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 Alcoholism

I was once given an assignment to write all the things I thought I needed in life to be happy and how I felt after I got them.  It went something like this:

I would be happier if I weighed 120 pounds

I would be happier if I were married

I would be happier if I worked for another company

I would be happier if I lived in a different city

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

My google alerts are set to include any article on eating disorders so I can stay abreast of current issues.  Today, I read the article http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/desperate-housewives-syndrome-20120529-1zgoa.html and it caused me to think about how I felt when I first developed an eating disorder at age 15 compared to now. At 44 with over 12 years of recovery work under my belt, I can not tell you I am immune to the pressures of the media to look like I am 20 at age 44. So far, I have not succumbed to the internal pressure, but the pressure is there. IncreaseThese women in the movies and magazines look so beautiful and radiant!

So why haven't I gotten botox when so many women I know have?  Certainly, it takes years off one's face and, when administered well, restores a woman's youthful appearance. I have not gotten botox for a few reasons: I have to wonder the longterm effects of putting toxins into my body, it has to be painful and my guts tells me that if I start with one botox, one will never be enough.  Kind of like one drink was never enough.  Either I feel secure I am enough despite my wrinkles, rolls or gray hairs, or I don't.  Either I go down the road of clinging to external validation or I rely upon natural means to enhance my mental and physical health.

What does any of this have to do with addiction or recovery?  The disease of addiction centers in the mind.  The disease of addiction is that voice in our heads that tells us we are not enough, we will never be enough, if we had more or did more, we might stand a chance.  The voice of addiction is insane.  It comes up with ways and means to manipulate reality, the natural process of things, and act as God.  While things may appear good on the outside, for a while, the good never lasts.  Unless something is natural and serves the greater good, it eventually fizzles out, dries up, shrivels and suffers.

Everytime my head tells me I need to do something about the wrinkles on my face or the bulge in my belly, my recovery voice reminds me that the thing that truly makes me beautiful is my essence. My recovery voice tells me that with good behavior, substantial exercise, better nutrition, good times and meditation, the Light within me will get brighter!  Recovery has given me a rational voice to counteract my feelings of inadequacy.  While those feelings of inadequacy never go away completely, I rely on my spiritual program of action and the Grace of my HP to keep me free from bondage to Botox and outside fixes! Aging can be glorious if we place more value on personal growth than we do on wrinkle free foreheads!

Best!

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

"The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though are motives are good.  Most people try to live by self-propulsion.  Each person is like the actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way.  If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great......What usually happens? The show doesnt come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right.  He decides to exert himself more.  He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. still the play does not suit him.  Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame.  He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble?  Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind?  Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world iff he only manages well?...Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?"  Big Book page 60-61

It has taken twelve years of recovery for me to connect with the truth of this paragraph. This is why the program of AA emphasizes the importance of self-honesty.  Until we can face, admit and change the way we approach life (self-centeredness), the peace of brotherly love will evade us. I was first introduced to the joy of true brotherhood in AA when I learned to help another addict without expecting anything in return.

I remained self-seeking in my home and work and wondered why I remained unfulfilled in those areas.  Today, I am ready to face my fears and surrender my need to control people and outcomes.  I have hit the proverbial bottom in the arena of manipulation of people.  Getting people to act or do as I please may feel good for the moment, but it is far from fulfilling. Truth is fulfilling, be it good or bad.

When I witness self-pitying behavior Increasein others, I recognize how my behavior can turn people, places and thing sour. If I am truly grateful for the life I have been given in AA, I will recognize that all people have hardship and the best way for any of us to get through our tough times is by reaching out a genuine hand of love to our neighbor.  Ask how you can help.  Even when I have no idea how I will make a situation better, when I sincerely pray and ask for guideance, Love always leads the way.

Best,

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

When I first got clean and sober, I needed practical tips for refraining from the use of drugs and alcohol to get through emotional times.  I found that all of my emotions, including depression, anger and excitement, had the potential to trigger me to drink or drug. When I sponsor other women, I share practical suggestions for getting to the other side of a craving, without picking up.

They include:

1. Get to a 12-step support meeting

2. Call another Increaseperson in recovery and ask for help or ask how the other person is doing

3. Carry literature around with you (from the program or other spiritual literature) that you can read at any time

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

The formula for freedom from addiction is the same whether you have one day clean/sober or twenty years.  The single most important ingredient for anyone to recover is the desire to receive help for the addiction. My life changed dramatically after I wrote an honest letter about my addiction and my despair and prayed that someone or something would show me how to live.

