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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I haven’t posted any new material for well over a year. Apologies. I’ve suffered from horrible writer’s block, and until today I couldn’t move past my current ‘block’ 

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know that 1) my grandparents survived Auschwitz, 2) my grandmother was my first sponsor, 3) I revere my grandparents and 4) I strive to embrace their model of recovery which includes me being both useful and kind. 

I have been sober for over 35 years and have worked as a mental health and addictions counselor for over 31 years. While I have not provided direct clinical services for over a year, I have worked as a consultant with various orgs in the Seattle area the last 18 months. To earn a living and pay my bills I drive limo. I’ve been driving limo on and off for the last 30 years. 

Driving limo has provided me with ample opportunity to be of service to others. I’d like to tell you about one interaction which has affected in a huge way and created an immense sense of gratitude for my passenger.

Over a year ago I picked up a woman from a local cancer center. ‘Denise’ was a lovely woman with porcelain skin, a slight build, and red hair. I’d guess she was about 55 years old. Initially I didn’t think she was a patient, rather, an executive working for the organization as her fare was paid through a company account. Seven weeks after our initial meeting, I met her again and understood she was undergoing her fourth round of Chemo. During the ride home she let me know that she had been sober for four months and was certain this was to be her last attempt at saving her life. My sense is that many times treatment for cancer often extends the quantity and not the quality of life. My thoughts about cancer seemed to comfort Denise and she came to understand that I understood her point-of-view.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Nine Reasons Recovering Addicts Run

In order to stay sober, the alcoholic and addict need to learn natural ways to get high. It's a crucial part of recovery. Running seems to be a great fit for those who are trying to enjoy live free from alcohol and other drugs.  Here are nine reasons. (adapted from Chasing the Dragon: Running to Get High)

1. You Only Get What You Give

Distance running by its nature lends itself to the addictive personality, if there is such a thing, of rewarding those who blast past barriers. It not only rewards but demands the obsessive brain, the kind who goes to a $5 all-you-can-drink keg party and asks for $10 worth. It's the metaphorical potato chip that, once it's on your taste buds, lights up something deeper within you that craves more.

Yes, addicts can be cowards, immature, fragile, obnoxious, and so on (it's an `in' group thing, so I can get away with saying that) but lazy is one thing we are not. Maybe lazy when it comes to responsibilities, sure, but not lazy when it comes to getting what we want. 

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

So here we go, my first blog. I'm playing hookie from work in order to write this and yes I do feel guilty (but not that much).  This has been a long time in the making.  Years ago I kept a journal.  Both therapeutic and fulfilling, I gave it up in order to pursue more pressing concerns that drug use seemed to resolve.  But before I get into my story and current events let me share 21 bullets about myself for the curious reader:

 

  1. I live alone.
  2. I work in health care.
  3. I am a credentialed drug and alcohol counselor (ironically).
  4. I love animals, especially my little beast; he reminds me of who (and what) I am.
  5. I am ambivalent about being single.
  6. My recovery has been very fulfilling, but is not always gratifying.
  7. I love to read, listen to music and enjoy all the performing arts.
  8. In addition to drugs, I am addicted to the internet (no, not porn, you cheeky monkey) and recently food.
  9. I am an INTP, with a strong extroverted side.  I like the term Introversatile.
  10. Honesty is easier to recognize than practice.
  11. I love nature, travel and all new adventures.
  12. I do not attend enough meetings.
  13. I believe in our capacity to change; change is hard.
  14. I am sometimes given to morbid rumination.
  15. I like spirituality as an idea rather than a feeling. Spirituality must be practiced.
  16. I'm lazy. I eat too much and don't exercise enough.
  17. I think a a great deal about what it means to be "good," "well" and "happy."
  18. Love others, even when hell is other people.
  19. Empathy is a skill and an art.  It starts with you.
  20. We all carry a bag of rocks, the key is learning to let them go.
  21. One must consider Sisyphus happy.

 

Well that's me in a nutshell.  I'd love to hear about you . . .  A parting thought:

all is merely talk which isn't singing

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

When I was newly sober, I heard the cliche that "alcoholism has very little to do with alcohol" many times. As I have stayed sober longer, I have found this statement to be extremely true. Alcoholism comes in a person, not in a bottle.

Prayer in Alcoholics AnonymousThe First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous has two distinct parts. The first part states that we are powerless over alcohol (and drugs), and the second part states that our lives had become unmanageable. When I first saw this, I read it as "our alcohol abuse had become unmanageable." The truth is that our lives are unmanageable without alcohol as well. In my experience and opinion, my life became even more unmanageable without alcohol than it was with alcohol.

Alcohol was the solution. It worked. It helped me manage. Getting sober and admitting I was powerless over alcohol, I no longer had my chief form of comfort. Alcohol allowed me to not feel, and I wasn't sober frequently enough to fully experience the path of my unpleasant emotions. Suddenly I found myself in a world where I had no buffer between me and my emotions.

This unmanageability to me means that I cannot healthily and safely manage my life sober or drunk. My mind does not by default know how to appropriately respond to life. Alcoholism carries on just as well without the alcohol. As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, we have a physical allergy, mental craving, and spiritual malady. When I stop drinking, the physical allergy is no longer an issue. The mental craving is caused by my spiritual malady. It is for this reason that the focus of eleven of the Twelve Steps is on this spiritual malady.

As I work on my spiritual malady and get in conscious contact with my Higher Power, the mental cravings begin to dissipate. However, if I am not working on my spiritual malady, the mental cravings overpower me. The unmanageability is a direct result of my lack of a contact with a power greater than myself.

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