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Allison Fogarty

Allison Fogarty

Allison Fogarty is an interventionist, Registered Addiction Specialist intern and has worked extensively in multifaceted directorial roles of residential treatment. Allison has been on A&E’s Intervention, worked with the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, and Alliance for Consumer Education, where she has appeared on several talk shows, public service announcements, and as a guest lecturer at several addiction venues in the fight to prevent the use of, and further the education of, inhalant abuse.

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

This is my last blog as the addiction expert for the month of March.  I want to thank Cate for including me in such an inspirational cause and for those who took the time to read my blog, it was a blessing to be part of such an important website with so many goals, education, and support.  I do hope that my posts were able to help others the way they have helped me and they certainly reminded me of where I came from and of the progess I have made in the past six years.  It has not been easy reliving my past, but in order to reach out to even just one person, to me it has been entirely worth it.

I will leave my last blog with the notion of being of service.  Being of service is a gift that you receive while in sobriety, or even working on a better version of yourself, it is an intrigal tool in maintaining a level head and in getting out of your head, while in turn, assisting others in need.

I feel as though I have been given a special and unique way to be of service, by helping to pass laws in Washington, DC, being a spokesperson for the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, making a public service announcement for the Alliance for Consumer Education, and when not working in treatment assiting other addicts, alcoholics, those with eating disorders and co-occurring disorders, I am able to help people in need from around the country.  I use my company website to post only positive, life-enriching quotes.

But being of service does not have to be that grand.  Being of service is saying hello to a newcomer in a meeting, passing on your experience, strength, and hope by leading a meeting, being an active participant, a sponsor, or simply leading by example.  Because not only do these actions help those around you, people that can relate to what you have been through or what you are going through, it benefits you as well.  Even as much as a positive comment or smile can help someone who is having a difficult day, as I'm sure you can relate, and I'm sure there has been a time when someone's random act of kindness has changed your day, if only for a moment, but definitely for the better.

This is not something that is specific to AA, NA, OA, etc., this is a practice that assists us in our daily lives.  I find that the more positive acts I do in my daily life for others, the easier it is to fight away that depression and anxiety, and the more it gives me purpose.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Inhalant Abuse and Prevention Update:  The Alliance for Consumer Education has put together a site where you can go and make a pledge to talk to your child about the dangers of inhalant use, as Children are 50% less likely to try an inhalant if an adult role model talks to them about the dangers of inhalant abuse.  I have attached the following link for those who might be interested.

http://www.inhalant.org/nipaw/talk-child/

They also have public service announcements related to inhalant abuse from those affected, family members from children who have passed away, as well as former users, like myself.  I did a public service announcement with my mother and sister some years back for the Alliance for Consumer Education and the results of their effectiveness are amazing.

Www.inhalant.org also offers an Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit, quiz, and lesson plans for anyone looking.

 

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

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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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

March 16th marks the beginning of the week for National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week!

I work in assisting the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, a contact I made after my episode of Intervention, when I joined Director Harvey Weiss to speak on a panel with others affected by inhalant abuse in Washington DC.  Many of the people that I have spoken with were once inhalant addicts themselves or friends and family (especially parents) of inhalant users who devistatingly passed away while using inhalants. This is an organization that works on reducing, preventing, and making the public aware of inhalant abuse, a goal that we both have in common.

In their most recent newsletter, the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) defines inhalant abuse as "the intentional misuse, via inhalation, of common household, school and workplace products and chemicals to “get high.”  This definition also infers two primary inhalant abuse slang terms:  “Sniffing” and “Huffing.” In a sense the Process of“huffing” defines the slang terms for the Activity i.e. bagging (huffing from a bag); Glading (misusing air freshener); etc."

NIPC also regularly provides the public with updates and facts imperitive to spread the awareness and prevention of inhalant abuse.  Here is an update of some of the most recent facts:

1.  Any time an inhalant is used, it could be a fatal episode.  This could be the first time you ever use inhalants, or the 100th.  NIPC notes that there is research showing that "of those people who died from huffing, about one-third died at first time use."

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Everyone’s bottom in addiction is different.  When I was using I certainly felt invincible.  Or maybe it’s because I felt like I didn’t have anything left to lose.  I had given up, the high was the only thing left that I was seeking. I had no idea the dangers of what I was doing. I had no idea how close to death I had probably become.  Strangely, revolving my day around getting inhalants, sacrificing jobs, relationships, my ethics, being in car accident after car accident, and ending up on a television show focused on my addiction still did not convince me I was at my bottom.  I still had more fight and I’m sure had I not surrendered, that fight would have led me towards and into death.

I work in the field of addiction now and I hear every one of my clients’ stories.  The extremes are different.  Some people end up in treatment because their family demanded it and the client feels they haven’t bottomed out yet, that they have it under control.  Some have nowhere else to go, they’re living on the street and selling themselves and stealing to maintain their habit.  And some are petrified of their addiction, they’ve died before, or have mental impairments from seizures from their use.  I hear a lot: “My life isn’t that bad, I haven’t lost all my money, I’m not homeless, I still have a job, there’s no way I’ve bottomed out.”

Here is where I feel the term “bottomed out” can get misconstrued in our heads.  We want to believe that we’re ok, that we couldn’t possibly be going through this, that we couldn’t be an addict or an alcoholic.  But that’s where I think we are wrong.  Although I still had a beautiful apartment, a family that loved me, and someone paying my bills, I was morally and spiritually bankrupt.  I couldn’t see it, but I was no longer the Allison to be proud of, I no longer followed the path I believed in. I look at the person I am today and I realize that I did bottom out.  I let myself down.  Those physical items, those jobs, that apartment near the beach, the money, none of that compares to the person I’ve become without being active in my addiction, compared to that empty shell of a person I was, the pain I felt, the phone calls of tears, and the wishing for death that I was in the midst of my addiction.  I no longer cause the people in my life pain, I maintain a job of integrity, but most importantly, I respect myself and I can look in the mirror and not see self-loathing, disappointment, and regret.  I abused inhalants for a total of 18 months of my life, but it grabbed on to the pain I was feeling and attempted to fill a void, which took me on a fast track to bottoming out.  And I am so grateful that I was fortunate enough to wake up and surrender, and finally realize that enough is enough.  Everyone’s level of bottoming out is different.  But the results in recovery are all the same.  We become a greater version of the selves we all remember loving before addiction took hold of us.  And it is absolutely worth it.

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