OK, Somebody Has To Do It . . . “Happy, Happy 6-YEAR Anniversary Recovery Blogging To ME!” Can Not Believe How Fast Time Can Fly When Advocating Recovery on WordPress!

OK, Somebody Has To Do It . . . “Happy, Happy 6-YEAR Anniversary Recovery Blogging To ME!” Can Not Believe How Fast Time Can Fly When Advocating Recovery on WordPress!

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I NEED to THANK Each and Every One of my Recovery Friends, Supporters, and ALL NEW Visitors for helping make my BLOG a SUCCESS as it MEANINGFUL!

I also HOPE Helpful n able to Inform, Educate, & SHARE a Message of HOPE from Gambling Addiction and ALL ADDICTIONS!

We Deserve and ARE Worthy of Second Chances, WHY? Because RECOVERY WORKS and RECOVERY Is POSSIBLE~Catherine Lyon, Advocate

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BIG ACHIEVEMENT!

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6 Year Anniversary Achievement
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Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 6 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us.

Keep up the good recovery blogging.

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“Best Day EVER Meeting This Former NFL Pro now Recovery Advocate. #NFLCares

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Let’s Chat Recovery Lifestyle! Do You Just Live IN Recovery? Or Live an Amazing Life While Maintaining Recovery?

Let’s Chat Recovery Lifestyle! Do You Just Live IN Recovery? Or Live an Amazing Life While Maintaining Recovery?

Welcome Recovery Warriors, Supporters, and New Visitors,

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Now that summer is almost here; many get outdoors, plan vacations, and LIVE LIFE. So, how do you still put your gambling recovery first?

See, there was a time I could never do that. What I mean is, when I was still active in my gambling addiction, it seemed even in the summer or vacation time, it always had to have some form of “gambling venue” or option attached or nearby. How sick is that? It made me begin to think? How do others maintaining recovery from gambling put their recovery first and a balanced healthy Lifestyle?

I felt and have seen my own recovery go through phases as we begin to live life again while keeping mindful of our recovery journey. We don’t “LIVE IN Recovery; we “LIVE LIFE while maintaining it” …I hear too many people who only work 12-Step recovery programs, (no offense) that they only have friends within the 12-step program and leave all other friends behind or only do the 12-Step program activities. That, to me, is not living a well-balanced lifestyle or recovery.

And Those slogans? They never made any sense to me? “Meeting Make It!” No, they don’t. You need to do the work maintaining recovery and a whole lot more. Only attending meetings is NOT going to keep you Bet Free, Clean, and Sober. A few years back, I came across a fantastic article written about these topics and concerns that kind of made my points and made a lot of sense to me then!

I began to put my recovery first and learning to have a balanced lifestyle after reading this article at “The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation” Lifestyle Article.

Here are a few areas I’d like to ‘Share and Highlight’ as they are essential while we continue our life-long maintenance of recovery while living a beautiful lifestyle!

Some From Hazelden Article:

“For many addicts of all addictions, our lifestyle blocks our recovery. It is easy to see the problem when we have a terrible lifestyle: living with an abusive partner, hanging out with drug-dealing and drug-seeking friends, or going to bars or casinos to gamble with old friends or to prove that we can have a soft drink among all that alcohol.

Counselors and sponsors tell us that we must leave behind all negative influences to make recovery our highest priority and make Recovery First. But that doesn’t mean all your family, friends, job, and more. Yes, healing and mindful recovery have to come in first place, and yes, ahead of wife, kids, job, and other relationships that we treasure. Part of this decision is practical. If we put recovery in second (or lower) place, we will eventually lose our recovery, as well as whatever it was we put in the first place. ”

“There is also another way that lifestyle can interfere with recovery. Our mistake is taking a good, attractive lifestyle and recovery making it the center of our lives. We require our treatment and recovery goals to “fit into” our lifestyle, and not disrupt it.

