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Sharing a Foreign Language

Posted by AlisonFSmela
AlisonFSmela
Alison Smela, is in long-term recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder follo
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on Monday, 30 December 2013
in Other Addictions 0 Comments

There have been many times in my life when words or phrases came to mean something other than what many understand them to mean.  Off the top of my head I can think of a few examples.

My husband and I communicate in ways often causing our friends to do a double-take and wonder what in the world we are talking about.  For example, I might be in the living room doing something and yell down to my husband in the basement to bring me “that thing next to the big thing.”  Seconds later he hands me exactly what I needed.  We share a language created during our many years of living together.

Another opportunity to share a unique means of communication is in the work environment.  When I was still active in the corporate world, my team of many years knew exactly what each other needed or what we meant by a simple nod of the head or a raised eyebrow. We had spent hours together creating, editing, masterminding and learning to trust one another.  In all that time we eventually understood things without needing to say a word.  When we were in situations where verbal connection wasn't an option, those non-communication actions spoke volumes.  I was somehow comforted by this; feeling a sense of security knowing I was part of something uniquely special.

When I was drinking and rarely eating, there was a lot of conversation in my head which was uniquely special for me too.  I never shared these ongoing internal dialogues with anyone because I couldn’t explain them.  I had a difficult enough time myself just trying to understand how and why the subject matter would roll back and forth like a pendulum. One moment I’d be justifying my irrational behavior and the next I’d be mentally berating myself for having such thoughts.

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Feeling 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, 16 December 2013
in Recommended Reading 0 Comments

In early recovery, I was often told, “Trust me, you’ll feel better soon”, or, “I know this is hard, but I promise, you’ll feel better soon.” I lived by those words.  I was so shaky, ashamed and scared. I felt awful.  I desperately hoped the non-stop physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual suffering would stop.  I wanted so badly to feel better, physically as well as emotionally. I tried each and every day to focus on those words of reassurance and deny what I thought and felt inside.  I held tight to the recommendations of my recovery role models, the encouragement from my friends and family outside the rooms of recovery and my own willingness to get better, hoping eventually I’d feel better.

And eventually I did, but not in the way I had expected.  What began to happen was I started to feel my feelings better.  I started to feel happiness better, I started to feel anger better, and I started to feel sadness better.

Although this sounds like a play on words – feeling my feelings better - the point is, in order for me to experience healthy recovery I had to allow myself to actually feel what I had long been trying to deflect, change or control.

For example, during the Christmas holidays my emotions would always kick into overdrive.   No matter what age I was, I would become completely nostalgic.  I’d think about stringing the lights with my dad, hearing my grandfather whistling a holiday tune or sitting at the top of the staircase with my brothers and sister waiting for my Dad to tell us Santa had arrived.  I’d get excited to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my family or maybe catch an old Charles Dickens movie by myself.  As I got older the holidays stopped being those experienced as a child.  They became strung by addiction instead of lights and wrapped around bottles of wine with little food instead of gifts presented with love.

I won’t lie, those first few winter holidays in recovery were difficult.  I couldn’t stop focusing on how sad, angry and frustrated I felt for all those Christmas and New Year holidays lost in the blur of addiction.  In those early recovery years I had difficulty fully embracing the magic of the season.  To be honest, I really wanted nothing more than to get through the series of events, wishing they would just be over.

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As Sick as Our Secrets

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
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on Friday, 06 September 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

keepingsecretsWhen I was newly sober, I was told that we are as sick as our secrets. I incorrectly dismissed this as another cliché, like “one day at a time” or “keep it simple” (both of which turned out to also be true). As I look back on my drug addiction and early sobriety, I can see pretty clearly how my honesty is proportional to my happiness.

Before getting sober, my entire life was a secret. There were superficial things such as the clandestine drug use or the stealing. There were also deeper secrets such as my immense fear, insecurity, and shame. Together, my secrets drove me, creating a person that I didn’t even want to be around myself. I lied to myself more frequently than I even had lied to others, I pushed down every unpleasant thought and emotion, and I had absolutely no genuine feeling of who I was.

Getting sober, I was given the opportunity to come clean; both to myself and to others. Part of the recovery process was to write down these things that I had done wrong, things that I had assumed I would take to the grave out of shame. With some help, I was able to be just partly open about my life. As I shared what I had done with a trusted loved one, I found that he had done many of the same things in his addiction as well. As this reassured me, I began speaking with more people about my faults and mistakes, only to find that my community of sober people knew from their own personal experience exactly how I felt after keeping so many secrets.

As I grew more comfortable, I became able to truly address the secrets I had kept. The deeper secrets came out, and I even gained knowledge of some secrets I had kept from myself. As I opened up, I began to experience a new level of joy and happiness.

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Alcoholism without Alcohol

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
The Easier Softer Way
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on Wednesday, 28 August 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

When I was newly sober, I heard the cliche that "alcoholism has very little to do with alcohol" many times. As I have stayed sober longer, I have found this statement to be extremely true. Alcoholism comes in a person, not in a bottle.

Prayer in Alcoholics AnonymousThe First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous has two distinct parts. The first part states that we are powerless over alcohol (and drugs), and the second part states that our lives had become unmanageable. When I first saw this, I read it as "our alcohol abuse had become unmanageable." The truth is that our lives are unmanageable without alcohol as well. In my experience and opinion, my life became even more unmanageable without alcohol than it was with alcohol.

Alcohol was the solution. It worked. It helped me manage. Getting sober and admitting I was powerless over alcohol, I no longer had my chief form of comfort. Alcohol allowed me to not feel, and I wasn't sober frequently enough to fully experience the path of my unpleasant emotions. Suddenly I found myself in a world where I had no buffer between me and my emotions.

