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Posted by on in Alcoholism

As I sit in my weekly home-group meeting, I comb my fingers through my hair while listening to the chairperson tell a compelling story of resilience and gratitude. I look around the room at everyone's faces and see that they are all astonished at what the chairperson is revealing to his trusted support group. As I scan the room, my eyes end up at the spot on the table directly in front of me and I make a horrifying discovery. My hair is all over it! I wish I could say this is the first time that's happened...but it's not. Suddenly, I can no longer hear the chairperson speaking because the voice in my head is screaming "HOLY CRAP! I'M BALDING! BUT I LOVE MY HAIR! HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING TO ME?!" I scan the room again and realize that almost every single person has a great head of hair! I find one man, Bill, who is bald. Bill is much older than I am and the longer I stare at him, I start seeing my face on his body and hairless head! "That's me in 30 years!" I fearfully exclaim to myself. 

As I sink off into deep thought and lamentation, the thought process in my follicley challenged head goes as follows:

Why am I so panicked about my hair loss? Why do I find myself immediately creating resentments towards 99% of people in recovery that still have their head of hair in tact?

The answer to that question...Pride and Ego. I've spent my life so concerned with my outward appearance. Constantly exercising to tone my body, spending money on expensive clothes, and trying the newest hairstyle. My "outsides" mattered so much to me because if I looked good on the outside, maybe people won't notice who I am on the inside. While I was still in active addiction, my self esteem was all based on false principles. That went on for years and even though I've attained a number of years in recovery now, clearly, old habits die hard. 

During my time away from drugs and alcohol, I've learned what real self-esteem feels like. Evidence-based self esteem that I've earned from doing esteemable acts. I've learned to love myself and accept myself for who I am, and not for the fraudulent person I used to portray. I no longer have to hide behind materialistic concepts but, instead am free to expose my true self for I am no longer ashamed of the person I am today. With these lessons in mind, I come to the realization that my hair loss needn't matter much because it is not a fancy outfit or trendy haircut that defines me. What defines me are my actions, my efforts, and my intentions leaving anything else to just be an added bonus. False pride and ego have slowly faded and what I am left with makes me...

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/can-exercise-keep-you-sober/ -----> Written by Me Earlier Today!

Many people seem to believe that there is a positive correlation between physical well-being and mental-wellbeing. They believe that the condition of the body is an outward reflection of the condition of the mind. Thus people who are suffering mentally will show some of that distress outwardly. I have already written about the importance between healthy nutrition and sobriety. Now I will discuss my opinions on how regular exercise and care for the body can significantly strengthen your mental state and consequently your sobriety.

Why is physical exercise important?
  1. Health Reasons – In addiction or alcoholism the person suffering often does not take very good care of their health. Some common physical illness that correlate with addiction are obesity, malnutrition, high blood pressure, liver issues, dry or red skin, and gastrointestinal problems. Getting sober, sometimes the person slowly gets his health back. However, some effects of drinking and drug use require some extra effort. This is the reason while physical exercise is so important to someone in early sobriety. Picking up an exercise regimen such as walking, biking, jogging, lifting weights, or swimming can strengthen the body and ease illnesses such as high blood pressure and excess weight.
  2. Calms the Mind– In early sobriety a person will often complain of racing thoughts, anxiety, or insomnia. Exercise is a great way to combat these. As little as 30 minutes of light exercise a day can lead to physical exhaustion. This exhaustion is a good thing! People who exercise throughout the day report less racing thoughts, quicker onset of sleep, and deeper sleep.
  3. Confidence and Self-Esteem – Even if we don’t want to admit it, our physical appearance is of some importance to us. When we look good, we feel good. Picking an exercise activity and sticking with it can do great things for our confidence and motivation. Setting exercise goals, such as running an 8-minute mile, and completing them can raise our self-esteem and be a positive factor in our self-image.
  4. Natural Endorphins – In sobriety it is important to avoid any artificial neurotransmitter releasers, such as alcohol and drugs. However, many people in sobriety enjoy releasing natural neurotransmitters through exercise. An example of this is what is commonly called a “runners high”, which is simply a natural release of endorphins through running. Lifting weights release similar chemicals. These chemicals can help lower stress and help motivate us to continue exercising. It is important to not ‘overdue’ exercise, and doing so can be labeled as cross-addiction.
So how do I get started?

The first couple days of exercising are often the most difficult. If you are not used to physical demanding activities, you will often be sore the next day. I would recommend to take it easy the first week, and set small and very achievable goals such as workout three times a week. After a few weeks of exercise, the benefits become clear to the person and their internal motivation to continue exercising rises. A common myth seems to be that you need to go to the gym to ‘exercise’. Running and biking is one of most widely available ways to work out the body. All it takes is a sidewalk or a park. Some other easy ‘at-home’ workouts include crunches and sit-ups. Many people in recovery also promote yoga as a great way to exercise with an emphasis on calming and healing the mind. The most important thing is to find what YOU enjoy doing and to stick with it.

 

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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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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Over the last 12 years, I've done a lot of self-study about what kept me in lock step with the powerful disease of addiction. I've peeled myself back, layer by layer, to unveil the root causes for this.

One of the most profound things I uncovered during that investigation was how the toxic phrase “I should know better” directed my life.

Growing up, I heard, " Honestly, Alison you really should know better” on a rather regular basis. This phrase was so ingrained into my head that as I grew older, if I found myself in a bad spot, within a second I’d think, “Ugh! I should have known better!”

For the average person, a reflection like that is nothing more than a casual check-in.

Not so for someone who lived for decades underneath the addictive, obsessive diseases of alcoholism and an eating disorder. For someone like me, that statement is monumentally damaging.

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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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Posted by on in Food Addiction

In grade school, I suffered from a feeling of inadequacy. I thought I should feel more girly or more popular or more confident.  Instead, I walked around wishing I was as smart as my brother, as skinny as my best friend or as beautiful as Brooke Shields. I suffered the constant belief I would feel complete when I achieved "X".

As the years passed, my idea of "X' changed.  I focused on the next boyfriend or the next job or my pant size to fulfill me. I got many of the things I wanted and still, I felt empty.  As friends married, I wondered what was wrong with me.  As cousins had children, I stewed in envy. In silent desperation I cried, "Where's my man? Where's my baby? Where's my great life?"

I made no connection between esteemable acts and my self-esteem. If I wanted to achieve success in life, I had to be willing to work for  it. If I want to be thin or educated or well off, I needed to apply effort and be honest with myself. IncreaseBecause I cut corners (like binging and purging instead of eating right and exercising), I never felt whole.

Today, I know anything is possible when I am tenacious and I apply the right action.

Best,

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