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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

The Retreat: Not Just for Weekends Anymore, by Daniel D. Maurer

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_retreat_bullshit.jpgWhen I first got married, my wife and I moved to a tiny hamlet in eastern Montana. It was her hometown and she had a job at a local community college teaching public speaking. My job was at a rinky-dink bank playing customer service rep and twiddling my thumbs in the back room pretending to work with the computers. It wasn’t bad, but definitely not a dream job. At least I had plenty of time after work to drink when wifey was off teaching in the evenings.

We belonged to a church where my wife had been baptized as a baby and where the two of us were married. I had aspirations to one day become a pastor in the denomination we belonged to, so I endeavored to act as if any and all church-related activities were compulsory.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Over the course of this last year, I really learned about my power and a power greater than myself.  A little over nine months ago I was promising my wife in tears that I would never touch heroin or anything else again.  I meant it with all of my heart and soul.  A lie detector test would have proved me to be telling the truth. 

I had just gotten out of a detox and had exchanged numbers with one of the other patients. He called me to come pick him up for a meeting that same evening. So, no problems, right? I tell my wife I’m picking up another addict to go to a meeting.  The guy gets in my car and has two loaded syringes ready… there was no second thought.  Within moments, I was high.  This after truly believing I would never use again.  That’s my power.  I really learned the definition of powerlessness that night.

After that, there was two weeks of hotels and living in my car and then ending up in another detox.  Then two half-way houses.  Many of us have been through these journeys.  This was definitely not the first time. I had about five years clean and sober in the past, but for the last five years I’d been struggling to put time together.  I had been in countless detoxes, half-houses, and rehabs.  I just could not stay stopped.  That obsession always dogged me.  It was the devil.

It was not until the second half-way house that something amazing and profound happened. Although, I was sleeping on the floor, there were ten other guys, there were roaches…  There was a lot to complain about, something just struck me.  I was in the shower praying because that is about the only place I could get some peace.   

While praying I felt a total peace and then I just felt broken.  It was as though I was letting everything out.  All of my sorrow, pain, and despair… I was giving over to God.  That day, I stepped out of that shower a free man.  Everything was not going to be alright.  Everything was alright! I felt joy.  I’d not felt joy in five long years.  To this day too, with action, the obsession is gone.  It was a cleansing and an awakening.  My wife even saw something different and after time I moved home.   

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

NeverEnding Emails—The Transformative Gift that Keeps On Giving 

In 2005, my daily use and addiction to alcohol had become extremely inconvenient.

Translate: I began puking blood.

It became painful to even attempt to drink anything, much less vodka. Since alcohol was never my drug-of-choice (DOC) to begin with, I sought after another way to fill the spiritual void. Painkillers were what I wanted. They were not only my DOC, but my preferred entry into what I can only describe to non-users as "the bliss."

The difficulty with painkillers is you need a prescription. I have ulcerative colitis; it's currently in remission because I'm much healthier today. Back in my using days, I'd visit doctors, seeking to acquire, acquire, acquire. Regularly. They caught on eventually.

That meant that I needed to find another source. For me, that source was tramadol.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Throughout my month as "expert" blogger I will be looking at the problem, addictive behaviours, as a researcher in the area of affective and clinical neuroscience and neuro psychology and as someone who has also recovered from alcoholism and substance and behavioural addiction.

I am someone who marries experimental evidence with ancedotal - this is hugely important for me, explaining what I have learnt, been taught and observed in the rooms of AA. AA meetings have also taught me how to live.  I seek to substantiate this vast experiential wisdom by explaining some of what I have learnt in other terms, in terms of neuro psychology, i.e. what happens to the brain and behaviour as the result of addiction and what happens in recovery also.

I will alternate between blogging about the problem and blogging about the solution, the disorder and the recovery. I also seek to explain this spiritual malady as an emotional disorder. 

I am often asked what I mean by "recovered". I simply mean restored to sanity. I have the power to make sane, sensible, reasonable, "sober" decisions today in a way I could never before.

