Addictionland Blog with Cate Stevens

A Cutting Edge Addiction Recovery Blog about one woman's journey to recovery from multiple, life threatening addictions to reclaim her happiness and life.

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Cate

Cate

Cate Stevens. Founder of Addictionland.com, has over fifteen years of recovery from food, drug, alcohol, cigarette and unhealthy relationship addiction. Cate’s approach to recovery is based on the 12 steps, as well the practice of spiritual principles, exercise, good nutrition, and meditation. Cate’s personal, ongoing recovery process has benefited tremendously from the free sponsorship of other women.

Cate has successfully coached hundreds of women to develop specific, daily action plans to support their personal and professional goals. Cate majored in journalism and communications and is the author of "Addictionland: Key Lessons from My Rollercoaster Ride to Freedom from Food, Drug, Alcohol, Cigarette and Unhealthy Relationship Addiction", a series of powerful vignettes.

As a motivational speaker, educator and coach, Cate is highly effective and inspirational. Cate leverages her experience from premier sales, management and leadership training programs to teach her clients how to be sober, productive and fulfilled.

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I am a sober mom in recovery. I got sober in 1999, seven years before my son was born. I do not take that fact for granted. I got sober because I had to save my life and it greatly benefited all of my family. I know what addiction does to the person afflicted with it and I also know how it destroys families.

I am extremely grateful that my son does not know how I appear, think or act under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. Yes, he sees me mentally challanged on days, but he has never seen me drunk or high. Even if that is the best I can do as his mother, it is better than what happens to the many children who are neglected, abused, beaten and abandoned.

My heart also goes out to the mothers who struggle with addiction and to still other women who had addicted mothers who didn't know how to nurture them. No child asks to be born in a family of pain, chaos and uncertainty. When mothers in early recovery wonder whether they are doing the right thing by being away from their children for extended periods of time (treatment centers are often away from home), I gladly assure them that they have to help themselves before they can help their children.

I have seen many mothers give up on recovery because they can't handle being away from their children. When they don't take the time they need to build a foundation for themselves, they usually falter, return to drugs and their children suffer over and over again. On Mother's Day, or any day for that matter, there is no greater gift an addict can offer than a commitment to self-love.

If it wasn't for my recovery program, which includes a program of action, a fellowship, service, prayer and gratitude, I couldn't be the mother or daughter I am today. Sobriety has given me the ability to get out of my own way and enjoy all the gifts in my life. Sobriety has enabled me to see the gifts and sobriety has enabled me to be a gift to others.

I know many a wonderful woman who has shared nightmarish stories about the way they failed as mothers due to their addiction. Before recovery, these women lived to drink and cared little if they left their kids alone, neglected, abused or harmed. After recovery, these women had the courage to face the truth, change their actions and demonstate to their children they care to live better. Their families welcome them back and often these same women become pillars of society. Those unfamiliar with their addicted histories would be utterly surprised to learn that the same awful woman in the newspaper who drove her kids drunk is the same woman running their PTA!

It can and does happen! If you are a mother with addiciton, don't give up before the miracle. There is a way out and we are here to help you. Your life depends on it and so do your children.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

A heartfelt hello to Addictionland members!  Just to let you know, I have been privileged to write a column for the Sun Sentinel (online version) to impact the South Florida community where I reside.

 

Feel free to take a look and comment on any topic you would like to hear more about.  Also, contribute in the comments section and I will post your comments!

 

http://www.hypesouthflorida.com/sober-and-sunny/

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Yesterday, I attended a recovery meeting for women in which many of the women shared about their dependency on a multitude of things other than drugs or alcohol. One woman with many years of sobriety shared about her addiction to the phone app Candy Crush, while another woman newly sober stated she could not stop eating M&Ms.

When I walked through the doors of my first recovery meeting, I believed it would be impossible for me to stop relying upon the variety of substances I needed to cope. A wise elder suggested that I concern myself with the primary addiction which would destroy my life first. For me, that was alcohol and drugs, since the combination landed me in an emergency room.

It is hard for a newcomer to understand that recovery takes time and it is important for us to accept ourselves and conditions we are uncomfortable with in order to recover. Knowing myself and my addiction very well after 15 years of recovery, I do not tempt my addictive side with games like Candy Crush. As for my food addiction, I am able to ingest sugar today without being set off on a binge.

These circumstances and decisions come naturally when I continue to work a spiritual program of action on a daily basis. The point I am making is time takes time and easy does it. We did not get addicted in a day and we will not turn around those addictive patterns in a day.

Consciousness will enlarge any thing we put our attention on. The literature says that alcoholics have magnifying minds. This means that the most important thing I can do on a daily basis is put my attention, as often as possible, on the positive thoughts, actions and a Power greater than myself. The more I focus on the good I want to grow in my life, the more that goodness will grow.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

Recently, I became more aware of the way "drama" has infiltrated my life, thinking and fulfillment.  Early on, I witnessed plenty of drama, which included melt downs, loud arguments, silent withdrawls, he said-she said, woe is me and ain't it just terrible!

