Tag Archives: alcoholics

Is Fear Standing in The Way of Recovery?

recovery

Fear is one of the primary components of addiction. It would be difficult for any one person, in recovery or still active, to deny the role that fright has had in their life. It has been said on numerous occasions, by countless people, that when you strip away all the layers of an addict or alcoholic, what you find is fear. Underneath the anger, resentment, dishonesty, et al., you see a person who trembles at the thought of living another day with substances, or without drugs and alcohol.

Let’s be clear, people living with substance use disorders are not a bunch of scaredy-cats. You might even say that Fear, as it pertains to people struggling with addiction is more of a philosophical dilemma than the typical worries that the average human contends with from day to day. Existential angst may be a more fitting description of the addict’s condition. When a person can’t live with something while simultaneously being unable to live without it, it is a dilemma in the strictest sense of the word—a cruel paradox.

Many articles have touched upon the subject of fear and the part it plays with mental illness and how it can be a catalyst for addiction. With that in mind, getting to the roots of people’s unease, or “dis-ease” for that matter, is an integral component of addiction recovery. Ironically, people only learn this after they have made the courageous “fear-less” decision to ask for assistance and valiantly accept help. In a sense, those who go into treatment choose to resist against their fear, and ignore the chatter in their head that says, ‘you’re not worth it, you will fail, and think what you stand to lose?’

Creation In Spite of Addiction

If you are not in recovery or do not struggle with addiction, the question above may seem baffling. You may ask yourself, ‘what could a person caught in the grips of mental illness have to lose by choosing recovery?’ It’s a good question, and the answer may not be an obvious one, so perhaps you can keep an open mind for a time.

Please consider for a moment that not every person with a substance use disorder in need of treatment is in the final iteration of the disease. Most people who require treatment are somehow managing to hold things together, at least on the surface. Each day, countless active using addicts and alcoholics get up, and go through the same motions as “normal” people; a significant number of people living with mental illness are successful, talented, and in quite a few cases—famous. We probably do not have to run down the list of all well-respected artists, musicians, authors, and performers who are both actively using or are in recovery.

We can probably all agree that it’s possible to make some of your dreams come true despite drugs and alcohol dependence. In spite of the pain, heartache, guilt, and shame that comes with addiction, individuals can create a masterpiece using their preferred medium. One could even argue, and many have, that substance use is a form of muse that guides them toward creation. Whether such a suggestion is right or wrong is debatable, what is certain is that no matter what excuse people have for continuing use, the choice comes at a significant cost— often, the ultimate price.

Identity is Important to Everyone. Even in Recovery!

Years of drug and alcohol use shapes people in many ways. Those caught in the cycle of addiction often define themselves by their struggle, convinced that their fight while deadly, is beautiful. What’s more, since humans are prone to gauge who they Are by how they see themselves in the eyes of others, one can easily convince their self that giving up drugs and alcohol will result in people viewing them differently. We all strive for consistency in how people see us, the thought of people changing their view (even when it is for the better) can be too much to stomach.

Addiction becomes a part of people’s identity; therefore, the thought of abstaining is tantamount to sacrificing (real or imagined) who they Are in the name of health. If a person’s identity is inextricably bound to that which they create, it’s difficult to justify anything (recovery) that could jeopardize creation. There is a pervasive mindset among many people with alcohol or substance use disorders who create art; the idea that self-improvement will diminish their ability to create. The fear of losing that which one loves most keeps people rationalizing their behaviors. Fear justifies continued use, one might say to themself, ‘what good is recovery if I’m going to spend the rest of my days mourning the loss of Art?’ For such people, their passion is more valuable than a healthy existence.

So, does recovery hurt the ability to be original and authentic? The simplest answer, and the right answer is, NO! Sadly, many people never come to that determination because their life was cut short by the disease.

Does Recovery Kill Great Writing?

Those who find the strength to stand up to their disease and give recovery an honest chance, discover an exponentially more exceptional ability to create. Fear is a dominant force, but it is not all-powerful. Fear can convince people that they have the answers to questions without having to do any research. Being convinced of something without conducting a proper study, is to live in ignorance. The only way to know what is possible in recovery is to do the work; only by openly and honestly giving a program of healing a chance can you answer the lingering questions bound to your fear.

