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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

"Cognitive Dissonance" is defined as a great feeling of psychological discomfort produced by the presence of thoughts & behaviors that are conflicting in nature.  The theory suggests that if individuals act in ways that contradict their beliefs, then they typically will change their beliefs & thoughts to align with their actions.  In a nutshell, humans have a difficult time admitting to others but even more to themselves that they were wrong about something.  If you've ever told a lie and felt uncomfortable because you see yourself as scrupulously honest, then you've experienced cognitive dissonance.

 

It occurs whenever your view of yourself clashes with your performance in any area—you see yourself as smart but can't believe you made such poor decisions.  Cognitive dissonance often occurs because people fear appearing foolish or ignorant.  They are fully aware they have acted in a way that is either inappropriate or uncharacteristic with their belief system or morals, and so they use different strategies to protect their image to others, but even more so to protect their own self-image.  It is hypocrisy between what we believe in and what we engage in. 

 

When this internal conflict is present, people feel increasingly guilty or uneasy about holding these opposing cognitions – they don’t want to think of themselves as illogical or inconsistent. These internal conflicts are hard to live with, and if not dealt with the individual will feel bad about themselves and this can snowball into further and continuous illogical behaviors/actions and then cause very severe and damaging feelings towards one's self. 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I am feeling a little heavy hearted.  My mom just called me to vent and it seems her home is far from peaceful.  My dad suffers terrible cluster headaches in the summer months and my mom can't travel with ease because she is on oxygen and just a year in recovery from hard core lung cancer treatment.  My mom's sister just had a tumor removed from her stomach and one of my dad's cousin's is dying from stage 4 lung cancer. There may be more to this story, but who am I to say other people would benefit from a 12 step program?

While there is a lot of darkness and pain to endure, I feel so grateful I am embedded in my recovery life style because I can still appreciate all the beauty of life.  It seems others, without a daily program of dumping, sharing, action, prayer, meditation, exercise and the like, have a very difficult time staying afloat when the rough waves pound the shore.  It is a time of amends for me.  A time to give back the time, love and support everyone freely gave me as a child.  A time to make up for the worry, pain and angst I caused others when they weren't sure what was wrong with me, but felt certain I needed help.

I don't know how much longer I will be blessed with my parents and I like to slow down enough to realize it is more important I stop in and see them each week then work an extra hour.  I get so caught up with my job and family (and even though I do see them weekly and call often), I feel and want to do more.  I know I will never regret being there for them in their time of need-regardless of whether anything gets fixed. I learned in recovery that, more than anything, people want to be heard and understood.  No fixing required, just loving ears and hugs.

I dislike knowing that my parents and other family members are suffering.  I also know that suffering, unlike pain, can be a choice.  Pain, whether it be of the head, lung or stomach, must run its course until real healing has occurred. Suffering, on the other hand, is a matter of perspective.  Am I only seeing and staring at the dark side of life or, in the midst of such darkness, am I looking for a way to channel (and become) the Light?

I don't want to spend today worrying about tomorrow.  I pray I get a tomorrow and will deal with that day then.  For now, I just want to be as available as I can be so that the Power can work through me to aide those around me in such great need of Love.  They don't know all the Love they need is inside and all they have to do is keep concentrating on letting it out.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

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Midwestern Mama discovers a community of opiate users in recovery -- just miles from her suburban home – as her son begins Suboxone treatment and counseling for Heroin addiction.

Less than five miles from my suburban home is an outpatient treatment center that offers Methodone and Suboxone dosing in addition to individual counseling, group sessions and training.  Although it’s close to where I live, it’s not on a road I ordinarily take and even though I’ve driven that road many times over the 20 plus-years that I’ve lived here, it’s not a structure that I ever noticed.