In a sense my addictive behaviours were constantly the result of a decision making deficit (to be blogged about later) which always ended in pain. My thoughts and decisions got me to AA not just the final decision to go to my first AA meeting. My best thinking ended up in catastrophic degradation of my health, mind, body, spirituality and emotional well being. I have recovered all these thanks to the 12 step program of AA.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

How to Create a Postive Transformation in Your Own Life in Four Easy Steps, by Daniel D. Maurer

 

Generally, I have an allergy to any online article using the words "Easy" and "Steps." It seems, more often than not, that anything I can read under five minutes isn't going to effect a significant change in my life. (Yes, writers and editors, I used "effect" as a verb in that sentence.) However, here are four simple things I learned in recovery that anyone can learn to do. And guess what? They really work! For now, the title of this little essay stands, as is. - DTSM (Daniel Maurer)

It's very likely that some readers will recall nightmares with this picture.

It's very likely that some readers will recall nightmares with this picture.

Ever play the game Tetris? Yeah, you know the one. The object of the game is to fit in differently-shaped blocks into slots with other blocks to create a complete row. When you do that, the row disappears.

Whether you've played the game on your old Nintendo Entertainment System or on an online site today, you know the sadistic power that game has on your brain after you've played it for a while — after you're done playing, you close your eyes AND YOU KEEP SEEING TETRIS BLOCKS!

Pretty soon, Tetris blocks are everywhere. You see them in grocery store aisles with the soup cans; in pet stores in the kitty litter aisle; on a Christmas tree with the lights; in rows on cars on a highway; even within people walking in a mall. Everything gets tetricized!!

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Hello my blog name is Paul.  I am blogging from the UK, hence the strange spelling at times!

Thank you to Addictionland for having me as an "expert" blogger for the month of December which is a special month for me as it was in this month, a number of years ago, that I found recovery in the rooms of AA.  

I had not even heard of 12 step programs before my first meeting and believe that I had some form of psychic change at the meeting, for two main reasons - I had giving up completely or surrendered and the identification I had with those assembled in that room was enormous.

I felt listening to their "shares" that these people where just like me, that I had strangely come home, looking back. I had finally found the club or society of people that I belonged in.  No longer felt isolated or alone. I had been accepted fully for what I was. As someone who has had an, at times, abusive upbringing and an insecure attachment to my primary care giver, it was a beginning of a journey home, the beginning of an earned attachment, the start of my adoption into a surrogate home and family in fellowship.

This is my recovery, 12 step recovery, although I am not blinkered to other forms and have researched many other therapies too. The ideas in some are very insightful and if it works, work it.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Greetings! Addictionland is a great site. I'm in the midst of getting my own blog up and running and I will contribute to this blog soon. Thank you for your patience!

 

Daniel D. Maurer, "Dan the Story Man"

Tagged in: 12 step recovery
Hits: 2680

Posted by on in Alcoholism

If I spend time thinking about the various issues specific to addicted clients I come up with a few central themes. Many people need to find a sense of purpose, some need to find a sober place to live, and others need to find a way to earn income or repair family relationships. However, what is needed to follow-through on any of these tasks is a sense of self-esteem, or what I like to call ‘Emotional Competence’ or EC. I think of of EC in this way: are you up to the task at hand? Do you have the ability and wherewithal to follow-through? It seems to me that if you don’t like who you are and you can’t take ownership of the successes in your life then it’s very likely you’ll never like who you are. I am convinced that there is a direct relationship between poor self-esteem and giving away all of the credit in your life to a higher power.

While there are many causes of poor self-esteem, I am not convinced it is necessary that you need to know why you dislike yourself. All of the reasons we dislike who we are tend to manifest in the same way and the end result is the same: poor self-esteem, diminished self-confidence, and a poor self-concept. Rather than focus on changing the past (which is generally impossible) let’s use this time to focus on how we can feel better about our place in the world. I want to posit seven ideas for change. It’s important to try and change how you feel about yourself as poor self-esteem can lead to relapse.

1) Sentence completions: on a piece of paper start with a sentence that says “I like myself because” and complete the sentence as many times as you are able. If you feel blocked you can try “I could like myself if…..” and complete several sentences. Note any patterns and share what you learned with a trusted friend or mentor and ask for feedback.