Saying that anything is possible in recovery may sound suspiciously catchy; that doesn’t make it any less accurate. Recently, an article appearing in The New York Time’s Magazine, set its sights on the topic of recovery affecting creativity. The article is adapted from Leslie Jamison’s “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath,” to be published next month. Jamison is an author who has several years sober in recovery which, like many artists, struggles with fear. The piece covers many areas relevant to people in recovery and in-need-of recovery. Even if you are artistically inept, everyone can relate to fear.

Jamison’s adaptation can speak to anyone, regardless of artistic background; but, it is likely to resonate most with people who have a penchant for reading and writing. Please find time to read this article, if you have used up your free NYT online articles for the month, the mobile site should still work. Reading the piece might serve to allay the fears of people still teetering on the fence of recovery; it can show you that there is beauty in recovery, resisting doubt is a beautiful struggle. Hopefully, it inspires you to pick up the phone and reach out for help. Making the brave decision to resist fear and seek change could lead you to create your best work yet; naturally, there is only one way to find out, just as Leslie Jamison would discover.

During days spent in the archives and during the midnight hours of my own attempts to write, it was liberating to start questioning the ways I’d understood torment as a prerequisite to beauty. It was liberating to start imagining that there could be meaningful stories told about wreckage, sure, but also meaningful stories told about what it might mean to pull yourself out from under it: stories about showing up for work, for intimacy, for other people; stories about getting through ordinary days without drinking enough vodka to forget yourself entirely. The lie wasn’t that addiction could yield truth. The lie was that addiction had a monopoly on it.

Addiction Recovery

It is hard work facing your feelings without the aid of alcohol and drugs. Early recovery is a difficult time for anyone, but what you will discover along the way will change your life for the better. Recovery is not an antidote for fear; it is a tool that allows you the ability to cope with and manage the state of being in healthy ways. Abstinence is the only absolute when it comes to healing, other than that, recovery isn't a trade-off. You will still be You when working a program, arguably an even better version of yourself.

If you are ready to face your fear and embrace changes in your life for the better, please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin a remarkable journey.

Alcoholics Anonymous Sues for The Big Book

alcoholics anonymous

It is probably fair to say that the when Dr. Bob and Bill W met for the first time, they did not have even the faintest of idea as to the impact their mission would have on history. Two newly sober drunks just trying to live a life free from alcohol, who realized that the only way to keep what they had was to give it away. To help others experience the gift through fellowship, community and all that is possible free from the fog of inebriation.

From small beginnings, and a serious learning curve, a small group of people would go on to lay the framework for what would become a lifesaving gift for not just alcoholics, but society. Their fellowship was free from monetary incentives or prestige, designed to function in relative obscurity for decades before an invitation into the light by the ever-changing culture. The program was breaking down the stigma that has accompanied addiction for time immemorial, forcing the world to see that alcoholics and addicts were not morally bankrupt individuals, unable to control their selfish wants and desires. But, rather, millions of people who were sick, needed treatment and compassion. Not jail cells, sanatoriums or being castaway as social pariahs.

Over the last 82 years, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has undergone several changes in how meetings are conducted, but one thing has remained relatively unchanged—the 12 steps and the book that explains how to work them. Wording has changed, but the traditions and principles have held true. The program could work for anything that makes one’s life unmanageable. As testament to the power of the program, you can remove the word alcohol and replace it with anything that you are powerless over. And if you work the program honestly, recovery is possible.

The Big Book

If you have ever attended a meeting of AA, then you probably noticed a number of texts sitting up on the front table. Books approved by the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS), deemed to be beneficial in the effort to stay sober—no matter what. The most important book happens to be the biggest, hence the working manuscripts moniker the “Big Book.” It includes within the writing instructions for working the program with the help of others, followed by several personal stories that recovering alcoholics can relate to.

