Addiction Recovery: First Relationships in Sobriety

addiction recovery

Addiction recovery revolves around self-care; tending to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being is paramount. While these facets of working a program are simple in theory, they are challenging to manage in practice, for some.

Each person with a history of addiction understands that the disease, when active, deprives them of being able to lead a healthy life. Soon they begin to grasp that to stay on course will require their vigilance in adhering to a lifestyle that means putting welfare first. Still, many people in early recovery will seek distractions from the cause which can prove detrimental.

The first year of addiction recovery is an unstable period for most individuals; it takes significant lengths of time for the mind to heal. It may take even longer for men and women to trust their decision-making process. Learning to make the next right move, continually, takes practice; and, following the lead of others is especially helpful.

Persons learn to adhere to the various principles of recovery from those who have come before. So, in a sense, addiction recovery is something that is passed down. Newcomers discover how others maintain by attending meetings, working with sponsors or recovery coaches, and listening. There is much to glean from a two-minute share; one might find the solution to a current problem by paying attention.

Some people, with little recovery time, will convince themselves that they are ready to dive back into life at full tilt. It is understandable! After years of being consumed by addiction, many newly sober individuals find themselves with an insatiable hunger for life. While a carpe diem attitude is okay for people without mental illness, those in early addiction recovery benefit from pumping the brakes. Taking on too much, too quickly, is risky.

Keeping Responsibility In Check

Working a program teaches that recovery must come first. Healing and progress are top priorities for all who desire lasting recovery. Unfortunately, many pitfalls and traps can destabilize one’s program. Too much responsibility and romantic entanglements are two of the most significant causes of relapse. Of course, the latter source of trouble can be folded into the first.

Committing oneself to be emotionally available, to be present for a partner, is a significant responsibility. Along the road of addiction, many men and women never experience or forget the look of a healthy relationship. What worked (or didn’t) while using is unlikely to be helpful once in recovery. It’s probably fair to say that most people in recovery didn’t know what a wholesome relationship looked like before finding sobriety.

While working a program enables people to strive for non-toxic romance, it is not a guarantee. Removing drugs and alcohol from the picture, alone, does not provide people with the tools necessary for being in a nourishing partnership. Such skills come about through working the steps with a sponsor and continued sobriety. Many people discover that there are codependency issues that must be worked out before being in a committed relationship.

Males and females must engage in how to be responsible and accountable to their recovery, first. Relationships ask a lot of individuals, tending to the needs of others cause one to neglect their own. While the comfort of another human is always lovely, those who seek it in early recovery risk jeopardizing their program.

Ideally, those seeking romance will have a strong support network in place and have a fair amount of clean and sober time. Moreover, those who wish to be romantic also benefit from having worked all the steps beforehand, significantly.

Pets, Plants, and Romance in Addiction Recovery

There are many divergent opinions about relationships in early recovery. "The Big Book" does not specify an exact length of time to wait before becoming involved. However, sponsors often encourage sponsees to work the steps and wait a year. The year rule can also apply to other aspects of life; waiting a year before taking on notable obligations is helpful, too.

Some sponsors say that if a person can nourish a plant, then maybe they can handle a pet. If they can tend to a pet, then perhaps they can sustain a relationship. The object of attention isn’t as vital as the ability to manage its needs.

Men and women in early recovery may balk at such advice, but there is wisdom behind the suggestion. Taking care of a plant, for instance, can be beneficial to well-being in more ways than one. Katie Wheeler, a Seattle-based illustrator, has some informative thoughts about rearing plants.

Her cartoon, appearing in The Washington Post, lays out her thoughts in a simple way that anyone can understand. Tending to plants is about “caring for something and feeling satisfied to see it thrive.” One can apply the lessons laid bare in Wheelers illustration to multiple areas of life. She writes:

Every morning I have the same routine...There are a lot of plants in my house, hiding on every bookshelf and table...And they all require special care. If this sounds like a lot of work. It really isn’t. It’s almost like meditation. I’m grateful for the distraction their care provides, the silence before my brain whirs into gear, listing my obligations for the day. It’s very grounding, to care for something and watch it grow. It reminds me to take a moment for myself and acknowledge my own needs.”

