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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous provides us with many great tools.  We suddenly are given an amazing support network, a spiritual program of action, and wonderful opportunity to grow.  Although Twelve-Step programs offer us so much, there are certainly things that we may find outside of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The stigma surrounding this prevents many people in the program from doing so, which is hurtful toward recovery.  There are several ways people look outside Alcoholics Anonymous for help, and none of them are wrong.

Professional Help

There are many professionals out there that offer great help to addicts of all kinds.  However, people tend to treat seeking professional help as taboo in twelve-step programs.  This attitude is extremely hurtful and close-minded.  Many of our fellows benefit from professional help of different kinds, and discouraging them or making them feel different because of it can change someone's life.

Physicians

Taking the example of physicians, there are many issues which we cannot ourselves handle.  Our physical health is of the utmost importance to our recovery, as the body's health can dictate the mind's health.  There are times where we must seek a physician's help.  Our physician may prescribe medications as he or she sees fit.  In my personal experience and opinion, we may take certain narcotic medications when they are absolutely necessary.  It is also always important to speak with a sponsor or mentor before doing so.  We must be careful in taking any medication of any kind, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary.  We cannot trust our own heads to make the decision on whether or not it is necessary, and this is why we speak to a sponsor.  Also, it helps substantially to have a doctor that is sober.

Psychiatrists

Another professional that we may seek help from is a psychiatrist.  Psychiatrists may help diagnose and treat mental illness.  Obviously medication comes into play here, and that is perfectly alright.  There are many addicts that suffer from mental disorders.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Over 8.9 million persons have co-occurring disorders; that is they have both a mental and substance use disorder."*  Not seeking help can be an issue of life and death.

Although psychiatrists may prescribe medications, this is not a reason to shy away from them.  Dealing with co-occurring disorders is not easy.  Without treating the mental illness, sobriety is near impossible.  The addiction and mental illness create a vicious cycle, and without treating both simultaneously, the person has little chance of recovery.  Again, we should be careful of blindly accepting medications without speaking to those with more experience than us.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Whether you are in shape, overweight, malnourished, or anywhere along the spectrum, exercise is an amazing tool in recovery.  Exercise and recovery go together well because when we are using, we exercise very little.  Our eating habits are often unhealthy.  We sit around, use, and do not utilize our bodies.  When we get sober, we often feel like doing the same, as our minds are running, we are full of anxiety, and we want to lie in bed all day.

Benefits of Exercise in Recovery

There are many benefits of exercising.  The most important point to mention is that exercise releases dopamine in the brain.  When we exercise, it keeps our dopamine receptors working and prevents them from dying off.  As we exercise, we are physically providing ourselves with the happiness chemical.  One day at a time, and over an extended period of time, exercise helps create happiness.  If we do not exercise or utilize these dopamine receptors, the brain prunes them off in order to increase efficiency.

As we exercise in recovery, we get rid of much negativity.  Exercising is a fantastic way to get rid of anxiety, anger, worry, restlessness, racing thoughts, and many many more emotions.  Working at a dual-diagnosis treatment center, I see many clients join us with anxiety disorders and anger issues.  They resist exercise as much as they possibly can.  However, when they finally begin exercising, they invariably admit to feeling the benefits.  As somebody who deals with anxiety and extreme anger myself, I find exercise to be absolutely invaluable in my recovery.  Exercising is one of my most useful tools when I am feeling any negative feeling.

Finally, when we exercise in recovery, we are taking contrary action and building esteem.  For many of us, exercise and taking care of our health are not things we have been doing.  When we begin to exercise, we begin to feel better about ourselves.  Whether we are losing weight, gaining weight, or remaining at the same weight, exercise helps us feel better about ourselves.  We are active, get outside, and ultimately are happier.

Ways to Exercise in Recovery

There are many simple ways to exercise without going to a gym or exercising in a tedious manner.  Some of us may be gym rats, but if you are like myself, the thought of going to a gym feels like going to work.  There are ways to exercise in a more relaxed, peaceful manner.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states in the second Appendix, "The terms “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms... Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the “educational variety” because they develop slowly over a period of time."

Although many members do have a white-light experience, this is not the case for most of us.  Even those of us who have moments of clarity often have our spiritual experiences occur over a more extended period of time.  When we first begin hearing about spiritual experiences, moments of clarity, and conscious contact with a Higher Power, we may be turned off by this misunderstanding.  Although this is just a misunderstanding; the truth is that these educational spiritual experiences are far more common, and just as helpful.

