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Four Years In Recovery - So What Have I Learnt?

Posted by Cathryn
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on Friday, 28 March 2014
in Drug Addiction 0 Comments

It’s been four years since I emerged from rehab, blinking into the new light of sobriety, a shivering, puking, frightened wreck. That terrified wreck is still inside me, I don’t suppose she will ever go away, and I don’t suppose I will ever want her to – it’s that part of me that keeps me sober. Keeps me sane (ish) and centred, no matter what life throws at me. But what has recovery given me? What have I learnt so far?

Recovery has given me everything – a life. End of.

It has also given me everything that comes with a life ie a profound realisation of my failures, my fears, my insecurities, my disappointments and expectations, my long-held resentments, my pride, my vanity and, for good measure, my greed. It has given me loss, a deep grief which has become a treasure chest of wisdom, and hope as clear and sharp as a sunny winter morning. It has given me difficulties and strife, chaos and uncertainty punctuated by glimmers of deep resonance, kindness, friendship and love in every possible permutation. It has given me, me.

So, today, sitting here with four years’ of sobriety and (relative) sanity behind me, and a present filled with opportunity and potential, I want to share these small pearls of wisdom gleaned from the recovery trenches:

1) Sometimes you need to do the wrong thing to get to the right place

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Defeating the Mental Trap

Posted by Allison Fogarty
Allison Fogarty
Allison Fogarty is an interventionist, Registered Addiction Specialist intern an
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on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
in Drug Addiction 0 Comments

I'm sure that many of you can relate to coincidences like when you learn about a new word, you find that you hear it more, but when in reality it's just something new that has come into your awareness, it was really there all along.  This is of course something that happens to me often, but has certainly been my experience since I have been writing this blog, as it is now always in my awareness to look for opportunities for what to discuss next and they just keep popping into my life!

Working in the addiction field, and the job I have in particular, keeps me very focused but also very isolated.  Working in addiction also creates a sort of bubble, being that my clients are all trying to get out of their active addiction, my co-workers are all in recovery, and the doctors are addictionologists.  I had been in California for four or five years and didn’t realize that I was protecting myself in a way, by not branching out of my comfort zone.  So it wasn’t until about two years ago, that I started to go out to new places and interact with new people that have never struggled with an addiction.  (People that experience temporary stress instead of chronic anxiety are still a wonder to me!)

The benefit, however, of the bubble realization was that all of that prep work that I had been doing (working with a sponsor, doing the steps, going to multiple types of therapy to figure out the core issues as to why I was using inhalants, then working on those core issues) was in preparation for returning to the real world and all its challenges and this time having a more positive impact, on myself and on those around me, and it was time to use them!  The tools I have learned (especially emotional regulation, coping skills, and trigger identification) and the resources I have developed have been crucial in my relapse prevention, because life sure does throw me some curveballs and when I did come out of hiding, I found that some of my wreckage from my past was still there waiting for me.  I am definitely grateful that I was given the opportunity to have a second chance, to get to be the same person, but a better version.  By doing the footwork, it allows me to look at the same situations but have different reactions and therefore different outcomes than I would have in the past.

I feel that in order to be effective in communicating with people who are also struggling and/or looking for solutions or education, I need to write about things that truly affect me emotionally, because if what I'm writing doesn't induce some sort of feelings for me, how could it in someone else?  So full disclosure in the hopes that someone can relate and hopefully allowing me to be of service.

The reason that the ability to have different reactions that produce different and better outcomes is on my mind is due to some events that occurred in my week.  I felt discouraged this week for two reasons, and I feel like they have happened while I have volunteered to write this blog for a reason.  I am a person that falls victim to a certain type of mental trap, where your brain immediately jumps into negative thinking or disaster mode when you hear certain things that are not ideal.  In the treatment facilities I work with, we refer to it as addict brain.

