Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
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....
Even when I was in the absolute worst stage of unabashed drinking and irregular, unhealthy eating habits, very little if anything could have pushed me to seek recovery any sooner than I did.
Those who love me worked tirelessly in the effort to convince me I needed help. Each gesture or suggestion was met with resistance, denial and deflection. Those caring and compassionate individuals had all but prepared themselves to receive the dreaded phone call I’d finally succumbed to the disease of addiction.
The more people tried to persuade me of my destruction, the more my distance from them widened. I wasn’t ready to stop. I liked being able to decide for myself when, where and how much I engaged in what I believed was pure merriment. I’d perfected my silent rationalization to slip into the haze of too much alcohol with little food. When I was in the state of nothingness, life’s emotional ups and downs didn’t matter anymore. I cherished my ability firmly and sternly control what I put my mental energy into and what was erased. As long as I kept my booze supply up and my weight down, all was well in the world. And oh boy, did I love the “high” I felt when the deception, manipulation and lies all fell into place.
Until they didn’t.
When I finally found myself sitting across the desk of an intake counselor at a substance abuse treatment center I still was clinging to the belief I could one day drink again and eat as I saw fit. I vividly remember the woman asking me how much alcohol I drank each day and my response of “oh, not that much” was quickly deflected when she held up my liver count report. I just wasn’t ready to stop believing I could run the show and direct the participants....
Being in an intimate relationship in sobriety is difficult to say the least. Relationships are like steroids for my character defects; they cause them to grow more powerful than I imagined possible. From jealousy to control issues, my need to be right to my need to know everything, my character defects really come to light in relationships. However, being in a relationship has taught me a lot, and my growth has been great.
With my character defects glaring me in the face in this relationship, I have found several important keys to keeping the relationship strong and healthy. As with the rest of my recovery, I must remain vigilante with myself in order to sustain this healthy relationship.
The first, and most important, tool in my healthy relationship is communication. Communication is an absolutely indispensable tool in my relationship. Obviously, this applies in the sense of not lying, straightforward nor by omission. However, communicating goes much further than telling the truth.
In order to maintain a healthy relationship, communication must go both ways. I must walk through my (often irrational) fears, and be able to communicate how I feel. Remaining considerate of her feelings, I tell her how I feel, whether I am upset (with her or not), happy, anxious, or dealing with something. She is not my sponsor, nor is she my Higher Power. However, she is an integral part of my support network. Furthermore, when I hold things in too much, it closes off my heart to her. As my heart fills with fear and resentment, my capacity to love is diminished. As I become able to tell her how I feel and what is going on with me, it frees my heart up to be filled with love. It is not always easy, as fears of being judged, not being enough, and driving her away do arise. However, I consistently walk through these fears, and each time the fears are easier to overcome.
Also, I must be open to communication from her end. As important as talking is to communication, so is listening. When she speaks to me, whether it is a casual conversation or something more serious, I make a diligent effort to listen mindfully. My reactions are not always compassionate and loving, and it is something I am consciously working on. I find that as I listen with more mindfulness, I am able to respond with more compassion rather than reacting with fear. When I react with fear, I am not encouraging a safe, open environment. Just as I go through fears sharing my feelings, so does she. It is not within my control whether or not she will be open and honest with me, but it is within my control to encourage a safe space to nurture the love rather than the fear....
Many people who struggle with alcohol or drugs have a difficult time getting better. There are many reasons why these people do not get the help they need to get better. Many family members who see their loved ones struggle have a very difficult time in getting their loved ones assistance. Here are six suggestions on how to convince a person struggling with alcohol or drugs to get the help they need to get better.
1. Family Intervention
The most popular way to get someone the help they need is to do a family intervention. This is when family members and an interventionist get together with the addict to tell them how they love them and wish that they get help to get better. Each family member takes a turn and tells the person how special they are and that they need to get help. The person who is struggling listens and hopefully they become convinced to get the help they need.
2. Talk To The Person On What Will Happen If They Do Not Get Help
Another way to convince the person who is struggling with alcohol or drugs is to get someone who is an expert on addiction and have them do a one on one talk with this person. This expert on addiction should explain to the addict what will happen if they do not get the help they need to get better. Basically, the expert should warn the person of the dire consequences of what will happen if they do not change their ways. The expert should be vivid as possible and hold nothing back. The goal is to convince the person to get help or they will suffer and eventually their life will slowly come to an end.
