Life is an incredible gift. I know that when I look into a sky smeared with colors of a warm sunset, or I share moments of true happiness with those closest to me. I feel that this life is something so amazing there are no words intense or beautiful enough to express it. This is coming from someone who used to wake up to a life shaded in a fog of depression and fear, wishing to die and hating myself and everything around me in active addiction. When drinking and using drugs I felt confined to a cycle of life that seemed hopeless, and no part of it felt remotely happy or genuinely fulfilling. However in sobriety I have found that the quality of life that is possible, the one you deserve, is a life of freedom, faith, and love. No life is perfect, but the life you deserve can give your perspective a way to see it as a glass half full, and it’s all possible in recovery.
When they say in the rooms of recovery that you will know a new freedom and a new happiness, when you establish sobriety through a program of action, it is everything it’s cracked up to be. The levels of freedom obtained in a life of sobriety are beyond what most people initially expect coming into recovery.
In sobriety the freedom from the desperation of active addiction is something remarkable. To be able to wake up and go about your day without the physical pains and symptoms of not having that drink or drug to settle your withdrawals, or put your scattered mind at easy long enough to be miserable, is one of the first great freedoms you can reach in recovery. After medical detox your body begins to heal itself from that physical dependence, and in many cases your health will already start to improve.
Once a little effort and honest work has been put into understanding your addiction and you have taken the necessary steps to grow as a sober individual, there are new opportunities for freedoms every day. In sobriety we ultimately gain the ability to go anywhere and be exposed to all types of life without fear, provided we maintain our sobriety through our actions and practicing our principles. The life you deserve is one of liberation from the substances and the shame, from the fear and the physical pain. This kind of freedom for an addict or alcoholic is well worth fighting for.
The life you deserve is one full of faith, or hope, if you prefer. Essentially the life you get in sobriety is not built around fear and anxiety. You no longer have to try and manipulate the way things are, or the way you would have them play out. Life is so much more beautiful when we are able to trust the process and put faith in the fact that things will be OK without having to stress over the outcomes and circumstances. Not everything always goes your way, but this life offers perspective.
That faith is not just in the world around us, it is also faith in ourselves. While drinking or using drugs we take the faith out of the equation and poison ourselves and our future. Addicts and alcoholics typically have a great deal of issues within themselves that they have struggled to deal with, and rather than cope they blot it out with using or drinking. The life you deserve, and the one you can achieve with the right action, creates new self-worth, self-awareness and confidence.
In sobriety I have been given the chance to live by spiritual principles, and those principles allow for me to trust in a power greater than myself, and to trust in my abilities as an individual in order to grow and prosper. My faith was built on the grounds that once I put faith in the fact recovery was even possible and it was shown to me again and again how it had been done, I resolved to follow that path and trust that it would change my life. I can honestly say every day is amazing, because I don’t wake up hopeless any more.
I might sound crazy but The Beetles said it best, all you need is love. Love in my opinion is the essence of our lives and the reason we live. Love is the magic we are made of, and it is the infinitely expanding and evolving energy that makes up all things. The life you deserve, the one you will have once you make the decision to reach out and get it, has a great capacity to give and receive love on a whole new level.
In active addiction we cut ourselves off from feeling just about anything, including love. We drink or use drugs to numb away the pain, and at the same time we cut ourselves off from appreciating the kinds of love we do get from those closest to us. As an addict I know I had so many people in my life that meant a lot to me, but the relationships I had during that time were jaded by drugs and alcohol. I didn’t honestly receive and appreciate the love that others gave me, and any compassion or affection I attempted to give was diluted.
The life you can have in sobriety is one that gives you the power and inspiration to break down the barriers you have set up between you and the people around you. Life in recovery is about overcoming our deepest defects, growing in our awareness and understanding, and creating relationships that are meaningful. We as creatures of love have such an incredible capacity to give love to others, and we get the best out of this life when we help others. Whether it is just a few kind words or a life-long commitment to trust and honor one another, we can improve our life and the life of someone else by helping them.