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Tags: 10th tradition, 12 step, 12 step recovery, AA, abstinence, accurate self-appraisal, action program, action steps, addict, addiction, addiction help, addiction memoir, addiction recovery, Addiction Specialist, addictive behavior, addicts, affected, affirmations, Alcoholics Anonymous, answers, anxiety, anxiety and recovery, ask for help, Asking for help, attitude of gratitude, awareness, balance, being a loving mirror, being a loving person, being of service, Big Book, Caring for those who still suffer, co-addiction, co-occurring disorder, compassion, courage, dealing with a using loved one, depression, discomfort, drug abuse, drug addiction, emotional management, emotional maturity, emotional regulation, emotional sobriety, emotions, faith, family recovery, fear, first step, goal setting, goals, gratitude, gratitude journey, Guest Blogger, guilt, healing, HELPING OTHERS, higher self, inadequacy, inner satisfaction, intervention, inventory, letting go, Life Challenges, life on life's terms, literature, memoir, mental health, mindfulness, mindfulness and recovery, Motivation, My Story, openness, positive energy, program of recovery, recovery, recovery talk, relapse prevention, Resilience, right action, right intention, self care, Self Love, self-compassion, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-help, self-honesty, serenity, shame, sobriety, sponsor, stepwork, struggle, substance abuse, suffering, suffering addicts, Support, surrender, tenth tradition, thinking, thinking errors, Trying to save a Life, turn it over, twelve step recovery, twelve steps, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, twelve steps of aa, twelve traditions, twelve traditions of aa, why i used drugs
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An Alternate Path to Recovery

Posted by tbranston
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on Tuesday, 31 December 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

 

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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12 Ways to be of Service (and some extras!)

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
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on Sunday, 08 September 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

volunteers needed1. Get a commitment at a meeting you regularly attend.

2. Use a phone list from a meeting to reach out to strangers.

3. Call a fellow addict and focus on how they are doing.

4. Call your local Central Office; there are often opportunities to help... Phone shifts often need covering.

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Working a Personal Program

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
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on Sunday, 05 May 2013
in Alcoholism 1 Comment

Each one of us works our own individual program.  In twelve-step programs we are given many suggestions, but there is only one requirement: the desire to stop drinking.  Attending meetings or speaking with our fellows, we see how differently each of us works our program.  It is a beautiful thing that we are encouraged to work the program how it works for us, and there are always people more experienced than us who have different experiences to offer.  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says on page 29, "Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God."

Our Own Higher Power

In my personal experience, the ability to choose your own Higher Power is one of the greatest examples of people working their own programs.  I have met people of all faiths and traditions in the rooms: Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, Atheist, and simply spiritual.  Regardless of your spiritual/religious beliefs, there is a place for you in twelve-step programs.

Although Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by Christians and on many Christian principles, it was created with an expressed intention to work for people of all belief systems.  I practice Buddhism myself.  My sense of a "Higher Power" or "God" is very different than a lot of my fellows.  I choose to utilize the Dharma as my Higher Power.  Rather than a supernatural or ethereal force or figure, I use the path of Buddhism as my Higher Power.  It works well for me, for I am able to turn my will and my life over to it.  I am able to pray and meditate, be grateful for my Higher Power, and not fully understand my Higher Power.

Whatever your beliefs are, the principles are the same: trust in God, pray, meditate, turn your will and life over.  I have met many atheists in my time sober, and have found the principles also apply there.  In Buddhism, there is the teaching that we all have seeds within us; we have seeds of doubt, anger, love, fear, acceptance, etc.  When we take action, we are watering these seeds within us.  Being of service waters the seed of compassion, love, etc.  Punching somebody waters the seed of anger, hatred, etc.  Speaking with atheists, I have heard a very similar account of things.  Even though they do not believe in a greater deity, they do believe they have a better person within them.  I see atheists in my home group be of service, share eloquently, relate to others, and be wonderful members of our fellowship.

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Protected : What is a "Spiritual Experience?"

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
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on Tuesday, 23 April 2013
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Protected : Steps 4 and 5: Courage

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Addiction and Recovery

Posted by Recovered88
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on Monday, 01 April 2013
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Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. -- Helen Keller

Addiction is the cause of extreme suffering for many individuals and their families.  The use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol will often result in significant consequences for many Americans let alone the harm caused to our communities.   With the proliferation of the electronic age there is not a lack of information or awareness with the scope of the addiction challenge.