One the major focal points of the program is the idea that while we all have different stories, inside each one can be found similarities. Powerlessness, unmanageability, surrender, acceptance and resolve. All of which can be found inside the stories in The Big Book. Like many other books that have served as spiritual compasses for humanity, the basic text of AA has helped people climb out of the abysmal depths of despair into the light of the spirit. Giving energy to those who have and are making the journey to help others out of the lonely cave of addiction.

The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (called The Big Book because of how thick the pages were) was published in 1939, written mainly by Bill Wilson. Much like the other spiritual texts of antiquity, The Big Book has outsold most writings to ever grace a printing press. To date, the basic text has sold over 30 million copies, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, and has served as footprint for numerous organizations whose aim is to help people recover from debilitating spiritual crises. The Library of Congress deemed the book one of 88 "Books that Shaped America." Some twenty-years after the creation of AA the American Medical Association (AMA) declared alcoholism a medical illness, so it was fitting when the thirty-millionth copy of The Big Book was presented to the AMA.

But, What Happened to The Original Manuscript?

Any Big Book, no matter the edition has the power to save lives, but who could not help but wonder where the original manuscript landed after 78 years. It turns out that very question is the subject of a lawsuit filed on Monday by AAWS. The organization is suing the auction house, Roberts and QuestRoyal Fine Art, a New York gallery, who have plans to auction the manuscript on June 8th, Reuters reports. The manuscript was intended to be gifted to AAWS but was purchased in 2007 for $992,000 at Sotheby's just three months before by one Ken Roberts. And according to the plaintiff, Roberts does not have the right to consign the manuscript because it had been gifted to AA in 1979.

The manuscript is an original, historical document of unique importance to AAWS, and undeniably is a critical piece of its history," and the defendants "are wrongfully detaining the manuscript for their own pecuniary gain," the complaint said.

For more information on the case: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. v Roberts et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652676/2017.

Celebration of Founder’s Day

This court case may go on for quite a while; however, it is important to remember that Alcoholics Anonymous Founders’ Day 2017 will be celebrated in Akron, Ohio, on June 9, 10, and 11th. You may want to consider joining in the anniversary festivities.

Addiction Treatment Begins With Surrender

addiction

There are many young men and women whose addiction has reached untenable heights. Perhaps “lows” would be more apt. Either way, when one begins down the perilous path of substance use, abuse and addiction in their teens, then by their early or mid-twenties life has already become unmanageable. If you are one such person who can identify with that path, trust and believe that it is far more common than you might think.

Societal tropes and stereotypes of addicts and alcoholics in recovery often resemble middle-aged and older people. While it is true that many do not decide to work a program of recovery until later in life, most such people would probably tell that they were definitely eligible for the need of assistance for years—if not decades earlier. Every case is different, but a significant number of people have fought and will continue to fight tooth and nail to remain in a state of denial about the severity of their condition. Even though alcohol and substance use disorders are an accepted form of mental illness.

Nobody, addict or not, wants to admit defeat. In some ways, we are programmed at an early age to continue fighting even if we know that a fight is unwinnable. While perseverance may be a sign of strength in a clearly unwinnable high school sports game given that there is no certainty that it will end the way everyone thinks, when it comes to active addiction perseverance can and often does mean premature death. Often after years of heartache and despair.

The Comparison Problem With Addiction

It cannot be stressed enough. The longer an alcoholic or addict waits to seek help, the worse it gets. Always! The problems that accompany substance abuse may be solely superficial at first, but over time the persistent fueling of the fire of addiction leads to systemic health problems—many of which cannot be reversed (e.g. cirrhosis, cancer, cognitive dysfunction and co-occurring mental health disorders).

There is a common delusion among chemically dependent people that their problem is not as bad as ‘that person's’. That It won’t get as bad, because you are somehow unique. You may be special in many ways, but when it comes to addiction, comparisons will only pave the road to becoming as worse off as the very people you compared to yourself to keep you from surrendering. The “comparison problem,” if we may, is especially pervasive among young people. It is a barrier to hope and serenity, two feelings that people living with active addiction are in short supply.

Has your use of drugs or alcohol brought about a series of negative consequences before, or in early adulthood? If your answer is yes, then we implore you to stop comparing yourself to your peers and seek assistance. It may be that your friends and family have a problem too, but you are in no position to help them until you help yourself.

