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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.

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

Posted by on in Alcoholism

Philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero said, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."  I couldn't agree more.  Of all the attitudes one could assume, the simple act of being grateful yields substantial gains towards achieving happiness.  'Gratitude' is being appreciative of the people you love, the things you have, the places you've been, and the successes of your life.  By continually putting the focus on the positive, you'll build a strong resolve to keep living a happy, sober life.

In the recovery process, the focus is often placed on the mistakes of the past or the triggers that might cause a relapse; and with due justification.  These approaches are effective, as has been seen by the millions who have recovered through various programs such as the 12-steps.  Though, in order to build a long-lasting recovery plan, the positive aspects of life must be accounted for and honored.  Those who have endured the hardship that addiction affords deserve a break from the guilt and regret.  At a certain point, it becomes time to revisit the positive aspects of life and, once again, show appreciation for them

Of the many ways to cultivate gratitude, keeping a gratitude journal is probably the most effective.  Each day you write down one or more things that you're grateful for.  I've come across the practice of keeping a gratitude journal twice in my life: once in recovery and once in yoga teacher training.  Many different modalities of healthy-living have recognized the potency of this practice, including the medical field.

Various empirical scientific studies have shown that the practice of keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to yield positive results towards ones mental health. In 2003, a researcher by the name of Dr. Robert Emmonds conducted an experiment comparing a control group of participants who journaled about negative events against another group of participants that kept a gratitude journal.  Compared to the control group, the grateful participants showed increased levels of happiness, more likelihood of achieving their goals, and improved health.  Numerous studies since then have confirmed these results, as the practice lives on in recovery centers, psychiatric offices, yoga schools, and beyond.

In late 2012, I decided that I needed to share this practice that had benefited me so much throughout the years. I founded a non-profit called Prana to the People and we released our first app: Gratitude Journey, an iPhone gratitude journal app.  It's $0.99 on the App Store, all proceeds go to various non-profit groups chosen quarterly.  If you or a loved one would like to give the app a try for free, I'm giving out 5 promo codes.  Simply like our Facebook Page and send me a message on AddictionLand once you've done so.


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