Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
2. How does positive psychology differ from regular psychology in terms of addiction recovery?
I think Positive Psychology offers a different approach from traditional therapy that focuses more on what you are doing "right" and how to amplify that instead of focusing on what is wrong and what you are trying to avoid. When you focus on your strengths, particularly in the beginning of recovery, it can feel empowering and give you a much-needed boost of confidence.
Knowing and using your top 5 strengths in new and creative ways (I use the VIA Strengths test at www.authentichappiness.com) has been found to make people both happier and more successful. Positive psychology also brings in concepts of getting into flow by challenging yourself with hard goals, and then using your strengths to make progress on those goals.
There is research showing that all success with goals is preceded by being in a flourishing emotional state, so I'd also suggest that everyone in recovery learn about the research on "positive interventions" - the behavior/mental shifts you can deliberately perform to put yourself into a flourishing state. It's important to also understand how to set the "right" goals that will enhance success, not focus on superficial or extrinsic outcomes.
There are also concepts around savoring that can be taught, as well as mindfulness meditation, that enhance self-regulation and reduce impulsivity. I'm also a big believer in teaching people how to become more resilient, much like is being taught to the US Army right now by Positive Psychology researchers from the University of Pennsylvania. You need resilience and grit to survive the setbacks and challenges that inevitably occur when you are pursuing recovery, and although you may stumble upon these concepts in random ways, I believe they offer so much hope and practical guidance that Positive Psychology should be integrated at the start of anyone's recovery.
I have spent the last month unable to tear myself away from streaming a popular TV series that I didn’t watch while it was on the air weekly. There are 142 episodes and I am almost finished with the lot! Some days I have watched as many as 5 episodes. I am annoyed with my behavior and what a waste of time it is. Yesterday I tried to stop and couldn't.
Then it dawned on me that I am using compulsive TV watching to escape because I am going through withdrawal from my reading addiction! I have run out of books that interest me; most of the book stores in town have closed down; and the library is closed tomorrow. I guess that I will distract myself with a few more hours of TV and hope for the best while my Kindle is charging.
I am ashamed to admit that I am a book junkie. I mean the "hard stuff," the paper books, not the audio books. I love to lose myself in a good story or fascinating biography. The feel of turning the pages and the weight of the book is so satisfying. There is nothing like the sense of expectation I feel when I start a 500-page book!
I have been an avid reader since childhood. I remember how happy I used to feel going home from the local library with my arms filled with books. When I gave birth to my son I knew that I was going to have a c-section, so I went to the library ahead of time and made sure I put some books in my suitcase to take to the hospital since I was told that I would be there for up to one week. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get out for a while once we were home, therefore I needed a stockpile.
When I have nothing to read I experience withdrawal. I tend to feel antsy, anxious and sometimes get grumpy when away from my “fix.” My worst withdrawal experience came many years ago, before Kindles were invented, when my husband and I were invited to visit one of his friends who had moved to a nearby city. Chuck picked us up at the airport and drove us to his new home on top of a hill....
Many years ago when Overeaters Anonymous was in its infancy in Los Angeles, members of AA who had years of sobriety were invited to speak at OA meetings. They brought experience, strength and hope to a group struggling to get on its feet. Among the AA helpers was a wonderful woman named Dottie who was an inspiring speaker. Dottie was welcomed at the burgeoning OA meetings and became a friend and supporter of those wanting to be free of compulsive eating.
As the years went by and OA grew, other anonymous meetings sprang up for drug addicts and later spenders and sex addicts. Then word went around that Dottie was starting another new meeting that was different from all the rest. It was a meeting open to any and all people suffering from addictive or compulsive behaviors. No type of addiction was considered more serious than another. It was a meeting where all attendees were practicing the 12 steps.
Soon after this meeting got underway I moved away from Los Angeles so I never found out what happened to that group, but I never forgot it. We desperately need a new support system today that is like Dottie’s since we have become a society riddled with addictions and compulsions of all sorts. People switch from one to another but are never free of the cravings to feel good at all costs.
I recall Betty, the very first client I treated after I was licensed as an MFT. Betty was an overeating, drug-addicted alcoholic. She wanted me to help her stop her compulsive overeating. Then she met her husband, who was a drug dealer, and she dropped out of therapy. She eventually returned, having divorced her husband. She was not using drugs and was trying to stay off booze, but food was a constant battle.
I worked with Betty for quite a while as she tried to kick all three of her compulsions. She never managed to get rid of all three at the same time. Finally she relocated to another city. I remember one of her letters in which she said that she went to an alcoholism counselor who told her, “I don’t care what you do, just DON”T DRINK!” She wrote that she stopped drinking and immediately gained 35 pounds!...
What do I value?
Where am I unfulfilled?
