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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

Hello and Welcome Addictionland Friends,

It has again been awhile since my last update and post, so I wanted to share an update on what's been happening in my life and recovery. Last time I shared about a new DVD series I had been working on with a friend and it is going well.  It will be to help others in early recovery and after treatment to learn how to begin the "inner work" needed and address underlying issues that arise when we begin our recovery journey.  Recovery is not a race it is a sober, clean, or bet free lifestyle.  It will be a lifelong work in progress.  It means you get to have a beautiful life and do the things you love without addictions.  If you need an aid to help you prevent relapse and start living a well-balanced recovery, make sure you check out this DVD Series by David McCauley here at Oak Valley Productions and Foundation...


Now it seems the Lord has another calling for me! Not only keep on my mission to help others in recovery from gambling addiction but now he has steered my ship back to writing.  Back in late 2012 after my first book was published, I began to help other authors by offering book promoting services after I found hope hard it is for to promote one's book and the hours, days, and months before it catches fire with readers. I was very successful and met loads of wonderful authors who became friends and did for almost 3 years. Then In Recovery Magazine came calling with an offer to write my own column in the mag, interview high profile clients who had new books was AWESOME! I did it for 2 years and meet many more new friends NOW?

I am back in the writing saddle and putting the finishing touches finally on my 2nd book, wrote a piece for Author, Emily Hayworth for here book on Amazon called; The Little Book Of SOBRIETY.
AND?
I am now co-writing a former NFL pro's Memoir with him! It has been awesome so far! I will keep you posted on the release. He is full of Sobriety and Recovery Wisdom besides his life story and NFL career. 

Catherine
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"What Does it Mean to be "Recovered" from Gambling Addiction"? 

It is interesting to me the lingo, words, and slogans used by others to describe their "recovery." But what does it mean to be recovered? Do we get to a point in our recovery from this cunning addiction and we are miraculously done? We stop having to go to meetings or support groups. That can not be further from the truth.  Let's look at the meaning of Recover; it means to "return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength and find or regain possession of (something stolen or lost). For me, recovery from addiction is an experience and journey, so it is hard to put it into words.

 

We know our life was stolen as we became lost in our gambling addiction. At least it did for me. And as far as; "return to a normal state"? That takes a lot of recovery work. Besides, is there really a "Normal State"?  Not in the state of our society we live in today.  Gambling has always been a form of entertainment and fun, and the offerings are ever expanding in both Indian Casinos, and State Lotteries, those trying to stay in recovery will never be totally "recovered" because of the temptations of these offerings are all around us, and It is why relapse is so high.

Why? 

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

When you are battling an addiction, your ability to be self-aware is greatly impaired. As you move into recovery, you will discover that awareness is the most important resource that you can have! Your openness for building your awareness skills is the key to making better choices and building new positive (changing old) habits. Think of this as a chance to:

·      –Notice what you are feeling and thinking

·      –Recover valuable parts of who you were before your addiction took over

·      –Develop a better understanding of your inner self

·      –Create clearer awareness of what you really want

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

We stood at the turning point
– From Chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous 

Staying sober requires we develop skills that further long-term abstinence. While there are many ways to achieve recovery, I would like to discuss an idea which has been invaluable to me and a host of clients I’ve worked with over the last 32 years.

Being Present is related to the practice of focusing your attention and awareness based on the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation. While Being Present is a relatively new approach to addiction recovery I have found this concept to have merit. I quit using alcohol and drugs over 36 years ago and have found success by incorporating this idea into my recovery and my life. 

In 1985 I read a book entitled Chop Wood, Carry Water. The book bills itself as a spiritual treatise, a guide for dealing with the distress and chaos of daily life. I didn’t resonate with the spiritual aspects of the book, however, the title has remained with me and has reminded me of a simple truth: if you can’t chop wood, carry water. It’s the notion of playing to your strengths. Playing to your strengths is one of the keys to developing resilience and a major component in Being Present. 

Contrary to popular belief, human beings cannot multitask. Rather, we are capable of handling a number of tasks in rapid succession. It’s akin to mixing automatic and conscious tasks and being mindful we can only do one thing at a time, no matter how much we wish for this to be different. 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Arming yourself with information about the way myths and stigmas affect addicts and how people respond to them, can go a long way in supporting people to find recovery. Effective treatment for substance use disorders requires an understanding of the myths and stigmas of addiction. I'd like examine a few myths that surround addiction and foster a misunderstanding of how to best support people to find recovery.

