Tag Archives: spirituality

Mental Health Month: Educate People About Mental Illness

mental health

With Alcohol Awareness Month behind us, this is an excellent time to pivot to mental illness as a whole. May is Mental Health Month! The nonprofit Mental Health America (MHA) has been celebrating this vital observance for 70 years.

Working with various affiliates, MHA is committed to helping millions of Americans to see that mental health is worth consideration. The myriad psychological disorders affecting millions of Americans, young and old, impacts us all. A society is only as healthy as its most vulnerable citizens.

43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year. To put it another way, 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. Despite evidence-based treatments, most people are unable to access these for several reasons. Stigma and shame stand in the way of therapy quite often in the United States.

Men and women who struggle with conditions like depression face enormous obstacles. Without access to available treatments, the risk of self-medicating and engaging in self-harm is high. Using drugs and alcohol to manage the symptoms of psychological issues is a risky business. Using mind-altering substances to cope can lead to addiction and result in an overdose.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 10.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. A dual diagnosis is when a person meets the criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder and another form of mental illness.

Raising Mental Health Awareness

Taking care of the mind is as vital as physical wellness. The truth is that both facets of human beings are inextricably connected. Mental well-being depends on physical health, and vice versa. During Mental Health Month, one of the key messages is prioritizing a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising can prevent symptoms from worsening and can help people heal.

At PACE Recovery Center, we stress to our clients the importance of recognizing the mind-body connection. Abstinence is of vital importance, but healing is multidimensional. To keep the disease of addiction in remission, one must maintain mental, physical, and spiritual balance.

Making small changes to daily routines can go a long way in recovery. Since healing is a process, lifestyle alterations happen gradually. In addiction and mental health recovery, small changes can be the impetus for continued progress.

This year’s Mental Health Month theme is #4Mind4Body. Spirituality, recreation, and work-life balance are critical for everyone but may be more vital to individuals dealing with mental illness. Mental Health America states that:

Finding balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health and mental health, can help you towards focusing both #4Mind4Body.

There are several ways that Americans can have a hand in helping raise awareness. MHA offers a toolkit that can assist organizations in hosting events. People in mental health recovery can use social media to spread the message: “mental health is something everyone should care about.”

Helping Others Boost Mental Health and General Wellness

In the social media age, the average American can reach thousands of people with just a few clicks. While most Facebook and Twitter posts are relatively trivial, such platforms can be harnessed for good.

If you would like to help spread the word, then MHA offers some stock social media posts, including:

We need to speak up early and educate people about #mentalillness—and do so in a compassionate, judgment-free way. Download @mentalhealthamerica’s 2019 toolkit to help raise awareness at bit.ly/MayMH. #4Mind4Body #MHM2019

You are also welcome to create unique posts and utilize the above hashtags. The key messages below can help you design your posts:

  • Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable.
  • A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also help people recover from these conditions.
  • Finding a reason to laugh, going for a walk, meditating, playing with a pet, or working from home once a week can go a long way in making you both physically and mentally healthy.

Looking Past Stigma, Finding Support

Mental illnesses, ranging from addiction to post-traumatic stress disorder, are treatable. When people find the strength to seek help, they can heal. Still, those suffering from mental health conditions need everyone’s encouragement.

When society has open, honest, and fact-based discussions about mental illness, myths and misconceptions fade away. When psychological distress is viewed through the prism of compassion rather than judgment, people seek help. We can all play a part in eroding the mental health stigma.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our mental health and dual diagnosis treatment. Our gender-specific programs help male clients manage mental health conditions and heal from trauma. Males struggling with substance use disorders and behavioral health issues can and do recover.

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.

Alcoholics Anonymous: Atheists/Agnostics In Recovery

alcoholics anonymousIn the field of addiction medicine, it is widely agreed upon that there is not just one way to recover from the insidious and pernicious disease of addiction. That being said, when most people think of addiction recovery, they will typically envision a group of people sitting in a circle, working together to refrain from using drugs and alcohol by practicing the principles of the 12-Steps which were first laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). While there are scores of 12-Step recovery programs to address anything from alcohol use disorder to sex addiction, which may do things in different ways, they all share the common thread of the 12-Steps. It is often said that everyone is welcome at a 12-Step meeting, as long as they have a desire to get better. Yet, many people have recoiled from such programs due to a word that they struggle with, i.e. GOD. Programs of recovery that incorporate the 12-Step model, are spiritual programs, which members are cautioned to not confuse with religious. Organizations like AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), pride themselves with not being associated with any religious sect. While many of their members may choose Jesus or GOD in the biblical sense of the words with regard to assigning a higher power, every member is free to choose their own unique higher power. Even people who are on the fence about the existence of God, or do not believe in God at all, are welcome to join the 12-Step community.

A Spiritual Program

It is fair to say that countless addicts and alcoholics have stayed clear of 12-Step recovery because of the pervasive nature of the word God in the Big Book. And sadly, it is not only an unfortunate choice, it can be a deadly one. 12-Step programs of recovery are in fact spiritual rather than religious, and one should not let the wording (albeit somewhat antiquated) keep them from finding recovery. In fact, there are countless people who are atheist or agnostic who are or will be attending a meeting of AA or NA. They have learned how to work a spiritual program without compromising their beliefs. There are people at meetings from all walks of life, who have varying systems of belief. It is possible to be spiritual without being religious, one need only acknowledge that there is something that is greater than himself. Through which, one can learn how to be accountable to others, and most importantly—their own self. A requirement of getting, and staying, sober is not understanding others’ higher power; it is about understanding and having a relationship with their own higher power. If you are struggling with drugs and/or alcohol, and are considering joining AA or NA—do not be discouraged. Before you write off the program because of certain words, please keep in mind that many atheist and agnostics have managed to work a program of recovery for well over 20+ years through practicing the principles of 12-Steps in all their affairs.