“The more attractive our lifestyle, the more likely we are to COMPROMISE our recovery in search of a pleasant and comfortable way of life. Yes, it is a fine line and how complacency can sneak in. If our lifestyle is healthy, comfortable and well-rounded, we take that as a “given” fact of life and then try to accommodate our recovery without disrupting all that’s pleasurable about life” …

“In treatment, this shows up as an unwillingness to spend more than 28 days working on our recovery full time. Patients frequently say they’d love to have additional time here, but something about the home or workplace demands the highest priority instead. Many professionals feel, such as doctors and lawyers, say that they must return to their professional practice right away. Managers and directors swear that their companies could not live without them, and so the patients must get right back to work. Mistake.”

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Having FUN At A Speaking Event 4 Big Jim’s Ride, Phoenix, AZ!

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Look, I love many things in the “real world,” but what have I learned in my time of 12+yrs maintaining my recovery while living a life? “That I love the world of spirituality, sobriety, and being BET-FREE more.” It is no different than having a medical ailment or being a diabetic, as you learn to manage it as you continue living your life. But remember there is a period in early treatment and recovery that needs to be first in order to learn a healthy lifestyle while maintaining recovery.

And why I always suggest to my sponsees or friends who are “stuck and cannot move forward” to maybe work with a recovery life coach or if you are early into treatment and your recovery? Talk about it with your treatment counselor or therapist about “Lifestyle Balance,” so you can be on the right track living live the way it should be, balanced, healthy, FUN and active!

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ME, Hubby, and Mr. Randy Grimes, former NFL Pro in Purple and Dear Friend!

Childhood Abuse and Trauma Happens. It Happened To Me and It Is My Roots To Addiction … Special Guest Article.

Childhood Abuse and Trauma Happens. It Happened To Me and It Is My Roots To Addiction … Special Guest Article.

Baking Cookies; Confronting Abuse ~ by Amanda Ladwig…
{first published on October 2, 2018} ~ Delight In Disorder
Courtesy of  “Tony Roberts Blog”

 

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One of the many amazing things about truly working through childhood sexual abuse is the act of taking every single thought, and terrible memory captive and watching Christ redeem them. Facing them. Feeling them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. The abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories you have.

They are front and center. Begging to be defeated. Every day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, there are battles fought to reclaim simple things, innocent objects, smells, and sounds. Things that may seem trivial to others represent a great victory. That being said, today I fought a battle and won. Today, I reclaimed what should have been a pleasant childhood memory. Today, I ate an Italian wedding cookie and enjoyed it. That won’t mean much to you, but to me, it is a significant victory.

As a little girl, trips to my aunt’s house happened only a couple of times per year. She always prepared special things to eat for our visits. However, we didn’t get to eat until I had spent some time with her brother. It was only then, after being a good girl and “spending time with my boyfriend,” as he referred to himself, that I would have access to my favorite cookies.  It didn’t take long before those cookies became like poison. For the mere smell of almond or amaretto to make me physically ill.

However, after 30 years of hiding all of the sordid details of my childhood. I believe the Holy Spirit, moving, convinced me it was time. Time to bury old demons and the only way I could do that was to reclaim the territory my enemy had taken so many years ago. Cookies.

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My daughter and I baked them together. The house filled with the very familiar and slightly terrifying scent. As I paused before taking a bite, I reminded myself of where I was and the person I was with. I watched my daughter dance around singing about how good it was. I took in that very moment, and I took a bite.

It was wonderful. Not only did it taste good, but I felt strong. As if I was declaring to my abuser “No!  You may not have these cookies!  You defiled my innocence, but you may not steal my ability to enjoy a cookie!” My life is full of moments like that. Every day there is a battle fought and sometimes won. They often go unnoticed by the people closest to me. However, they are mighty victories.

My children will never know that this was an important day for me. That there was a time I considered Italian wedding cookies toxic and terrifying.  They will always enjoy the smell and taste, and hopefully, it will stir wonderful memories.

