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Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director,
• Define vulnerabilities
• Identify some of the most common vulnerabilities
• Their effects
• Ways to prevent them

~ Note: Each of the vulnerabilities has its own presentation. This section is designed to give you an overview and get you thinking about possible small changes that might have a big impact.
Why I Care/How It Impacts Recovery
~ Vulnerabilities are situations or things that
~ Make it more difficult to deal with life on life’s terms leading to depression, anxiety or “stress”
~ Make it easier for you to over-react or get stuck
~ Depression occurs if you feel helpless or hopeless
~ Anxiety occurs if you feel powerless or out of control
~ Addictive behaviors increase when you feel a need to escape because of stress, anxiety, depression or pain
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~ Pain
~ Effects
~ Sleep problems
~ Difficulty concentrating
~ Irritable mood
~ Medications are depressants and can worsen all of the above
~ Interventions
~ Talk with your doctor
~ Explore nonpharmacological interventions
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~ Poor nutrition
~ Your body needs the building blocks to
~ Recover from injury
~ Keep you from getting sick
~ Make happy chemicals
~ Interventions
~ Water…. 60 ounces per day
~ Have three colors on your plate at each meal (condiments don’t count)
~ Try to eat smaller meals every few hours
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~ Lack of sufficient, quality sleep
~ Drug/alcohol induced sleep is rarely good quality
~ Lack of Sleep Effects
~ Fogginess
~ Difficulty concentrating
~ Irritability
~ Over eating
~ Interventions
~ Develop a sleep routine
~ Cut back on caffeine 6-12 hours before bed.
Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~ Illness
~ Effects
~ Sleep disruption
~ Exhaustion
~ Foggy head/difficulty concentrating
~ Irritability
~ Interventions
~ Compassion
~ Good nutrition

Individual Vulnerabilities: Physical
~ Brain changes
~ Brain changes can be
~ Hereditary
~ From an accident
~ As a result of addictive behaviors
~ Effects
~ Changes in the structure of the brain have all kinds of effects including memory, concentration, and mood.
~ Intervention
~ Eat a good diet to give the body the necessary building blocks
~ Get adequate quality rest
~ Medication

Individual Vunerabilities: Emotional
~ Anger
~ Anxiety
~ Depression
~ Grief
~ Guilt
~ Jealousy
~ Resentment
~ Inability to self-soothe

Individual Vunerabilities: Emotional
~ When you are feeling negative emotions
~ Effects
~ It causes the brain to keep the fight-or-flight reaction going (which takes energy)
~ It lacks or prevents the happy, calming neurotransmitters from being excreted
~ Interventions
~ Develop coping skills to deal with them
~ Insert positive/rewarding experiences
~ Get plenty of rest
~ Eat a healthy diet
~ Exercise

Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~ Global, internal, stable attributional style
~ Effects
~ When everything is always it adds extra stress
~ When anything that happens reflects on you as a person, it adds extra stress
~ Interventions
~ Focus on things being specific and alterable
~ Identify what is good about you as a person
~ Explore the difference between what makes you a good person vs your skills
Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~ Extremely external or internal locus of control
~ Both situations add stress
~ Effects
~ External locus of control means you feel you have no control over anything
~ Internal locus of control means you feel like you should be able to control everything.
~ Interventions
~ Identify what things you can control and use your energy for them
~ Figure out how you are going to cope with things you cannot control
Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~ Low Self-esteem
~ Self esteem is how you feel about who you are compared with who you think you should be
~ Effects
~ Low self-esteem can cause people to feel helpless or not deserving of love or success
~ Interventions
~ Explore what characteristics you think you should have but do not
~ Decide if they are important.
~ Decide what to do about it.

Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~ Negative perceptions/cognitive style
~ Effects
~ Seeing the world as negative, depressing, out of control or scary makes life more stressful
~ If you see everything as negative (not rewarding) you will not want to do anything
~ Interventions
~ Look for the silver lining: When you start to think about something as negative, find the positive
~ Look for exceptions
Individual Vulnerabilities: Mental/Cognitive
~ Poor organization/time management
~ Poor time management effects
~ It can lead to being over committed
~ It cause people to feel rushed/harried
~ It can cause people to forget to do things leading to conflict
~ Interventions
~ Make a list of must-dos at the beginning of every week
~ Stop saying yes right away
~ Identify and address time sucks

Individual Vulnerabilities: Social
~ Poor communication skills
~ Effects
~ Impedes you from stating your needs
~ May cause misunderstandings
~ Can hurt your relationships
~ Interventions
~ Learn about effective verbal and nonverbal communication
~ Don’t assume you understand what the other person is talking about

Individual Vulnerabilities: Social
~ Weak emotional boundaries
~ Effects
~ You may have difficulty feeling happy unless those around you are happy
~ You may take everyone else’s bad mood personally
~ Interventions
~ Examine why it is not safe to feel how you feel
~ Start paying attention to your wants, needs and feelings

Individual Vulnerabilities: Social
~ Need for external validation
~ Effects
~ Not feeling okay unless you are constantly surrounded by people who tell you you are okay
~ Interventions
~ Identify why you are okay
~ Look at why you need other people to validate you and work on that.
Apply It
~ Identify 3 ways you could have used this information in the past week.
~ What vulnerabilities did you have in the last week?
~ What impact did it have on you?
~ If you would have had this new information, what could you have done differently?
~ How would that have changed the outcome?
~ How can you start integrating this knowledge into your routine
~ Addressing vulnerabilities frees up energy so you can deal with other “stuff” that comes your way
~ Eliminating vulnerabilities can help you feel less stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed all the time
~ Persistent vulnerabilities are the first relapse warning sign (HALT)
~ Being mindful of when you are vulnerable and taking positive steps to address it are crucial to recovery success.