Gender-Specific Addiction Recovery Center

Addiction recovery is a process; steps are taken to ensure continual progress each day. Hopefully, people in early recovery will recognize the value in holding off on taking on too many obligations. Slow and steady is a mantra worth repeating when feeling impatient. It always helps to remember that others have dealt with similar wants and desires. Whenever you are unsure, it’s best to defer to the guidance of individuals who have more time in the program.

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in helping young men establish and adopt routine, structure, purpose, and accountability. The environment we offer allows men to develop lasting connections with other men in recovery. What’s more, our gender-specific treatment center mitigates the risk of clients facing romantic distractions. We invite you to contact us today if you are an adult male who is ready to make the journey toward lasting recovery.

Addiction Recovery Prayers: Acceptance, Courage, and Serenity

addiction recovery prayers

Sobriety is a paradigm shift, to be sure; and, dedicating one’s self to a new mode of living is not without challenge. With steadfast dedication and a daily commitment to practicing the principles of addiction recovery, long-term healing is possible.

A good many people, who find themselves requiring assistance, struggle with some aspects of 12 Step recovery. There is a pervasive misconception among some newcomers that they must welcome God into their life. While it’s true that spirituality is key to 12 Step addiction recovery, a person’s understanding of God is entirely subjective.

It is not uncommon for people to be turned off by programs like Alcoholics Anonymous because of the God part. Such individuals convince themselves that when program subscribers finish combing through The Big Book, they move on to Bible or Koran verses. Since many men and women have less than pleasant childhood memories of religion, they will not abide by the prospect of religious recurrence.

It’s true, some members of AA et al. return to a place of worship after getting sober; their God being of the Biblical or Koran variety. However, people in recovery are a diverse group; they pray and meditate on myriad different powers-greater-than-themselves. In recovery, one can arrive at the same ends by any one of several spiritual roads. The program only asks a person to relinquish the delusion that he or she can control all things life. No person is omnipotent.

Addiction, mental illness, or not—no human is perfect! We all make mistakes, and each of us is better off when we accept that we don’t have all the answers. People on the more unfortunate end of addiction must realize that their best thinking brought only greater despair. They need to grasp that standing up (and staying up) requires outside assistance, human and otherwise.

12 Step Prayers

It isn’t challenging to understand why many newcomers think 12 Step recovery is affiliated with religion. Members of the program will often recite the Lord’s Prayer at the end of meetings. People in recovery will also grasp hands and say the Serenity Prayer; an invocation attributed to Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The prayer's phrasing brings to mind the pulpit in more ways than one. However, if a person is willing to look beyond the religious connotations, then they discover powerful tools to help them stay on course.

The debate over how much God is too much is one that has been going on since AA’s founding. Some meeting houses have done away with the Lord’s Prayer lest they dissuade newcomers. The Serenity Prayer, on the other hand, remains a fixture at practically every meeting and at treatment centers utilizing the 12 Step model.

The Serenity Prayer is longer than most people know. The full orison contains God, capitalized as He or Him, and His Will. Finishing with a resounding AMEN! 12 Step members rely on an abridged version of the prayer:

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference…

Even though the word God is the prayer’s opening, the word is interchangeable. Members can insert any “higher power” they like when reciting. The religious undertones are not the critical elements of the Serenity Prayer. It all boils down to several timeless truths that any person in recovery can benefit from remembering on their quest toward serenity.

Finding Serenity in Addiction Recovery

The definition of serenity is the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. Who doesn’t desire mental, emotional, and spiritual equilibrium? Working a program is a pathway to the realm of both internal and external peace. Still, each person is a work in progress; men and women still face obstacles when the drugs and alcohol are out of the picture.