In recovery, I became aware of how the witnessing of drama turned into personal drama as a way of life.  In place of healthy coping mechanisms, I too learned to rely on substances instead of handling my upsets and issues head on.  I learned to rely on drama to provide me with a sense of purpose, excitement and entitlement.

Now, after fifteen years sober and recent encounters with other highly neurotic, dramatic and unstable people, I finally see what it is that God is trying to teach me.  Thankfully, I have learned many coping mechanisms over the last fifteen years and I know what to do when I am triggered by outside or inner drama.

Additionally, I clearly see that it is my job to politely say "No, thank you" to the drama queens in my life and allow them to have their fits without getting entangled.  I can still love and support certain individuals but I no longer have to be their confidante in order to be valuable.  I believed if I wasn't "there" for these people, they would be angry with me, punish me and possibly perish.

What I realize now is that I have been acting in a self-serving way and it is not my right, part or need to interfere in other people's business.  Even when I am asked, I can say no thank you to matters that do not directly involve me. No matter what people do, say or how much they attack, I can choose to have faith in the Truth and not allow other people's drama to rent mental space in my head or interfere with my great life.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I am a recovered drug addict.  While pills were never my thing, I still used them when I didn't have other alternatives to numb out. Additionally, I have witnessed other people in recovery pick up one pill to treat pain and the body doesn't know the difference between medication and recreation.

As a result, I decided long ago that should I ever require surgery, I would only take a narcotic if it was a dire emergency.  So far, in the past year alone, I have had two surgeries (one on my ankle to remove a nodule and, now, an umbilical hernia repair). I have opted to use Tylenol alone to address my pain. Even after my C-Section in 2006, I only used extra strength Motrin to relieve the pain and it worked.

I follow this course because I have a great respect for my disease of addiction.  While I havent used anything in close to 15 years, I still believe that I could pick up where I left off if I put drugs that feel nice into my body.  I have never lost that fear and I am grateful for it.  I believe it is a reasonable fear and I value my recovery way too much to toss it away for a pill. One is too many and a thousand never enough.


Best,

Increase

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

The other night, as I was driving past a Hustler store on Commercial Boulevard, I thought about how my life used to be when I was in active addiction.  No, I didn't hang out in X-rated stores and pornography was not my thing, but illicit activity was certainly no stranger.

Seeing the store triggered thoughts of the racy lifestyle of drugs and alcohol and ecstasy and clubs.  I was reminded of my close friends who are still living a life which includes these elements. I wondered how they were doing.  I thought about the fact that we are in the month of December, a true party month for those who still party.

I remember looking toward holiday vacation with great anticipation.  Many days in a row to get f--ed up.  Many parties, much alcohol, many bags of cocaine, many hot guys, many dark clubs.  It was all so appealing at one time-a time when I was filled with fear and doubt and didn't even know it.

Today, fourteen years into sobriety on December 20, I still look forward to my time off but it looks very different. I get to plan vacations and very full, active days with my family and friends. Increase I spend time my with incredible 7 year old.  I work on my book Addictionland.  I throw parties for women in recovery and we share laughs, pot luck food and spiritual experiences.

I appreciate each and every conversation with my parents, whether they are short or long, happy or sad, positive or negative.  We babysit Ollie, a goldendoodle who likes to sleep on my head and takes me flying behind her when she goes for a jog.  I have too many fun options to consider, great friends to make plans with, dear familly to visit, great books to read, interesting shows to watch, incredible art to make, etc.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I feel very fortunate that my circumstances led me to a 12 step program and fellowship.  In this environment, I met the people who showed me how to take the action that has led to my spiritual development. It is the spiritual work which has led to my mental awakening and change of perspective.

In the past, the holidays were a time for me to get blitzed beyond belief and party, party, party.  I couldn't wait for long breaks from school or work so I could get utterly smashed each night and have time to recoup from my hangovers in the day.  Since I was in my twenties, I rationalized this behavior by telling myself everyone parties hard during the holidays.

I had no connection to my grief, despair, pain, anxiety, anger, depression or the like when I was self medicating with my cocktail of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine and sedatives.  When I felt bad, I attributed it to my hangover.  Despite the fact that I never really had fun or new experiences, I contiinued down that road unaware of what a true holiday season could be.  Like wrapped gifts in department store showcase windows, I looked pretty outside and was empty inside.

So what does a person in recovery have to look forward to during the holiday season?  Well, for one thing, it is the beginning of life with greatly reduced shame, regret, hopelessness, and pain.  It is the beginning of a life with real friends, real moments, real connection and real joy. It is the beginning of a life when you use your dark past to help others recover from a grave condition.