This unmanageability to me means that I cannot healthily and safely manage my life sober or drunk. My mind does not by default know how to appropriately respond to life. Alcoholism carries on just as well without the alcohol. As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, we have a physical allergy, mental craving, and spiritual malady. When I stop drinking, the physical allergy is no longer an issue. The mental craving is caused by my spiritual malady. It is for this reason that the focus of eleven of the Twelve Steps is on this spiritual malady.

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My story on Twitter

Posted by Betsy1229
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on Monday, 20 May 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Sunny and warm days were cold and dark. Family and friend gatherings were full of anxiety. Internal angst was suffocating. ADDICTION HAD ME.

 

Addiction took everything from me - money, jobs, family, friends, people I loved dearly, hope, vitality, security, freedom. GAVE ME DARKNESS.

 

I could never make plans to do anything because I was too sick, too worried about how I could drink, and if I could drink. EMPTY LIVING.

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Protected : Keeping Outside Issues Out

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
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on Thursday, 02 May 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments
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Protected : Seeking Outside Help

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
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on Wednesday, 01 May 2013
in Drug Addiction 0 Comments
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Protected : Exercise and Recovery

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
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on Friday, 26 April 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments
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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
in Alcoholism 0 Comments
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Protected : Steps 4 and 5: Courage

Posted by The Easier Softer Way
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on Sunday, 21 April 2013
in Alcoholism 0 Comments
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Addiction and Recovery

Posted by Recovered88
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on Monday, 01 April 2013
in Drug Addiction 0 Comments

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
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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Silver Lining in Addiction

Posted by MissAmygdala
MissAmygdala
MissAmygdala has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 26 February 2013
in Drug Addiction 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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6 Common Myths of Addiction and How to Break Free

Posted by hylacassmd
hylacassmd
Dr. Hyla Cass is a nationally acclaimed innovator and expert in the fields of in
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on Sunday, 03 February 2013
in Drug Addiction 0 Comments

 

 

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FLOATING

Posted by Betsy1229
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on Wednesday, 18 July 2012
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

I remember the night. Just bits and pieces. Eleven o’clock pm stands out in my mind. It is dark, someone is with me. I go to the phone.

I am lying on a ratty old coach that opens up into a bed. I have vague recollections that I am coming off a severe blackout that has lasted all weekend. I have this knot in my stomach that I really messed up this weekend. I am not sure what I did, I just have a knowing, an indescribable sense of shame choking me. I know I am done. I have really blown it. I can feel my soul splattered under my feet.

I have a sense that I did something really inappropriate a work and that I probably lost my job. The thick cobwebs of what ever I drank this weekend and what ever I ingested in my body have deadened the ability to think clear. In fact, I would say that I have not had a moment of clarity for a very long time.

The Sunday evening that I am talking about was the end for me. I finally found the white flag and admitted defeat. I was about to die and I knew it. My soul was already gone, I knew that a long time ago. In the brief moments of clarity and somewhat sober frame of mind, I felt intense pain, fear, and shame. I didn’t stay there long. I thought I would die if I embraced those feelings. I ran as fast as I could. As far away as I could from myself. To another drink. At the end, it didn’t matter what it was. I just had to drink.

I remember that night. Something woke me and I have this sense of floating in the air. Something powerful lifts me out of my stupor. I feel a sensation of floating. There is this powerful force that is supported by white light. I do not see anything specific, I just see hope and endings. They are good endings I sense. The energy from the white light tells me ” it is over” and I say ” I am ready.”

Endings of the pulverizing effect my alcohol addiction has had on me. Endings of the suffocating and demoralizing prison of this so called life I had been trying to life. Endings of fear, shame, self disgust that most people feel in addiction when honesty with self comes in the most private moments of desperation.

I am floating and bathed in this white light. Somehow the phone is in my hand and I call. I do not know what I have said, yet I have a sense that I have admitted that I am in big trouble.

I go to the phone. I call. I admit that its is over for me. I float. The light has covered me with strength and grace to face myself. I am safe now.

Just bits and pieces is all I can tell you of that night.







« Tired
Tags: alcoholism
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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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What has happened to our Fellowship?

Posted by robbkelly
robbkelly
Sober coach and addiction consultant
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on Thursday, 01 December 2011
in Alcoholism 3 Comments

Abstinence Aggravates Alcoholism

Posted by FrothyJay
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on Saturday, 19 November 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

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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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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The AA Echo Chamber

Posted by FrothyJay
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on Saturday, 25 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Next time you're in an AA meeting, take a look around the room. Maybe there are 25 people and, with rare exception, most of them are sober, right? In fact, many are months removed from their last drink, and you've probably got a group that has decades of sobriety. Putting aside where each person may be in their own recovery, that room is irrefutable evidence that AA works, right?

OK, multiply the number of people by 20. You've got 500 alcoholics now. Can't fit them, right?  Imagine them on each others' laps, standing in the doorway, lining the hallways.  Maybe you can hear them murmuring outside in the parking lot, unable to get in the door. What you've now added is the number of people who came to AA and left after a year, according to AA's own study:

"After just one month in the Fellowship, 81% of the new members have dropped out.  After three months, 90% gave left, and 95% have discontinued attendance inside one year." (Kolenda, 2003, Golden Text Publishing)

Now look around the room at the mostly drunk, strung-out, quivering mass of humanity. Still think AA works?

Most members of the AA fellowship will tell you that AA works because it works for them.  I know this because it's precisely what I did for 10 years.  It was the newcomers' responsibility to get it, not mine to impart it.   If they stopped showing up, I got good at shrugging my shoulders and saying, "they aren't ready," or worse, "they don't want it."

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