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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Even when I was in the absolute worst stage of unabashed drinking and irregular, unhealthy eating habits, very little if anything could have pushed me to seek recovery any sooner than I did.

Those who love me worked tirelessly in the effort to convince me I needed help.  Each gesture or suggestion was met with resistance, denial and deflection.  Those caring and compassionate individuals had all but prepared themselves to receive the dreaded phone call I’d finally succumbed to the disease of addiction.

The more people tried to persuade me of my destruction, the more my distance from them widened.  I wasn’t ready to stop.  I liked being able to decide for myself when, where and how much I engaged in what I believed was pure merriment.  I’d perfected my silent rationalization to slip into the haze of too much alcohol with little food. When I was in the state of nothingness, life’s emotional ups and downs didn’t matter anymore. I cherished my ability firmly and sternly control what I put my mental energy into and what was erased. As long as I kept my booze supply up and my weight down, all was well in the world.  And oh boy, did I love the “high” I felt when the deception, manipulation and lies all fell into place.

Until they didn’t.

When I finally found myself sitting across the desk of an intake counselor at a substance abuse treatment center I still was clinging to the belief I could one day drink again and eat as I saw fit.  I vividly remember the woman asking me how much alcohol I drank each day and my response of “oh, not that much” was quickly deflected when she held up my liver count report. I just wasn’t ready to stop believing I could run the show and direct the participants.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I feel very fortunate that my circumstances led me to a 12 step program and fellowship.  In this environment, I met the people who showed me how to take the action that has led to my spiritual development. It is the spiritual work which has led to my mental awakening and change of perspective.

In the past, the holidays were a time for me to get blitzed beyond belief and party, party, party.  I couldn't wait for long breaks from school or work so I could get utterly smashed each night and have time to recoup from my hangovers in the day.  Since I was in my twenties, I rationalized this behavior by telling myself everyone parties hard during the holidays.

I had no connection to my grief, despair, pain, anxiety, anger, depression or the like when I was self medicating with my cocktail of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine and sedatives.  When I felt bad, I attributed it to my hangover.  Despite the fact that I never really had fun or new experiences, I contiinued down that road unaware of what a true holiday season could be.  Like wrapped gifts in department store showcase windows, I looked pretty outside and was empty inside.

So what does a person in recovery have to look forward to during the holiday season?  Well, for one thing, it is the beginning of life with greatly reduced shame, regret, hopelessness, and pain.  It is the beginning of a life with real friends, real moments, real connection and real joy. It is the beginning of a life when you use your dark past to help others recover from a grave condition.

When I first got sober, I was just happy I didn't have to deal with the seizures, hangovers and emptiness of addiction.  I had been so unhappy that just being out of that deep kind of despair with other people who "got" me was more than sufficient.  I learned from my Sponsor that the best way to get all the things I thought I was missing in my life was to give them to others. She also told me there was no better time than right now to start giving.

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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

"A Recovery Share"

Daily Prompt: Sink or Swim

Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?…..

*A TALE OF TWO WOMEN*~~ *ONE SANK, ONE COULD SWIM*

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

05We were recently asked a great on our Instagram page about a Higher Power and Buddhism. The question read, "How does the higher-power concept fit within the Buddhist philosphy?" I personally have wondered the same thing in my journey through twelve step recovery and Buddhist meditation.

First, we must consider what Twelve Step programs are asking from us when they speak of a Higher Power and its importance to the program. On page 12 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson says, "It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself." The book doesn't say that we must believe in a specific Higher Power. It even says we can use our fellows as our Higher Power on page 107 of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, "For the time being, we who were atheist or agnostic discovered that our own group, or A.A. as a whole, would suffice as a higher power."

Many Buddhists are atheists, and don't believe in a god. There are devas and bodhisattvas in Buddhism, but the Buddha taught that the origin of the universe was irrelevant to the ending of suffering. However, many of atheistic Buddhists are in recovery, and find ways to work the Higher Power concept in with their own beliefs. This is just my opinion and experience.

The Third Step of Alcoholics Anonymous states that we "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him." It does not say what this "god" must be. In my Buddhist practice, I turn my will and my life over to the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.

The Buddha here (in my tradition of Buddhism) is both the Buddha-seed within me and the historical Buddha. The Buddha taught that we all have Buddha-nature within ourselves. We uncover and connect with it by practicing the path. Turning my will and my life over to this inner Buddha consists of living my life and practicing in a way that is skillful and wise. The historical Buddha is the teacher, and the one who laid out this path for us.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

You’ve noticed that your young adult has started to skip out on family functions, stop participating in after school activities, and hands out with people you don’t know a thing about.