The past two days, however, changed that.  I have taken notice and I have spent several hours there.  It has been eye opening and I actually look forward to seeing and experiencing more in the days ahead.  As part of my son’s journey with addiction, I have yearned for an insider’s perspective to better understand the complexities of substance use disorder – if not his, that of others. 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Now I go out and clean up my messy past. Who would have thought? Certainly not me. I was doomed to an alcoholic death or worse, the ongoing insanity surrounding  the first drink of the day, every day, would be happening right now. But that's all changed, everything has changed for the better. Laugh, even scoff if you want too, I have been reborn. I am no longer the skeptic, I am not afraid.. There isn't anything really in my entire life history that hasn't been inventoried, analyzed, and set in proper perspective. Sure it is ruff around the edges but to me? It is perfect. My whole attitude and outlook on life has changed. Like the Book said, a psychic change sufficient to overcome alcoholism. I have solved the drink problem, I will not drink today. I have become accountable in my 4th and 5th Steps, let my Higher Power know that I know who I am and who I've been. Humbled myself to God and man. Now, I will make my best attempt to answer to my fellows for my unacceptable conduct. My active alcoholic conduct. I have my answers and do not see myself as the producer of confusion with great motives here. I am willing to tell the truth and where I can set these unsettling matters in my past history straight. Yes I still have fear at times. I am not Spiritually fit at all times, I am willing to be but have yet to experience the safety of Steps 10 11 and 12 on a daily basis. My maintenance for now is my faith and willingness to take responsibility for myself. I have yet to gain the security of experience. I am living one moment at a time and quite comfortable. All I think about really is the Higher Power and my Big Book 12 Step work.

 

I am ready to finally at 27ish years old put my big boy pants on.. It's 1982. I am alone with my God and AA Big Book 12 Step sponsor. In my selfish self centeredness, I have used up every imaginable person, place, or thing in my selfish arrangements, my last ditch efforts at survival had failed. I am honest with myself, I didn't make any grand decisions to join AA, I had no thoughts left, no choice in my recovery. I was rescued, I know it and am not ashamed. All the people who constantly dominate my thoughts are loosing their power over me as I grow in understanding and effectiveness on the Spiritual Path. It was by the hand of AA I was yanked up and out of my emotionally baron void of existence and plopped down in the front row of the Looney Nooney. A 12:00 main street Hyannis AA meeting. Thru the heavy fog of tourists, people, families everywhere on this hot August summer day. I remember having difficulty crossing the street not sure if it was the cars or me that was moving and the guy who was 12 Stepping me holding onto my sweat soaked flannel shirt sleeve for guidance. Jake with the strange high pitched voice was chairing. Weird what I can remember, I hope this isn't forgotten. This is who I had become under my own power. I had proved my father right, I really was a failure to society and surely would never amount to anything..

 

It hadn't been more than a year and now I sit in my truck that I own which is registered and insured. I rent a decent place to live and work daily. I have my new smaller notebook with all my amends written out from my 4th Step list. The list where I admitted my faults and was willing to set these matters straight like it said in the Book on pages 70 and ...67 I think? In my 8th Step I went back like it was suggested to my 4th Step list. Now, It doesn't actually say to re write this amends list. Some people just use a highliter or check off the names where amends apply, but I needed to. Truth is I have changed remarkably yes, but I shouldn't kid myself here. I was not "all fixed" and still crispy around the edges if not just plain burnt at times.. I was a thousand percent better but still under certain conditions easily dominated by people, especially in any confrontational situation. My nervous system was junk really, I would shake and sweat or become emotionally unstable at the slightest bit of agitation. In other words I was still weak. Anyway, It was important for me to know what I'm doing there and also back it up.  My amends was focused on my selfishness and fear. This selfishness and self-centeredness was familiar to me as I had seen my conduct over and over again.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

I have suffered from the need for validation from a young age.  Wanting a person's approval, I often acquiesce in situations where I might actually disagree.  Recovery has taught me that I can be triggered by domineering personality types and that I can handle any situation as long as I stay calm and practice spiritual principles. 

Physiologically, I am no different than any other person who reacts in a high stress environment.  Like a man confronted by a sabre tooth tiger, I will either fight or flight (run) when faced with this stressor.  Same goes for conversations with difficult, overbearing people.  In early recovery, I first had to learn how not to drink in the face of such triggers.  Many years later, I am working how to remain calm and access my faculties in such situations. I don't want to just not drink, I want to grow up.

I can see my progress.  I used to automatically shut down when a bullying type of person raised his or her voice and made demands.  My silence said I could be pushed into submission.  My submission led to shame and more fear.  Even though I didn't drink, I still felt bad about myself for accepting unacceptable treatment and not speaking up for myself.