Trials and tribulations are a certainty; what one does in the face of such circumstances, however, is not. The question is, will one’s frustrations be an excuse to return to self-defeating behaviors, or will these instances be harnessed as an opportunity to grow?

Individuals who are new to addiction recovery and struggle with God-talk must do their best to focus their attention on different watchwords. Instead of fixating on what form higher powers take, look to the words acceptance, courage, change, wisdom, and serenity.

Persons still risk trying to change things they have no control over, especially other people, even in addiction recovery. Working a program gives men and women the tools to accept the reality that they can only change him or herself. Other people may change by the example we set, but no one can force them to make alterations. Moreover, when a person focuses on their mode of being alone, it is an exercise in “letting go.”

Surrender isn't defeat; it is trusting that a power greater than ourselves will guard us against veering off the path.

One of the most useful verses in the Serenity Prayer is rarely uttered at meetings. Readers may find it interesting to learn that the full Serenity Prayer includes:

Living one day at a time;

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.

Addiction Recovery is a Process

It can take time to conceptualize the role that spirituality plays in 12 Step recovery. Perspective comes when a person accepts that their way didn’t work, that there is a more natural method of living, and trusts that there are more powerful forces at work. If one is open, honest, willing, and maintains a positive attitude their life is bound to transform, and they will find serenity.

At PACE Recovery Center, our clients benefit from having access to a dynamic 12-step recovery community. We specialize in treating men who struggle with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. Please contact us to learn more about our gender-specific, extended care mental health and addiction rehab.

Adoption-Related Treatment Expert Brett Furst Featured on Quiver Full Adoptions Podcast

PACE Recovery Center’s own Brett Furst appeared on the podcast for Quiver Full Adoptions, a South Carolina-based adoption agency and advocacy group. With core values of “serve, encourage, empower,” Quiver Full Adoptions seeks to support adoption journeys for both adoptive couples and biological families.

Brett Furst, a licensed marriage and family therapist, has worked at PACE Recovery as a primary therapist for three years. On the podcast, he discusses his personal experience as a child of adoption, as well as his specific recommendations for aspiring adopters and their future children.Brett Furst Adoption Podcast

Podcast Recap

Beginning with his introduction to the field, Brett explains that he always wanted to be a child therapist, but found his calling with adolescents and young adults. From there, he felt drawn to working with adoptees, saying, “I noticed that we were getting quite a few adopted individuals, and being adopted myself, I saw that there was a need to treat this population.”

Brett describes PACE Recovery Center’s inpatient treatment options, including its unique Adoption Programming and mental health house. He emphasizes the importance of attending an outpatient program after completing the required 90 days of inpatient treatment, calling it the “push comes to shove moment” in one’s recovery journey.

Quiver Full Adoption

Questions & Answers

We’ve highlighted some of Brett’s Q&A with Casey Brown and Elizabeth Bordeaux of Quiver Full Adoptions below. Read on for a snippet of the interview, then listen to the complete podcast.

On being adopted, and how this informs his practice with the men at PACE –

Brett Furst, PACE Recovery: “My adoptive parents did a fantastic job, I have no memory of not knowing that I’m adopted. It never really came up for me in my life as a major issue. Until I started seeing this population in my practice – how is my story going to integrate with theirs? It’s really helped in this connecting way with my clients, but at the same time, it also allows me to say, ‘I know your story is unique to you.’ We share this commonality, but that commonality is that each one of us that are adopted is unique in their story.”

Quiver Full: “Do you feel like children who are adopted have a higher risk of struggling with addiction?”

Brett Furst, PACE Recovery: “So, unfortunately, yes. There’s significant evidence out there that shows that adopted individuals – some research even says they’re twice as likely to become addicts as the ‘non-adopted’ population... We know that they’re out there, but we have trouble treating them. It’s nature and nurture.”

