Addiction Recovery Blog

Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
PattyPowers

PattyPowers

Patty Powers is a sober coach and writer. She was featured on the A&E mini series Relapse and can be found in the "expert" section of Thefix.com. She writes on Addiction and Fear for the Becoming Fearless section of the Huffington Post.

Patty balances her time between coaching private clients, several book projects, volunteer work and speaking engagements. With Dan Griffin, she is creating a four part public discussion forum on Sex and Recovery which will take place as a town hall meeting on IntheRooms.com this summer.

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

ADDICTIONLAND QUESTION:  If you could say something to your younger self with the wisdom you have today, what would it be?

Time passes no matter what you do with it. Whatever thing you want to do that will take two years or ten years to accomplish, don’t give up the dream because you feel like there is no time to spare or you will miss out on living life.. Committing to goals that require years shouldn’t be looked upon as “giving up years” or sacrificing time. There is time. Three years, five years, or ten years in the scope of the big picture of a lifetime is not much time at all. 

Heartbreak, pain, suffering and existential despair - however poetic to a young heart - are not more real, intellectually satisfying, or valuable than joy, laughter, love, and happiness. 

Changing your mind, your position on things, even your philosophy of life is not a betrayal. It is personal evolution.  Change does not invalidate what came before it.

There is no audience. We are all stars of our own movie.  You matter deeply only to the people close to your heart. Treat them well. Value them. Let them know how you feel about them. No one knows how long any of us will be here.

...

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

ADDICTIONLAND QUESTION: Describe your solution to the problem of addiction (of any kind).

ANSWER: It’s not news that addiction is a disease that affects the body, mind, and spirit but what I’ve noticed is that the public dialogue about addiction is that it rarely addresses the main component addicts have to deal with – which is the voice of addiction. Like a science fiction movie, most addicts live with an internal dialogue. And it doesn’t vary much from addict to addict. When an addict is using drugs, it voices the obsessive thought process. The problem solving discourse centers solely on getting and using drugs: where to get them, when to get them, how to get them, how much money is needed, where the money will come from. It rehearses whatever stories are needed to cover up all the tracks from anyone who could get in the way of making it happen or for whom the truth isn’t possible. It is the voice that assures the addict that everything’s under control. It affirms that they can stop at any time. When someone has a genuine desire to get clean this voice becomes unrelenting. It creates so much distraction and anxiety it’s debilitating. It will reason that rather than quitting, a taper down is a better approach or that eliminating only the problem drug is the best solution. Essentially, all thoughts are aimed at justifying reasons for not stopping or not stopping quite yet. When someone gets clean, the voice continues to try all the old tricks that ever worked to wear the addict down until they give in to the obsession and relapse. It is only by accumulating weeks and months drug and alcohol free that the voice starts to weaken - but it never fully disappears. The benefit of having an ongoing program of recovery is to become comfortable in our own skin. The voice no longer controls our actions.

To an outsider, this description of the inner life of an addict probably comes across like a horror possession film or a case of multiple personality yet addicts understand without question. They understand what is meant by “It’s the voice in your head that says, “What voice”. It’s the voice that says, “This is bullshit. There’s no voice in your head. You aren’t an addict.”

When I work with clients, I help them recognize their own patterns of thinking and how the voice of the disease talks to them so they are able to not let it gain the power to lead them away from recovery choices and toward relapse. It can be as subtle as thinking, “No one understands how tired I am. I have nothing against going to meetings but what is healthier for me tonight is to stay home. I’ll go tomorrow instead.” For someone who has been in recovery for a while, this is a sound proposition but for someone who has just returned home from rehab, this is exactly how relapse begins in almost all cases.

It’s important to be able to recognize the voice of the disease and the various ways it sneaks into your thinking so that you can take positive actions to weaken it. Staying connected to a support group who is also in recovery is key because they will point out that what we are saying, doing, or when our plans will cause harm or are a set-up to using again. One example is a friend with a history of relapse who finally got clean after a ten year run. As he was coming upon his year anniversary, he made plans to go to a small town in Turkey to have what was estimated at 6 months worth of dental surgeries in a three-week period. The logic behind this decision was that it was much cheaper. Mind you, this friend had money to go to any dentist in New York City. To an outsider in recovery, this proposition was insane. Thousands of miles from a support group with access to painkillers is a recipe for disaster. Everyone could see this except him. From his point of view, this trip was completely logical. In the end, because of his track record with relapse and his willingness to trust the opinions of others, he canceled the trip. He has managed to complete most of the work in increments this past year and has taken nothing stronger than Motrin.

