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Posted by on in Other Addictions

Many years ago when Overeaters Anonymous was in its infancy in Los Angeles, members of AA who had years of sobriety were invited to speak at OA meetings. They brought experience, strength and hope to a group struggling to get on its feet. Among the AA helpers was a wonderful woman named Dottie who was an inspiring speaker. Dottie was welcomed at the burgeoning OA meetings and became a friend and supporter of those wanting to be free of compulsive eating.

As the years went by and OA grew, other anonymous meetings sprang up for drug addicts and later spenders and sex addicts. Then word went around that Dottie was starting another new meeting that was different from all the rest. It was a meeting open to any and all people suffering from addictive or compulsive behaviors. No type of addiction was considered more serious than another. It was a meeting where all attendees were practicing the 12 steps.

Soon after this meeting got underway I moved away from Los Angeles so I never found out what happened to that group, but I never forgot it. We desperately need a new support system today that is like Dottie’s since we have become a society riddled with addictions and compulsions of all sorts. People switch from one to another but are never free of the cravings to feel good at all costs.

I recall Betty, the very first client I treated after I was licensed as an MFT. Betty was an overeating, drug-addicted alcoholic. She wanted me to help her stop her compulsive overeating. Then she met her husband, who was a drug dealer, and she dropped out of therapy. She eventually returned, having divorced her husband. She was not using drugs and was trying to stay off booze, but food was a constant battle.

I worked with Betty for quite a while as she tried to kick all three of her compulsions. She never managed to get rid of all three at the same time.  Finally she relocated to another city. I remember one of her letters in which she said that she went to an alcoholism counselor who told her, “I don’t care what you do, just DON”T DRINK!” She wrote that she stopped drinking and immediately gained 35 pounds!

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I’ve spent years in the rooms and in therapy “working” through my life experiences. I’ve done several 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th steps, adding character defects to my 7th step list with each new 5th step, and on a daily basis asked for each individual defect to be removed. The 8th step list that grew out of my 4th and 5th steps is a living document and I have made all of the direct amends that were humanly possible, and taken other suggested actions regarding amends that could not be made directly. I lived steps 10 through 12. And I achieved many goals; became a productive member of society, a loving daughter, sister, aunt and friend. I did well for myself on the material plane.

But in all of the years doing the steps and working the program – living the program – I did not allow myself to sit with feelings related to the aftermath of traumatic events.  I became aware of them, then spoke of them, cried a little about them, and then moved on.  After all, what good would it do to REALLY cry – to sob until I couldn’t breathe?  I didn’t allow myself to just BE – to truly process; to chew the food of my emotions until finely ground and easily digestible.  I bit off chunks of my life, chewed hard and fast, swallowed, and moved on.  I didn’t even wash them down with water because I was too busy achieving my goals, too busy making up for lost time.

Then I picked up again.

I am in a place now where the universe is forcing me to sit with myself and just BE.  My initial reaction was that I had failed.  And then I was paralyzed, moving neither forward or backward, living in a kind of twilight zone; not dead but certainly not alive.  I hoped I would die but I didn’t.  I wanted to, though I would not take an affirmative action to make it so.  My heart kept beating and my brain sent signals to keep the rest of my body functioning.  I existed in the most basic way.  I ate, I slept, and I woke up each day to do it over.  I silently choked on the past, didn’t care about the present, and saw no hope of a future that would be any different.

The universe eventually brought me to my knees and I had a moment of clarity.  In a flash I remembered the epiphany I had 20 years ago in a NY subway station -- I knew that I didn't have to go where my addictions were taking me.  I remembered I could go to a meeting.  Thank G-d for sober reference, and for not allowing me to completely throw my life away.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In early recovery, it was suggested "don't drink/use, stay out of relationships, go to meetings, change people, places and things and get a sponsor."  While the suggestion to abstain from alcohol and drugs was the most important suggestion, the suggestion to get a sponsor was second in importance.  Without a person to guide me through the steps or demonstrate sobriety to me, I would be lost.

At first, I picked a sponsor who was as well as me (which means not well at all!!)  It took a while until I realized it wasn't okay to smoke pot "once in a while" with twelve years of so-called sobriety.  Next, a professional, Jewish woman like myself approached me to offer me guidance after announcing I was sponsorless.

I went through the steps with her and slowly pushed her away when a sexier sponsor caught my eye.  He (yes, I did say he!) was Italian, suave, brilliant and emotionally unavailable.  He was exactly what I needed because I had no self worth and chasing him gave me a sense of purpose!

Thankfully, the wisdom he emparted was solid and chasing him from meeting to meeting enabled me to get quite an education on recovery.  He went to 4-5 meetings a day and so did I!  Eventually, he broke up with me and I had to find a power I could rely on.  I found a woman with 25 years to take me through the steps again and she taught me how to use the steps to strengthen my connection with my higher self, which I call G-d.

When she picked up a pill after her husband died, I couldn't believe it.  This was the one human being in the world who demonstrated the principles of recovery to me in a consistent manner.  If she could pick up, no one was safe!  I looked for another woman to replace her and couldnt find someone with her type of sobriety.

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