Quiver Full: “How can we, as parents of adoptees, equip them so that they’re not as likely to struggle with addiction? Is that even possible?”

Brett Furst, PACE Recovery: “Yes, it’s definitely possible. There are many, many ways to kind of help with this, and in my experience in working with this population, the number one thing is to have open and consistent and continuous conversations about this with the child. Oftentimes as adults, we underestimate the intellectual capacity of our children, and they can usually understand quite a bit more than we give them credit for. Even if it’s when you first adopt the child, making sure – depending on the age – that they understand that they’re adopted, or why they’re adopted, or getting their feelings on being adopted – don’t be afraid of these conversations. It can be a difficult subject for adoptive parents to bring up, there isn’t really a handbook, but having those conversations is super important. Whether you talk about it or not, it’s there.”

On common misconceptions about children of adoption –

Brett Furst, PACE Recovery: “This is where I see a lot of clinicians who are not adopted themselves – they automatically assume, say, an 18-year-old is always going to want to meet their birth parent, and they consider it weird if they don’t want to meet them. In my work, I see that as a misfire sometimes. I think giving the child the option, or at least giving the information you have, is definitely good, but there shouldn’t be a pressure of, ‘you really should, it’s normal.”

Quiver Full: “What’s one thing that you would tell all hopeful adoptive parents?”

Brett Furst, PACE Recovery: “A lot of what I’m saying sounds scary, I understand that, but please, please, please, don’t be afraid of this. It can be managed, and it can be helped, and it can be changed. Just in the same way that any parent with any child has a chance of that child having issues down the road, there’s a lot of stigma around the guys that I work with, adopted or not. Having those conversations, putting that effort in at the beginning, can really change the whole game. If – unfortunately – a child does have an addiction problem or some kind of mental health problem down the road, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you did something wrong. It doesn’t mean that you messed up. It is 100% possible for them to fully recover and have a perfectly normal, happy, healthy, successful life. So, in the event that they end up with a substance use issue, it’s not the end of the world. It is treatable.”

Listen to the Podcast

Listen to the full podcast to hear the complete details of PACE Recovery’s philosophy and its one-of-a-kind adoption-related treatment path. Brett covers much more than is outlined here, including his dual focus on attachment and authenticity in recovery programs for adopted youth with substance use disorders.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, Android, or Spotify – look for the episode titled “Episode 9: Interview with Brett Furst.” Learn more about Quiver Full Adoptions on their website and tune in to their podcast in June to hear Brett’s next talk.

Recovery Sayings Motivate and Inspire

recovery sayings

Men and women who are new to recovery discover the value of repetition and routine. Addiction recovery is a 24/7, 365 days per year enterprise in making progress. To that end, it’s helpful for newcomers to follow the prescribed recommendations of those with more time. Individuals who follow patterns and understand the value of a daily commitment position themselves for long-term recovery. Moreover, heeding recovery sayings can help people stay on course in early sobriety.

Sponsors and other members of one’s support group will drive certain points home to people with less time. One method of impressing principles on the newcomer is by repeating statements over and over. Acronyms like HALT and KISS roll off tongues frequently ("Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired" and "Keep It Simple Stupid"). They are meant to remind the newcomers of what to do and what to avoid when outside the recovery room safety net.

When hearing 12 Step truisms, many in early recovery think the utterings are cliché. It is true that after more than 80 years of 12 Step recovery, many statements are overused. However, slogans like ‘progress not perfection’ are no less valuable today. People living with addiction are often perfectionists. Recovery teaches that no one is perfect, but you can strive to be the best version of yourself. Making progress is the path to achieving that goal.

Look for the similarities, not the differences will always carry water in treating a disease that tells people they are unique. Individuals may tire of hearing them, but there may come a time when they save one’s life.

