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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Steps 6 and 7. A couple of paragraphs on page 76. At first glance I didn't think there was much to it, I was wrong..

 

I wrapped up my Big Book 5th Step. I followed the directions with my complete 4th Step all there in a big pile of cheap notebooks. I am ready for a long talk like the Book suggests.. There was no real general conversation or even Spiritual or Religious offerings from any others beliefs involved, just what I had written down on paper and my own conception of a Power greater than myself, a Spiritual Path. Everything I had found in my searching and fearless moral inventory of myself, every dark cranny of my past. This indepth inventory of my grosser handicaps was suggested with no other option, just an inventory of my grosser handicaps.. It wasn't a inventory of my team, family, or church, even AA group, it was only me, just my defective character, the flaws in me. We searched out the flaws right? That is what it says right? flaws? Some have an asset and liability 4th Step, good for them. That's 12/12 and talk therapy, not Big Book. The 12/12 meant nothing to me at this point, I had my facts right in front of me so there was nothing really to arrange with more discussion and opinion. There was no sense keeping my hell of a guy awards if I kept throwing away the houses with the mantles to keep them on. In other words, selfishly validating myself with positive affirmations would only produce denial and I had seen enough of my selfish conduct, pretty much every thought I had in my head was selfish.. So I was much too selfish to participate in discussion that could at all be manipulated to suite me. Or the self pity depths of despair where I did destroy our hopeful family dynamic with my drinking but my daddy never loved me so it's really not all my fault right? I get points for that right? I come from an alcoholic home so that's why I'm such a freaken loser right? No, you're done. Just you. Nobody cares how hard you tried or from where you came, there is no alcoholic hardship clause. Either I am willing to take responsibility or I'm not. Besides, every time I need a spoonful of sugar to help me accept myself I run around in circles for 5 minutes and then crash into the coffee table. Before long I'm addicted to sugar and need meds for my mood swings. It never ends for an alcoholic like me. My never ending selfish arrangement.

 

Ok, Step 6. The facts are in, people cannot fix me. I believe my God can. Quite simple really and in my amazement I continue seeking Spiritual courage and strength. Is there really a God? or Gods? or Spiritual intelligence? underlying the totality of life as I see it? Yeah, I can feel myself changing. I believe there is something to it all. My beliefs are getting stronger and I am not afraid, this is new. I can't really put my finger on what exactly it is but there's definitely something going on here. My life is getting better and well? my life never gets better without somebody's help or some new scene where I make a successful get away or maybe push others away and I don't really care? That's the best really when I just don't care and move on. But later when the next arrangement of people fails me or even the one after that, I go back through my life seeking emotional support, now they're important!, now I need them as I scramble for any emotional security I can find. Love me, fix me, validate me, I'm hopefully sorry enough to manipulate a good bit of emotional security.....The worst is when I'm quickly writing my script for a situation I know is doomed from the beginning but am forced to participate. I have nowhere to go, no people to please.  I have failed already but have nowhere to run and nobody to save me. Living in extreme selfishness, the bondage of extreme self centered fear. The frustrated dictator looking for a country to save.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

Teenagers often go through hormonal changes throughout life and may become depressed.  Depression in teens is very common and many teens take medicine and receive counseling in order to treat it.   Depression can be very dangerous if left untreated, and can cause the teen to commit suicide or even commit violent crimes against others.  Majority of school shootings were the result of a depressed teenager who just snapped one day and committed these horrific crimes. 

 

The signs and symptoms of Depression:

-          Feelings of Helplessness and hopelessness-  They no longer care anymore about anything, and feel as if their life is a lost cause that has no point.

-          Loss of interest in daily activities-  They don’t bother with daily activities anymore because they do not find a point for them.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Most of us with addictions are well informed of the many types of treatment available.  This is due to the countless times we are desperate to change and get help while we are likely suffering in withdrawal, our addiction is ruining our life at home or work, we are tired and depressed or we simply know we need help and we want the help.  So we look online, we search for hours, we read up on all the latest treatments and clinics, treatment centers, rehabilitation facilities, psychiatric hospitals that treat addiction, outpatient programs, we find meetings near us and plan to try and go, we may even have the energy to get books and try treating ourselves with spiritual or motivational materials, access pharmaceuticals from the street because we are still too ashamed to ask for treatment from a professional, and definitely, we read online about all the medications that are available for treatment. We are well-informed before ever seeking help, as to what options are out there.  Yet we are still confused and overwhelmed by which options would work best for us; who we should see, where we should go, when we should make this decision. 