Not every day is perfect, and not everyone will live this way. We all have the potential to live this kind of life; where we are free from drugs and alcohol to be whatever we want to be, where we can put faith in ourselves and in the world around us to rise to the occasion, and where we can love one another unconditionally. The world would be an infinitely better place if we could all take these chances seriously, but too many people don’t and in turn they miss out on some of these possibilities. You deserve this life, and if you want it you need only seek it, and be willing to see it through the tough times.
Not everyone gets to live the life they deserve, because not everyone gets the help they need. But anyone can have this kind of life and there is so much help for those who want it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
Procrastination can be the biggest thing standing between us and the goals we need to reach in order to change our lives. It has been said that the only thing stopping you from reaching your fullest potential is you, and this is especially true when you don’t make a plan of action and commit to seeing it through. Procrastination is a true enemy of our success, and it all starts with our attitude towards getting motivated and the process by which we reach each accomplishment. In the case of recovery from substance abuse or addiction, the concept of procrastination can be a life or death choice that we make, and our life can depend on how long we are putting off going to treatment or getting help. Here is a list of 4 ways to stop procrastinating and GET IT DONE!
1. Clarify the Outcome
When you have been putting something so important off for so long, sometimes it’s easy to forget why you had set that goal in the first place. In the case of treatment for drugs or alcohol, this typically isn’t the biggest concern because addiction is usually a daily struggle. Even so, make sure that you take the time to review what it is you’re hoping to accomplish with getting help.
Re-examine your current situation and the circumstances surrounding the problem, look at where you are and try to give yourself an idea of where you would want to be once you can begin the process of change. Give yourself time to think about what the goal is, if it’s going to treatment, seeking therapy, or getting honest with others about the problem to get the help you need. Paint yourself a picture of the desired outcome and believe in it. Then make a plan of action to map out that outcome.
2. Find Support
Telling others about this goal is a good start, that way when you start to shrug it off as unimportant or even forget about the goal, there is someone there to support the decision and remind you of why you need to work towards it. If you tell a few of your friends, colleagues, acquaintances or family about your outcome, it is likely that whenever you see them they will ask you about your status on that goal, and try their best to motivate your progress.
Even the buddy system can be very effective. A companion makes the whole process much easier because ideally they will do what they can to hold you accountable. In the case of getting treatment for drugs or alcohol it is best to get someone you do not drink or use with, and make sure they can stay consistent.
3. Stay Inspired
Surrounding yourself with a group of inspiring individuals is another great way to get motivated and to keep moving toward a goal. When we procrastinate it is a good idea to spend time with people who do not procrastinate, and who actually thrive off of the momentum of progress and the completion of goals. People who seek to grow and achieve are more likely to put us in the mood to do more.
One of the best inspirational people to spend time with is someone who has already done whatever it is you need to accomplish. If you are trying to get help for drugs or alcohol, spend time with someone who has been through a treatment program before, or who has an active program of recovery, so they can share some experience with you. These people will definitely understand you hesitation and stress the importance of pushing through your procrastination to obtain a solution.
4. GET IT DONE!
The truth behind it all is that all the planning and research you do will not matter in the end if you do not TAKE ACTION. There are a lot of guides we can set up for ourselves and co-signers we can appoint to try and keep us on task, but procrastinators are also very good at setting up obstacles and excuses. We cannot let ourselves be fooled into thinking we have forever to get it done.
Addiction and substance abuse is fierce, cunning, and fatal. The more time someone puts off getting help, the harder it can be to actually get the help because the person will have sunk deeper into the grips of the illness. Every day we wait to get help is a day we are gambling with our lives. If you know you need that change to save your life, don’t wait for someone else to give it to you, take that chance and be that change. GET IT DONE!
