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Defeating the Mental Trap

Posted by Allison Fogarty
Allison Fogarty
Allison Fogarty is an interventionist, Registered Addiction Specialist intern an
User is currently offline
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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Recovery Is For Anybody

Posted by tbranston
tbranston
tbranston has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 19 December 2012
in Alcoholism 1 Comment

Many years before I found my way into a group room or sat in a chair before a client, I listened to a recording of Dr. King and his "I Have a Dream" speech.  Having listened to his speech I knew I wanted to help people in some way and I knew I wanted to affect change, I just didn't know how. I had a dream of supporting clients to find a way to exit addiction. I suspect I must have found a way to reach my goal as more than 28 years later I continue to support people to find a way to to achieve sobriety. When I was wandering about trying different careers, I tried selling cars for a bit.  The work didn't engage me, but in some way I latched on to the idea of sales.  In some way I sell sobriety.  I am able to highlight the various features of recovery and like car maintenance, I am able to show clients what they need to do to achieve lasting recovery.  Taking care of your car is a choice, much like recovery is a choice. To stay sober you need to do many little things on a regular basis that support you to abstain from chemicals or support you to make a decision to use in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary.  It's not much different than maintaining a car.  If you neglect the maintenance your vehicle will cease to run. To this end I think that everybody has the ability to make a choice and find sobriety.

Over 32 years ago I made a conscious decision to quit using chemicals.  I found a way that worked for me with the help of my grandparents.  The way they supported me to remain sober looks very similar to the way I have been able to help clients find sobriety.  Throughout my career I have seen various trends in the field of addiction recovery.  While the addiction treatment industry was borne out of the self-help movement, things have changed.  While I can see the benefit of attending support groups, most research has not affected the way support groups and the 12-step movement operate.  However,  great strides in modern science have brought many changes in the way addiction treatment and mental health services are delivered. We have seen the the advent of anti-craving medications, the creation of various cognitive behavioral therapies, motivational interviewing, the creation of the Transtheoretical Model (stages-of-change) short-term therapy, goal-based treatment, and the implementation of peer-led support.

While I think many changes in the addiction treatment industry have been helpful, I have seen an intensification in the negative attitudes from some folks in various support groups or clinicians in the recovery community suggesting the "new methods" are essentially harmful.  I don't think this is the case.  I think that many people who see the "new therapies" as harmful are misinformed and narrowly focused.  It seems to me that at times people forget that recovery looks different for everybody.  I am not sure how attending 12-step meetings gives a person special insight over someone who found recovery though a therapist and anti-craving medications.  It seems to me that recovery is a choice.  How we get there shouldn't matter - what matters is that we find a way and that we get there.

This might be a contentious statement for some folks, but my sense is that recovery alone is not a job qualification.  I don't think that being sober gives us any special insight into the addicted mind or the behavior of an addict.  In some ways we could suggest that a period of recovery without a professional and educational background to complement our experience could be seen as a hindrance and allow us to be less than objective?  Perhaps recovery alone positions us to be too close to the issue at hand and would serve as a deterrent for a sober person trying to run a group in a treatment facility.  I don't think that being sober makes us special, just different.

Many times I will hear someone in recovery suggest that 'only an addict or alcoholic can understand another addict or alcoholic'.  I don't think this is the case and is essentially an urban myth.  When I think of addiction I think of people feeling helpless, powerless, and being held captive by their dark side. My sense is that we don't need to be brilliant to understand the mind of an addict, just human.

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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
User is currently offline
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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ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE WILL NOT TAKE AWAY YOUR FEARS

Posted by Stan Popovich
Stan Popovich
Stan Popovich has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 29 April 2012
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Alcohol and substance abuse or any other addictions will not take away your problems and fears. In the short run, they might make you feel better, but in the long run these addictions will only make things worse.

So what do you do to make your problems and fears go away? Well, since you can’t runaway from them, then the best solution is to tackle your fears head on no matter how strong they may be. The key is to be smart in how you try to manage these fears. Here are some ways in how to manage your persistent fears and anxieties.

 

The first step is to learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. Focus on the present and stop trying to predict what may happen next week. Next week will take care of itself.

 

Remember that no one can predict the future with one hundred percent certainty. Even if the thing that you feared does happen there are circumstances and factors that you can’t predict which can be used to your advantage. For instance, let’s say at your place of work that you miss the deadline for a project you have been working on for the last few months. Everything you feared is coming true. Suddenly, your boss comes to your office and tells you that the deadline is extended and that he forgot to tell you the day before. This unknown factor changes everything. Remember: we may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.

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