Tag Archives: anxiety

Free Will In Addiction Recovery

23 Dec

recovery

A drug is a drug is a drug… the question asked was if “I am just an addict, does that mean that I can still drink alcohol?” While this question always leads to a heavy debate of life experience, personalities and sheer ignorance, my answer to this question would be No.  If followed the logic of this statement – that would mean that since I am ‘just’ an alcoholic I can go and use other mind altering substances to my heart’s content because they aren’t my drug of choice.

Flawed logic.

Powerful. Cunning. Baffling.

Alcohol & drugs are all of these things.

Of course I would love an excuse to use a mind altering substance… why wouldn’t my disease convince me that it was okay to do so. My disease thrives on this… it’s a form of chaos, confusion and justification for unhealthy behaviors that I know will feel good. The only reason I put addictive substance into my body is to feel good, numb, with a false sense of control.

If you are asking yourself if drinking is okay because you are an addict, not an alcoholic… then your relapse has already occurred.

My drinking was an external manifestation of my disease. It was a symptom of the spiritual sickness that existed, and still exists, within me. Drifting into the land of complacency and justification for behaviors and actions that we know are not healthy for us is frightening. How far will we push the boundaries of what is acceptable, permitted and healthy for our recovery?

I know that many will disagree with me, but if I don’t have the truth of ‘a drug is a drug is a drug’ imbedded into my psyche, I will quickly slide to a place that I never wish to return to again for the rest of my life. For me the answer is total abstinence. For you the answer may be different. Try some controlled drinking… see how that works for you.

If I could drink like a normal person I’d drink every day. Let that last statement sit with you for a short period of time. See if you grasp what that statement of supposed fact actually means.

Then… . you will realize that saying you are ‘just’ an addict and therefore can drink alcohol… is nothing but your disease whispering sweet nothings into your ear.. Your disease is hoping, praying and working damn hard to be actively alive. Whether or not it succeeds…well… that’s up to you.

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Recovery Is A Crazy Place

19 Jun

Recently I have seen a lot of forum topics and headlines discussing mental health and addiction. As someone who is labeled as “dual-diagnosed”, this topic hits close to home. Steadfast supporters sit on both sides of the fence. The group chanting “no meds” rivals the group chanting, “treat the mental illness and the addiction is cured ”. I have very little time for extremists. Both mental health and addiction are personal issues that the afflicted individual has to come to terms with. I don’t feel that taking medication for mental health issues threatens ones sobriety, if they are working a strong program. In my opinion, if you are seeing a great shrink and they understand addiction, they must promote holistic well-being. If they don’t, seek a second opinion. My doctor insists that I deal with my addiction first, working one day at a time to stay sober. The use of low doses of medication to manage the bi-polar is suggested and it has worked for me. When someone deals with mental illness combined with addiction, they must come to terms with recovery and their personal mental health.

People like to talk about balance, saying that life is all about creating a way to manage everything at the same time. I prefer the term harmony. Finding balance is stress inducing and ends up being fruitless. I view my life as sheet music. I see the elements of my life as notes and if I’m having a good day they don’t sound off key. Some days the harmony is beautiful and other days it’s dark and disturbing. Regardless of how the song of the day pans out, it always reflects the real me. I strive for harmony between my recovery, my mental health and living moment to moment. The majority of the time, it works.

I am aware of what outside influences trigger a manic. I’m a member of the “all manic all the time” club, I don’t get depressed. I may crash and burn for a few days but for the most part, my bipolar encourages my mind and body to go go go. No one likes to see me in a full- blown manic, trust me it’s not pretty. I have had rage issues since I was a toddler and when a manic occurs, all of my tact filters fly out of the window.  The exact same thing happens when I drink. You can imagine what the combination of drinking and being manic induces. Utter nightmare. I manage my sobriety and recovery on a day-by-day basis. While I don’t adhere to any specific recovery method, my program is strong and has a solid foundation. The combination allows me to maintain some type of harmony.