It is personal for every addict and I have had my fair share of working every part of the traditional healthcare system for 5 years ongoing, to try and be well, and have come upon innumerous roadblocks on the way.  The barriers for the middle class is something I have found appalling yet it is almost never discussed in media reports, political conference press releases, treatment reform groups, no, it is only discussed on recovery websites and forums from the very people like I, who have encountered such difficulties.  We reach a point when we truly want help so badly, and somehow muster the energy to look for help, meanwhile chasing & feeding our then-active addiction, every day in order to maintain what our body requires to be sane and functional.  It is exhausting just writing this to think back on what I personally went through while desperately seeking help, crying out for what I knew I needed to save my life. 

My opiate addiction began in 2009.  It rapidly spun out of control within 9 months, when I decided I needed help for the first time.  I spent hours online looking for a suboxone doctor in my area, meanwhile suffering tremendously in the worst withdrawal I had ever experienced.  I was told I could be seen that same night (which after years of experience searching for help, I find this now to be miraculous).  The cost was $450 cash for the first visit, then $250 per month for each subsequent visit, in cash.  I found out afterward that my insurance, which is through a labor union in Boston and is one of the best insurance programs for everything BUT addiction, would only cover the cost of 2 months of treatment and I'd have to pay first and then be reimbursed, as the suboxone office did not bill insurance directly.  2 months of suboxone treatment is far below what experts and professionals recommend as a length of time for treatment, but I was at the mercy of the insurance company's decisions and I knew after 2 months I would have to pay out of pocket for this expense. 

At the time it did not seem like an excessive amount and I knew my husband would gladly pay the $250 every month out of pocket, because it was far cheaper than my addiction was costing me, which was about $90 per day  But then I went to the pharmacy that 1st night with my prescription; and that is when everything changed & I realized how the access to a life-saving medicine is almost anything but accessible.  The cost of suboxone totaled $30 per day, for a total per month of $900. and insurance covered nothing of this cost. 

Add in the office fee that insurance would not reimburse after 2 months, and the grand total every month for my treatment was an astounding $1150.00  Still cheaper than my addiction, yes, but not by a lot.  And seeing as I had burned through so much of our savings and ran up several thousand dollars of credit card cash advances to fund my daily habit, it was not easy to find the extra funds every month.  But my husband did it.  Then I relapsed as is common with our disease, and over the years I went back to a suboxone clinic for 2 more rounds of treatment, all at great expense that was entirely out of pocket. 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I was thinking back about telling the truth, in life. Times when I had told the truth and what I believed that eventually became lies without the support of others.. Like, "I'll never do that again" for instance.  How I believed in myself for that short while, self reliance was good as far as it went as the Book says.  How one philosophy is "the truth will set you free" or honesty is the best policy. Then there are the times when I out right lied to myself and others. This led in time to telling the truth but no one would believe me. Even how in my extreme insecure emotional state I believed my lies to boost my self esteem.. Like, I remember taking a Corvette for a test ride once when I was young, maybe 18ish. In the test drive time I had behind the wheel I had enough information on a 76 Corvette to believe I had one, a blue one actually, T-tops with a four speed. Eh..When I lived in California, that's why nobody on the east coast knew.  Lies.. Lies and more lies. I was whatever I thought you wanted me to be, whatever I thought I should be to impress, gain support, control.  How do you like me so far? Let me tell you what I think you want to hear or assume you would say. It got so I couldn't tell the truth, I didn't know what it was. Besides, with a history like mine living with such low self esteem it didn't much matter what I said, the outcome was predetermined.  Truth? lies? I jockeyed for position no matter what was said. Nobody can hear me anyway. It's like I'm talking on a different wavelength. A walking infomercial, a commentator. Problem is I am trying to carry on intellectual conversations with only my emotions to guide me. I am talking at people. What you think of me is more important than what you say to me. In my extensive 4th Step I have seen myself as the worshipper of people that I am, the user.

