Addictionland - Addiction Recovery Blog

Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog

ARE YOU SOBER AND SUNNY?

Posted by Cate
Cate
Cate Stevens. Founder of Addictionland.com, has over fifteen years of recovery f
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on Monday, 07 April 2014
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

A heartfelt hello to Addictionland members!  Just to let you know, I have been privileged to write a column for the Sun Sentinel (online version) to impact the South Florida community where I reside.

 

Feel free to take a look and comment on any topic you would like to hear more about.  Also, contribute in the comments section and I will post your comments!

 

http://www.hypesouthflorida.com/sober-and-sunny/

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When To Restrain, Surrender and Accept

Posted by Cate
Cate
Cate Stevens. Founder of Addictionland.com, has over fifteen years of recovery f
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on Thursday, 27 March 2014
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Yesterday, I attended a recovery meeting for women in which many of the women shared about their dependency on a multitude of things other than drugs or alcohol. One woman with many years of sobriety shared about her addiction to the phone app Candy Crush, while another woman newly sober stated she could not stop eating M&Ms.

When I walked through the doors of my first recovery meeting, I believed it would be impossible for me to stop relying upon the variety of substances I needed to cope. A wise elder suggested that I concern myself with the primary addiction which would destroy my life first. For me, that was alcohol and drugs, since the combination landed me in an emergency room.

It is hard for a newcomer to understand that recovery takes time and it is important for us to accept ourselves and conditions we are uncomfortable with in order to recover. Knowing myself and my addiction very well after 15 years of recovery, I do not tempt my addictive side with games like Candy Crush. As for my food addiction, I am able to ingest sugar today without being set off on a binge.

These circumstances and decisions come naturally when I continue to work a spiritual program of action on a daily basis. The point I am making is time takes time and easy does it. We did not get addicted in a day and we will not turn around those addictive patterns in a day.

Consciousness will enlarge any thing we put our attention on. The literature says that alcoholics have magnifying minds. This means that the most important thing I can do on a daily basis is put my attention, as often as possible, on the positive thoughts, actions and a Power greater than myself. The more I focus on the good I want to grow in my life, the more that goodness will grow.

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It's Not Personal....It's Strictly a Brain Disease

Posted by blwood
blwood
Barbara Wood is a licensed psychologist who practices in Bethesda, Maryland an
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on Thursday, 27 February 2014
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Increase

I didn’t really expect the Godfather to figure prominently in any of my blog posts, but I thought that paraphrasing Michael Corleone  here might be a good way to start a discussion about addiction as a disease vs. addiction as a choice.  It is my experience that family members (and addicts themselves) still struggle greatly with the feeling that  excessive drug and alcohol use are essentially moral problems.  So I think it’s always important, in treatment, to look at  the mounting evidence that addiction to substances, as well as certain compulsive activities,  actually change the brain in ways that undermine the ability to make  healthy choices. Learning about the neurological impact of addiction can help everyone affected by it to find compassion for their struggle with a devastating illness.

There is an ever-increasing amount of data, including results  from neuroimaging studies, that support the definition of addiction held by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, which is that,”Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry”.  Today we understand for example, how substance abuse and even activities like gambling, affect the action of dopamine in the brain.  Dopamine is the substance released by  neurons in the reward centers of the brain whenever we do something pleasurable.  The brain has evolved to reward us for doing things useful to the survival of the species–such as  eating and procreating, and a flood of dopamine is the reward we get for participating in these activities.  However, drugs of abuse, gambling, binge-eating  and even excessive internet use can cause the reward centers of the brain to release far more dopamine than we’re used to getting, and if this  happens on a regular basis, the brain remodels itself to defend against the flood of  dopamine it’s receiving.  It begins to produce less of the stuff on its own and it becomes less sensitive to  it as well.  As addicts develop this “tolerance” to their drug or activity of choice, they need more and more of it to achieve the pleasure they’re used to getting from their habit, and the brain’s reluctance to produce dopamine on its own means that they also feel less pleasure from doing the things that used to make them happy. Consequently, drug rewards eventually become more important to addicts than anything else. I believe addicts when they tell me that their need to get high  actually makes them stop thinking about other things, including food and including people, that are otherwise important to them.  I believe them because what they’re saying is completely consistent with changes that technology now allows us to  see in the reward centers of  addicts’ brains.