There are often things we carry from our childhood that restrain our ability to enjoy simple things. It destroys our ability to accept and receive the good things God intended for us to have. Love and intimacy are one of those things. Just as the smell of a particular type of cookie triggered a reaction of fear and shame, the idea of love can seem meant for destruction. Therefore, the very idea that God “loves” us terrifies us. Love to an abuse survivor often means manipulation and pain.

The first, time I heard the verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” my reaction was not joy or amazement. My reaction was suspicion. I wanted to know what He wanted from me. Surely, I now owed Him something, or it was a trick.

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It took me years to begin to understand that Christ chose me; He loves me not because He needs me for anything. He did not send His son to die for me in an attempt to guilt me into trusting Him or doing things for Him. He chose me and loves me because He is God. He is all sufficient.

I cannot reclaim my childhood. I still battle with depression and flashbacks. However, I can now, through Christ, reclaim how I react to things. I can choose feeling pleasure over feeling fear, and I can choose love over hate. I can choose these things because Christ has given me the power and ability. This is part of the freedom found in Christ.

Freedom to love.

Freedom to forgive.

Freedom to rejoice.

Freedom to enjoy a cookie.

Recovery Thought of The Day. About “Advocates, Recovery Networking Relationships in Unity”…

Recovery Thought of The Day. About “Advocates, Recovery Networking Relationships in Unity”…

RECOVERY THOUGHT of THE DAY …

#Advocacy is about helping those who are suffering and are ready to change, live, and work toward Freedom From #Addictions.  When a higher profile advocate brings Solutions through #Actions to help those suffering, it is a beautiful thing to see …

BOTH, however, can easily get led astray when all of a sudden? “Ego” gets in the way, but, the book below #FindTheSeeker says, SEEK those answers from what lays at your feet (within in you),  then use #Guidance from Above …

I  learned it in this amazing #book I use as part of my #EverChangingRecovery … “#FindTheSeeker” …

( https://www.amazon.com/Find-Seeker-pathless-fulfillment-happiness-ebook/dp/B078SKPJTP/ )

Namaste,
Cat

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Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness

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In working with many advocates who I’ve met doing interviews for a former magazine, and now for a recovery newspaper, many who are bit higher profile than myself, Lol.

We all seem to become friends, cultivate those relationships, and we support one another and network in unity in hopes of saving more lives from Addictions. But, at times, some end up thinking they are “GOD” with an “EGO,” think they can go “Hollywood” and try to make money within advocacy and off the backs of those who suffer.

AND? Most the time it blows up in their face. WHY?  When you stray from the mission, one that most times is God-Given, it becomes a Mission of “All About Me.”

SO PLEASE NOTE Advocates:  There is no room in the addiction/recovery and advocacy communities for all that while people are out here Dying from Addictions . . . 

Sharing My Recovery Wisdom, Hope, Experiences, and Lessons Learned While I Keep Moving Forward Maintaining Recovery. “Pass It On!”

Sharing My Recovery Wisdom, Hope, Experiences, and Lessons Learned While I Keep Moving Forward Maintaining Recovery. “Pass It On!”

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When we feel like we can not move past speed bumps in our recovery journey, how do we move forward? When do I get some loner time abstinence and then relapse? What if I’m not strong enough to NOT cave into cravings, urges, and triggers? What can I do not to RELAPSE?

All these are excellent questions and concerns we all have or face while maintaining our recovery path. Some can be quick fixes, and some may mean you have more work to do possible within your journey. See, recovery is not only a life long process, and it does come to us in phases. What do I mean by this? We all have the option to choose how we begin to gain our lives back from any addiction.

In doing so, we have choices to pick from a 12-Step Program, or faith-based program, or both together. Possibly a treatment center program along with attending church or a treatment program that comes with therapy or counseling, but, however you feel is right and comfortable for you. Next is doing the “work” that is asked of you while you begin to learn the tools and the skills that may save your life. Next is being diligent in using all the tools you learn. Not complicated. But, still, many can struggle.

