’t Hit the Ultimate Rock Bottom

Rock bottom, they say, is when you stop digging

The ultimate phase of an addiction or substance abuse process, is hitting rock bottom. At this stage, so much input becomes inevitably necessary, if the individual must find a way of coming back to pristine. It is highly recommended that a victim of substance abuse is able to overcome his challenges long before the conditions deteriorate. The chances of an effective rehabilitation becomes considerably reduced, as compared to the chances that would be, if a rehabilitation cause had been earlier set in motion. Getting into any form of substance abuse is bad enough, not to mention what becomes of the person if he/she does not get help early.

Here are five reasons why you should avoid the irreversible consequences of an ultimate rock bottom before you quit substance abuse:

Climbing out of rock bottom to better sober living in nycYou may eventually not be able to snap out of it

  • Typical addictions occur over a period of time, and in such a gradual process. Since this is so, the individual has a tendency to have become so addicted to his substance abuse over time, and in such manner that he does not find it any convenient to stop. It becomes an habit that would keep him/her in its stronghold; and although he realizes the needs to quit, he cannot understand how possible that would be.

Too much damage on health could have occurred


  • Drug and alcohol addictions especially, have some very dire consequences on the victim. Every ill effect that drug and alcohol abuse has on the individual, comes in handy, after a culmination over time. Before you get to the point when you’ve hit rock bottom, your health could have been badly affected. So, instead of waiting till that time when your liver or kidneys would have gone bad, it is only best that you quit your substance abuse and/or seek help from the appropriate quarters.


Emotional and psychological trauma

  • One of the things to consider if you’re thinking to hit your rock bottom before quitting your substance abuse, is the emotional and psychological trauma, you would have caused yourself as well as your family and loved ones. The addict who has reached his highest point of depression has some tendencies to loss reality of all the values of life. He is subjected to bouts of fear, and uncertainty. Sometimes, this may be the actual underlying effect of the substance that is abused. Many times, the families have to share in the grieve and uncertainty that comes with observing the events as they unfold.

You may not be able to cope anymore with active society and the workplace

  • Many changes would have occurred from the onset of substance abuse in an individual, to the point where they have reached their peak. There would be times in all of these process when the person could still cope well with interacting in society and at the workplace. As substance abuse intensifies, there is a climax at which the ability to function effectively, diminishes or even becomes impossible. Thus, he may not be able to concentrate on office duties or handle work tools and machines. This could lead to a loss of means of livelihood.Rock bottom can lead to growth for people sober living nyc

A popular belief that ‘an addict must hit rock bottom before getting better’ may not be true after all. Reaching rock bottom is not a prerequisite to sobriety, sometimes though, it’s the kick in the ass required to bring about the desired change. Quite fitting is the way JK Rowling sees it, “rock bottom became the foundation on which I re-built my life.” If you are fortunate enough to be given a second chance at life, assuming you don’t reach the ultimate rock bottom (death), then you might just be able to build a stronger foundation from reaching the bottom. No one can predict exactly, what effects a substance abuse would have on different individuals. While some people may find a way of bouncing back, others would just helplessly remain in it. Change is possible!


Valley Spring will always be available to connect you or your loved one with the best sober living homes and recovery services in NYC! Please feel free to read out previous blog about how alcohol can affect your relationships or learn more general information about sober homes.