 

Step 5 is in a way telling on myself? Letting my God know that I know? Being honest with another human? A witness? well, yeah. This is my experience. I can't speak for those who follow the order of their Religion, confession or the like. I have no experience there, that is your business. I am also not speaking of admitting your faults to a counselor or therapist or other professional authority. I have not done that and have no experience there. I am following the Big Book 12 Step directions.  I am searching for a Spiritual advisor who will keep a confidence and not try to alter my 12 Step path. For me that person is my Sponsor, a phone call away waiting.. He is actually my Spiritual Advisor. The word Sponsor is commonplace and I use it freely but in truth? If a Sponsor at all he is a Big Book 12 Step sponsor..He is the one who helped my with my search for Spiritual willingness in Step 2. He reviewed the 3rd Step idea with me until I was clear on my purpose and made my decision. He suggested using my 3rd Step prayer when I wrote in my 4th. Suggested I pray for Spiritual guidance, let my Higher Power to put the pen to the paper. When I would call him all whacked out with people places and things in my way he would suggest I ask for help first before I say anything. He has advised me well. So here I am at Step 5, why would this be any different. He is my trusted friend. He understands what I'm doing here, he himself had done a 5th Step before me. I'm not an AA guinea pig, sober lab rat, I am into the Book, not what he thinks or his newest brilliant Big Book rewrite suggests. I am ready.

 

So I have a written inventory and am prepared for a long talk like the Book says. Actually, I have a pile of notebooks. I have four (resentment) notebooks, a (fear)notebook, two (sex conduct) notebooks. I did what it said to do to the best of my ability. I prayed and got it all down on paper and looked at it like it said to do.A fearless and thorough moral inventory of myself. It was " fearless" because I prayed for courage and strength and "thorough " because I asked for help until I had nothing left to write, "moral" because it was my character, inventory. The likes of which I had never attempted or imagined for that matter. My Sponsor and I decide to not waste time like it says in the Book and begin the next night. He showed up at about 5. I was nervous as I heard the familiar plow frame rattle from his truck bouncing up my driveway. I remember being in a kind of fog really. By the end of my 4th I'd been writing for days, all day into the night. My finger had a bleeding blister from holding the pen. The house was still more or less like a bunker. Weird, I did notice I hadn't had the TV on for a while, maybe days? I also had felt good enough about myself to cook myself some decent food too. Just days before it seemed I couldn't be alone without some kind of noise or distraction from myself. It seemed as if It was ok to be alone. Like what I was now doing was more important than obsessing over my life's failings. I was beginning to get the picture here, when I let my mind wander ungoverned into fear and selfishness I'm the one that gets the beating. Maybe I didn't have to treat myself that way? Like the "better way" described in the fear part of the 4th. I would begin to care for myself? Willing to pray for direction? I still could not understand how this was all happening by writing down a bunch of crap. I didn't understand the Spiritual realm of things I had begun to tap in to. I was basically just reading and writing, following directions and things were changing, just like the Book said they would.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

The way we talk to people about making changes in their lives has a huge impact on whether they will be open to our feedback. Whether you're confronting a loved one about substance abuse, a destructive behavior, or any emotionally-charged issue, utilizing positive communication can affect how you are heard.

This is true for therapists talking to clients, doctors talking to patients, and family members talking to a loved one they are concerned about. Luckily, there are very specific and effective ways to construct a communication so that it goes well and that both parties in the conversation feel respected and understood.

Even if there is not "full agreement" in the end, positive communication skills help move a conversation along effectively and work toward building a solid foundation of respect and a platform for increasingly meaningful exchanges in the future. These skills not only help to improve conversations about serious issues like substance use or destructive behaviors (like spending, gambling, or eating too much), they also help with the little conversations required for smooth family functioning, like simply talking about chores getting done.

When we say "positive communication skills," we don't just mean communicating with a tone of happiness. The goal is not to be a cheerleader, but rather to be effective and to build up connection, even when discussing difficult, emotionally charged issues. In other words, positive communication is about you feeling good about how you handled your approach to the subject and that you maintained and met your values and goals in the conversation. So, first, let's review the seven guidelines to positive communication (Adapted from: Smith, J., & Myers, R. (2004). Motivating substance abusers to enter treatment: working with family members. New York: Guilford Press.)