Pharmaceutical Opioid drugs such as Oxycodone has wreaked havoc in middle income neighborhoods that at one time seemed to be exempt of such mass damage.  The Crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s seemed to rear its ugly head in the inner cities of the country.  Methamphetamine played a huge role in the South and Southwest regions of the country.  But today the every region of the country seems to be impacted by this epidemic.  Alcohol issues continue to play a negative role in the country as well with little signs of letting up its strangle hold on millions of Americans.

Yet with all of that said, as bleak of a picture as it may seem to be, recovery works.  Millions of Americans seek treatment each year and many are successful.  Mutual support and recovery groups have strengthened the access to long-term community support and fellowship.  Groups that utilize the Twelve-Step process continue to grow as well as new science and psychological based groups that have emerged on the scene offering a wide variety of self-improvement options.  Yes, the world of addiction is full of suffering, but the recovery process helps those afflicted to overcome it!

 

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Silver Lining in Addiction

Posted by MissAmygdala
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on Wednesday, 27 March 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

In the past, I have allowed addiction to run my life. Addiction chose which friends I surrounded myself with, the activities I chose to be a part of and how successful I was. Addiction created conflicts with my friends and family and drove me into multiple depressions. Addiction also skewed my perception and judgment so much; it led to some horrible decisions that I will forever have to live with.

It is easy to say that all of this was merely ‘the addiction’s’ fault, but I am the kind of person that likes to take responsibility for my own actions. In many ways I feel like I am a much different person today than who I was a few years ago. I have chosen to use this struggle in my life as a (cheesy as it sounds) springboard. I am not saying that this decision to get clean was easy or overnight. It was a long process with many setbacks. To this day, I still struggle with sobriety.

However, I have found my silver lining in my addiction. I am now a Senior Psychology student working on my undergraduate thesis. I am researching the comparative effectiveness of substance abuse programs, either mixed gender or all- female groups. It is my personal goal to help other women dealing with addiction. I feel that the best way to improve treatment groups is to ask the members themselves, we know what works and what doesn’t.

If you are a woman that has participated in an alcohol or substance abuse group at one time (inpatient or outpatient) and would like to participate in my short survey, I would greatly appreciate it. Of course it is completely anonymous, no personal information is asked of you.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Women_and_Substance_Abuse_Treatment

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Taking Your Recovery Deeper - HONESTY

Posted by Betsy1229
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on Thursday, 24 January 2013
in Other Addictions 0 Comments

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.

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Tags: 12 step
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Developing Juicy Goals For Recovery

Posted by tbranston
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on Tuesday, 10 July 2012
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

 

It is likely there are a few things you’d like to accomplish in your sobriety. The reality is that the machinery that helps your goals manifest is the same no matter the subject, time-line, or importance.

I would like to posit that in order to reach your goals there are specific ways of thinking about them that can help. I would like to outline a few ideas and then show you to a system of goal-setting that I have found to be very helpful.

Motivation – I would like to introduce the notion that people aren’t lazy, rather, they have impotent goals. Is your goal in your life juicy enough to get you out of bed? Are you focused on what you need to do to? Were your goals created for yourself or to simply please someone else? With proper motivation, the pride and excitement provides fuel to work towards the completion of the goal. Very early in my career I wanted to be Nationally certified as an Addictions Counselor. I wanted the certification, but I wanted to pass the test before the requirements increased to sit for the exam. Eventually my focus changed from completing the exam to passing the test as a tangible recognition that I knew my stuff. When my motivation was correct the goal was easy to complete.