 

<strong>1. Everyone needs to reach bottom before quitting.</strong>

Early in my career I worked with adolescents. One of the clients on my caseload was a 17 year-old girl who had a long history of prostitution, a significant legal history, and a span of alcohol and drug use that began when she was five. During treatment she spent time talking about her alcohol and drug history and how that affected the decisions in her life. She had various opportunities to quit using chemicals but she reasoned that she wasn’t ready. While she came to a place where she was able to give up her chemical use, she never escaped her history of prostitution. She was able to develop a motto that supported her to quit using alcohol and drugs: <em>your bottom is when you stop digging.</em>

 

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Originally Posted @ http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/newbridge-top-ten-benefits-sobriety/

Do you think being sober is boring? Think Again! There are a lot of benefits to living without drugs and alcohol. It may not be easy at first and the benefits of sobriety may not appear right away, but sobriety can be the greatest life you’ve ever known. Based on my personal recovery and the experience of others, I believe sobriety can lead to gifts you may have never imagined or thought possible. Here is my list of the ten best benefits of living sober.

  1. Boosted Self-Esteem and Motivation

It only makes sense that we feel better about ourselves when we stop harming ourselves and those around us.

  1. Better Eating & Better Sleep

When high on drugs, eating and sleeping aren’t a top priority. Sobriety helps us learn healthy habits.

  1. Make Authentic Friends

You thought your drinking buddies were good friends? Sober friends are in another league.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Holiday parties without liquid spirits may still seem like a dreary prospect to people newly sober. However, many of us have enjoyed the happiest holidays of our lives sober, an idea we previously thought impossible. Here are some tips for having an all-around ball without a single drop of alcohol.

 

  1. Line up extra recovery activities for the holiday season. Most 12 step, religious, and recovery organizations have a bounty of holiday events just for this purpose.
  2. Be host to sober friends, especially people newly sober. If you don’t have a place where you can throw a formal party, take a friend out for coffee or dinner.
  3. Keep a phone list nearby of recovery resources; sober friends, help hotlines, treatment centers, sponsors etc. If a drinking urge or panic comes, stop everything and make a call, it could save your life.
  4. Find out about holiday parties and celebrations in your area that do not involve alcohol and drugs. There are plenty of ‘family friendly’ events in every town that do not require alcohol to enjoy.
  5. Skip any drinking occasion you are nervous about. Remember how clever you were at excuses when drinking? Now put the talent to good use. No office party is as important as staying sober.
  6. If you have to go to a drinking party, try to take a sober friend with you or keep your recovery phone number nearby.
  7. If you start feeling tempted at a party or by others drinking, do not be afraid to leave early. Plan in advance an ‘important date’ you have to keep.
  8. Worship in your own way. The holidays are a time of spirituality. Expand your spirituality, however that looks to you.
  9. Don’t sit around brooding. Catch up on those books, exercise, hobbies, and other self-care activities.
  10. Don’t start now getting worked up about all those holiday temptations. Remember, “one day at a time.”
  11. Enjoy the true beauty of holiday love and joy. Maybe you cannot give material gifts, but you can always give love.
  12. If you have a healthy relationship with your family, try and spend some quality time together. If you are not on good terms with family, the holidays are a great time for forgiveness and repairing relationships.

Format and basic ideas borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous Winter 2012 Newsletter.

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

It's been suggested that you can improve the quality of your life by cultivating compassion.  Compassion has been described as 1) a feeling of deep sympathy for another person, 2) to suffer together, or 3) concern for the misfortune of others.

Not only is compassion praised as a desired human quality, studies suggest that engaging compassion can increase the hormone DHEA and reduce cortisol, the hormone responsible for managing stress. It's also been suggested that people who live with a high degree of compassion tend to be happier and be actively engaged in service and volunteer work.

When people live a compassionate life they tend to be admired by friends and family.  This sense of compassion tends to spill over into their relationships.  

