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Posted by on in Co-dependency

People often forget about the needs of caregivers, especially when you’re caring for someone with a drug or alcohol addiction. It is equally important for you to seek help and develop a support system. Therapists can offer you guidance on how to: stop enabling the person with the addiction, improve communication, set boundaries, avoid caving in to manipulations, promote your own social life and maintain relationships with others, and gain knowledge about addiction. Addiction is a family illness that doesn’t just impact the person addicted to drugs or alcohol.

 

 

BARRIERS TO SEEKING SUPPORT

While there are many benefits to having a support system, there are barriers that often prevent caregivers from reaching out to friends and family. If you fear being judged or rejected by society, you’re not alone. Caregivers often feel shame or have guilt for caring for someone with an addiction, as if they have failed that person. If their child has an addiction, they often feel they have failed as a parent. Sometimes caregivers feel they don’t deserve help, or feel guilty for acknowledging their own pain, as if they are being insensitive to the person with the addiction. It can be difficult admitting and accepting that you need help as the loved one or caregiver, when you spend most of your time caring for and attending to the needs of someone else. Sometimes friends and family aren’t supportive of the caregiver. You might be viewed as being too supportive (enabling) or not supportive enough (abandoning). It may feel like a lose-lose situation, but it is important to put your own needs and mental health first.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

It's the 4th quarter of the NFL Super Bowl. There are 10 seconds on the clock, it's 4th down, on the 10 yard line, and the Dolphins (sorry, but I'm a Dolphins fan so I'm using them as an example) are down by 5 points. The opposing teams fans are screaming their heads off as the Dolphins try to decide on the next play. The most important play of the game. They come to an agreement, they all take a serious look at each other almost to say "this is what we've been waiting for! It's our turn to take the trophy home." They line up opposite their opponents. They are shaking with anticipation and almost look as if they are cars revving their engines at the starting line of a NASCAR race. The quarterback yells "hike!" The receivers take off to the end zone with their arms flailing to catch the quarterbacks attention. "Im open! Im open" one yells. The quarterback scans the field yet disregards their cries to pass them the ball. He can see they aren't actually open and realizes he has to make a decision as the time clock fades. He's running it himself! He takes off towards the end-zone and the defense quickly realizes what is happening. They all start gunning for the quarterback, to take him down and to earn what they feel is rightfully theirs. The quarterback doges one tackle...8-yard line...jukes another...5 yard line...hurdles over a defender, making an attempt to dive towards the goal line...he lands and both teams pile up on him. Did he make it?? Did he score?? Did he cross the goal-line?? The referees manage to clear away the battling teams. The crowd is silent awaiting the signal from the ref. The referees arms go straight up in to the air...TOUCHDOWN!!!!

For days after the big game, once the trophy has already found its new home for the year, all anyone can talk about was that quarterback's daring run to the end-zone. "He did the impossible. What luck!" the sports announcers say. "How did he do that" or "It was a miracle!". With all of the hoopla and opinions of that day, the only person that knows what really happened that day is the quarterback himself. He knows it wasn't a miracle. It wasn't luck. What the outside world is failing to realize is the effort he put into training himself to react the way he did during that stressful situation. He was able to think clearly under pressure because he's practiced that exact situation thousands of times, over and over again, in his head. He ran drills for years, trained his body, taught his mind to adapt. The big game may have come down to one moment for the world, but for him it was about years of training his body and mind to do exactly what he accomplished that night.

At this point, you are probably wondering "what does this have to do with recovery?" There's no doubt that was an exciting sports story but why did I take the time to write that. Let me explain...

If anyone has ever experienced a craving, they know it can be debilitating. I'm not talking about a fleeting thought of your favorite drink or drug of choice. I'm talking about a real craving. An urge so powerful it takes the wind out of you. Something or someone triggers something deep within your subconscious and suddenly you can't think of anything besides drinking or drugging. These happen in recovery, especially early on. How do we deal with that feeling? What do we do?

From early on in recovery, we typically are taught to follow various sets of rituals, whether they be call a sponsor everyday, frequently attend support meetings, find a home group, develop a support group and stay in contact with them, pray daily, etc... We are "trained" to do these actions daily. We are told to call our supports even when we have the slightest thought of using allowing the process of reaching out for help to become an easy practice to accomplish. I like to look at these practices as putting deposits in the "spiritual bank". All of these rituals are put in place for a reason though. It's not just to manage the instability of early recovery. The main reason we practice these daily rituals is so we can be ready when that massive craving hits, that's our "big game."  We won't have time to think rationally about the consequences of using. We aren't able to "play the tape all the way through." We have to act on our trained instinct during that time. All of the practice of picking up the phone and calling our sponsors or supports. All of the times we've prayed for a minor craving or obsessive thought to be removed. The repetitive efforts in our recovery, the deposits to the "spiritual bank" all now protect us during this difficult time. We are able to utilize our tools that we've engrained in ourselves day in and day out. Our past efforts have allowed us to adapt our body and mind to react in a positive way to the powerful phenomenon of craving. 

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

Have you ever wondered why, no matter how rationally phrased in your head, the idea of asking for help seems about as reasonable as asking for a snake bite?

Somewhere along life's way I told myself a story that asking for help meant failure, weakness, and a lack of intelligence. The older I got the more I believed this fictional description if I needed the assistance of others. I went to far as to drop projects if the challenge was too great or the outcome would seem less that perfect.