Procrastination can keep us from being the best versions of ourselves, and it is just one of the ways we fight against our true selves and the future we want. But taking the right steps to overcome the excuses can be the first steps in saving us from ourselves and our afflictions. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please DO NOT wait until it’s too late! Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
As parents of addicts, you are probably feeling frustrated and scared about just what that means. You probably have lots of questions about your child’s disease as well as how to go about helping them and understandably so. Addiction is a scary matter and, without experience or information, that fear can paralyze families dealing with a child who is addicted, keeping them from taking the necessary steps to help their child as well as begin to heal from the damage addiction leaves in its wake.
Here are some common questions parents ask: part two of a series.
1. What is addiction? Isn’t it a choice?
The main working definition of addiction is that it’s a chronic, progressive, relapsing disorder. What that means is that it’s long-term (chronic), gets worse over time (progressive), and as a high incidence of returning to previous using behaviors (relapsing). The good news about that last part is that relapse doesn’t have to happen; that there’s help available in the form of specialized substance abuse and addiction treatment (commonly referred to as ‘rehab’).
Addiction is recognized by the medical community as a medical condition that affects the brain, in fact, there are studies that reveal differences in the brains of addicts when compared to brains of non-addicts. As best as we can understand right now, there are both genetic and environmental factors that lead to the development of addiction. That said, addiction is not a choice; no one ever decides to become an addict. And willpower alone cannot keep an addict from using. That’s why treatment and a program of recovery are recommended for the disease of addiction. Just to be clear, treatment does not provide a cure – there is no cure for addiction. However, someone’s disease of addiction can be arrested and that person can be in remission from their disease, kind of like when someone is in remission from cancer.
2. Am I to blame for my child’s addiction?
The short answer is: No. As mentioned above, there are both genetic and environmental variables that contribute to causing your child’s addiction. As it stands now, there is no way to know whether or not someone will become an addict.
3. Can I force my child into treatment?
There are ways that you can make your child go to rehab. First of all, you can try talking to them about your concerns. Read here for some suggestions.
If that doesn’t work, there are legal avenues you can take as a way to get your child into treatment, even if they won’t go willingly. For instance, Florida has the Marchman Act, which is a law that enables family members to get help for a loved one who is unwilling to seek substance abuse services voluntarily. Florida also has a law called the Baker Act that is a means of getting emergency services and temporary confinement for mental health evaluation and treatment when required, either on a voluntary or an involuntary basis.
Every state has its own version of this type of law. You can research online what kinds of statutes your state provides in situations where there is a need for intervention.
4. What is Dual Diagnosis treatment?
Many people struggling with substance abuse and addiction also have a co-existing, or co-occurring, mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. This situation is called “dual diagnosis.” Sometimes, it is the psychological disorder underlying the substance abuse, other times, the mental illness is brought on by or exacerbated by the use of chemicals. In either case, there are specialized drug treatment programs known as ‘dual diagnosis’ that treat both medical conditions simultaneously. This has been found to be the most effective way to treat children and adults with co-occurring disorders.
5. Is 30 days necessary?
Your addicted child might try to convince you that they just need to go to the detox portion of treatment, which usually only lasts a few days to a week. The point of the detox program is to ease your child’s withdrawal symptoms as this can be a particularly painful, and sometimes life-threatening, part of the treatment process. However, there isn’t much learning or education – rehabilitation as it were – that takes place during this stage of treatment.
Completing a full 30 days of rehab is highly suggested, and continuing with an aftercare program (see #6) is optimal for a better chance at success of staying clean and sober once completing the program. Addiction is a lifelong disease and, as we said in #1, there is no cure, only remission – what is commonly called recovery. Your child has a much better chance if they complete the 30 days (and beyond).
6. What about after rehab?
It is highly recommended that your child follow their aftercare plan – something they will develop with their therapist while in rehab. An aftercare program usually involves attending an intensive outpatient program (IOP) while living in a halfway house or sober house. Working a program of recovery, such as joining a 12 step fellowship, is also a strongly suggested part of aftercare.
If you suspect that your child is using drugs, including alcohol, and you think they might be addicted, help is available. Call an Addiction Specialist at toll-free 1-800-777-9588 today – we are available around the clock to answer your questions as well as share our resources. You are not alone.