Late nights and bloodshot eyes become their norm, and you can’t help but worry that your child may be using drugs. You read about the signs of drug use, like how personal habits lean toward secrecy, how behavioral issues arise, how attention to physical appearance lacks, or how cash problems lead to stealing from family or selling personal possessions.

Even though you see some of the signs, it is still hard to tell if your teen or young adult has a drug addiction. Perhaps it is time to look for outside support as you attempt to answer this question. Maybe some thorough reflection on the risk factors that contribute to drug addiction will help you identify whether or not your teen or young adult has a drug addiction.

Partner up

While it’s understandable that you don’t want the world to know that your young adult may be addicted to drugs, it is a good idea to put trust in the team who knows your child best. You may want to schedule a conference with the teachers, coaches, or school counselors who know your son or daughter well. Get their input about any usual behavior or patterns. Find out about any habits that point toward drug abuse, like skipping class or a steadily slipping in academic performance. If there are family members whom you trust, confide in them about your concerns. Ask them to be honest with you, and share anything they have witnessed pointing toward drug abuse.

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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 Other Addictions

Happy Thanksgiving Addictionland & Recovery Friends & Readers,

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As many gather around festive tables this Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to take sometime to think about those in recovery who may not have *FAMILY* to celebrate this day with. I also want to “Share” what I’m “THANKFUL” for in recovery, and in LIFE.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Deer Park MonasteryThis past weekend, I stayed at Deer Park Monastery, a monastery founded by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. At the monastery, we did not sit in meditation as much as I am accustomed to while on retreat. Instead, the focus of my stay was living mindfully in a variety of daily activities. My mentor at the monastery, Brother Wisdom, urged me to find a state of unconditional contentment, and to not allow my happiness to be swayed by anything.

Sitting in meditation, it is relatively easy for me to be mindful of what is going on in the present moment. When I notice a sound, sensation, or thought, I am able to turn my attention toward it more easily. When I am attentive, I am generally able to treat things with more equanimity. With equanimity, my contentment is not as easily affected by anything going on. It is more sturdy and stable.

Although I may find this unconditional contentment at times in my meditation practice, I think it is important to look for it in daily life. I don't have to strive for perfection, but I can strive to have a more resolute happiness. I worked this past weekend on finding this contentment in my daily life. We sang, danced, chanted, washed dishes, gardened, rested, and hiked in mindfulness. Although we also meditated, I found that bringing my practice off the cushion was greatly insightful and beneficial. I think I began to dig a little deeper into the roots of my contentment.

Brother Wisdom pointed out to me the irrational logic that we use when we rest our happiness on conditions. Everything is impermanent, including our feelings, thoughts, and everything outside of us. We often have the habit of resting our happiness on these same things. We say or feel things such as, "I'd be happy if she loved me," "I can't be happy until my body isn't sore," or "I am happy because it is sunny out." However, all of these conditions are impermanent and changing. Can we be happy when she doesn't love us anymore? Will we actually be fully happy when our bodies feel better? Will we be sad when the clouds cover the sun? When we rest our happiness on impermanent conditions, our happiness is bound to change as the conditions change.

If we are to have true, stable happiness, we must find it regardless of any conditions within us or externally. With equanimity, we may do so. We may find contentment equally whether we are washing dishes, gardening, or hiking. Although this is a bit idealistic, we always have room to progress. I found while staying at the monastery that I had great room to grow in this area. I find contentment in certain situations, but am easily discontented in others. I find it interesting that the word disease (such as addiction, alcoholism, depression, etc.) actually comes from the words "dis" and "ease," meaning "not at ease." This is how I feel when not contented: dis-eased (or diseased).

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Did you ever consider if your job made you prone to drug and alcohol abuse? With 77% of illegal drug users working full or part-time jobs, you have to wonder what kind of effect it has on their work habits. Many drug users admit that high stress, low job satisfaction, long or irregular hours and isolation at work contributed to their substance abuse problem.

In fact, 3.1% of employed adults actually used illicit drugs before reporting to work or during work hours at least once.

This motion graphic will highlight which work places are causing people to stumble into substance abuse a little harder or more often than some others. It will also look at the different areas of drugs that are being used and how much money is spent on them.

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

4. What is your suggestion for raising healthy children, despite family predisposition toward addiction?

If you can educate children about their predisposition to addiction, at least they'll be armed with awareness.  Also, if you maintain a strong recovery program that role models coping tools to avoid addiction, that will definitely help them if they ever have their own struggles with addiction.  I also think that praising the effort they put into their goals, and not just the outcomes, will teach them that hard work is more valuable than easy wins.  There has also been a slump in the ability to self-regulate in recent decades, so kids need to learn how to delay gratification so that they understand that enduring discomfort eventually leads to bigger rewards than getting what they want right away.
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