Since I advocate much through social media, I see many times disagreements going on by others wanting to force how they recover and has worked for them onto others looking for help or support within recovery from addictions. Or even the never-ending battles I see play out about a 12-Step Program all by itself will work to get clean, sober, or gamble free… That is not the case, nor fair.

I feel, and this is my OWN OPINION, as long as you have the desire to stop any addiction that is making your life unmanageable? Then it should be you alone or your family and yourself to choose what works and is comfortable for you.

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Once you begin, begin to come to terms with knowing there is a lot of recovery work to do in the first few years. Learning and gaining the skills and tools needed to interrupt the “cycle” of addiction is essential and half the battle!

Being educated and informed about some of the roots and underlying issues that had you turn to addiction. Old pain or hurt from other issues like abuse, trauma, etc., all can have us looking for ways to cope and escape those feelings that are still unprocessed — then learning to overcome hurdles or those feelings of being “stuck” not knowing how to move forward maintaining your recovery.

I’ll end with a share of a post that I did on my Recovery Facebook page the other day. It was answering a group member’s concerns about her gambling addiction and having a relapse. It was how I felt after reading questions and felt I wanted to share a little of my own experience in early recovery.

Keep it Honest and Real recovery friends!
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My FB Reply:
“I enjoy belonging to many Groups here on FB and especially my #recoverygroups … I wish there were MORE #GamblingRecoveryGroups …

Because when I read that others are having a “Rough Go” or Struggles, and I read sharings of others, it Hits me HARD …

Here is what I suggested to a new friend who is recovering from OUR #Addiction…
ONE that “Requires No #Substances but is just as DEADLY and Still, such a Silent and Underground #Addiction”… *Cat*

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ANSWER To Her:
“When I read this …It took me back to my own early attempts in recovery, the days of chronic relapses. I sure relate to all you shared and half the battle?? Is that YOU are sharing, reaching out, and being honest and transparent as this #DISEASE most times don’t let you. So Kudo’s to you for DOING SO.

It is NOT YOU -Thinking, it is the disease, the habits of our diseased thinking that are telling you that you DON’T have a problem and you have your gambling controlled.

It is part of the nasty “CYCLE” of this cunning addiction. I worked with a Gambling Specialist after I came out of my 2nd treatment program. IT MADE a world of difference for me and stayed maintaining my addicted gambling recovery from that point on!

The longer you abstain and not gamble? The triggers and cravings DO go away, BUT?

This DISEASE is “Always Lying in WAIT.” (Per the late Robin Williams) …

That is why we learn and use all the tools and skills we learn and use them daily. For me, journaling and writing my Steps and Inner work as a Journal sure will help. Re-working the steps in writing form enables you to “Look Back” and see where you need help in areas and your strong points to continue a “Beautiful Life while Maintaining #Recovery.

That Is IMPORTANT …AS We don’t LIVE IN Recovery, and we maintain recovery while we LIVE LIFE!

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month and I Do Have Mental Health Challenges While Maintaining Recovery From Addiction. Many Do!

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month and I Do Have Mental Health Challenges While Maintaining Recovery From Addiction. Many Do!

It seems lately, a growing number of people who come into or maintain recovery from gambling addiction, are also struggling with Mental Health. I am one who does, even after years of maintaining recovery. It seems to become the norm. Even those with other addiction types are too, but very prevalent with addicted gambling.

I choose to stay well managed and proactive with my mental health care and take it as a serious part of my overall health. But many times, I hear or read about those who don’t or stop taking their meds or even misuse them. That can be a deadly GAME and adds up to trouble.  I came across an article from “Know The Odds”  which shares about addicted gambling, recovery, and mental health. They are out of New York area.