Within months, I experienced a drug and alcohol overdose and was guided to my first twelve step meeting.  Because my desire to get help was true (and not based on someone else pushing me to seek help), the 12 step program was able to work for me.  I was open to suggestions, Increasewilling to go to any lengths to put down the drug for 24 hours a at time, and honest about my powerlessness over drugs.

I found a sponsor, attended recovery meetings for a donation of $1 per meeting, read the literature, and shared my thoughts/feelings with people who understood me.  In the morning, I set an intention to stay sober and followed it up with positive actions like reaching out to others by phone when I felt scared, making sober friends and avoiding people, places or things that triggered my addiction.

Twelve years later, I look back and ask myself what has changed. I still get up in the morning with the intention to stay sober for the day.  I still speak to recovery minded friends and acquaintances when I am disturbed.  I still attend 12-step meetings, speak honestly about what is on my mind and limit my time around people, places or things that make me feel unsafe.

Most importantly, I show my gratitude for my freedom from multiple, painful addictions by paying it forward and doing my best to help another human being, especially addicts.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

I started Addictionland.com so that addicts, in or out of recovery, could have a place to vent and potentially receive positive feedback from other addicts or recovery professionals. Whenever I am about to write, I ask myself what is currently going on in my life.  Although it is interesting for others to hear about my dark past and my recovery path, it is always important for me to do a personal inventory about today.

I was very agitated and edgy this morning because I was feeling the pressure of Monday morning, parenting a 5 year old child that moves at his own pace, not having time to experience romance with my husband, a new boss at work, less time to manage my work due to a new fleet policy about driving and talking on the phone and the regular high expectations I hold for myself in almost all areas of my life. Increase

I was ready to leave the house as Queen Baby, griping about all that I have on my plate and spoiling my own day, when my husband called out to me and said, "Honey, come get a hug."  Reluctantly, I walked over to him and his embrace magically reduced my tension.  Next, I got into the car and Lady Gaga was in the CD player.  My son loves dance music and began to smile and dance in his seat.  It was hard for me to hold on to my anger watching his whole face light up and witnessing a rash of freckles breaking out across his nose.

I thought to myself, "Thank God for the recovery process.  I still have defects and I still entertain playing the victim, but practicing the 12-step principles in all of my affairs, minute after minute, day by day, makes it virtually impossible to stay in my defects for too long.  I am completely aware of my choice to stay in the problem and suffer or pray for relief and move into a solution.

I have countless blessings to focus on if I just let go and experience them all.  I dont need to live in the past or worry about tomorrow.  When I get overwhelmed with emotion, I can ask my HP to free me and I can put my attention on something Good in the world.  Often, because of my 12 step training, I am the Good I need to see.  I can rely on my own positive behavior to shift my thoughts and my perspective. I can act my way into right thinking.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

A woman I sponsor recently asked me if she was kidding herself by deeming herself sober when she is still acting out in other areas of her life.  "I may not be drinking or taking pills anymore," she said, "but I am still doing things I am ashamed of doing."

Did I relate? I told her a story about my fourth year in recovery. My boyfriend, or shall I say my obsession in recovery, had recently broke up with me.  I thought I had recovered from my bulimia during my second year and was suprised when the obsession to eat and the compulsion to throw up returned with a vengeance. 

Bulimia, while you are drinking, taking drugs and doing multiple others things to distract yourself from the shame and pain of being a puker, is one thing.  Bulimia, when you are stark raving sober and clearly see how your behavior is out of control, gross and insane, is another thing. I needed to throw up and my awareness of what bulimia did to my psyche and body was life altering.

I threw up for a good six months more before I was in so much pain I was desparate for relief. I showed up at one of my regular AA meetings and decided to pick up a white chip Increase as a sign of my surrender on this addiction.  When I stood up and walked to the front of the room, friends gasped.  I was so gung ho about my recovery they could not believe I would pick up a drink. They ran over to me and said, "What happened??? I can't believe you of all people picked up."

"I didn't drink alcohol," I replied through my tears.  "I just cant stop binging and purging and I need help."  A few of the staunch AAers got annoyed with me and said it was totally inappropriate for me to pick up the white chip over food.  This is an AA meeting," one said.  I already felt bad enough over my powerlessness.  Now, someone thought it a good idea to kick me when I was down.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

When I entered recovery in 1999, I had my story as to why I was unable to live up to my potential in life. Even though I grew up with two parents who never hit me, provided every material comfort and gave me direction and love, I focused on the one traumatic event that happened to me during my high school years and ran with it.