Just today, a never satisfied physician from my biggest account at work let me know that unless I found a solution to his insurance contracting dilemma, he was going to stop using my company's incredible product. His account amounts to 13% of my total territory volume.  I was driving a car and could feel myself become agitated.  A small voice within said, "Stay calm, assure him that you are hearing him and let him know you will take his problem seriously.". 

After I hung up with the doctor, I shared my reaction with my business partner at work. She said you did well, but maybe next  time someone puts the pressure on while I am driving, simply ask the person if I can meet with them in person to discuss the matter further.

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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

Hello Addictionland Friends, Seekers & New Friends,


I happen to be on the social media site LinkedIn, and happen to see a question that was asked in one of my Addiction & Recovery Groups I belong to there. They asked if others think that gambling addiction is directly linked to homelessness of people who become addicted?
Now, I got to thinking myself, what an interesting questions to ask.

As we all know by seeing the homeless in our won communities throughout the US, and it is present in many different countries like the UK. In the UK, they are having an explosion of gamblers using an electronic device that is supposed to help your ODDS AT WINNING called an FOBT machine, but sadly it’s not very true, or works out that way. I have seen homeless women in my own communities of So. Oregon, and now here in Arizona. Does gambling have a direct link to some of our homeless in our communities?
Well, I found Studies, Facts , and articles that was written that supports it sure does!

Here is a little of what it found from the study:
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New study reveals scale of problem gambling among homeless population

New study reveals scale of problem gambling among homeless population
Credit: Gavin Mills/The Connection at St Martin’s ~April 3, 2014
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Homeless people are ten times more likely to be problem gamblers than the UK population as a whole, researchers at Cambridge have found.

The study – one of the largest surveys of and homelessness ever undertaken in the UK – provides new insight into a rarely studied problem and suggests services should offer clients more support to identify and tackle .

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I've been a speaker at my share of Big Book 12 Step workshops since they began maybe early nineties up and down the east coast? It was fun, lots of good natured people. That's Big Book 12 Steps, not the reenactment sponsorship thing from Toronto. Some people are amazed and grateful for all the new insight they gathered in a weekend of 12 Steps, some are just happy to be doing something sober, right? There's also good Saturday night entertainment and food catering for the two or three day event. Well, I've also sat at meetings and heard the people say I'm stuck on my 8th Step and well, shouldn't this continue for my lifetime anyway? What's the hurry? I have seen many fall down here on Step 8. I thought I would look at my self here and some wrong turns I myself have made, not seeing the cliff with my arms full of Big Books.

 

 Well?  the first 7 Steps wear off without the action of Steps 8/9. This is a given. Like, WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED? I don't understand! I was doing great and then for no real reason I was crazy with resentment and wanted, no, almost drank! No different than according to the Book, the 3rd Step eventually fizzles out without a fearless and thorough moral inventory. It's the whole faith without works thing. Action, willingness. Without it I am sewing my own tailor made dream away plan of recovery? All I have really done is used my emotional Bedazzler on everything. All stop and look at my outsides sparkle.  I glitter as I speak in kind words at the podium like Liberace. I offer security to the new gals with a hippy shake like Elvis in sequins.  

 

You may as well say in this state action means I make lots of plans so I don't do anything now. I'm at Step 8 and it's all stop! Back to hoping my arrangements will stay put, waiting for my good work so far in the 12 Steps to pay off a bit. Cash the check for all my hard work. Finally living the good sober life in AA where people are no longer in my way and I swagger through my days as the center of attention. Yes, back to worshipping people for my self esteem. Really, I speak at meetings and people actually listen. They love me, they really love me.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

During one of my hospital stays at the renowned McLean Hospital, I became acquainted with an older Jamaican man who worked at the hospital in the unit where I stayed.  His name was Marvin & he was a mental health assistant.  His job was to have a "check-in" session every day with each of the patients he was assigned, which was always done privately.  He was extremely sincere and gentle, so when he would ask me "How are you feeling today?", I was convinced that he genuinely cared and wanted to know.  It seemed he had a commitment to his job that went far beyond the hospital walls, which is a very special quality in mental health & substance abuse treatment workers.

