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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Girls with childhoods like mine don’t live long and they don’t grow up to become doctors. They die young and if they happen to stay alive, they end up in prison or living on the streets forever. I grew up in a family infected with incest that can be traced as far back as my genealogy extends. I was not protected or safe in my own home. Like thousands of young girls before me, I turned to drugs and alcohol to escape.

By 14, I was hooked on meth. I didn’t have the luxury of wealthy parents which meant I had to commit crimes and offer my body to men more than twice my age to stay high. I spent my adolescence immersed in the child welfare system, living in and out of foster homes, juvenile facilities, treatment centers, and the streets. Every junkie has a story and I have mine. Suffice it to say that I have paid my dues in that world and paid heavily. After a violent rape that nearly killed me, I vowed in the hospital that nobody would ever look at me with the disgust and revulsion that the doctors and police officers did that day. I have remained committed and true to my promise.

Today, I stand as a woman who’s risen above the darkness. I live free of chemicals and the obsession to use them. I can’t remember the last time I committed a crime or considered killing myself. I put in years of hard work to earn the privilege of being called Dr. Garrison and have dedicated my last ten years to helping others.

I’ve lived my life one step away from becoming a statistic. The question I get asked most frequently is “What advice do you have for others in your situation?” Here’s what I know about beating the odds.

1. Your labels don’t define you

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Addiction Memoir Quotes

Just a few years ago, Jason Smith was lying in his bathtub, the blood slowly draining from his slit wrists. Now he is here to tell us how he reached the point of suicide after his long, dark descent into prescription opiate abuse. The Bitter Taste Dying is a story of resurrection told by an author who has literally come back from the black grip of death.

Today’s junkies are not just on the street corner anymore. Big Pharma are the suppliers, and doctors are the pushers, cultivating (perhaps inadvertently, but that’s debatable) a massive population of addicts from all demographics.

After a severe car accident, Smith has back surgery and is given a perpetual menu of painkillers and muscle relaxers by his physicians. It doesn’t take long for the high schooler to realize that by taking more than the recommended dosage, he could obtain the warm, euphoric mental and physical comfort only opiates can bring. But all too soon he also discovers the pangs of withdrawal whenever his medication runs out.

If anyone has difficulty understanding what an addict feels like, Smith describes it with painful accuracy.

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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

Hello and Happy Valentines Day Recovery Friends,


Sometimes our higher power brings others in our lives at "just that right moment" when we start to think why we do what we do in recovery for others. I know I have felt this way before myself many times. Just when all the writing, blogging, freelance articles, and having my soul lay open bare for all to read, you wonder if anyone is listening. If there are people being helped with my God given purpose in life to help others recover from the financial ravages and devastation of addicted gambling addiction. Adnan's story is very sensational, but the truth is what he say's about how he felt. About being driven by a disease that is so cunning, that the disease will invade and corrupt even your thoughts and feelings that drive action. NO, no excuses here, nor any denial or blame.

Just insight as to how any addition can drive you to a point of hopelessness and poor choices. Adnan has taken his ownership and accountability for what he has done within his gambling addiction. He currently is serving a 17 year prison sentence. And has wrote and was just published this past Fall. So it's why I'm sharing a blog post I just did on my own recovery blog. His story needs to be shared and heard everywhere, as it serves as a "wake up call" to the constant expansion of Casinos and States Lotteries.

Here's Adnan Alisic Story:

A true story straight out of the News Headlines about an Addicted Gambler ~ Lets put faces behind Gambling Addiction the Disease. . .
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“Not only is a group of men charged in the theft of $2 million cash from an armored truck at an East Valley casino, but they could also be accused of stealing from some Hollywood scripts. A FBI search warrant affidavit and federal indictment records provide new details of the July 21 attempted robbery of Casino Arizona at Talking Stick that some movie buffs might find familiar.”

Attempted Casino Arizona robbery like a Hollywood movie” ~ said the Associated Press ~

ASSOCIATED PRESS – The attempted robbery of $2 million from a casino on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community east of Phoenix sounds more like a Hollywood movie than a real-life incident, according to newly released court documents.

Officials are charging Ismar K, Adnan Alisic, Bakil, and Daniel M{ not wanting to use the others charged – full names}, with conspiracy, interference with commerce by threats, violence and robbery, and use of a firearm in a crime of violence in the July 21 attempted robbery of Casino Arizona at Talking Stick, according to their indictment and a FBI search warrant affidavit outlined.

Adnan Alisic made fake manhole covers so they would be lighter and easier to lift, and then switched them with two others the day before the robbery. The men placed ladders and ropes in the manholes and parked an all-terrain vehicle in the sewer system so they could race the money from one manhole to the other. Holes were cut in the floorboards of two vans for access to the manhole covers, a trick Steve McQueen pulled in 1972’s “The Getaway.”
The men’s gear included blue coveralls, gas masks, pepper spray, bear attack deterrent, smoke grenades, cell phones, two-way radios, a 9-millimeter handgun and a plastic pellet gun.

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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 Alcoholism

"Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not."