When I first got sober, I was just happy I didn't have to deal with the seizures, hangovers and emptiness of addiction.  I had been so unhappy that just being out of that deep kind of despair with other people who "got" me was more than sufficient.  I learned from my Sponsor that the best way to get all the things I thought I was missing in my life was to give them to others. She also told me there was no better time than right now to start giving.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism
As far back as college, a therapist I visited to address my eating disorder recommended antidepressant medication.  At the time, Prozac and Wellbutrin were favorites.  Something inside of me persuaded me not to take that path and, right or wrong, I ended up in a 12 step program by the age of 31. I was depressed, very anxious, nuerotic in some respects and active in multiple addictions.  I suffered from alcohol abuse, drug abuse, bulimia, unhealthy personal and romantic relationships and cigarette addiction.  I was referred to a Psychiatrist who specialized in addiction treatment.  He wanted to put me on another type of medication to help me focus.  He said it seemed as if a freight train was running through my head. Again, something inside of me said, "I don't think medication is the right road for you." I did try the pill he suggested and the next day awoke to slurred speech.  I was horrified.  The medication was altering me in a way alcohol once did and it scared me to death.  The psychiatrist recommended I wait it out and let the medication work to stabalize me.  I made a choice to take a different road. I continued working with a sponsor throughout my recovery.  I added a fantastic therapist to the mix, as well as some meditation, exercise and artistic endeavors.  One day at a time, over several years, my addictions fell from me like dead leaves.  I began to flourish in my life and I know it is a direct result of the following behaviors which act as the best antidepressants to this day: 1. HELP ANOTHER PERSON WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN 2. MAKE A MENTAL OR PHYSICAL GRATITUDE LIST FOR ALL THAT IS GOING WELL IN YOUR LIFE, BECAUSE OF YOU AND DESPITE YOU 3. BELONG TO A GROUP THAT GIVES YOUR LIFE MEANING 4. DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOUR HEART SING 5. MAKE SMALL OR LARGE GOALS AND ACHIEVE THEM FOR THE REWARD OF DOING SO 6. FORGIVE OTHERS This list is far from comprehensive, but is a great start. Studies have shown that antidepressant medications only make a significant difference in the lives of people who are severely depressed (won't get out of bed).  Otherwise, they are never curative and simply serve to address symptoms (ie, anxiety).  While this can be very effective for the short term, I have found positive actions to be a much better long term solution. I do not judge anyone who uses medication and it is working for them.  I only want to offer a different kind of solution to anyone who wishes to go another route to success.  I wish everyone on the road to recovery a successful outcome. All  my best,
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Posted by on in Other Addictions

This is such an interesting and relieving time in my sobriety. Proof positive that outer conditions do not dictate our inner state is the fact that I have many of life's greatest challanges before me and yet, I have never felt more at peace or hopeful.

I have always been told 1) God never gives you more than you can handle and 2) God gives you what need, not what you want.  Thirteen years into sobriety, I say "Thank God" on both accounts.

Because I do conduct a daily personal inventory, I have noticed that all of my needs are accounted for as long as I work my spiritual program. When I get to meetings, correct my mistakes, help others, pray, and meditate, the conditions of my life steadily improve and I notice synchronicity everywhere.

My mom has lung cancer and I yet I notice I am surrounded by loved ones and friends for support; when I need information regarding her medical treatment it comes through healthcare professionals I met at work; my boss allows me to take the time I need to be with my mom; the family all came together for my mom's recent birthday; my brother stayed in town all summer so she could spend time with her grandson, etc.

I look for the good and I find it.  A lifelong habit of being angry and focusing on what's missing in my life is changing for the better. I hit my knees one day a year back and prayed that I be grateful for what I have. That time has come.  The thought of losing a loved one as significant as my mother puts me in touch with the precious gift of every breath and every moment.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

One of the most useful and profound quotes I have read is by Charles Swindoll and reads:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, gift, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes. "

Every person has circumstances in his or her life that are daunting, overwhelming, and difficult.  The people who maintain joy and peace in their life amidst such challanges are the ones with a positive attitude.  How you see a thing determines how you experience a thing.

If I say, "I can't stop using drugs", then I won't be able to stop.  If I say, on the other hand, "I need help to stop using drugs and I want to stop (and mean it)," then I will find relief.  I still have the letter I wrote one night asking whatever God might be listening to please heal me and send me the help I needed to change my life. Less than three months later, I was in a recovery program and I now have close to 13 years sober.

Our thoughts about ourselves determines our future.  If you want to see a change in any area of your life, begin your next sentence by saying "I can.....". I can get sober.  I can have a more rewarding career.  I can earn a living. I can live free of other people's opinions of me.  I can surround myself with safe, loving people. I can enjoy today regardless of undesirable situations or people.

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