My spiritual experience has come in many waves over quite a long time.  Although I most certainly had a moment of clarity where I decided I want to be sober, it wasn't until I was about 30 days sober that I realized the change that was taking place.  Over the first year of my sobriety, I experienced my spiritual awakening from following the suggestions I was given.  Around two years sober, when I went to jail, I had more of a white-light experience.  Although it was not any single moment, the 30 days in jail led to a spiritual experience unlike any I had experienced up until that point.

When we use the phrase spiritual experience, we mean this personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.  The book discusses a physical craving, mental obsession, and spiritual malady.  If we do not drink, we do not have any physical craving.  As far as the mental obsession we experience, the only way to treat this is by examining our spiritual malady.  When we treat this spiritual malady, our mental obsession dwindles down.  This treating of the spiritual malady is the essence of a spiritual experience.

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

IncreaseWriting a fourth step is an act of courage.  It takes immense bravery to write in detail a complete moral inventory of oneself paying close attention to our part. It is important to detail our resentments, because after doing so we can look at how we were affected and what our part in the resentment was. When we break down resentment we learn that we still carry it because it affects a constant fear that we have.  Perhaps someone bruised our ego or we felt cheated, we change our perspective to see where we were selfish, dishonest, or afraid.  When looking at our fear inventory, we break down each fear and find that most fears are related. Our fears all share the commonality that we are not actually scared of something concrete or material, but of how it will make us feel.  When writing our sex inventory it is important to look at how our behavior affected our relationships.  Without beating ourselves up, we accept responsibility for how we acted. It is the act of catharsis to write how we feel, and an act of courage to look at our part.

The courageous act of putting this all on paper must immediately be followed with an act of integrity.  The catharsis is incomplete if we do not quickly read it out loud, so we can admit to our high-power, another human being, and ourselves, the exact nature of our wrongs.  The power of the inventory lies in this confession.  When we read it out loud, we take the power away from everything we have held on to.  We are finally able to let go of guilt, shame, resentment, and fear.

Recently I went through my steps for the second time with my sponsor, and the difference between my first fourth step and second one was astonishing. After I read my fifth step the first time, I felt like a weight had been lifted.  I felt as though everything that I had carried around for all those years finally dissipated. I was expecting a similarly visceral experience the second time.  They were roughly equally in length, and both thorough.  However, after the second one I wasn’t as emotional or changed. I attribute this to the constant inventory I take.  Since my first fourth step I have tried to tell the truth and tell it faster.  This means doing a tenth step any time I have a resentment, and reaching out when I am struggling.  After some time of doing this I found that I am fundamentally changed.  A weight wasn’t lifted the second time because I no longer let the weight of resentment and pain accumulate.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. -- Helen Keller

Addiction is the cause of extreme suffering for many individuals and their families.  The use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol will often result in significant consequences for many Americans let alone the harm caused to our communities.   With the proliferation of the electronic age there is not a lack of information or awareness with the scope of the addiction challenge.

Pharmaceutical Opioid drugs such as Oxycodone has wreaked havoc in middle income neighborhoods that at one time seemed to be exempt of such mass damage.  The Crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s seemed to rear its ugly head in the inner cities of the country.  Methamphetamine played a huge role in the South and Southwest regions of the country.  But today the every region of the country seems to be impacted by this epidemic.  Alcohol issues continue to play a negative role in the country as well with little signs of letting up its strangle hold on millions of Americans.

Yet with all of that said, as bleak of a picture as it may seem to be, recovery works.  Millions of Americans seek treatment each year and many are successful.  Mutual support and recovery groups have strengthened the access to long-term community support and fellowship.  Groups that utilize the Twelve-Step process continue to grow as well as new science and psychological based groups that have emerged on the scene offering a wide variety of self-improvement options.  Yes, the world of addiction is full of suffering, but the recovery process helps those afflicted to overcome it!

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

In the past, I have allowed addiction to run my life. Addiction chose which friends I surrounded myself with, the activities I chose to be a part of and how successful I was. Addiction created conflicts with my friends and family and drove me into multiple depressions. Addiction also skewed my perception and judgment so much; it led to some horrible decisions that I will forever have to live with.

It is easy to say that all of this was merely ‘the addiction’s’ fault, but I am the kind of person that likes to take responsibility for my own actions. In many ways I feel like I am a much different person today than who I was a few years ago. I have chosen to use this struggle in my life as a (cheesy as it sounds) springboard. I am not saying that this decision to get clean was easy or overnight. It was a long process with many setbacks. To this day, I still struggle with sobriety.

However, I have found my silver lining in my addiction. I am now a Senior Psychology student working on my undergraduate thesis. I am researching the comparative effectiveness of substance abuse programs, either mixed gender or all- female groups. It is my personal goal to help other women dealing with addiction. I feel that the best way to improve treatment groups is to ask the members themselves, we know what works and what doesn’t.