Passion – I like to make ‘passion’ a separate category from motivation. The way I think about it, motivation helps me follow-through on whatever goal I have set for myself. Passion is different from motivation in that when I think of what I want to do, passion is the “juice” that supports me to feel connected to a goal, energized by the possibilities, and alive that this goal will have a positive impact on the people in my life. I have been a clinician since 1984. I believe the reason I continue to do this work is my passion for affecting change. About 12 years into my career I took a break from clinical work to drive a limo for six months. While I met a lot of neat people (some celebrities as well) I was not connected to my job and did not feel engaged by my time behind the wheel. I was not affecting change and I was certainly not passionate about this job. I received a lot of compliments about my customer service skills which didn’t surprise me as I know how to relate to people. Truth be told, the third day away from clinical work, I was dying on the vine. Passion is nothing if you’re not engaged by what you do. I met a lot of drivers who loved their job, and they were really good at it. They had passion and they felt like they were contributing. I did not.

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WHY I BECAME A SOBER COACH

Posted by PattyPowers
PattyPowers
Patty Powers is a sober coach and writer. She was featured on the A&E mini serie
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on Thursday, 31 May 2012
in Alcoholism 2 Comments

If I’m to be honest answering this question, there will be no quick way through it. I could say I became a sober coach because I was tired of going to bed at 6am and sick of having to shout over loud music to be heard  - but that’s only part of it.

When I got clean in 1988, I placed all bets on my writing. This meant that instead of taking a job that would have career advancement, I stuck with freelance work, doing anything that could finance large chunks of uninterrupted writing time. I came up during the late 70s and 80s among a scene of underground artists, musicians, and filmmakers, many of whom went on to mainstream success. After I got clean, I became the go-to girl for anyone from my previous life wanting to get off drugs. This lead to my first coaching jobs inside the entertainment industry. The calls were so random that I never considered it a real employment source. In between coaching gigs, I continued to take on whatever work paid the bills. Coaching and sober companion work felt like the right fit but I never gave it much thought as a career. At the time it was controversial and renegade.


As the years passed, I continued to write and perform. Although my work was being published and optioned, I still hadn’t made it through the “big doors". It killed me to watch my friends’ lives successfully moving forward while mine seemed, at least outwardly, frozen in time. What was i doing wrong?  My moment of clarity came at fifteen years clean. It occurred to me that I had never stopped directing my romantic and financial affairs and those two areas were not changing. I needed to let go (as they say in 12 step programs) but I didn’t know how. I definitely couldn’t think my way into a new life. I suppose I needed a spiritual experience but being an atheist this was difficult to imagine.

Right as my screenplay was gaining momentum and I was being flown back and forth across the country, the writers’ strike happened. Out of money, I went back to working in bars. The loud music and crazy hours were killing me. Like my final days with drugs, I was absolutely miserable and hopeless. At seventeen years clean, I was back at square one. Then the most amazing thing happened - I ran out of ideas on how to run my life. I was having tea with an old friend from the music industry when I asked him “You know me really well – what do you think I should do for a living?” It didn’t take a minute before he said, “You’d be perfect as a sober companion.”  I had no idea that sober coaching had come into its own as a profession. The renegade rock and roll days had paved the way and now treatment facilities, therapists, and psychiatrists were seeing positive results from setting up clients with sober companions. My friend suggested I contact a couple LA friends to see if anyone had leads.

The stars aligned and within 24 hours I had my first client outside of the entertainment industry. What was interesting to me was how everything I’d ever learnt in my life came into play - not just my personal experience in recovery but the information I’d amassed on nutrition, exercise, meditation, dealing with anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Every aspect of my life had prepared me to do this work.

The real test came on day three when my client’s prominent psychotherapist called for an update. Until then I had been working intuitively and unlike managers, agents, and the people I was used to dealing with, the person on the other end of the phone was skilled in mental health work. If I was a fraud she was going to call me out. Nervous, I took a deep breath and told her honestly what I saw and what I was working on with the client. The phone went silent and my stomach flipped. “I have been working with ___ for three years and you nailed every single item on my list”. His words confirmed that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

For me, falling into coaching was a spiritual experience. When I finally “let go” sober coaching came into my life. I loved it and had great results with clients. From that point on, doors kept opening. One day I got a call from the producers of Intervention about a new mini-series they were casting. Over night, this semi-secret career of mine became very public.

