Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
My sense is that there are many ways to get sober. Some people find success by attending inpatient treatment followed by weekly group counseling sessions. Some clients find that a faith-based approach works for them, and others simply see a therapist and use anti-craving medications. If we posit that recovery looks different for everybody it would make sense that self-study could be another way that some people find success in abstaining from alcohol and drugs and growing in their recovery.
If you're looking for another way to grow in your sobriety I invite you to explore Bibliotherapy. I like to define Bibliotherapy as an expressive form of self-study. Methods consist of poetry, reading, writing exercises, and movie therapy. Bibliotherapy is an old concept in library science. The ancient Greeks maintained that literature was emotionally and psychologically important and hung a sign above the library door that read "Healing Place for the Soul". The idea of Bibliotherapy dates back from the early 1930's. The basic concept is that self-study is a healing experience and that this kind of study can resolve complex human problems. The practice was used in both general practice and medical care after the second world war because the soldiers had a lot of time on their hands and felt like reading was helpful. During treatment in psychiatric institutions clients have found that reading has been helpful for their emotional welfare. Today, the modern healthcare and psychiatric community recognize the benefit of Bibliotherapy for a wide range of problems.
As noted from Minddisorders.com: Bibliotherapy is not likely to be helpful with clients who suffer from thought disorders, various kinds of psychoses, limited intellectual and reading ability, various kinds of dyslexia, or resistance to treatment. In addition, some clients may use bibliotherapy as a form self-help treatment rather than seeking professional help. Additional caution should be applied to people who run the risk of misdiagnosing their problem, misdiagnosing mental health issues, or incorrectly applying techniques.
The benefits can be significant for clients who are homebound, lack resources to seek professional help, failed at other kinds of therapy, or people who are self-motivated to try an approach that offers benefit that is complemented by self-study.
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....
You know the drill: you have spent countless hours in meetings, on the phone with your sponsor asking endless questions about your desire to use. You have worked the steps and you’ve even consulted specialists. In a moment of desperation you found help by attending treatment. You’re able to rack up six to twelve months, but eventually you find yourself in the throes of your addiction. None of this seems to work. You find yourself questioning your commitment and ability to stay sober. Maybe your sponsor was right when he said you lack willingness.
Not so fast….
What you are likely experiencing is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS.
PAWS consist of a set of impairments that occur immediately and at times simultaneously after the withdrawal from alcohol or other substances. These impairments affect three distinct areas of functioning and last six to eighteen months from the last use of alcohol or drugs as your brain tries to regain homeostasis....
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....
Diane Cameron, author of the women's recovery blog "Out of the Woods," is Director of Development at Unity House in New York, as well as columnist and writer for Times Union and other newspapers. She previously served as the Executive Director of Community Caregivers and as Director of Philanthropic Services for Community Foundation for the Capital Region.