However no one gets through life without some guidance and I'm certainly no exception. The difference for me was I'd silently pray for guidance rather than ask. When someone would offer unprovoked direction I'd smile, thank them kindly for the "reminder" and move on without any idea of what I needed to learn along the way.

This was exactly the approach I took when the whispers about how much I drank and how little I ate began to filter in. I heard only what I wanted to acknowledge and filtered the rest to suit my comfort zone. If someone mentioned I do something that hit too close to home, I'd consider their words as expressions of judgment and therefore white noise.

Upon reflection I knew I'd hit my "bottom" when I finally became willing to listen for the message not just the words. Yet asking for help didn't seem possible for me. In truth, I didn't even know what to ask for.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

Imagine if you could wake up one day with answers to all your problems. In theory that would be ideal. In reality that will never happen.

Yet for some reason I tried very hard for a very long time to do just that. Each plate of food pushed away certified I was in control of things. Each glass of wine put to my lips fortified the belief I could not only solve my issues but yours too. I’d find the answers. I’d orchestrate the solution. I’d be my own “go to” person.

Yet inevitably the day came when there were no more answers, solutions, or overall direction. I had no idea where to turn because I’d shut out everyone who tried to offer input.

For reasons I may never know, I did listen to one person. She pointed me toward the door that led me to my recovery.

Yet old habits don’t die easily. Always a rather strong-willed woman, those early days in recovery were rough. I wasn't all that thrilled with the idea I’d no longer be in charge or able to forge my way to overcome addiction. All my defiance led me to a solid understanding of a very simple fact.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

When overcoming an addiction of any kind no one should try to go it alone. It is a difficult process with a lot of ups and downs. For this reason it is important to have a reliable support group around you that you can lean on when it gets difficult. Friends and family are key to overcoming addiction, but there is another resource for those overcoming an addiction that can be very beneficial. This resource is support groups.

If you’re not exactly sure what a support group is, how it works or who should join one, then read on. A support group might be the solution for yourself or a loved one.

What is a Support Group?

A support group is a group of people who get together for the sake of encouraging each other because of similar addictions. The most popular and common support group around is alcoholics anonymous, better known as AA.

In these groups participation is encouraged, but not required. Participation simply looks like one talking about themselves and their issues. Who they are and what brought them there. It is common that in support groups each person is assigned a sponsor or an accountability partner. These are people that you can call when you are feeling the need to abuse a substance. They are those who will frequently check up on you to make sure you are doing alright. They offer advice and encouragement.

If you find yourself in a very intense and destructive addiction situation then you may need to admit yourself into a rehabilitation clinic or detox center. These facilities also offer support groups in-house.

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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 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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Posted by on in Other Addictions

There have been many times in my life when words or phrases came to mean something other than what many understand them to mean.  Off the top of my head I can think of a few examples.

My husband and I communicate in ways often causing our friends to do a double-take and wonder what in the world we are talking about.  For example, I might be in the living room doing something and yell down to my husband in the basement to bring me “that thing next to the big thing.”  Seconds later he hands me exactly what I needed.  We share a language created during our many years of living together.

Another opportunity to share a unique means of communication is in the work environment.  When I was still active in the corporate world, my team of many years knew exactly what each other needed or what we meant by a simple nod of the head or a raised eyebrow. We had spent hours together creating, editing, masterminding and learning to trust one another.  In all that time we eventually understood things without needing to say a word.  When we were in situations where verbal connection wasn't an option, those non-communication actions spoke volumes.  I was somehow comforted by this; feeling a sense of security knowing I was part of something uniquely special.

When I was drinking and rarely eating, there was a lot of conversation in my head which was uniquely special for me too.  I never shared these ongoing internal dialogues with anyone because I couldn’t explain them.  I had a difficult enough time myself just trying to understand how and why the subject matter would roll back and forth like a pendulum. One moment I’d be justifying my irrational behavior and the next I’d be mentally berating myself for having such thoughts.

I carried on with this silent metronome of conversation for years.  I was absolutely certain if anyone else could hear what I heard, they’d consider my train of thought not only foreign but nowhere near normal.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In the past, I have allowed addiction to run my life. Addiction chose which friends I surrounded myself with, the activities I chose to be a part of and how successful I was. Addiction created conflicts with my friends and family and drove me into multiple depressions. Addiction also skewed my perception and judgment so much; it led to some horrible decisions that I will forever have to live with.

It is easy to say that all of this was merely ‘the addiction’s’ fault, but I am the kind of person that likes to take responsibility for my own actions. In many ways I feel like I am a much different person today than who I was a few years ago. I have chosen to use this struggle in my life as a (cheesy as it sounds) springboard. I am not saying that this decision to get clean was easy or overnight. It was a long process with many setbacks. To this day, I still struggle with sobriety.

However, I have found my silver lining in my addiction. I am now a Senior Psychology student working on my undergraduate thesis. I am researching the comparative effectiveness of substance abuse programs, either mixed gender or all- female groups. It is my personal goal to help other women dealing with addiction. I feel that the best way to improve treatment groups is to ask the members themselves, we know what works and what doesn’t.

If you are a woman that has participated in an alcohol or substance abuse group at one time (inpatient or outpatient) and would like to participate in my short survey, I would greatly appreciate it. Of course it is completely anonymous, no personal information is asked of you.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Women_and_Substance_Abuse_Treatment

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