What are my regrets and can I take action on any of them now?
How do I connect with my inner answers?...
When I get still long enough, I hear the message intended for me. In response to a recent prayer to feel more centered and fulfilled in my life, I was guided to take a hot yoga class. I tried hot yoga years ago when I wasn't getting proper nutrition and wasn't able to continue with the classes.
Thirteen years later and free from all of my addictions, I felt comfortable I was healthy enough to try again. I came to the class with the intention of expanding, stretching and opening myself on a physical, mental and spiritual level. I wanted to let go of my restrictive, contracted way of thinking and acting and tap into a greater, Higher Resource that could center me and transport me to the next phase of my life.
After only three sessions, I felt the power of yoga. Yoga softened my stance, opened my blocked channels and allowed spirit to flow through me to create a deep sense of peace, purpose and enthusiasm. I know I will always have imbalances and that is okay. Yoga teaches me to surrender my uncertainty to the moment, rely on my breath to find my strength, and trust I will come to know all I am capable of doing and feeling.
Honesty opens doors for us. Plain and simple.
In my experience during my active addiction, I was a queen story teller and had a talent for decorating my stories. Fear robbed me with the ability to tell the truth to others and to myself. I was very strong in my ability to run a marathon of denial, BS, and blame. At least I thought I was strong. However the joke was on me. The thing I feared the most - honesty - would be the one life saving quaility I would need to run the quickest to.
Honesty has been the ticket out of many a dark days in my soul. Over 28 years ago, I broke down and waved the white surrender flag and asked for help. That was the first step for me. Sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, honesty has become part of the frim foundation that I now base my life on.
I am so not perfect though. Somedays, I just don't want to tell the truth. It depends on how much fear is attached to it. Fear of what others may think, fear or what may possibley change, fear of wanting something better, fear of living life with more grace and abundance. Fear of staying the same.
I wanted to go deeper in my recovery. Years ago I had another spiritual awakening and realized that I had more work to do on myself and the defects in my character. So I founds ways to go deeper in my soul. There was more work to do and honesty with myself, was the first step....
Hi my name is janique, I am really happy to Blogg at Addiction Land.
I've had one of those crazy lifes of sex, drugs and rock'n roll but my addiction started when I was 11 years old and I thought I killed my mother, you see I told her I hated her, that night she commited suicide. I know today that that isn't the truth but as a 11 year old I didn't. The pain I felt of killing my own mother and not be able to tell anyone was excrutiating. It wasn't until, by misstake, I cut myself ....when I felt the pain on the outside the pain on the inside start faiding away - seeing the blood running down my arm was a relief; now I knew how to escape all the horrible feelings on the inside....this strated years of cutting and self harm.. This is how it all started.....how did it start for you?
My google alerts are set to include any article on eating disorders so I can stay abreast of current issues. Today, I read the article http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/desperate-housewives-syndrome-20120529-1zgoa.html and it caused me to think about how I felt when I first developed an eating disorder at age 15 compared to now. At 44 with over 12 years of recovery work under my belt, I can not tell you I am immune to the pressures of the media to look like I am 20 at age 44. So far, I have not succumbed to the internal pressure, but the pressure is there. These women in the movies and magazines look so beautiful and radiant!
So why haven't I gotten botox when so many women I know have? Certainly, it takes years off one's face and, when administered well, restores a woman's youthful appearance. I have not gotten botox for a few reasons: I have to wonder the longterm effects of putting toxins into my body, it has to be painful and my guts tells me that if I start with one botox, one will never be enough. Kind of like one drink was never enough. Either I feel secure I am enough despite my wrinkles, rolls or gray hairs, or I don't. Either I go down the road of clinging to external validation or I rely upon natural means to enhance my mental and physical health.
What does any of this have to do with addiction or recovery? The disease of addiction centers in the mind. The disease of addiction is that voice in our heads that tells us we are not enough, we will never be enough, if we had more or did more, we might stand a chance. The voice of addiction is insane. It comes up with ways and means to manipulate reality, the natural process of things, and act as God. While things may appear good on the outside, for a while, the good never lasts. Unless something is natural and serves the greater good, it eventually fizzles out, dries up, shrivels and suffers.
Everytime my head tells me I need to do something about the wrinkles on my face or the bulge in my belly, my recovery voice reminds me that the thing that truly makes me beautiful is my essence. My recovery voice tells me that with good behavior, substantial exercise, better nutrition, good times and meditation, the Light within me will get brighter! Recovery has given me a rational voice to counteract my feelings of inadequacy. While those feelings of inadequacy never go away completely, I rely on my spiritual program of action and the Grace of my HP to keep me free from bondage to Botox and outside fixes! Aging can be glorious if we place more value on personal growth than we do on wrinkle free foreheads!...