The television series shifted the direction of my life yet again. I received many heartbreaking emails from addict viewers who were without financial resources for treatment. I decided to set up a website and share freely what I do with clients. Currently I’m in the process of writing several books on recovery. What started as a part-time job to finance my writing has become the subject of my writing. No one could be more surprised by this than me.


To read what I do with clients as a sober coach, visit http://pattypowersnyc.com/sobercoac/

 

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Anatomy of a Relapse

Posted by tbranston
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on Wednesday, 16 May 2012
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

 

A random poll among newly sober clients, recovery counselors, and people who have achieved years of clean time would probably produce a varying consensus about the most pressing need for successful recovery.   Most respondents, however, would likely agree that relapse is often an indicator of stress.

The process of recovery, like the process of grief, is fluid and dynamic.  Exploring relapse before it happens is a good way to identify potential problems so you can be prepared for them.  Thorough preparation can help you minimize or even avoid issues may hinder your recovery.

Most people don’t think though the actions which eventually bring them to the point of relapse .  They simply had a desire to drink, and acted upon that without any thought for the consequences.  If they did indeed have any thoughts and feelings about the consequences of use, those thoughts and feeling were ignored or rationalized away.

In the recovery process, your recognition of that lack of forethought and insight should be a powerful lesson.  You can learn that anticipating the ultimate results of your behaviors will help you make much better choices.

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Skilled Sobriety

Posted by tbranston
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on Friday, 06 April 2012
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Long-term sobriety requires personal engagement in your recovery.  Real engagement goes beyond just attending meetings or calling your sponsor.  Engaged recovery requires that you constantly learn new, concrete skills which support long-term sobriety. When I think of concrete skills that support recovery, several things come to mind:

Resilience - This generally refers to a person’s ability to cope with adversity, or the ability to bounce back from problems and setbacks. Research has shown resiliency to be a dynamic process.  Resilient individuals adapt to changing and unexpected events even under the duress of adversity. You can develop your own resilience by establishing good problem-solving skills, or by seeking help and building social support.  Fostering a belief that there are things you can do to manage your feelings and cope, and finding positive meaning in trauma, are other strategies for building your resilience.

Delayed gratification – Usually, people who can abstain from alcohol or drugs, or people who have managed to stay out of prison, have found ways to delay their gratification. People use chemicals to change the way they feel, so if you learn skills to act on your emotions in healthy ways, including offseting a need for immediate gratification, you can manage to fulfill your needs through avenues other than chemical use.

Volunteer work - My experience has shown me that volunteer work is a great way to feel better about yourself, develop a community of peers who share similar interests, and be of service to others.  If you want to raise your self-esteem, do things you’d be proud to tell other people.

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Abstinence Aggravates Alcoholism

Posted by FrothyJay
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on Saturday, 19 November 2011
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The typical picture painted of alcoholism is the staggering, drooling drunk-- usually a pathetic, affable person making a scene of some sort.  

I've come to understand that this does not capture the true essence of alcoholism.  It merely paints a picture of the alcoholic who has found a temporary solution (alcohol).   The spiritual malady has been sedated, the resentments and fears that eat their insides daily have been put to sleep.  Drunkeness provides relief from alcoholism.

To see true alcoholism, watch the sober, untreated alcoholic.   They are coming out of their skin, perhaps because they are doing all they can to fight a physical compulsion to drink, or maybe because they've been without a drink for a week or a month or a year and are battling daily mental urges to drink.  Impatience, irritability and edginess mark their day, they often appear forlorn and lonely, and any happiness often appears disingenuine and affected. For me, I often felt like my head might explode at any given moment, and I often wished for it.

This is why we drink:  this condition becomes unbearable.  It's often a choice between a bottle of vodka and a three state killing spree.  And we choose vodka, thankfully. When we hear it said that certain dry alcoholics should just drink, this is what drives it:  that person creates less havoc, misery, and destruction when they are drunk than when they are not.

Abstinence does not treat alcoholism, it aggravates it.   It's an untenable, in-between state for the hopeless alcoholic-- they either return to drinking or they find a spiritual solution to their spiritual problem.  