How to have inner peace – peace from that voice that always wants to lead you in directions that cause drama, self harm, create turmoil in relationships, that says you don’t need to sleep, that is always looking for ways to bring up feelings of self loathing? I believe clean time weakens it along with 12-step meetings and a program of recovery. It’s also important to eat healthy food, exercise, have playful leisure time, to laugh, get fresh air, meditation, to get quality sleep, and to seek professional help if there is past trauma.  A balanced life is the best defense against relapse.

Hits: 3062 0 Comments

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Question: Briefly tell us your personal experience with addiction and how it negatively impacted your life and the life of those around you.
 
Answer: When drugs were fun, they were really fun. I know this is not a very PC thing for someone who works in recovery to say but it would be dishonest to say otherwise. I know now that my childhood experiences and my genetic predisposition had everything to do with my becoming an addict but my subjective experience was that my life had been the typical 1972 suburban adolescent experience then drugs came along and made it Technicolor. For years I had a great time getting high. I met a lot of interesting people, had adventures, and experienced excitement I would have never had otherwise and I believe my life is richer because of it.
 
There were consequences from the start but the thrill of getting high was worth any price. For example, the very first time I bought a nickel of hash, my parents found out about it. I denied it venomously. I didn’t to worry or hurt them. Besides, I knew beyond a doubt that I was not going to stop. From that point forward, my main concern was to be crafty enough to never get caught again. I succeeded with this mission until I showed up at their door sixteen years later asking for help. Compared to getting loaded school, which had never been a challenge for me, lost my interest completely. At fifteen, I sat before the entire Board of Education for Toronto and convinced them to permit  an honor student to quit high school. To this day I cannot believe that I sold them on this crazy idea but when I had my sights on something I was unstoppable. I did manage to get accepted into the University of Toronto five years later without a high school diploma. 
 
In middle-school, teachers would take me aside to warn me about the bad company I was keeping and tip me off when they would be busting the cigarette smokers. At twenty, when I was pulled over, the cop took me aside to warn me about the criminal past of the boyfriend in the passenger seat. Meanwhile a syringe and an ounce of coke were hidden in my motorcycle jacket pocket. I came across like a normal, rational, healthy person. In the 80s, mainstream society was too caught up in cocaine, the non-addictive drug of the beautiful people, to suspect someone like me. I was like Marilyn Munster. I was the heroin addict next door.
 
My drug use became complicated as soon as I tried to control it. This became the endless cycle of disappointing myself.  I was smart but I wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to get my using back under control. I hid this fact from everyone but the long-term damage of addiction started there.  Every time I told myself “This is the last one” I let myself down. After years of this negative dialogue, the internal damage went far beyond the external ravages of addiction. While I suffered from homesickness by being in a different country from my family, the real suffering was in my own heart for the damage I was doing. I hated myself for failing to control my using.
 
It never occurred to me to give up drugs. I simply wanted it to go back to the way it had once been – when it was fun and in Technicolor.  Once addiction had full possession of me, I chose it over all my relationships. For years my parents would believe my stories for all my fuckups - why I had forgotten my flight after they had driven hours in traffic to pick me up in Buffalo. Meanwhile, my brother had a shadow figure for a sister who continued living far away throughout his childhood. I didn’t understand when my husband said he felt alone in our marriage. I couldn’t see how my actions hurt others and I refused to believe it would be any different if I were not on drugs.
 
When my marriage ended, I gave up trying to keep it together. I drove to California in hope of a miracle to put my life back together. It came in the form of complete destitution. I began stripping and living in cars and abandoned buildings, completely disconnected from everyone who loved me. On one trip to county hospital, where they feared they would have to amputate my arm, I realized after a year in LA I had no one to call. I was completely alone. I spent my 28th birthday in a jail in Hawthorne only to be released to find out the club I danced at had fired me and the girls who were going to let me move in changed their mind. Crying in the parking lot of a strip club with a garbage bag full of costumes my only option left was to go to a world convention for a twelve-step fellowship. Three months and a lot of suffering later, I finally gave up trying to control my using and went to rehab.

Hits: 2854 0 Comments

Posted by on in Alcoholism

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/

 

Hits: 4022 2 Comments


website by DesignSpinner.com | © Addictionland LLC