Already insecure due overdependence on my parents and the prospect of leaving home and going to college, my father's reaction to my blooming first love expereience shattered me. Instead of welcoming in the terrific object of my obsession, my father objected to our constant togetherness and punished me with a wall of silence. He withheld his love from me when I did not behave the way he preferred and this convinced me I was totally worthless. 

I used this story to fuel my addictive behavior until the age of 31.  Truth is, my insecurity, sensitivity and obsessive-compulsive behavior began long before my father made this choice.  I was a wild fire ready to burn.Increase  As far back as I could remember, I felt less beautiful/worthy than my peers.  As far back as I could remember, I was obsessed with the cute boy at school, achievement or my looks.  This situation with my father simply gave me a good reason to feel less worthy.

If it wasn't for the situation with my dad, I would be married with kids by now (I would say to myself in my head at age 25 when I preferred to stay out drinking and doing ecstasy instead of maturing like other women.)  Finally, when I was close to my rock bottom, I dated a handsome doctor whom I respected who said to me, "Get over it"  when I told him why it was so hard for me to trust men. I was mortified.

"Get over it?  What does he mean get over it?" I asked myself. "How do I get over it? If I knew, I would have done that by now."

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be?" pg 53 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

As a person with an alcoholic mind-a person who wants what she wants when she wants it, without much care for God's will in her moments of obsession-it is great to be reminded that something greater than myself saved me from a wretched, alcoholic life and it wasn't self will.

It's been over 12 years since I have relied on alcohol to get me through a crisis, but I still contend with an alcholic mind.  I am still in the habit of trying to manipulate life and the people in it to fit a configuration certain to satisfy me and I rarely succeed.  The literature of AA reminds me that every problem is spiritual in nature and every solution is spiritual in nature. If I want to see a change in the outer world, I have to experience an internal shift in my perspective.

I have so many things I want to do and pursue as a result of living the AA principles.  I want to expose my young son to all that life has to offer. I want to take care of my spiritual health.  I want explore new career opportunities.  I want to experience greater passion and fun in my marriage.

AA teaches me that my deepest desires come from God and, AA teaches me that it is up to God to fulfill my needs in His way and at His pace.  When I find myself stressed, worried, overwhelmed, tired and/or depressed, it is usually a time when I have veered off the path off AA head first into the side of self-will.Increase  Fear takes my hands off the driver's wheel and prevents me from staying in the lines of Love.  I fail to express patience, tolerance, or compassion when I need to express it the most.  Instead of letting go and letting God, I run my car down the side of a hill and destroy everything in my path.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Before I entered recovery, I did believe will-power combined with intelligence was the solution to all of my problems.  If I wanted to get something accomplished, I set my mind to it and exerted all of my energy until it was accomplished.  The confusing part of this is that sometimes this equation actually works. Or so we think so.  We get what it is we think we want until we eventually realize it is does not fill the hole inside.   Such is the paradox of recovery.

Before I entered recovery, I did believe will-power combined with intelligence was the solution to all of my problems.  If I wanted to get something accomplished, I set my mind to it and exerted all of my energy until it was accomplished.  The confusing part of this is that sometimes this equation actually works. Or so we think so.  We get what it is we think we want until we eventually realize it is does not fill the hole inside.   Such is the paradox of recovery.

Once I discovered that no amount of personal will or intelligence could stop me from drinking, snorting, puking, or smoking (and believe me, I did everything in my power to stop on my own), I surrendered to a Higher Power (via 12-step recovery) and started working the 12 step program of action.  It was through the program of action that I connected with real Power and found release from each of my addictions. It is through that same Power that I continue to experience release, one day at a time.

While it is a gift to have personal will and intelligence, these things are not meant to be used selfishly.  To turn our will and our lives over to the care of the God of our understanding means we align ourself with good or positive action.  Instead of acting selfishly, we help our fellow man.  Instead of being angry, we forgive.  Instead of being self-will run riot, we wait patiently for the answers to come.  Instead of being arrogant, we are humble.

It took about five years for my Higher Power to release me from my multiple forms of addiction and it remains a daily process of seeking my Higher Power's will in my life to be relieved from worry, fear or emptiness.  Each day I ask myself how I can be of maximum service to my Higher Power and my fellows, I experience the promises of recovery. I have a choice. Increase I can set my dial on self centered action and be cut off from the sunlight of the spirit or I can set my dial on worthwhile activities and experience the deep joy of 12 step living. 

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