Other parts of addicts’ brains change too.   In addition to this malfunction of the reward circuitry, there is a weakening of the executive control mechanisms in the pre-frontal cortex.  This is the  part of the brain that  helps people to regulate emotions and impulsive behavior.  So heavy drinking (including intermittent binge drinking) undermines the very functions that are needed to make healthy decisions about future drinking. Moreover,   the brain isn’t so quick to heal once someone abstains from alcohol and other drug use. A recent study of current and former cocaine users for example,  found that even after 4 years of abstinence, there were abnormalities in some brain regions involved with reward processing.

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Giving Thanks to Suffering

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 23 January 2014
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Giving Thanks to SufferingI was recently asked to speak at a meeting in which the speaker chose a reading from As Bill Sees It. I flipped open the book randomly, and came to the entry on page 226 entitled Give Thanks from the March 1962 episode of the Grapevine. It read:

Though I still find it difficult to accept today's pain and anxiety with any great degree of serenity - as those more advanced in the spiritual life seem able to do - I can give thanks for present pain nevertheless.

I find the willingness to do this by contemplating the lessons learned from past suffering - lessons which have led to the blessings I now enjoy. I can remember how the agonies of alcoholism, the pain of rebellion and thwarted pride, have often led me to God's grace, and so to a new freedom.

I have not read every page of As Bill Sees It, but I don't know if I could have turned to a page that I agree with more. Although I do not practice this in every moment, I try my best to. Turning toward our suffering and not running from it is a indispensable practice. The tendency of recovering addicts to run from unpleasant feelings is often a result of what is taught in twelve-step programs: to call your sponsor, go to a meeting, or help a newcomer.

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An Alternate Path to Recovery

Posted by tbranston
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on Tuesday, 31 December 2013
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Sobriety is an interesting thing, especially as most people initially attempt to find recovery at a 12-step meeting. The focus of this article is to discuss a different way of staying sober that is outside the confines of AA or NA, or a traditional approach to recovery.

I used alcohol and drugs for a period of 10 years.  After significant social and health problems I was faced with a decision after being in a coma for nearly a month due to my drug use. My experience as a clinician is that everybody who makes a decision to quit using needs to find their own motivation to quit and remain chemical-free.  My motivation came from my grandmother when she said, “I was very concerned that you wouldn’t make it”.  This is significant to me because both of my grandparents survived Auschwitz.  They spent every day not knowing if they would be alive for the next 24 hours. My grandmother is my moral compass and I remember thinking that if she was able to find a way to stay alive for four years in horrific conditions, I could find a way to stay sober.

When I got sober my grandparents asked me to try 12-step meetings.  I attended for some time but I never resonated with the approach.  While some people find recovery through 12-step meetings, I think it’s important to remember that most popular doesn’t always mean most successful.

 

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Why Not Now?

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 30 December 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

With another year on the horizon, I find myself wondering why we feel the need to wait for January’s coy signal to jolt us into making resolutions. Why January? Why do we wait until after the holidays have come and passed? Why do we wait for our lives to ‘calm down’ in order to focus on our goals? Why wait at all? What are we waiting for? What is keeping us from making these resolutions today, here, now? Why do we find ourselves distracted, busied with excuses, and comforted in our procrastination? Why must we wait for anything? What are YOU waiting for?

As I chat with friends and family alike, many of us agree that New Year’s resolutions are somewhat disheartening. We make grandiose plans for the New Year only to be disappointed in ourselves a few weeks post ‘declaration of bold aspirations.’ Whether it is weight-loss goals never met, hopes of eating healthier crushed at the sight of a coffee shop donut, or simply never getting around to cleaning the spare-room closet, we all suffer defeat and give up. Next year will be better, we all say to ourselves. Our goals were too big, too silly, or too difficult to accomplish anyway. We succumb to the veiled belief that our goals were not realistic to begin with, and we bond with one another in our sea of excuses.

It is laughable at first, but I find it quite sad as well. We are quick to busy ourselves with mundane activities only to avoid and hinder our REAL goals, our TRUEST desires, and our biggest DREAMS with resistance and fear. We lose sight of what it is that energizes our true being because we are too distracted with extraneous preoccupations of the day. I think Sogyal Rinpoche says it best:

“Western laziness consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues.”