Strength in Surrender

Dependence and addiction touch the lives of young people quite often. The good news is that many young men and women can, and do recover. What’s more, they can go on to live productive and fulfilling lives with a clear head on their shoulders, developing a meaningful relationship in both their program of recovery and society at large. And they have the power to be there for their peers when life throws curveballs. All such people, started with the courageous act of surrender.

Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage,” wrote William S. Burroughs.

Accepting that your own will is not acting in your best interest, allows you to start the process of first seeking treatment followed by continued growth in recovery. It gives one the ability to accept help from others who have been down into the dark cave of addiction, and returned to the light via a program of recovery. It is hard to admit to oneself, “I don’t have all the answers.” But it is of the utmost importance.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work with young adult men who have been touch by the hand of addiction. The PACE Recovery Center team is made up of addiction treatment professionals, many of which have first-hand experience with addiction. We know the courage it takes to ask for help and break the cycle of this pernicious disease, and embrace the principles of a wholly new way of thinking and living. Please contact us today.

Anonymity, Depression and Instagram

anonymity

When it comes to addiction recovery, one of the more appealing aspects of the 12-Step program is the focus by members on anonymity: the condition of (of a person) not being identified by name. Those who turn to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for support and guidance, are encouraged to introduce themselves by their first name only. If there are more than one person with the same first name, sometimes the first letter of one’s last name will be attached to the end (i.e. John T. or Amanda S.) to avoid confusion when referring to people.

Some of you may be wondering, ‘what’s with all the secrecy?’ A question that can be answered in multiple ways, all of which are good reasons for not disclosing one’s full identity. But, perhaps, the most important reason for avoiding self-disclosure among members is the newcomer. People who suffer from any form for mental illness, whether it be addiction or depression, have long been given pejorative labels and looked down upon by society. While we have come a long way in the United States regarding ending the stigma of mental health disorders, there are still those who would use another's issues as ammunition.

Those who make the brave decision to seek help for alcoholism and/or drug abuse, need to be and feel like they are they are in an environment that will not cast judgement. That the things that they share will not be used against them at a later day by another. Even if you have zero-experience with substance abuse, you could probably imagine that a big part of the healing and the recovery process rests on honestly sharing aspects of one’s past that are extremely difficult to talk about (e.g. where they have been, what they have seen and the unsavory things they did while out there in active addiction). When it comes to the latter, there is hardly an addict or alcoholic who has not broken one or multiple laws.

As was mentioned earlier, honesty is vital to the recovery process. If a newcomer does not feel like he or she can share their life candidly without repercussions, it is unlikely that they will share at all. Or stick around long enough to experience the miracles of recovery. In a world where social stigma can destroy lives, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. While individuals are free to share their story and full name with whomever they please, they are expressly prohibited from sharing that of others. To ensure that people do not disclose information about others, the safeguard of not using one's full name is staunchly encouraged. Under the model of 12-Step recovery, there are in fact 12 steps that need to be worked, but there are also 12 traditions that members are asked to respect, the twelfth tradition reads as follows:

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

Anonymity In The Information Age

When the founders of the 12-Step modality wrestled with anonymity, it was at a time when the average person did not have the ability to reach millions of people. Your typical American could not share their story or the stories of others by way of press, radio, and films. Those that did were strongly encouraged to exercise extreme caution, lest they break another person's anonymity.

In the 21st Century, the outlets for expressing oneself in seemingly cathartic ways has reached new heights, i.e. blogs, Facebook and Instagram. There is hardly a young person in America who does not have a social media account. What’s more, most young people in recovery spend a good amount of time on the internet.

Our laptops and smartphones allow us to reach total strangers, who cannot easily figure out who is the one doing the sharing. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Sharing one’s struggles on social media platforms can result in one receiving support for their issues, but given that we are talking about the internet, a hotbed for vitriolic unmasking—such platforms can tempt people to disclose things that they wouldn’t likely disclose with others in person. Thus, inadvertently revealing the identity of others.