2) Affirmations: I could spend hours writing about affirmations so I will simply encourage you to look online for ways to create affirmations. When you complete affirmations just remember: they need to be said in the present, they need to be realistic, and they need to include a level of risk. When I say ‘level of risk’ I am simply suggesting that you can read them aloud, read them to yourself in a mirror, write them on a piece of paper, read them into a tape recorder and play them back, or you can go for the highest level of risk and read them to another person.

3) Forgiveness: I suspect we all have done things which are less than flattering to our ego. It will be likely that many times the stupid thing you have done will simply work itself out and people will see that you made a mistake and will be able to let go of their annoyance about you and your actions, so take heart in that. Other times the act perpetrated against us is so great that forgiveness seems like too huge a leap – perhaps we can begin by remembering that forgiveness is about forgiving the person and not the act. Seek more support if this is a block to you.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

For a very long time only straight line solutions existed for me. When I’d worn out a pair of shoes I got new ones. When I the guy I was dating started showing signs he wasn't good for me I’d break up with him while seeking another. When the car ran out of gas I’d stop to refuel.

In other words, acknowledge the problem, solve immediately, and move on.

Surely this same systematic route would be the way I’d overcome alcoholism and an eating disorder. My “problem-solution-move on” theory of navigating life would be the plan. However what I found was, yes I had a problem, yes there was (and still is) a solution and yes I would move on. The only difference was no one would guarantee me that path would be a straight line.

Thankfully I stepped forward on the trail anyway. Fast forward many 24 hours of one-day-at-a-time later and I'm here to report we learn our best lessons in the curves.

The road to Heart tree

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

One of the larger challenges in recovery is learning how to overcome a desire to use alcohol or drugs. In previous articles I've offered a host of tools to support recovery and encourage you to think about recovery in ways other than a conventional approach to sobriety. In this article I would like to offer a simple relapse prevention tool.

As a clinician with nearly 30 years of experience I've worked in a variety of agencies. Every agency would encourage you to develop a relapse prevention plan that attends to places in your life where you get stuck as well as high-risk situations that would encourage use. I think knowing what to do what you get stimulated is important, but I've never been a fan of the long-form relapse prevention plans. Having to look through 20 pages to see which intervention is best suited for a particular issue is a grind. My sense is that more isn't better, different is the key. I would invite you to get several 4x6 cards and create your entire plan on one side of the card.  Include the following:

Mission statement: one of my friend's is a pilot for a major airline. He let me know that 95% of the time a plane is off-course and that you need to make adjustments to keep the plane on course. Much like a plane, we can get off course in our recovery. I would invite you to create a statement at the top of the card which supports you to make corrections in your life when your recovery is in trouble. This is my mission statement: my sobriety is the single most important thing in my life - if anything jeopardizes my recovery, I eliminate it. As I believe that recovery is a choice, it is important to be mindful that every decision we make can support long term-recovery or allow us to engage in maladaptive behaviors that support relapse and are less than flattering to our ego. All I need to do is to simply think of my mission statement and compare it to anything I want to do. Will this action stimulate a desire to use or further support my recovery? While I do not broadcast my sobriety, it is the single most important thing in my life.

Phone numbers: I would invite you to include 6-7 phone numbers of people you know who are supportive of your recovery, likely to help you if you feel like you're falling down in your life, and are consistent in their own way. When I had about 12 years of sobriety I had a pretty strong desire to drink. I was fortunate in that I collected a list of 100 phone numbers. As my desire to drink came on the weekend during the time between Christmas and New Years most people were on vacation and out-of-touch. I needed to call over 95 people before I found someone I could talk to. Some people might consider a list of 100 people as extreme, but my sense is that I am absolutely committed to making sure I remain sober and I am willing to put in extreme effort to that end.

Alternatives: I invite you to list six to seven things you can do beyond drinking and using. I can always go to the judo hall, watch horrible sci fi, volunteer, support people online, read, play with my cat, go for a run, and remember the commitment I made to my grandmother when I got sober. It's important to be mindful that we tend to drink or use to change the way we feel, and it's imperative that we remember that relapse only offers temporary relief.

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