12 Step Recovery Sayings Aplenty

People who attend 12 Step meetings to aid in their recovery are no strangers to slogans and sayings. Even those new to working a program are already familiar with a handful of maxims, and for a good reason. Simple statements, like "one day at a time," for instance, are easy to remember and can be especially helpful at any stage in the recovery process.

At Alcoholics Anonymous meetings et al. across the country and abroad, the meeting houses’ walls are plastered with useful sayings. While generally short and concise, and considered easy to understand, 12 Step slogans are nuanced. There is a lot more than meets the eye to most recovery sayings; and, they are subject to various interpretations.

People in recovery repeat slogans day-in-and-day-out in an almost automatic manner. However, few people take the time to explore their meaning or offer a further explanation to those who are newer. It is not uncommon for newcomers to misunderstand what is at the heart of expressions like keep it simple. As such, some people are at risk of discounting the value of recovery expressions, chalking them up to being annoying platitudes.

It is essential to keep in mind that 12 Step recovery is a simple program for complicated people. Generally speaking: things are what they seem. Those who try to dissect this decades-old formula for healing can jeopardize their recovery. Breaking down every aspect of the program can muddy the water and make it difficult to find clarity. This wheel does not require reinvention. Poking holes in the Program for the sake of poking holes isn't beneficial. There is however nothing wrong with asking questions to glean a better understanding.

Below, we will discuss some of the more common 12 Step slogans. Being equipped with a better understanding of recovery sayings can be of significant benefit to newcomers.

Slogans for Long-term Recovery

There is no shortage of catchy recovery sayings, and each one of them speaks to people differently. Men and women who are unsure about what something means should never hesitate to ask for clarity. Those with more recovery time are always happy to provide insight. The success of the oldtimer depends on their willingness to help the newcomer.

Let’s take a moment to discuss some of the more common watchwords and slogans. HALT is fairly straightforward. Avoid hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness; such states of being are a cause of stress. Of course, mental pressure is often a factor in causing self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors.

If it is not broken, don’t try to offer a fix! The 12 Step method works, for anyone willing to work it. Paradox and inconsistencies are out there if someone is looking. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a person’s job to amend the program. It’s alright to notice contradictory things, but it is paramount to avoid letting observations color your view of the program.

Intellect is not a bad thing, yet it can cause complications. Addiction is a mental illness and a spiritual sickness. Treatment addresses the medical side of the problem; Twelve Step recovery tends to the spiritual facet of the condition.

Keep It Simple Stupid reminds us that our best thinking can exacerbate our problems. Intelligence is going to offset a spiritual deficit. The goal is not to let one’s powers of deduction block them from receiving the gifts of recovery. Simplicity is a good thing!

12 Step recovery calls for abstinence and much more; long-term progress demands significant lifestyle alterations. It also calls for looking at life and the people in it differently.

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

In early recovery, there is much a person can find to be unhappy about. The gifts of healing do not come instantly. Embracing a positive attitude, as often as possible, is necessary to realize progress and one’s dreams. The saying nothing changes if nothing changes reminds us that recovery requires more of people than not drinking or drugging. Avoiding old friends and unsafe environments is excellent, but so is changing how we think.

Positive actions and maintaining a positive attitude, changes everything. Negative thinking prevents people from taking positive steps each day. Progress depends on positivity as much as it depends on making lifestyle changes.

At PACE Recovery Center, we place much stock in the power of positive thinking. We have seen how significantly a positive attitude changes everything for those new in recovery. Please contact us to learn more about our gender-specific treatment programs for men living with addiction and other forms of mental illness. Our dedicated team of addiction professionals can help you or a loved one learn how to live a positive life in recovery.

Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery in America: #AlcoholAwarenessMonth

alcohol use disorder

Eighty years ago this month 5,000 copies of “The Big Book” — titled Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) — were printed, according to Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. Within its bindings is a program outline for people recovering from alcoholism—known today as alcohol use disorder.