Every day is its own story, an important piece of the journey that both reveals and recreates who we are and what we contribute to the grand scheme of life. It has been said that every day is a gift, and for those of us in recovery from alcoholism or addiction this could not be any truer. So as individuals in recovery there is a certain amount of effort and awareness we should apply to our daily lives in order to effectively celebrate and keep our sobriety.
For myself, I have created a short series of questions I try to incorporate into my daily affairs. There are a lot of spiritual principles I do my best to practice, but this check list helps me sum up some of the core concepts, and brings F.A.I.T.H. into my life when I start to slack. These 4 questions you should ask yourself EVERY DAY could help you find the significance in each day’s journey, and help you raise your awareness of your personal purpose.
Every day I ask myself… Did I:
(F)- Follow suggestions?
One of the biggest parts of working an active program of recovery is taking suggestions. When a sponsor or fellow sober support lends a suggestion, it is a pretty safe assumption that they are giving you that suggestion because it is something they have learn through experience is going to help you and your recovery in the long run.
Suggestions are just that, they are suggestions. They are not strict rules or demands, they are advice and strategies handed down to us from those who have struggled as we have struggled, or who have seen the effects of something we are doing that has a potential to hurt us.
I ask myself on a regular basis if I am following the suggestions given to me by my sponsor, because I know he has experienced a lot of things in active alcoholism and addiction, and in sobriety, that I can either relate to or I’m currently experiencing. I also see how the knowledge from that experience has matured his sobriety and cultured his life, so I should remember to get the same results I need to take the appropriate action.
(A)- Accept myself and my faults?
It is not always easy to take an honest look at ourselves and accept our character defects and faults, even with the things we like about ourselves, and apply all that awareness to our lives. It is important on a daily basis to acknowledge who we are, and what we bring to the table.
Accepting myself and my faults day to day helps me to be honest and open-minded in my actions and relationships. If I am able to accept my characteristics, I am able to highlight my attributes as an individual, and better contribute to a conversation or situation.
At the same time, once I’m able to accept my defects, I am able to remain humble and willing to accept others as they are. I’m also given a chance to work towards being a better person when I can regularly admit to my shortcomings and accept help with working on them.
(I)- Identify my personal purpose?
If I do my best every day to identify what it is that I’m hoping and striving to accomplish, and I include that desired outcome in the way I process and convey information and activities throughout the day I have a greater chance of enjoying the journey.
Even if the goal is one I cannot obtain today, I still should remind myself of what that purpose is to be sure I am not keeping myself from doing what I can today to ultimately reach that goal. Sometimes I have to stay reminded that the ultimate outcome is out of my hands, but if I serve a higher purpose, and align myself with those principles, I will have a more fulfilling recovery.
(T)- Trust my Higher Power?
For me a Divine Energy, Spiritual Consciousness or Higher Power as I understand it is crucial to my recovery and my every day affairs. I put a great deal of trust and love into the relationship I try to cultivate daily with my Higher Power, and I make sure to ask myself if I am putting that trust into my actions.
It is possible to have a relationship with your Higher Power, and have a degree of communication but forget to put that trust into our actions and our other relationships. Asking yourself regularly to be sure you are putting trust in your spiritual fitness and/or Higher Power can keep you grounded in those principles that keep you focused on a higher consciousness instead of ego or fear.
(H)- Help someone?
One of the MOST important things I do every day is ask myself who I have helped. My growth mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially is always drastically improved when I make the needs of other people a priority for myself in any way I can. Stepping out of my own desires and expectations to do something to help someone is one of the best things I can do for my recovery.
In my personal opinion, the purpose of my journey, the reason I’m gifted with today and hope to be gifted with tomorrow is to learn how to better love others. The learning, understanding, and distribution of real and unconditional love is the underlying message in my life. It is not an easy task by ANY means, and I forget and fall short quite often. But that is purpose as I understand it.