The Addicted Project Gives Us Asylum

10 Jun

“redemption will be lost ~ unless I fall to my knees in surrender” ~me

This past week I have been on a mission. I have been exploring different platforms and submitting writing samples to anything that caught my eye. My motivation?  I wasn’t working an agenda or going after recognition, I was simply curious Would my writing merit positive feedback from platforms that represent or inform the addiction recovery community? The results have been eye-opening, flattering and in one case, life changing.

I stumbled upon The Addicted Project on Facebook one evening. After taking a gander at their site, I had the biggest shit eating grin on my face.  I jotted down a quick email to the founder, inquiring about the possibility of being a contributor for one edition of their journal named Asylum.

Statement Of Purpose:
“The Addicted Project works to create positive personal, social, spiritual change by harnessing the power of music, art, and literature and those who love it. We view all forms of self expression as a tool for recovery, therapy, community building, leadership development and action.

“The Addicted Project is produced by individuals in recovery for people in recovery. In other words, you are The Addicted Project.”

The name alone is brilliant. ~Asylum ~ So many elements are contained within that single word. Asylum will impact a population of individuals in a way that is utterly brilliant and with a style all it’s own. Not only did the scope of The Addicted Project exceed my initial reaction, it blew me out of the damn water with the personalities driving this project. They are crashing through the glass ceiling of what is available to the addicted and recovery communities. It’s about damn time someone stepped up to the plate.

I didn’t realize the magnitude, intensity and just sheer joy I would experience based off of an exchange of emails and phone conversations. The creator of The Addicted Project and his beautiful significant other just rock. Open, brutally truthful, no bullshit with a solid mission. That is a combination that is rarely seen anywhere, let alone in the addiction recovery industry. Yes folks, it is an industry. Quite honestly, I was shell-shocked when I was asked to hop on board. I honestly didn’t bank on being accepted. I exhaled a breath of satisfaction knowing that my unconventional, anti-establishment philosophies and eccentric nature would be understood.

While I don’t always go with the flow of societal expectations on WomanInRecovery, there are many subjects, opinions, views, musings and laments that I haven’t posted. Why? Quite frankly I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested. Oh how wrong I was & Oh how sweet the past few days have been as I put pen to paper.

There is a light and a dark side of recovery. While many prefer to live in the light, for my own sanity I return to some of the grim realities that encompassed my addiction and my recovery. This is life ladies and gentlemen, and while the scenery changes, it ain’t always pretty. Being sober does not entitle you to everything and life doesn’t owe you anything. There is no shiny prize for living life as a responsible adult. The true benefits of living in recovery are those which we work our asses off to achieve.

Light does exist when you are sober. Happiness, humor and joy are all found in recovery. However ~ there is another side. This side is all kinds of gray and black. During these moments the simple act of waking up can be a struggle and breathing is a conscious act. Without facing the dark, the ability to embrace the future will continue to allude you. There are two sides, two natures and two faces of recovery. Both play critical roles. The grittier sides of recovery and addiction are where I plan to invest some energy, it is long past due.

I have been given an amazing opportunity, a one in a million chance to explore and express elements of my past addicted life and my present recovery that have been clawing at my psyche. I have the chance to be raw and uncensored in a publication that is unlike anything anyone has ever seen.

I am beyond trilled to have been warmly welcomed and given a seat at The Addicted Project table. Words are unable to express the emotion of encountering a project that just “fits”, but I will  leave you with this sentiment. This is going to be one hell of a ride. Giddy up!

Addiction: The Eternal Trickster

23 May

The face of addiction is a trickster. Much like the legendary stories of Coyote, Loki & Crow, addiction takes on many forms.

Definition of a trickster:  the one given by Lewis Hyde: “trickster is a boundary-crosser” (7). By that, he means that the trickster crosses both physical and social boundaries– the trickster is often a traveler, and he often breaks societal rules. Tricksters cross lines, breaking or blurring connections and distinctions between “right and wrong, sacred and profane, clean and dirty, male and female, young and old, living and dead” (Hyde 7). The trickster often changes shape (turning into an animal, for example) to cross between worlds. In his role as boundary-crosser, the trickster sometimes becomes the messenger of the gods. Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.

