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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In a hypothetical situation, if a friend of mine asked "would you wish the disease of addiction on your worst enemy?", my answer would invariably be "no". The pain, the heartache, the withdrawals, the family problems, the stress...the list can go on forever. Being in active addiction and feeling completely hopeless is quite possibly one of the most difficult things for a person to go through. Yet, with all of that being said, I cannot stand here today and tell you that I am not grateful for having gone through my addiction. In fact, to put it simply...I am very grateful.

One of my favorite authors, Malcom Gladwell, wrote a book called "David and Goliath". The book uses a number of different historical events, some more famous than others, to describe various times that the underdog has overcome in the face of great adversity, just like David did against Goliath. He discusses a phenomenon regarding a large number of dyslexics that, in spite of their learning disability, run many of the largest, most successful companies in the world. In another chapter, he tells of a study that was done involving some of the most famous men and women throughout history and how an enormous percentage of them lost a parent at a very early age. Despite their great loss and major tragedy, they managed to overcome and succeed in their respective areas. Gladwell told story after story of people overcoming adversity and translating it into success, and all I kept thinking about was how much each of these stories related to the recovery process post active drug/alcohol addiction.

Every single one of us that has overcome our addictions and that can stand tall today while proudly saying "I'm in recovery!" are the underdogs that claim triumph over the addiction epidemic. We are the minority, that have been cursed with an affliction so terrible that 100's of people die from it everyday, yet we still stand

My addiction brought me to my knees...but my knees is exactly where I needed to be. While on them, crying my eyes out, and hoping for something to just take my pain away, I learned humility. I found a higher power there (and learned I wasn't the higher power). Throughout early recovery, I learned the benefits of hard work and dedication. As recovery went on, I learned of perseverance, meditation, and personal expression. I learned to love myself and trust in a God of my understanding. I find myself applying these principles I learned throughout my recovery in everyday life now and can easily say that recovery truly led me to places I didn't think were written in the cards for me. 

We are blessed with this disease of addiction, not cursed. We have been given the trials and tribulations that we needed to develop as functional men and woman. My only wish is that everyone who struggled with addiction could overcome in the way that we have. I sometimes hear in meetings "we will have to walk over bodies if we want to stay sober" and I think that, maybe, that is true. The fact that so many people pass away from this disease makes those that recover from addiction all that much more special. We are the David and addiction is the Goliath. Many perished to Goliath before David showed up and took him down. But we, this special group of David's, did not perish. We survived to become an example that proves that it is, in fact, possible to overcome and there is hope for the seemingly hopeless.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/how-gratitude-can-change-your-life/ --->Originally posted by me

As Thanksgiving looms around the corner, the term gratitude gets used more frequently. Many people think gratitude just means being thankful for all the wonderful things in your life. Is this a good definition of gratitude? In my opinion it is not. Having had my share of both good and bad luck in life, I have learned that gratitude is a deliberate daily practice that is not influenced by material possessions or success. As David Steindl-Rast once wrote,

“Good luck can make us happy, but it cannot give us lasting joy. The root of joy is gratefulness. We tend to misunderstand the link between joy and gratefulness. We notice that joyful people are grateful and suppose that they are grateful for their joy. But the reverse is true: their joy springs from gratefulness. If one has all the good luck in the world, but takes it for granted, it will not give one joy. Yet even bad luck will give joy to those who manage to be grateful for it.”

It is easy to be grateful when things are going your way; it is much harder to find the silver lining in setbacks and tragedy. However practicing gratitude in the challenging phases of your life can truly transform your outlook and ultimately your happiness. The concept of gratitude has importance in recovery, 12 step programs, and spirituality. Wise members of these groups see the benefits of remaining grateful in trying times, such as early sobriety or the loss of a loved one. The psychology behind practicing gratitude is fairly simple; when we acknowledge the blessings in our life it keeps us in a positive mindset. This is especially helpful when we are depressed or stressed out. In such times we often find ourselves looking at the world through a negative lens, but making a list of things we are grateful for in our life often disrupts the negative thinking. Remaining grateful is a practice, and can take time to become a daily habit. Many people report that making a simple list of the things they are grateful for in their life is a great start to incorporating gratitude into their everyday lives. Others make sure to think of one thing they are grateful for before every meal. Gratitude is about pausing throughout our busy lives to take a minute and focus on the blessings of life.

How can gratitude change your life?

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

A few months ago a staff member of the NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) Community Outreach program contacted me to write an article for publication in their Parents Family Network magazine, Making Connections. The subject matter was intimacy and eating disorders.

Although I'm not one to share rather personal information, I accepted the offer believing some aspect of this topic would spring to mind. In a haze of contemplation I found myself mindlessly staring at my wedding rings when all of a sudden the winds of wisdom blew through me. Suddenly my fingers flew rapidly over the computer keyboard like a well-choreographed dance to create what was eventually titled, "The Ring".

I thought I'd share the original piece here as I believe the message is worth repeating.

Intimacy is a connection; a sense of silent knowing of the thoughts and feelings of another which radiates from deep in the heart. 

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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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Tagged in: 10th tradition 12 step 12 step recovery AA abstinence accurate self-appraisal action program action steps addict addiction addiction help addiction memoir addiction recovery Addiction Specialist addictive behavior addicts affected affirmations Alcoholics Anonymous answers anxiety anxiety and recovery ask for help Asking for help attitude of gratitude awareness balance being a loving mirror being a loving person being of service Big Book Caring for those who still suffer co-addiction co-occurring disorder compassion courage dealing with a using loved one depression discomfort drug abuse drug addiction emotional management emotional maturity emotional regulation emotional sobriety emotions faith family recovery fear first step goal setting goals gratitude gratitude journey Guest Blogger guilt healing HELPING OTHERS higher self inadequacy inner satisfaction intervention inventory letting go Life Challenges life on life's terms literature memoir mental health mindfulness mindfulness and recovery Motivation My Story openness positive energy program of recovery recovery recovery talk relapse prevention Resilience right action right intention self care Self Love self-compassion self-confidence self-esteem self-help self-honesty serenity shame sobriety sponsor stepwork struggle substance abuse suffering suffering addicts Support surrender tenth tradition thinking thinking errors Trying to save a Life turn it over twelve step recovery twelve steps Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions twelve steps of aa twelve traditions twelve traditions of aa why i used drugs
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Posted by on in Alcoholism

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.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I am honored to be the December Expert particularly because this first day happens to be my birthday. Yet the date does not mark the only time I was shifted from a place of comfort to a visceral shock to the system.

I’ve been given the most precious gift of life three times. I was physically born in December of 1961, almost died in 2001 and then tested fate again in 2008. The 46-year journey was a roller coaster of addiction, emotional chaos and nonstop searching for a way out.

Although I can't remember the first few celebrations of the date I entered this world, all accounts indicated they were joyous, happy and fun. I’ve been told people poured attention on me with beautifully wrapped boxes to open and cards read by others with messages for a future far better than their own.

 

 

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