Be Brief

Being brief has two meanings: keep it short and keep it on topic. When upset or angry, everyone can have a tendency to bring up lots of old issues in an effort to prove their current point. Stay focused on the topic of the moment (for example, "I want to have dinner with you when you are not drinking") and resist tossing in a variety of other topics ("and you're always showing up late and don't bother to call"). Communications work best when they are very focused.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

If you are a therapist working with a client who is in a relationship with someone who seems to have a substance problem...  or if you are a family member of someone with a substance problem, you have probably heard suggestions that include distancing yourself, using tough love or detaching until your loved one bottoms out and decides to change. You can turn on the TV and hear about interventions and celebrity rehab stays. What you probably have not heard is that families can be tremendously helpful, can influence change in their loved one, and can influence positive change in themselves. There are strategies for helping that have been proven in studies to be very effective but have been very poorly disseminated into the public and into the professional treatment world... but they exist!

Family members who are worried about a loved one's substance use understandably feel everything from annoyance to terror and desperation. And there's a huge range in what might provoke worry: maybe there's concern about a wife's increased drinking after the kids went to college; maybe a friend is looking more disheveled and could be using pills; maybe an adult son doesn't return calls anymore and smokes a lot of pot; maybe a brother is back in treatment, again, for methamphetamine abuse.

As a psychologist working in the field of substance abuse treatment, I am in direct contact with families every day with a full range of serious problems. I know that substance abuse problems vary in terms of severity, fright and heartbreak, and yet I am optimistic! Not because I'm naïve or think these problems are no big deal, but because I know change is possible. In research and clinical work alike, I've seen the evidence over the past 40 years that families and friends make a difference in helping someone who struggles with drinking, drugs or other compulsive behaviors. Often, it is the critical difference.

There is in fact a science of change: methods like Motivational Interviewing, family and individually-based cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), and certain medications, all have clear rates of success in both getting people into treatment and also achieving successful outcomes. Unfortunately, these approaches are only recently becoming more widely used and the culture and many programs continue to operate under a "belief" system rather than what scientists, researchers and doctors have worked so hard to give us -- options for change that are effective with a wider range of people struggling with substance use disorders.

One myth about substance abuse that prevents people from getting help -- and inhibits people from trying to help them -- is that treatment is equated with intensive, residential "rehab" and believed to be the starting point of all change. But in fact, there are many treatment options and substantial evidence that outpatient treatment is at least as effective in most cases and often a better place to start. Since 1996, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has recommended starting with the least intensive treatment that is safe. Dr. Mark Willenbring, former director of the Treatment and Recovery Research Division of NIAAA, describes how the vast majority of people who could benefit from help don't get it, in part because the system is designed to treat the most severe problems, while the culture dictates waiting until someone "hits bottom" -- in other words, waiting until problems become severe.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Well, I've got a house full of family women for the weekend, partner with breast cancer getting tired from radiation everyday, mother inlaw with dementia, wild and fun family friend up from North Carolina..everywhere scattered, bedrooms, couch..I'm up early and tip toeing around as they were all up late last night laughing and having fun. I myself hit a meeting and took the long way home on my antique FJ1200. My big Jap. I always had the Harleys too but the Japanese superbike technology is just better? Yikes! I'm an old guy really, 50's. But there is something about a stock 27 year old motorcycle with 130 horsepower that still rocks me..I like old stuff. It's like my antique submariner, people think having a Rolex is an ego thing. I can't really deny this? They don't realize though, that for those of us who wear one? We share a kind of bond. The watch gives me super powers right? There isn't anything close for me, certainly no decoder ring.. I used to sleep where ever I fell down, now I wear a Rolex. Eh, it did take about 20 years to get it but hey, who's counting? Oh, and I haven't found it necessary to dump it for dope.

 

So it's a new day and I'm up first naturally. I found a safe place out back at the picnic table. When I ran power out here I never thought it would be to plug in my laptop, cool. I just wanted light for the grill. The sun is coming up and it's peaceful, seagulls yacking. I did my Step 11 upon awakening on my knees, I'm pretty focused, grateful for another day of sobriety ahead. Eventually these gals will all get up and I'll take them out to breakfast. Simmy's in Fairhaven probably. Small place, kinda tight seating but Great light fluffy pancakes and real orange juice, not too much, a good breakfast, not a pig out.. Plus the "girl food" like fresh fruit and yogert, banana nut bread. What a sexist right? lol.. I'm grateful I can do that, I can be a man today, what I believe a man should be, I can buy everyone breakfast, I work for my money. I want to share the benefits of a good days work with others. It's a Step 12 thing to me. There was many a day that I woke up alone and broke, just wishing for the end. Obsessed with things I can't have, not caring enough about myself to take care of myself..That's gone for today, I get a daily reprieve. So anyway, I may as well write for a while here on Addictionland, they haven't thrown me off yet. Big Book 12 Steps are a different animal and well? not for everyone that's for sure. Just me, the Big Book 12 Steps have saved my life today, maybe it will be that way with you. So, where am I here? I guess I left off finishing up my fears so now I'm on the last part of my Big Book 4th Step, sex. Now about sex. Big Book page 68.