I'd like to suggest five ways to engage compassion:

  • Follow-through with service work.  Volunteering is helpful as you are engaged in an activity that's not about you.  Oftentimes when we have a desire to use or drink we're focused on us, our situation, or a problem that has to do with us.  Volunteering creates emotional space to give you a chance to make better decisions.
  • Random acts of kindness.  Doing something for someone without any expectation of something in return. 
  • One of the most powerful tools for developing compassion is loving kindness meditation.  This involves the practice of deliberately engaging kindness by focusing on internal images of different people and directing compassion towards those individuals. This also involves sending loving thoughts to people you care about. 
  • Develop a ritual which includes meditation time in the morning or before you retire for the night.  Focus on statements that allow you to engage ways that allow you to engage loving kindness towards others.
  •  Practice Commonalities.  One favorite exercise comes from a great article from Ode Magazine — it’s a five-step exercise to try when you meet friends and strangers. Do it discreetly and try to do all the steps with the same person. With your attention geared to the other person, tell yourself:
    Step 1: “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”
    Step 2: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”
    Step 3: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.”
    Step 4: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his/her needs.”
    Step 5: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

One of the larger challenges in recovery is learning how to overcome a desire to use alcohol or drugs. In previous articles I've offered a host of tools to support recovery and encourage you to think about recovery in ways other than a conventional approach to sobriety. In this article I would like to offer a simple relapse prevention tool.

As a clinician with nearly 30 years of experience I've worked in a variety of agencies. Every agency would encourage you to develop a relapse prevention plan that attends to places in your life where you get stuck as well as high-risk situations that would encourage use. I think knowing what to do what you get stimulated is important, but I've never been a fan of the long-form relapse prevention plans. Having to look through 20 pages to see which intervention is best suited for a particular issue is a grind. My sense is that more isn't better, different is the key. I would invite you to get several 4x6 cards and create your entire plan on one side of the card.  Include the following:

Mission statement: one of my friend's is a pilot for a major airline. He let me know that 95% of the time a plane is off-course and that you need to make adjustments to keep the plane on course. Much like a plane, we can get off course in our recovery. I would invite you to create a statement at the top of the card which supports you to make corrections in your life when your recovery is in trouble. This is my mission statement: my sobriety is the single most important thing in my life - if anything jeopardizes my recovery, I eliminate it. As I believe that recovery is a choice, it is important to be mindful that every decision we make can support long term-recovery or allow us to engage in maladaptive behaviors that support relapse and are less than flattering to our ego. All I need to do is to simply think of my mission statement and compare it to anything I want to do. Will this action stimulate a desire to use or further support my recovery? While I do not broadcast my sobriety, it is the single most important thing in my life.

Phone numbers: I would invite you to include 6-7 phone numbers of people you know who are supportive of your recovery, likely to help you if you feel like you're falling down in your life, and are consistent in their own way. When I had about 12 years of sobriety I had a pretty strong desire to drink. I was fortunate in that I collected a list of 100 phone numbers. As my desire to drink came on the weekend during the time between Christmas and New Years most people were on vacation and out-of-touch. I needed to call over 95 people before I found someone I could talk to. Some people might consider a list of 100 people as extreme, but my sense is that I am absolutely committed to making sure I remain sober and I am willing to put in extreme effort to that end.

Alternatives: I invite you to list six to seven things you can do beyond drinking and using. I can always go to the judo hall, watch horrible sci fi, volunteer, support people online, read, play with my cat, go for a run, and remember the commitment I made to my grandmother when I got sober. It's important to be mindful that we tend to drink or use to change the way we feel, and it's imperative that we remember that relapse only offers temporary relief.

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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 Drug Addiction

March 16th marks the beginning of the week for National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week!

I work in assisting the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, a contact I made after my episode of Intervention, when I joined Director Harvey Weiss to speak on a panel with others affected by inhalant abuse in Washington DC.  Many of the people that I have spoken with were once inhalant addicts themselves or friends and family (especially parents) of inhalant users who devistatingly passed away while using inhalants. This is an organization that works on reducing, preventing, and making the public aware of inhalant abuse, a goal that we both have in common.

In their most recent newsletter, the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) defines inhalant abuse as "the intentional misuse, via inhalation, of common household, school and workplace products and chemicals to “get high.”  This definition also infers two primary inhalant abuse slang terms:  “Sniffing” and “Huffing.” In a sense the Process of“huffing” defines the slang terms for the Activity i.e. bagging (huffing from a bag); Glading (misusing air freshener); etc."

NIPC also regularly provides the public with updates and facts imperitive to spread the awareness and prevention of inhalant abuse.  Here is an update of some of the most recent facts:

1.  Any time an inhalant is used, it could be a fatal episode.  This could be the first time you ever use inhalants, or the 100th.  NIPC notes that there is research showing that "of those people who died from huffing, about one-third died at first time use."

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