Unlike its folklore counterparts, the addiction trickster does not have a culturally heroic aspect of its personality. The addiction trickster lives in your mind, whispers in your ear and controls your dreams. The addiction trickster fools you into believing three heinous thoughts:

  • You are wiser than your addiction
  • You are stronger than your disease
  • You have the power to control every aspect of your life

The addiction trickster will hand you a warm and cuddly blanket of complacency in order to reinforce those false beliefs. The addiction trickster delivers a false sense of reality, leading one to believe that consequences do not exist. The addiction trickster wants the recovering individual to believe that becoming complacent is safe. To be complacent is anything but safe.

Complacent Is A Dirty Word

Complacent is one of the most dangerous words in the dictionary. A slippery slope exists between authentic comfort and the illusion that all is well. If we end up in the pit of illusion, our saving grace is passion. Passion reminds us of why we are blessed to be on this plane of existence. Passion fuels our desire to make a lasting impression on the planet. Passion is what breaths fire into life. The flames of passion are not always extinguished in one fell swoop. For many in recovery our flames slowly die out as complacency breathes in the oxygen needed to fuel our passion. Does this mean that one must be obsessed with addiction in order to conquer the addiction trickster? Obsessed No ~ Vigilant Yes!

Vigilant VS Complacent

I adhere to the belief that addiction is a disease. I have a disease. My brain and my body do not react to alcohol in a “normal” fashion. Every morning I am thankful for another moment of reprieve. For me, addiction is a manageable disease. My disease is manageable IF I do the work. There is no cure but there are measures I can take to maintain sobriety. The most universal tool in my toolbox is vigilance.

Vigilance encompasses being aware of your emotional response while obsession feeds off of your emotions. The addiction trickster’s goal is to elicit an emotional response of hubris, by tricking you into believing that you have a “hold” on your addiction. If the addiction trickster wins, the recovering individual is fooled into believing they are in control.  The cold hard truth is… you are not in control.

Vigilance empowers you to be mindful of your emotional response and take responsibility for the decision you make. For example, if a person is “obsessing” over environmental factors that may “trigger” them to use, chances are, they will use. Take this same individual but replace obsession with vigilance. Now they are aware of their environment, aware of their emotional responses and able to discern the best way to solidify their recovery foundation.

Consciousness To The Rescue

By simply exchanging “vigilance” for “obsession” your mindset shifts in a direction that will prove beneficial. While those in recovery will never achieve “control”, we can develop a “conscious”. Having a conscious that serves you is priceless. Don’t let the addiction trickster gain more power in your psyche ~ the addiction trickster can’t afford the rent.

Purpose & Clarity: Two Blessings In Recovery

2 May

Reality Shows Involving Addiction

There are many opinions regarding reality shows that put the spotlight on addiction. The top shows are Celebrity Rehab and Intervention. My view on if these shows are helpful or hurtful doesn’t apply to this specific blog post. This post deals with one show, Relapse, which premiered this season. The premise is that a sober coach intervenes on an addict that is active (having never stopped or having relapsed) and this coach has one week for the addict to make the decision to enter treatment. The show follows the day-to-day activities of the addict, including the obtaining and use of their drug of choice. The sober coaches that are on this show are professional individuals, not actors, not doctors, not medical professionals but people that have decided to make it their mission to help those that are unable to help themselves. The sober coach enters the addict’s life when everyone has given up on them.

The gutter is where these individuals exist, the utter bottom of society. They do not see any hope and they are at their bottom. These addicts are truly at the juncture of life and death. They are unable to do anything but use, they exist to use, their soul is lost to their addiction. The sober coaches understand exactly where these addicts are. Several of them have been addicted themselves. I admire the work that they do. This is the work that I am being called to do.

Why I Watch

My purpose or goal in life has never been as focused as it is at the current moment. We are all survivors of something; we have all endured our relative hells. I didn’t intend for this to be the path that I would choose. I always assumed that I would finish my degree and work a regular 9-5. I should have known that my life would take a different turn.

I have never felt such passion for a goal. I have never worked as hard as I work now, with the desired result being to work as a sober companion. It may sound cheesy but it just feels “right”. I adore the recovery community. While my roots are in traditional 12-Step philosophies I love the different approaches that are available. I love reading threads on articles and stories about addiction. The opinions that differ from mine only strengthen my resolve that what I have done has worked for me. Recovery is unique and I do not approach it in a cookie-cutter manner. I truly believe that help is available and hope is a possibility for anyone who is ready and willing.