Alcoholics Anonymous, page 34, More About Alcoholism

Of the many internal rearrangements I experienced as a result of the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the most profound was in how I understood the disease.  This shift was a direct result of being able to align the experience and pain of my repeated relapses with the explanation of the disease in the first 63 pages of the Alcoholics Anonymous text book (with the help of a terrific teacher).  Ideas and concepts I had held for decades about the nature of alcoholism were rendered embarassingly inaccurate.  Many of the AA sayings  I had chanted effortlessly for years (just don't pick up the first drink!) suddenly felt like codependent sloganeering.

Had you asked me several years ago what the difference was between a drinking problem and alcoholism, I would have likely responded "not much."  Try to explain it to me?  I'd have politely nodded but dismissed you as someone with way too much time on their hands.  I simply was not there-- I had double digit sobriety, a good life and the assurance that by keeping my memory green about where alcohol had taken me, I'd never drink again.  I've since learned that alcoholism is cunning and baffling; it can also masquerade as sobriety.  In retrospect, I was unaware that the very proclamations I valued as manifestations of my sobriety were really untreated alcoholism.  And it was biding its time, trying to find another way in.

But back to the point of the post-- what's the difference?  I see it this way:  the person with a drinking problem should stop, and usually can.  The person with alcoholism must stop and cannot.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I made the tactical error this afternoon of revealing in an AA meeting that part of my first step experience was the realization that many of the AA slogans I'd been mindlessly repeating for over a decade were completely at odds with my new understanding of my condition.  I call it a mistake not because I regret saying it, but because the rest of the meeting became an impassioned defense of AA sloganeering.  As a friend pointed out afterwards, I had inadvertently provided the red meat that our fellowship often prefers over a discussion of recovery.  My bad.

The point I had tried to make was that once I'd conceded to my innermost self that I was powerless over alcohol-- that I had no effective defense against the first drink-- expressions like "Don't Drink And Go To Meetings" and "Just Don't Pick Up The First Drink" rang incredibly hollow.  I just couldn't line them up with what I was reading in the AA textbook.  I mean, how can I understand that alcoholism is a disease of insanity, that we experience strange mental blank spots where we inexplicably pick up a drink again, and then appreciate the wisdom of "Think The Drink Through?"

Unfortunately, though, my point was lost.  No matter how I choose my words-- and admittedly, I sometimes choose badly-- when you suggest that the tools people have used for eons to not drink don't really work with alcoholism-- you're in for a long hour.

My issue is not with slogans, per se-- I'm all for whatever helps someone get through the day.  But the problem as I see it is the slogans have overtaken the program of recovery-- they are the only tools we offer in many AA meetings.  I'd have less of an issue with them if they were presented as a nice complement to the actual program of recovery-- the steps.  The slogans are garnish-- pretty, but largely inedible.

Cross-posted at Thump.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

"Yet we can't well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomers themselves. Perhaps a great many didn't receive the kind and amount of sponsorship they so sorely needed. We didn't communicate when we might have done so. So we AA's failed them. Perhaps more often than we think, we still make no contact at depth with those suffering the dilemma of no faith."

Bill Wilson, AA Grapevine, April 1961 "The Dilemma of No Faith"

Cross posted at Thump.Increase

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

IncreaseI stole this Nikos Kazantzakis quote from the Facebook page of a Thump fan, Robi Carlson, because I love language that challenges conceptions of spiritual power.

"The Great Spirit does not toil within the bounds of human time, place, or casualty. The Great Spirit is superior to these human questionings. It teems with many rich and wandering drives which to our shallow minds seem contradictory; but in the essence of divinity they fraternize and struggle together, faithful comrades-in-arms. The primordial Spirit branches out, overflows, struggles, fails, succeeds, trains itself. It is the Rose of the Winds."

In order to be willing to believe in a power greater than myself, I needed to set aside all of my ideas and concepts about "God."  I wiped the slate clean, even of the word "God." My conception of a higher power could not be tethered to human expression, not because I was special or intelligent, but because all language and expression carried some baggage, and I needed to be free of that.  It was the only thing that would work.  I needed to experience a power greater than myself, not define it.

Cross-posted at Thump.

 

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In my experience, getting honest is a long and interesting process.  I take baby steps in the direction of my ideal and day by day I arrive.  Currently, I am in the process of coming out of the proverbial closet with my addiction memoir.  As a working professional in an unrelated industry, I write, blog and interview under a pseudonym to protect my career and my family.

Getting honest in public is extremely liberating, however,  I struggle with the feeling I am leading a double life since I have not gone public with my real identity. Increase While I have many good reasons for remaining anonymous, if I am honest, I also have several unhealthy reasons for doing so. Primarily, I am a caretaker and worry how my experience of the truth will cast unfavorable lights on the people I love.

In the areas I hold back, I ask for spiritual help and wisdom.  After years of recovery, I know better than to make important decisions on my own. I do not know which road I am meant to follow, but I know I will be guided if I am open.  As the literature says, God is more interested in the buiding of my character than the name of my character!

Best,

Increase

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