Don't ever tell me my worst day sober was better than my best day drunk.  Utter nonsense.

Cross-posted at Thump.

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Why "Don't Drink No Matter What" Is The Dumbest, Most Dangerous Thing You Can Say To An Alcoholic

Posted by FrothyJay
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on Monday, 14 November 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Our former group secretary started her share yesterday saying "I have no idea what happened," and unintentionally captured the most maddening, misunderstood quality of alcoholism.  She got drunk the night before, and-- in addition to being shocked and mortified-- was scratching her head.

"I had to plan it, because there was no alcohol in the house," she said.  "So I had to go the liquor store.  You would think I would have stopped myself at some point."

It reminded me of one of my own relapses.  I was strapped to a hospital bed, tubes in my mouth, and my sponsor at the time stood at the end of the bed and asked, "Why didn't you call me?"

"Really?" I remember thinking. "That's what you've got for me?" 

"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically non-existent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our conciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink." Alcoholics Anonymous, page 24

The majority of people in A.A. continue to believe that this program is about building obstacles to the first drink, about not taking the first drink no matter what, about creating a support network of people that will stand between you and alcohol.  As well-intentioned as these tactics are, they ironically only work for non-alcoholics. If simple awareness and understanding of the disease, or the admonishment of another human being, are sufficient to keep you sober, you aren't powerless over alcohol.  Don't misunderstand- perhaps it's better that you not drink. There are plenty of hard drinkers who create havoc and misery, and if you have a desire to not drink, there's a place for you in A.A. But when I read the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, I see you differently than me. 

I require a spiritual awakening to survive, you require a well-charged cell phone.

But back to the point--dissecting relapses is a staggering waste of time, and a thinly veiled attempt to regain power over the disease of alcoholism.  I've come to appreciate my relapses as critical evidence about the futility of my condition, as experience that lined up perfectly with the information I was presented from the AA Text Book.  I can't not drink. I must find a power greater than myself that will solve the problem for me.

There are several components to the first step.  The physical allergy-- when I put it in me it says "give me more"-- is just the first part.   This is the part that nearly everyone in A.A. gets.  But the second part-- the mental obsession-- is casually dismissed by most.  The broad side of Alcoholics Anonymous operates under the painfully misguided idea that once sober, once dried out, the alcoholic must now use willpower and other humans to stay away from the first drink.  And when the alcoholic fails at this-- and most do-- they are often told that "perhaps they are not ready."  Or, "maybe you need to drink more."  

This sort of staggering ignorance could drive a man to violence, you know?

If I believe my disease is ocassion-based, I will likely have occasion-based sobriety.

 

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Demi

Posted by FrothyJay
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on Thursday, 01 September 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

"We're going to shoot pool tonight, and you're coming."

That was the first phone call from Demi, way back in 1996, and I remember groaning audibly.

"Are you going to sit in your apartment and feel sorry for yourself?  Besides, there will be girls there.  Pick you up at 7."

I was a day removed from a hospital stay for alcohol poisoning.  I'd been sober six months prior to that, one of those months in rehab.  I was in a state of shock that I'd drank again despite the years of pain it had brought me. Making matters worse, I'd shown up drunk at work, knocked a printer off a file cabinet, and then been sent to my parents' home in a car service (my employer was familiar with my problem). Since my parents weren't home, I raided their liquor cabinet. They came home to find me sprawled unconcious on the kitchen floor (in a rather nice suit).  It would be my last drink for 11 years.

I met Demi at the first meeting I attended after leaving the hospital.  His real name was Demetrius. I shared in a quivering voice what had happened and that I was really serious this time.  Truth was, I was already planning my next drink-- I'd gone to the meeting to get my parents off my back.  I knew I was in trouble, but dealing with that trouble was incomprehensible.  I needed to be drunk.  Whatever happened after that, so be it.

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Time

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
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on Thursday, 28 July 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

I noticed this weekend in a local AA meeting that the group member list -- a document distributed for members to contact one another-- includes a column for sobriety date.  It wasn't the first time I'd seen the list, but it was the first time I noticed the sobriety date column and it made me uncomfortable. It was not lost on me that when I had 11 years of sobriety, I probably liked it listed next to my name; now that I had 18 months, well, not so much.  But there was more to it than ego.   