If you are a woman that has participated in an alcohol or substance abuse group at one time (inpatient or outpatient) and would like to participate in my short survey, I would greatly appreciate it. Of course it is completely anonymous, no personal information is asked of you.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Women_and_Substance_Abuse_Treatment

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In the past, I have allowed addiction to run my life. Addiction chose which friends I surrounded myself with, the activities I chose to be a part of and how successful I was. Addiction created conflicts with my friends and family and drove me into multiple depressions. Addiction also skewed my perception and judgment so much; it led to some horrible decisions that I will forever have to live with.

It is easy to say that all of this was merely ‘the addiction’s’ fault, but I am the kind of person that likes to take responsibility for my own actions. In many ways I feel like I am a much different person today than who I was a few years ago. I have chosen to use this struggle in my life as a (cheesy as it sounds) springboard. I am not saying that this decision to get clean was easy or overnight. It was a long process with many setbacks. To this day, I still struggle with sobriety.

However, I have found my silver lining in my addiction. I am now a Senior Psychology student working on my undergraduate thesis. I am researching the comparative effectiveness of substance abuse programs, either mixed gender or all- female groups. It is my personal goal to help other women dealing with addiction. I feel that the best way to improve treatment groups is to ask the members themselves, we know what works and what doesn’t.

If you are a woman that has participated in an alcohol or substance abuse group at one time (inpatient or outpatient) and would like to participate in my short survey, I would greatly appreciate it. Of course it is completely anonymous, no personal information is asked of you.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Women_and_Substance_Abuse_Treatment

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

 

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I remember the night. Just bits and pieces. Eleven o’clock pm stands out in my mind. It is dark, someone is with me. I go to the phone.

I am lying on a ratty old coach that opens up into a bed. I have vague recollections that I am coming off a severe blackout that has lasted all weekend. I have this knot in my stomach that I really messed up this weekend. I am not sure what I did, I just have a knowing, an indescribable sense of shame choking me. I know I am done. I have really blown it. I can feel my soul splattered under my feet.

I have a sense that I did something really inappropriate a work and that I probably lost my job. The thick cobwebs of what ever I drank this weekend and what ever I ingested in my body have deadened the ability to think clear. In fact, I would say that I have not had a moment of clarity for a very long time.

The Sunday evening that I am talking about was the end for me. I finally found the white flag and admitted defeat. I was about to die and I knew it. My soul was already gone, I knew that a long time ago. In the brief moments of clarity and somewhat sober frame of mind, I felt intense pain, fear, and shame. I didn’t stay there long. I thought I would die if I embraced those feelings. I ran as fast as I could. As far away as I could from myself. To another drink. At the end, it didn’t matter what it was. I just had to drink.

I remember that night. Something woke me and I have this sense of floating in the air. Something powerful lifts me out of my stupor. I feel a sensation of floating. There is this powerful force that is supported by white light. I do not see anything specific, I just see hope and endings. They are good endings I sense. The energy from the white light tells me ” it is over” and I say ” I am ready.”

Endings of the pulverizing effect my alcohol addiction has had on me. Endings of the suffocating and demoralizing prison of this so called life I had been trying to life. Endings of fear, shame, self disgust that most people feel in addiction when honesty with self comes in the most private moments of desperation.

I am floating and bathed in this white light. Somehow the phone is in my hand and I call. I do not know what I have said, yet I have a sense that I have admitted that I am in big trouble.

I go to the phone. I call. I admit that its is over for me. I float. The light has covered me with strength and grace to face myself. I am safe now.

Just bits and pieces is all I can tell you of that night.







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Tagged in: alcoholism
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Posted by on in Alcoholism

 

A random poll among newly sober clients, recovery counselors, and people who have achieved years of clean time would probably produce a varying consensus about the most pressing need for successful recovery.   Most respondents, however, would likely agree that relapse is often an indicator of stress.

The process of recovery, like the process of grief, is fluid and dynamic.  Exploring relapse before it happens is a good way to identify potential problems so you can be prepared for them.  Thorough preparation can help you minimize or even avoid issues may hinder your recovery.

Most people don’t think though the actions which eventually bring them to the point of relapse .  They simply had a desire to drink, and acted upon that without any thought for the consequences.  If they did indeed have any thoughts and feelings about the consequences of use, those thoughts and feeling were ignored or rationalized away.

In the recovery process, your recognition of that lack of forethought and insight should be a powerful lesson.  You can learn that anticipating the ultimate results of your behaviors will help you make much better choices.

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