 

Still have my place where I can be quiet and write. My pen and new notebook, Book opened to Step 3 prayer to remind myself what I'm doing here. Remember I need courage and strength from the Higher Power if I'm going to be honest with myself. So on my knees I pray to pick up the pen and put it to the paper, write down and face the things in myself that are blocking me from the sunlight of the Spiritual Path suggested in the Big Book.. Again I go back through my life and make a list like I did with fears and resentments in the first and second parts of my inventory. . This list is of my sex conduct, people I had sex with. Immediately I am reminded of a couple of instances around sex in my past that horrify me yet I have never been able to make them go away. The best I can do on my own is keep them secret. But the problem remains, I can't keep the secret from myself.  I ask for help and just add them to my list. I am afraid of what my Sponsor will think if he finds out how selfish I have been but whatever, he mentioned a few things to me that actually seem worse than my horror shows so I'll keep writing. I'm not alone or unique. Like it says, we all have sex problems we'd hardly be human if we didn't, what can we do about them? I can see how this crap does block me, man it has some power. Guilt and shame, remorse, impending doom, betrayal, fear. It marks me like I've been emotionally tattooed for life in a few minutes.. memory's,  tunnel vision. Sexual abuse. Expected to make adult decisions at 10 years old.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

In my memoir, as the smoke clears, I mention briefly that I attended & completed an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).  While I have no bias, since I had both beneficial and negative experiences, I chose this topic to write about for my 1st blog post with addictionland, because while talking with others, I am often surprised that IOP's are not as well known about as a treatment option as other standard methods.  I have done some research and I hope you all find this piece informational & interesting. I look forward to answering any questions. 

~Erika Cormier

 

Outpatient treatment methods have long been a first-line treatment choice for many who seek treatment for addiction and have often been the only level of treatment, accessible for a large population for various reasons from cost to ease of access, and with steady numbers of definite results.  We know the outpatient category of treatment includes replacement therapies such as methadone and suboxone/subutex/naltrexone, etc., which are often used in conjunction with non-pharmaceutical treatment through other outpatient service models, like individual substance abuse counseling & psychotherapy, group counseling sessions, as well as regular follow up with a primary care physician or a psychiatrist for the added treatment of depression, bipolar or anxiety in dual-diagnosis patients, or those experiencing temporary mood changes common in people new to recovery and sobriety. 

The outpatient level of care has successfully treated millions of addicts spanning several decades with a better than fair success rate.  One area of outpatient addiction treatment which has grown tremendously in popularity and accessibility across the country in recent years is the treatment referred to as "IOP’s", or Intensive Outpatient Programs.  IOP’s have long existed as a separate treatment model but have become much more commonly recommended by professionals to their patients following the release from inpatient hospitalization or detoxification, in order to more effectively integrate patients into the community, thereby lowering the rate of return to inpatient hospitalization. 

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

More and more, people are trying to quit smoking by replacing their tobacco-filled cigarette with an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette. The good news is that by using e-cigs instead of regular cigarettes, the smoker is no longer exposing his lungs to smoke multiple times a day. The bad news is that e-cigarettes

 

Still contain nicotine 

Contain other chemicals that are not regulated in any way

Are unproven in terms of their ability to help people quit smoking

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Synthetic Drug Overdose Rates Rising

 

Synthetic drugs like K2 and spice are not just a flash-in-the-pan trend – nor are they harmless. The rate of overdose caused by the use and abuse of synthetic substances is on the rise, and it’s a problem that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. 

 

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), synthetic drugs were first identified in the US in 2008; only two different kinds were identified in 2009. In 2012, however, 51 new versions of synthetic cannabinoids and 31 new types of synthetic cathinones were identified. Additionally, another 76 versions of synthetic substances were seized on the black market in 2012, bringing the total number of new types of the drug to 158. 

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