Look at your life. What are you busying yourself with today? What is distracting you from the present moment? Sure, social media, television, and music distract us from what is presently before us. But think deeper for a moment. What is distracting you from accomplishing your goals? What is stopping you from opening up that restaurant you’ve always wanted to open? Who is telling you that you cannot sell your paintings and be an artist full-time? What is distracting you from living your dreams today? Why do you find yourself occupied with ‘to-dos’ and push aside the real issue of fulfilling your life’s true purpose by achieving your goals?

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At Your Age, You Should Know Better

Posted by AlisonFSmela
AlisonFSmela
Alison Smela, is in long-term recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder follo
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on Monday, 23 December 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Over the last 12 years, I've done a lot of self-study about what kept me in lock step with the powerful disease of addiction. I've peeled myself back, layer by layer, to unveil the root causes for this.

One of the most profound things I uncovered during that investigation was how the toxic phrase “I should know better” directed my life.

Growing up, I heard, " Honestly, Alison you really should know better” on a rather regular basis. This phrase was so ingrained into my head that as I grew older, if I found myself in a bad spot, within a second I’d think, “Ugh! I should have known better!”

For the average person, a reflection like that is nothing more than a casual check-in.

Not so for someone who lived for decades underneath the addictive, obsessive diseases of alcoholism and an eating disorder. For someone like me, that statement is monumentally damaging.

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I Wasn’t Ready but I Was Willing

Posted by AlisonFSmela
AlisonFSmela
Alison Smela, is in long-term recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder follo
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on Sunday, 08 December 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Even when I was in the absolute worst stage of unabashed drinking and irregular, unhealthy eating habits, very little if anything could have pushed me to seek recovery any sooner than I did.

Those who love me worked tirelessly in the effort to convince me I needed help.  Each gesture or suggestion was met with resistance, denial and deflection.  Those caring and compassionate individuals had all but prepared themselves to receive the dreaded phone call I’d finally succumbed to the disease of addiction.

The more people tried to persuade me of my destruction, the more my distance from them widened.  I wasn’t ready to stop.  I liked being able to decide for myself when, where and how much I engaged in what I believed was pure merriment.  I’d perfected my silent rationalization to slip into the haze of too much alcohol with little food. When I was in the state of nothingness, life’s emotional ups and downs didn’t matter anymore. I cherished my ability firmly and sternly control what I put my mental energy into and what was erased. As long as I kept my booze supply up and my weight down, all was well in the world.  And oh boy, did I love the “high” I felt when the deception, manipulation and lies all fell into place.

Until they didn’t.

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Higher Power in Buddhism

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 05 December 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

05We were recently asked a great on our Instagram page about a Higher Power and Buddhism. The question read, "How does the higher-power concept fit within the Buddhist philosphy?" I personally have wondered the same thing in my journey through twelve step recovery and Buddhist meditation.

First, we must consider what Twelve Step programs are asking from us when they speak of a Higher Power and its importance to the program. On page 12 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson says, "It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself." The book doesn't say that we must believe in a specific Higher Power. It even says we can use our fellows as our Higher Power on page 107 of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, "For the time being, we who were atheist or agnostic discovered that our own group, or A.A. as a whole, would suffice as a higher power."

Many Buddhists are atheists, and don't believe in a god. There are devas and bodhisattvas in Buddhism, but the Buddha taught that the origin of the universe was irrelevant to the ending of suffering. However, many of atheistic Buddhists are in recovery, and find ways to work the Higher Power concept in with their own beliefs. This is just my opinion and experience.

The Third Step of Alcoholics Anonymous states that we "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him." It does not say what this "god" must be. In my Buddhist practice, I turn my will and my life over to the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.

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Happy Birthday to Me! Wait, Which One?

Posted by AlisonFSmela
AlisonFSmela
Alison Smela, is in long-term recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder follo
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on Sunday, 01 December 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

I am honored to be the December Expert particularly because this first day happens to be my birthday. Yet the date does not mark the only time I was shifted from a place of comfort to a visceral shock to the system.

I’ve been given the most precious gift of life three times. I was physically born in December of 1961, almost died in 2001 and then tested fate again in 2008. The 46-year journey was a roller coaster of addiction, emotional chaos and nonstop searching for a way out.

Although I can't remember the first few celebrations of the date I entered this world, all accounts indicated they were joyous, happy and fun. I’ve been told people poured attention on me with beautifully wrapped boxes to open and cards read by others with messages for a future far better than their own.

 

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