Despite proclamations that "we've only got today" and "whoever woke up earliest has the most time," time is the most respected AA vital sign.  Many people like to slip it in casually when they share, and it's often the first or second question asked when people meet someone in the fellowship for the first time (how much time do you have?). It's human nature--we want to know how we stack up.  If you don't believe me, try to think of someone in your home group whose sober time you don't know.

On one hand, I get it-- the amount of time you've been able to stay away from a drink has to indicate something about your qualifications, right?   If you're hiring, you want someone with continuous experience, not the guy who's been in and out of jobs.

But when I started to think about what it used to be like for me-- way back when I had double-digit sobriety and never hesitated to work it into a conversation ("'Hey, Jay, how you doin'?' 'Fine, thanks, for a guy with 11 years!'"), I started to see something clearly.

All I had was time. 

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Simplicity vs. Laziness

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
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on Wednesday, 13 July 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

At what point does Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) become a subtle form of laziness? Do we really believe that the years spent living on self-will and all the attendant behaviors we've learned and damage we left will be "simply" fixed? Writing your fourth step is not simple-- it requires guidance, patience, and focus. Anyone can do it, but the endeavor should not be dismissed as easy. Our ninth step amends are ususally delicate interactions that require advance planning and rehearsal. Not simple, but achievable. 

I see "keep it simple" as used far too casually, often times in response to a question or issue that requires a bit of thought. Yes, there may be no right or wrong answer, but that does not mean that as recovered alcoholics we should not be spending time with the idea. Taking on intellectually-challenging concepts are a form of spiritual growth, no?

I do not tell my sponsees that it is a simple program. I tell them there is work to do to achieve a sense of simplicity in life. I don't dismiss their questions as "over-thinking," but try to offer my thoughts and then redirect them to the work at hand.

Cross-posted at Thump.

 

 

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The Pagan in Recovery: The Twelve Steps from a Pagan Perspective

Posted by deirdrehbrt
deirdrehbrt
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on Wednesday, 29 June 2011
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Hi, I'm Dee.

I mentioned on a Facebook page that I've written a new book about the Twelve Steps from a Pagan perspective, and someone suggested that I make an excerpt available here.
If you would care to look at a preview, the first 20 or so pages are available here: http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/the-pagan-in-recovery-the-twelve-steps-from-a-pagan-perspective/15925326?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_104954579_

So what is this book about? Well, the title pretty much says it all, but let me explain a little. When I first entered the halls, I nearly ran out. While I know now that the Twelve Steps were written to be accessible to all, the truth is that in the rooms and in the texts, a very Christian attitude does exist. This is unavoidable because, especially in the United States, Christianity is the majority religion. Bill W. and Dr. Bob were also steeped in Christian tradition, and the program itself is a descendent of the Oxford Group - a Christian program.

So, as a Pagan, I was a little put off by a very Christian attitude. So often I'd hear "My higher power, who is Jesus Christ". The Lord's Prayer, a very Christian prayer is said at most meetings. AA's 12&12, and the Big Book mention Christian prayers and concepts quite often.

While, as a Pagan, I found this favor toward a specific religion and little mention of others a bit disturbing, I also knew that my very survival depended on recovery. My last outing found me waking (or regaining consciousness) in an intensive care ward at my local hospital. I didn't have much farther down to go. Quite simply, I needed to make this work - the alternative wasn't merely unpleasant - there was no longer an alternative.

As I worked the program, I came upon other Pagans - many who had left the program, many who were struggling. I spoke about the possibility of writing such a book, and the enthusiasm for this book was almost deafening. About a year later, this book was ready.

The Pagan in Recovery isn't a new program. Rather, it's a book that explains how ANY existing program can be used effectively by a Pagan. Let me know what you think; I'm interested in people's opinions. If you have questions about Paganism, or how a Pagan can utilize the steps, I'd love to talk about that too!

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