One of the reasons I enjoy watching reality television that deals with addiction is that these programs remind me of where I was. The knowledge that I never want to return to that place is reinforced. While watching Relapse, I am encouraged that there is a specific occupation that involves my purpose. I do not know when I will have the right amount of training, resume, experience and sober time to achieve this goal, but I am patient. I am willing to listen and willing to learn. It is by being willing that I know this lofty ambition will indeed become a reality. I know that my sanity, my sobriety and my recovery will remain possible, if I work in the addiction field.

A Future Of Hope

I am enjoying this journey. The individuals that I have met on and offline offer encouragement, experience, hope and strength. They are what keep me sober. I’ve been dry, I’ve been sober and now I am in recovery. It is the most amazing experience in my life. For the first time, in a long time, I am looking forward to a future filled with possibility. Nothing compares to that and nothing ever will.

Addiction: Another Place Where Women Aren’t Equal

3 Apr

The percentage of women who suffer from anxiety, depression and suicide is much higher in women suffering with addiction as opposed to men.

In a world where women are hardly equal to men in many regards, it is not surprising that women have a higher chance of suffering from some serious conditions due to their addiction. This fact raises an important question:

What is being done, in a pro-active manner, do deal with this hardcore issue for women addicts?

It is apparent that the recovery industry (because it is indeed an industry) is taking notice of the different needs for women addicts. Treatment facilities that offer services only to women seem to be opening up at an increased rate. This isn’t to say that men who suffer from addiction don’t experience dangers, but for women addiction has always been a different ballgame.

The stigma surrounding women addicts in our society has always had a harsh connotation. If a woman is a mother, the reality is even more severe. Their ability to be a good mother, a good provider for the household and a better human being comes into question if they have the disease of addiction. The majority of men who are addicts tend to have a more sympathetic and understanding ear from society. Women addicts tend to be frowned upon, as if being a woman and having an addiction was something they actively engaged in. Addicts have one choice and only one choice, which is the decision to pick up and use just one time. After that, chemically they are unable to have control over when to stop. Are addiction treatment centers taking note of the specific needs of the woman addict?

truly hope that they are. There are psychological needs that all addicts must attend to upon initially getting sober. One of the biggest misconceptions that I have encountered is that when the woman, wife, mother, sister or daughter returns home from treatment that everything will be hunky dory. This is simply not the case. There is no reality where an addict, upon leaving treatment, is transformed into the warped reality of who they should have been. There is no basis for comparison between who the addict was and whom the addict will turn into. We don’t revert, well actually we can revert and that is when relapse becomes an issue. The point is that when the addict returns from treatment they are not going to fit into a cookie cutter mold of the false expectations (due to a false reality) based on what their friends and family want. How should we expect the addict, who is now in recovery to act?

There is no simple answer. We are all unique and in truth, the addict in recovery doesn’t have a clue who they are becoming because everything they are experiencing is new and raw. Equate their behavior to the age when they first began to use. They are going to have to grow-up and mature all over again because they were extremely sick the first time through. The message is to not have any specific expectation. This goes for the addict in recovery as well. Release the outcome and let nature take its course. Trying to demand or expect the addict in recovery to become someone they aren’t will be a futile fight. For the addict, trying to become something based on someone else’s expectations will leave you hollow, empty, frustrated and alone. Thereby proving the statistics that say that women suffer from more emotional distress true.

Don’t feel like you have to conform to a social construct of a perfect identity. When you become sober you will have no idea who you are, what you are or what you need. These elements will come in time. Simply keep the faith that the universe will get you caught up emotionally and place you on the path leading towards a meaningful recovery. The important thing to remember is that you have a voice and investing energy into where you use the power of your words will give women in recovery the ability to overcome the stigma attached to their disease by modern society. The result:  lower number of women suffering the psychological aftermath of a disease that is out of their initial control and the ability for these women to live a life with intention of purpose.

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