I was never someone to instantly have enough trust in someone that I would spill my true concerns, worries and mistakes, instead choosing to keep the proverbial wall up and not expose too much of my problems; this being in part, an issue of self-preservation as to not have others look down upon me, and part guilt and shame that I carried deeply over what I believed to be horrible mistakes that could only mean I was a terrible person.  A large part of this guilt and shame I carried inside, like a leaden weight, dragged me down further into my depression, my suicidal ideas and my relapses.  I was fully aware and conscious; I KNEW how detrimental this guilt & shame was to my health, my recovery and my very life, how it was holding me back by being unable to talk about it with anyone, but it was such a strong, all-consuming shame, that I didn't believe at the time, I could handle these thoughts being verbalized and thus open material to have a further conversation with.  I was terrified that if I said out loud all the things I had done, to anyone else, no matter if it was their job to help me or not, that they would use that information to think poorly of me and agree with my idea that I was simply a bad person.  I couldn't handle the thought of anyone looking at me as a flawed human being, that didn't already know my mistakes, only later to form the opinion that I was. 

Most people who know nothing about addiction as a disease or know someone close to them that has suffered with addiction, look at in the way that, if our actions directly cause harm or hurt to those we love (which they do), then it can't be a true disease; no matter how much modern medical research shows to the contrary, they believe we are choosing our actions and therefore are very flawed in a moral way.....not in a sick way.  This can explain why many addicts, even in recovery for years, even while in treatment facilities where their addiction is known about, they still keep up very high walls and let out very little information.  We already feel terrible about ourselves, whether we may show it or not, so it would obviously hurt our self-image, our self-esteem much more, to have other people added to that list of how morally corrupt we are. 

Although he already conducted his official "check-in" with me, Marvin approached me in the hallway and asked me if I would sit down.  He sensed something was wrong.  Marvin knew I was a mother.  He knew I was having difficulties at home with my marriage.  And from seeing me in tears walking in the hallways numerous times & bursting into tears after a telephone call, he knew that I felt guilty and ashamed that I was even in the hospital receiving the treatment I very much needed and that I did not feel I deserved it. 

His question was a very simple, "Why?"  

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Overcoming an addiction is more than just stopping the use of drugs and alcohol  . It means starting over completely – changing every aspect of one’s life to eradicate old, destructive behaviors and thought processes that lead to them and replacing these with more positive choices. 

It can be a long, lonely process and many find that what sabotages their progress is not a craving for drugs and alcohol but the deep desire to reconnect with their old life and all the people in it, even if it means putting their life in danger with a return to drug and alcohol use. 

Beating this loneliness can be the key to a successful recovery. Here are five tips to help you or your loved one in early recovery find the support they need to stay true to their goal of long-term sobriety:

1. Go to 12-step meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous (http://www.aa.org/),Narcotics Anonymous , and a host of other 12-step meetings provide an instant community of people who are not only understanding of what you’ve been through but also attempting to accomplish the same task. Though you may not connect personally with anyone immediately, it’s a quick fix to remind you that you are not alone in your journey. 

2. Meet with a therapist regularly. Regularly seeing someone who can help you sift through your feelings, isolate underlying issues, and hold you accountable in recovery can help you to feel grounded and focused on progress rather than emptiness.

3. Rebuild old relationships that were damaged by addiction. Not all relationships that were damaged by addiction will be able to be repaired in recovery – and not all of them should be. But relationships with positive people can be rebuilt to be a good influence in your new life in recovery. Patience is required, however, as it can take time to learn how to communicate effectively, get needs met, and rebuild trust.

4. Make new connections in recovery. Making new positive connections and friendships is one of the gifts of recovery. It’s important, however, to take it slow and get to know people before investing too heavily in a new friendship. You want to make sure that you are making a positive connection that will help you both continue moving forward toward your personal goals. NOTE: Early recovery is not the time to connect with new people romantically. Romantic relationships can take the focus off your progress in recovery and trigger a relapse if things go awry or the relationship ends.

5. Become your own best friend. “Alone” doesn’t have to mean “lonely” if you fill your life with positive people and work on building your own self-esteem and confidence in yourself and your abilities. When you’re by yourself, you can indulge in your hobbies, work toward goals in your education or your career, or take care of yourself by eating well and working out. When you prioritize your health and wellness first, you increase your ability to connect with others positively and move forward in recovery too.