If you rely on social media sites for therapeutic reasons, sharing your struggles with the hope of feedback, be sure to keep what is said be about you. You are responsible for your own anonymity, be sure that what you share will not have the unintended effect of coming back to hurt you later. For more information on sharing with others while remaining anonymous, please click here.

Support from Social Media

A significant number of young men and women battling with mental illness have turned to Instagram for support. Unlike Facebook, Instagram allows its users to maintain a greater level of secrecy. This has a twofold effect: 1) People can share what they are going through anonymously (e.g. a relapse or a depressive episode) and get feedback that might help. 2) Masked user activity allows people to negatively comment on what people share, what is known as “trolling,” a behavior that has led suffering people to suffer more.

The general public often hears of horror stories involving trolls, mental illness and suicide. We hear less about people with specific disorders finding support and help by way of social media. A new study sought to shed light on the power of anonymous social media posting, and the feedback users received. The researchers found that the majority of responses on Instagram to posts about mental illness using the hashtag “#depression,” were actually positive and supportive, Vocativ reports. The findings will be presented at the Association For Computing Machinery conference.

There’s this kind of double-edged sword about being anonymous and not having to use your real name,” said Nazanin Andalibi, one of the study’s lead doctoral researchers. “The popular narrative around anonymity has been that people will troll each other and everything will just be really abusive…but opportunities for anonymity are really central to disclosing things that are sensitive for some people and to give and provide support. It just so happens that in this particular platform people are finding each other and being supportive of each other.”

The researchers point out that further study is needed to see what users do with the positive feedback they received. Does it lead to positive change?

Depression: Let’s Talk

Last Friday, was World Health Day. The focus of discussion was depression, a mental health disorder affecting more than 300 million people around the world. The World Health Organization(WHO) launched a yearlong campaign. “Depression: Let’s Talk” aims to empower people to talk about their condition with people they trust, so they can get the help they require. With respect to the aforementioned study, not only do people with depression get positive feedback, but Instagram allows posts that appear to be cries for help to be flagged. When that happens the users, who may be at risk will be sent messages that include resources for help with mental illness. Talking about despair, can lead to hope treatment and recovery.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work with young adult men, targeting the underlying issues that contribute to addictive behaviors and behavioral health diagnoses. The PACE Recovery Center team provides multidisciplinary treatment for co-occurring disorders, including depression. Contact us for more information, “Let’s Talk!”.

Addiction Recovery: No Mind Altering Substance is Safe

addiction recoveryEarly addiction recovery is arguably the most difficult, addicts and alcoholics are still developing the skills necessary to maintain a program of abstinence. On top of being newly sober, and a bit shaky, people in early recovery are often bombarded with a lot of information which can become a bit overwhelming for some. What’s more, it is common to hear conflicting opinions from those with significant time regarding the “do’s and the don’ts.” While it is important to listen to what those in recovery have to say, if you find yourself unsure about something regarding the program it is always best to run one’s uncertainties by your sponsor or therapist. Such people could be compared to a ship’s anchor, keeping you from drifting into unsafe waters. People in early recovery using the 12-steps should look to their sponsor as a model for how to work a program and maintain their sobriety. A common misconception that many alcoholics and addicts have when starting an addiction recovery program is that they still can use certain mind altering substances, and that they only need to stay away from the drug or drink with which they struggled. Sadly, that line of thinking is in error, many alcoholics who are new to recovery will smoke marijuana, and a number of drug addicts will continue to consume alcohol. More often than not, such actions will lead people back to their substance of choice. It may not happen overnight, but in time the idea will creep back in one’s mind that they can moderately use the drug that brought them to the point of needing recovery in the first place. The aforementioned misunderstanding may be in part the result of recovery nomenclature, and the multitude of 12-step modeled programs. The idea that somehow an alcoholic is different than an addict, and vice versa; alcoholics attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and drug addicts will often choose to attend Narcotics Anonymous. The reality is that Addiction is Addiction, if a person has ever used a mind altering substance to the point of despair, the likelihood that that same person could develop an unhealthy relationship with another potentially addictive substance or behavior is exponentially increased. If you are new to recovery, working a program to break the cycle of addiction, regardless of which 12-step program you attend please remember that no mind altering substance is safe. Hopefully, it is a warning you hear early on upon entering the rooms of recovery, and one that is heeded with vigilance.