3. Use The Services of A Professional Or A Former Addict
Try to find a professional or even a former addict who has “Been There” to talk to the person. This is similar to Step Two, however instead of warning the person, these professionals can use their skills to talk and try to reason with the person. These experts are usually trained and can use a proactive approach into trying to convince the addict to get help. The goal is to try to reason and talk with the person so they can get professional help.
4. Find Out The Reasons Why The Person Won’t Get Help
Many people overlook this suggestion. Ask the person who is struggling with alcohol or drugs to list 3 reasons why they will not get help. At first, they will say all kinds of things, but continue to engage the person and get the 3 main reasons why they refuse to get help. It might take a couple of tries but listen to what they say. Once you get the answers, WRITE them down on a piece of paper. Note: Fear and Frustration are huge factors for the person not getting help.
5. Determine The Solutions To Those Barriers
Once you get those 3 reasons, get a professional or an expert to find the solutions to those issues. For example, the person says that they will not get help because they tried a few times and they failed and that they will fail again. Ask a few addiction professionals to find a solution to this issue that will help the addict overcome this barrier. One good answer to this example is the following: “Yes, you tried to get better and failed however this time we will do things differently. We will keep a daily diary of everything you do and you or someone else will document what you do each day. If you stumble or fail you will write down your feelings at the time and why you failed. When you recover from a bad episode you can READ your diary and find out what went wrong. Once you know what went wrong you will know why you failed and will find a way to prevent this from happening again.”
Use your list from step three and list every positive thing that will counter those barriers. When you are finished, present this to the person who is struggling and explain what you came up with. This will help reduce the person’s fears and anxieties and may convince them to get help. Developing a plan to counter their reasons of not getting help will go a long way.
Everybody deals with anxiety and depression, however some people have a difficult time in managing it. As a result, here is a brief list of techniques that a person can use to help manage their most persistent fears and every day anxieties.
When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with a lot of anxiety, the first thing you can do is to divide the task into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.
Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problem. A person could get some fresh air, listen to some music, or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things....
Alcohol and substance abuse or any other addictions will not take away your problems and fears. In the short run, they might make you feel better, but in the long run these addictions will only make things worse.
So what do you do to make your problems and fears go away? Well, since you can’t runaway from them, then the best solution is to tackle your fears head on no matter how strong they may be. The key is to be smart in how you try to manage these fears. Here are some ways in how to manage your persistent fears and anxieties.
The first step is to learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. Focus on the present and stop trying to predict what may happen next week. Next week will take care of itself.
Remember that no one can predict the future with one hundred percent certainty. Even if the thing that you feared does happen there are circumstances and factors that you can’t predict which can be used to your advantage. For instance, let’s say at your place of work that you miss the deadline for a project you have been working on for the last few months. Everything you feared is coming true. Suddenly, your boss comes to your office and tells you that the deadline is extended and that he forgot to tell you the day before. This unknown factor changes everything. Remember: we may be ninety-nine percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference....
I feel most anxious inside when I am indecisive. When I have one foot headed in one direction and the other foot headed a different way, I feel disoriented, frustrated and hopeless. The third step says, "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of G-d." The third step says therere is Power in making a decision. The third step promises that the care of G-d awaits us when the decision we make comes from a desire to share our good with others.
Still, I continue to struggle about quitting my job in pharmaceuticals and pursuing a career in recovery. I want to have all the answers about what I will do, how much I will make and how happy I will be before I quit my job and take a big risk. What am I risking? Well, in my mind, financial security and freedom. My job in pharmaceuticals allows me to save money, spend money when I want and enjoy certain luxuries like vacations or shopping sprees. I don't have to ask permission or rely on my husband to take care of my needs. I feel more in control.
However, when I ask myself how happy these exterior luxuries really make me in the long term-or, better yet-how long the fulfillment lasts once I complete a vacation or buy a new purse, I realize I am only buying temporary joy. Real happiness is a by product of right living and right living is a by product of seeking the will of your heart and following its dictates-no matter how scary or risky they seem.
If I want to experience true joy, I must be willing to face my fear and walk out into the unknown. Leap and the net will appear. Countless other people have taken a huge risk with fantastic results. Why not me????? Why not you???