Learn more about how you can overcome the obstacles that face addicts and alcoholics   in early recovery when you reach out to us at Futures at the number above today.

Learn more about extended case here: http://www.futuresofpalmbeach.com/drug-rehab/extended-care-treatment/

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

The money we have spent, taken away from other priorities to buy our drugs, our life-sustaining medicine as we see it in active addiction, can be nauseating.  We may have stolen from loved ones, forged checks, taken valuables, even committed thefts of people we don't know, stealing from stores to exchange goods for money, possibly exchanging your body for drugs or money, losing a job or not looking for a job because you need your days and nights to chase drugs, the financial funding of our addiction can absolutely be an issue giving us extreme guilt and shame.  And that is just one.

The emotions and opinions of our loved ones, who are sick with worry, consumed with fear, and looming with disappointment, is something we may think can never be fixed or changed, that people will forever think ill of us for what we have inflicted on others.  The health effects of active addiction can be shocking.  Infections of the skin or limbs, infectious diseases like AIDS or Hepatitis, not eating right or eating at all, and the long-term effects throughout our body's systems from the drug itself, can lead to lifetime battles that cannot be reversed.  Legal problems, arrests, convictions, incarceration, tears apart your family, soils your record which will follow you through life, affecting employment, child custody battles, divorce, loss of assets; it is a devastating consequence of addiction.  The guilt you feel as a parent, if you have lost custody, your drug use known to the courts, barriers put in place making it a challenge to be up against even when in recovery for a long period, can be overwhelming.  These are all extremely stressful results of our addiction that can provide us with enough guilt and shame to last our lifetime, even when in recovery.  Many addicts succumb to these difficult consequences and effects of our addiction, and decide to remain in active addiction, for they see it as impossible to overcome these obstacles that are a result of our drug use.  It is easy to look at the big picture and think nothing can be done about the damage, so we crumble and relent. 

Once we start acknowledging these affects and accrue years of shame and guilt, it becomes habit to think negatively about ourselves, place blame on ourselves and have little to no respect at all for ourselves.  This is the mindset of a typical addict.  It is easy when we have to deal with such consequences   , to lose sight of it being a disease that we have.  It is also the reason society loses sight of addiction being a disease as well.  It very well may be that addiction is the only disease to affect so many areas of our life beyond that of our physical and psychological health.  It is indeed difficult and there are enormous challenges to face in recovery, some for more than for others, but no doubt a major aspect of an addict when pondering the decision of whether or not to attempt recovery and sobriety. This is why in order to succeed in recovery, it is crucial to believe and develop the mindset of being worthy of help, being worthy of treatment and being worthy of a better life.  Achieving this belief and having love for ones self starts with addressing your own self-esteem and self-worth.  To change a pattern of thinking that has become habit, therefore natural, cannot happen without change and effort, a commitment to caring about ones self enough to seek help. 

Accepting that we cannot change what our addiction has caused, but we can change what it will continue to cause.  You have the power to stop your addiction in its tracks and change the course of your life, the consequences of your addiction and the effects on your family and your health.  This acceptance has to take place for a person to want help and accept help, to enter recovery and become clean and sober.  It cannot be forced upon a person; it has to be a decision based on acceptance and a willingness to change.  An addict has to be able to see that they do in fact have a future and that their future can be better and more fulfilling than the past, which is within their control if they allow people to help them become well. 

This requires the focus to be on the present and future instead of the past.  You can acknowledge and have sorrow for the negative consequences which have occurred, but wallowing in it and allowing yourself to be consumed by it has to stop.  You have to focus on what needs to happen today, to enter recovery, enter treatment, become clean and sober, and set goals for the future that are attainable and healthy.  This IS possible.  This change of attitude and focus IS within you.  As many addicts know, there is practically nothing that will magically make us clean.  We have to decide that we alone want this, that we deserve this and that we want to live a healthier, more fulfilling life.  As a parent, people believe that our children should be enough reason for us to stop using drugs and get clean, but this is not the reality, as many, if not most addicts are parents. 

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