"God," is a God of Your Understanding

Alcoholics Anonymous officially recognized atheist and agnostic membership in the October edition of Grapevine, the International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. The publication began in 1944, just five years after the founding of AA. In 72 years of publishing, Grapevine has never devoted an issue to atheist and agnostic members—until now. Grapevine’s Editor's Letter writes:
This month, our special section features stories by atheist and agnostic AA members, some who have many years of sobriety. One member quotes our co-founder Bill W., in a 1946 Grapevine, ‘… an alcoholic is a member if he says so … we can’t force our beliefs or practices upon him.’ In editing these stories, we honored the request of some authors to not capitalize the word God, which is our usual style. Bill W. intended Grapevine to be a mirror of the Fellowship. We hope these stories will shed some light on the joys and challenges of our atheist and agnostic members.”

Recovery

If you are a young adult male who is struggling with drugs or alcohol, please contact PACE Recovery Center, our team specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. We can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and adopt healthy behaviors to ensure long-term recovery.

Spirituality: The Search for A Higher Power

higher-powerDrugs and alcohol are powerful substances that can strip people of their identity, taking one to places that they swore they would never go. Paradoxically, a person in the grips of addiction often feels that they are in control of their life, when in fact the reality is quite different. The illusion of control that addicts and alcoholics maintain is often a top reason for not seeking help sooner, a misconception that can prove fatal. Coming to terms with the fact that you have become a slave to drink or drugs, and that there is a power greater than oneself, is a pivotal component in finding recovery. Reconnecting, or establishing for the first time a relationship, with a higher power can be a hard pill to swallow for many people new to recovery. Wrapping your head around having a “god” in your life can be difficult, after struggling with addiction for years it is easy to convince yourself that god has turned his/her back on you. Failure to create a relationship with a higher power will hinder a successful recovery.

Let Go, and Let…

Spirituality is the glue that holds one’s recovery together. Without a connection to a power greater than oneself, everything will fall apart. There is a reason why twelve-step programs put so much emphasis on creating and maintaining a relationship with a higher power of some kind. In order to work the steps, one has to let go of their illusions of control and put their faith and trust in something outside themselves. Surrendering to a higher power can prove difficult, people struggle to let go and accept that no one is in control of life’s outcome, especially after many years of living on self will alone. However, when someone comes to terms with the fact that their mindset of being in control was a major component of their addiction - letting go becomes a little bit easier, and one finds that their mind and spirit has been freed. Being relieved of the burden of control allows one to channel their energies in other directions, a necessity when working a program of recovery. Living a spiritual life will help you develop a relationship with recovery, the recovery community, and your higher power. Having the feeling that you are connected to something greater than yourself, helps you live one day at time free from drugs and alcohol.

Finding A Connection

Many who have begun a journey of recovery using the twelve step modality, have some kind of history with religion (for good or bad); this can be a shortcut to reestablishing belief, as there is a foundation in place to build on. On the other hand, there are number of people who have no history with spirituality or belief in a god. If you fall into that realm, do not be discouraged, for you are not alone. Hopefully you have begun working with or seeking a sponsor, a person who will prove pivotal to your recovery. A sponsor can help guide you in your search for a power greater than yourself, and they will inform you that a higher power does not have be a religious deity. A higher power can, in effect, be anything from the universe right down to the recovery group that you attend. One’s higher power is purely subjective, and there is an infinite multitude of things one can put their faith into and receive guidance from. Establishing a connection will not necessarily happen overnight, everyone’s experience is different; what’s important is that one stays active in fostering a relationship with something greater than themselves

There are a few things that you can do that may help you with your search:

Meditation/Prayer: Taking sometime throughout the day to sit quietly, free from the distractions of day to day life, allows you to open your mind to the spiritual world: An act that can put you in a position to practice having a dialogue with something greater. Even if you feel like no one is listening, do not be discouraged, it is important to practice communicating and seeking guidance from outside of yourself. More times, than not, you will feel better after having taking the time to do such a simple task. Being of Service: If you are attending meetings, volunteering your help is great way to get outside of yourself. Selfless acts have a reciprocal effect. Helping others, helps you live in the sunshine of the spirit. When you help others it makes you feel good, you forget about the multitude of things that have been weighing you down. Being connected to others is a great way to practice connecting to a higher power. Don’t Give Up: You often hear the saying “progress, not perfection.” Recovery is a process that can take time to fully grasp. It is important that you listen to your peers with an open mind; they can prove instrumental in your having made a connection with an outside power. Establishing a spiritual relationship will happen in its own time, trust in the program and your desire to live differently than you have in the past. At PACE Recovery Center our motto is a Positive Attitude Changes Everything and our program offers our clients the ability to reintegrate back into a life that emphasizes the true transformation out of one’s addicted identity and into a life of recovery through integrative education, insight and relapse prevention.

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