Trading One Addiction for Another

addictionIt is a common occurrence for alcoholics who sober up from alcohol to think that they can still use drugs. Conversely, many addicts who stop using drugs believe that they can still consume alcohol. Such misconceptions have led to countless relapses among people working programs of recovery. It is safe to say that if someone has developed an addiction to one substance or action, the potential for becoming addicted to another is exponentially increased, and the likelihood that a person will return to the addiction of choice is great. People with a propensity for developing harmful relationships with things that give them pleasure should be wary of all mind altering substance/actions. Many addicts and alcoholics, upon sobering up, often have cravings for a release which can lead to harmful behaviors riding a wave of impulse. While a large percentage of alcoholics/addicts in early recovery know they cannot and should not swap booze for drugs and vice versa, many will turn to sugary foods and drink, promiscuous sexual activity, et al. Such behaviors can lead to new habits that can morph into an addiction, and potentially lead to an eventual relapse to their substance of choice. It is vital that people who are new to recovery be extra vigilant when it comes to the activities they find themselves craving. In addition to walking you through the “steps,” sponsors are excellent sounding boards for determining if what you're doing, or thinking of doing, is conducive to a sound program of recovery. There are reasons why many alcoholics crave sugar upon sobering up; alcohol is loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. Nine times out of ten if you attend a 12-step meeting you will likely see cookies and coffee (with plenty of sugar to accompany the drink) on the center table, you will see a number of people with an energy drink in their hand. While the use of alcohol actually lowers one’s blood sugar level, the drink is chock-full of sugar; when many people stop drinking, after years of continued use, they can be faced with an insatiable craving from sugar. Alcoholics and addicts carry the D2 dopamine receptor, the gene that identifies addiction; sugar addicts share the same gene. If sugar cravings are not kept in check, it can lead to overeating, which is accompanied by its own list side effects. Sugar is one example; there are many other addictions that can fill in for one’s substance of choice. It is for that reason that recovering addicts need to be especially conscientious of their behaviors and if you are noticing unhealthy trends developing, it is crucial that you speak with your sponsor or therapist. Recovery is about progress, not switching one harmful behavior for another. At PACE Recovery Center our treatment team works with our clients to examine cultural, social and personal relapse triggers and develop a relapse prevention plan with acquired and practiced skills. Relapse analysis and relapse prevention are extremely effective with clients who have substance addictions, compulsive behaviors, and mental health disorders. That is why relapse prevention is an essential component of our men’s addiction treatment program.

The Future of Alcoholism Treatment

dopamine-stablizersDopamine stabilizers may be the future of alcoholism treatment. The findings of two separate studies indicate that dopamine stabilizers may reduce alcohol cravings in alcoholics, ScienceDaily reports. While more clinical studies are required, researchers have found that the dopamine stabilizer OSU6162 normalized the level of dopamine in the brain reward system of rats that had consumed alcohol for a long time period. The findings come from research conducted at the Karolinska Institutet and the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden.
"The results of our studies are promising, but there is still a long way to go before we have a marketable drug," says Pia Steensland, PhD, Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience of Karolinska Institutet, and co-author of both studies. "The socioeconomic costs of alcohol are huge, not to mention the human suffering. It is inspiring to continue working."
Researchers examined the effect that OSU6162 had on cravings of those with a history of alcohol dependence. The participants were split into two groups, half were given OSU6162 and the other half was given a placebo, according to the article. The group that was given the dopamine stabilizer reported having less of a craving for alcohol after drinking one drink.
"At the same time, the OSU6162 group reported not enjoying the first sip of alcohol as much as the placebo group," says Dr. Steensland. "One interesting secondary finding was that those with the poorest impulse control, that is those thought to be most at risk of relapse after a period of abstinence, were those who responded best to the OSU6162 treatment." "We therefore think that OSU6162 can reduce the alcohol craving in dependent people by returning the downregulated levels of dopamine in their brain reward system to normal," says Dr. Steensland.
The findings were published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing alcohol, please contact Pace Recovery Center.