Helping others in any way I can gives me an opportunity to practice so many important elements of my sobriety. It’s taking a suggestion, practicing humility, including my purpose, and including my Higher Power into my life. Doing something for anyone else that could use the help is one of the most rewarding things I do throughout the day that brings me closer to my Divine Energy, and keeps the gifts of sobriety close to my heart.
All these things are how I’m about to put F.A.I.T.H. in my recovery.
Recovery is about stepping up and taking action in order to change your life and free yourself from your addictions. It is how you can change relationships, and grow within yourself, and it all starts with the decision to get help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
Dealing with grief, in general, is difficult and emotional. Dealing with grief in recovery is a particularly trying and even risky period for someone.
Dealing with Grief in Recovery: Grief Defined
When you experience the loss of someone or something that you have an emotional bond with, you will experience grief: the emotional, physical, behavioral and social suffering and distress as a result of that loss.
Loss can refer to many different things. A break up in a relationship, death of a loved one, or even significant and radical life changes such as moving, changing jobs, or even undergoing an operation can trigger a grief response. Lastly, a major health diagnosis, usually one that requires a lifestyle change, can also cause you to experience grief.
That being said, your first experience dealing with grief in recovery was probably giving up your addiction. By realizing that, it should be encouraging; it’s proof that dealing with grief in recovery is totally possible.
Dealing with grief and loss in recovery, although painful, can be one of the most significant experiences when it comes to encouraging personal growth as well as securing a strong foundation for relapse prevention, upon which you can build as you progress in your program as well as draw for strength as a well of personal experience and triumph.
It’s said that, “Pain is the touchstone to all spiritual progress.” Therefore, once you walk through the pain of loss and grief, feeling at times like it will likely kill you but, instead you survive it – and are able to do so without a drink or drug, you then know you can get through anything without having to relapse. And, after all, isn’t that what recovery and sobriety are all about? Learning to cope in healthy ways with life on life’s terms without the need to pick up a drink or drug.
Ways of Dealing with Grief in Recovery
Working a program of recovery, especially one that is based on a 12 step fellowship, means building a spiritual foundation in sobriety. A program like that is specifically designed to lend support, aid with relapse prevention, give relief, and ultimately character growth – all of which will help you when dealing with the intense emotions that accompany grief: feelings such as shock, anger, despair, sadness, depression, loneliness, guilt, remorse, fear and anxiety.
Throughout the stages of grief during recovery, it’s important to lean on your sober support system as much as possible and this includes your sponsor, friends, family, therapist, and whomever else you trust.
Be aware that it’s not only easy but tempting to isolate when you are experiencing grief and remember that this is especially dangerous for recovering alcoholics and addicts. Make sure to continue your practice of prayer and meditation, and maybe even step it up a few notches while you are going through the grieving process. Lastly, remember that our secrets keep us sick so, no matter what you’re feeling or how dark your thoughts, share share share.
Intense and sudden grief in particular can lead to the reemergence of PAWS symptoms as well as those related to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD or PTSS). Seeking outside help is something which is spoken about in the Big Book – whatever arsenal you can gather in order to secure your footing in sobriety, do it! That said, seeking counseling, therapy, specialized treatment for PTSD, such as EMDR, which accelerates the healing process and helps you to process your grief-related emotions. Again, whatever it takes to help you on your journey to a place of emotional acceptance.
Lastly, it’s important to realize the physical toll that grief can take on you. Being emotionally drained tends to result in neglecting our physical health and needs. This neglect of needs, especially during times of grief only serves to increase our stress as well as make the healing process that much more difficult, which can further compromise recovery and sobriety. Be conscientious of getting plenty of nutritional support, rest, and exercise. These are important to recovery, in general, but especially when dealing with grief in recovery.
Have you been confronted by a loved one about the unhealthy ways you deal with stress, loss, and grief? Do you feel like you simply can’t deal with these without drinking or taking drugs? If so, there is help available. Call us toll-free at 1-800-777-9588 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available 24/7 and can any questions you may have. You are not alone. Many people find it increasingly difficult to cope in healthy ways due to the stress of daily life: balancing work, family, and finances, in particular.