While initial sales were severely lacking, as of today the Fellowship’s manuscript has sold more than 30 million copies. Each year, approximately one million copies of the basic text are distributed around the globe, in 67 languages.

From humble beginnings to a significant beacon of hope for countless people, such is the story of 12 Step recovery. Mutual help groups, aided by The Big Book, show those struggling in the darkness of addiction how living life on life’s terms is possible.

There are other programs of addiction recovery in existence today that have helped many men and women, aside from AA. However, the 12 step method is by far the most utilized regarding alcohol and substance use disorder. Drug and alcohol use is but a symptom of an underlying mental illness. Such that working a program of recovery has proven to be helpful for anyone regardless of how their disease manifests.

Despite most discussions about use disorders focusing on drugs today, it is vital to include alcohol in the national conversation about addiction. April is Alcohol Awareness Month 2019!

Facing Addiction with the National Council on Alcoholism or NCADD organizes the annual observance. Now is an excellent opportunity to talk about alcohol use disorder (AUD), its causes, and addiction recovery. The more open we talk about alcohol, the more lives saved. Right now, millions of Americans require help for an AUD, and fortunately, assistance is within reach.

Confronting Alcohol Use Disorder In America

An estimated 16 million people in the United States have an alcohol use disorder, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). And untold millions more are on a trajectory toward having problems with the substance down the road.

There are many myths and inaccuracies swirling around alcohol use. When people do not have the facts, they are at risk. Alcohol Awareness Month is partly about helping people develop a better understanding.

It is of utmost importance that we equip young people with some of the facts, so they can make informed decisions about using alcohol. Even though the vast majority of people will never develop AUD, alcohol use can still affect men and women’s health negatively.

The BMJ reported that the number of Americans, ages 25- to 34-, who died annually from alcohol-related liver disease nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016. Moreover, hazardous alcohol use affects men far more often than women. However, recent studies show that women are slowly closing the gap.

Drinking alcohol cut the lives of some 3 million people short in 2016. Young men who engage in heavy alcohol use is an especially pervasive problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 7.7 percent of global deaths involve men and alcohol use.

Alcohol Awareness Month 2019

While alcohol is ubiquitous in today’s world, there is no safe amount of alcohol! That is the conclusion of a recent study about drinking around the world. In spite of the available research, Facing Addiction with NCADD points out that the pressure to drink is everywhere. The typical American will see 100,000 beer commercials before turning 18.

People who start drinking by 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence. The organization notes that young people who engage in hazardous alcohol use, like binge drinking, face higher risks of addiction. The NIAAA defines binge drinking as four drinks for women and five drinks for men—in about 2 hours.

One in every 12 American adults, or 17.6 million people, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence. While such statistics are hardly uplifting, it’s worth to remember the living examples of recovery. NCADD estimates that almost 20 million individuals and family members are in long-term recovery.

Alcohol Awareness Month is about educating young people and spreading the message that alcohol use disorder recovery is possible. Evidence-based treatments exist that can help people get on the road toward long-term recovery. This year’s theme is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.”

All month there are events to help educate people about the treatment and prevention of alcohol use disorder. Since many people do not fully grasp yet that they have an unhealthy relationship with drinking, Alcohol-Free Weekend is April 5-7, 2019. The upcoming event is an excellent opportunity for people to gauge alcohol’s role in their lives. Those who struggle to abstain are encouraged to reach out for help.

Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow with PACE Recovery Center

If you are one of the millions of men who struggle with alcohol use, then please know that you are not alone. Alcohol use disorder is a treatable mental health condition, and it is possible to find long-term recovery.

At PACE Recovery Center, we offer evidence-based addiction and behavioral health treatment for men. Our male clients significantly benefit from being in a gender-specific environment. With decades of professional experience, PACE empowers men of all ages to fulfill their dreams.

Please contact us today to learn more about our multidimensional approach to bringing about lasting recovery.

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