If you or someone you care about needs help in any area of the US, visiting “The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration” also know as SAMHSA who is U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and has loads of articles and information to get help with Mental Health and Addiction. There is NO SHAME in doing so and even if you want to be more educated about it. The more we all learn, the more we can shatter the STIGMA.   ~Catherine Lyon Advocate   

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PROBLEM GAMBLING AND MENTAL HEALTH      POSTED ON 
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

There is a strong connection between problem gambling and problems with mental health.  Understanding this connection, identifying warning signs and knowing where to get help is vital to preventing problems and getting support.

Problem Gambling in NY

Nearly 668,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year.  That is a lot of family, friends, and colleagues having trouble.  Problems from gambling can include sleep problems, relationship problems with loved ones and struggles at work.

Each person struggling with problem gambling affects 6-10 of those closest to them.  A study found that 9 out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress.

This means that between the people struggling with problem gambling and the people closest to them, nearly 6.7 million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may struggle with mental health issues because of it.

Problem Gambling and Mental Health

People who struggle with problem gambling are at a higher risk of struggling with other mental health disorders. out of 3 gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems. In fact, the majority of those struggling with problem gambling have a lifetime history of mental health problems. In addition to struggling with gambling.

So they may be struggling with mental health problems such as:

  • an anxiety disorder,
  • a personality disorder,
  • a mood disorder, such as depression, and
  • suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide.

According to CEO Glenn Liebman of the Mental Health Association of New York State, “people need to understand the link between problem gambling and other mental illnesses, and the similarity between a gambling disorder and substance use disorders. This understanding is vital so that those impacted directly and indirectly by problem gambling can appreciate the necessity of treatment.

In most cases, it’s unrealistic to believe that someone suffering from these disorders can recover without help”, said Liebman. “Maintaining this belief can have devastating consequences on those who suffer and their families, including financial ruin and suicide.”

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling

Any problem caused by gambling can be a warning sign of problem gambling.  This is because problem gambling refers to problems in someone’s life that are due to gambling behaviors.  There are many warning signs of problem gambling.

Some warning signs include:

  • Feeling anxious or distressed when not gambling,
  • Struggling to sleep well due to thoughts or worries about gambling,
  • Lying to friends and family about how much time or money spent while gambling,
  • Missing special family events and holidays to go gambling, and
  • Having thoughts of suicide due to problems caused by gambling.

Since there are few outward signs specific to gambling, it’s important to learn as much about the warning signs of problem gambling as possible.

Help for Problem Gambling

There is help and hope, but people may feel hopeless if they don’t know what help is available.

Here are three connections to resources for help.

  • Learn as much as possible about problem gambling.  Check out our resources page and can be found at http://knowtheodds.org/resources/. These resources include eBooks, videos, infographics, and articles. There’s something for everyone!
  • Visit SAMHSA 
  • Find local help by reaching out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center.  Anyone who calls will be met by a trained professional. This professional will offer a warm greeting, a listening ear, and a list of options for local support geared towards helping those affected by problem gambling.

Like Catherine of “Gambling Recovery Starts Here,” we plan to help share resources during the month of May to raise awareness about Mental Health Awareness Month.

To learn more, keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs, and posts on Facebook and Twitter !
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I Am a Childhood Sexual Trauma and Abuse Survivor Maintaining Recovery From Addiction …Helpful Guest Article and by Kristance Harlow 04/22/19.

I Am a Childhood Sexual Trauma and Abuse Survivor Maintaining Recovery From Addiction …Helpful Guest Article and by Kristance Harlow 04/22/19.

Are the 12 Steps Safe for Trauma Survivors?

“When the 4th and 5th steps are done without support for the symptoms of PTSD, they have the potential to retraumatize.

Trauma is a current buzzword in the mental health world, and for good reason. Untreated trauma has measurable lasting physiological and psychological effects, which makes it a public health emergency of pandemic proportions.

Trauma is an event or continuous circumstance that subjectively threatens a person’s life, bodily integrity, or sanity, and overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.

PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, intrusive thoughts about the trauma, hypervigilance, and avoidance of triggers which remind you of the event. Substance use disorders (SUD) are frequently co-morbid (co-occurring) with PTSD.

Many people with PTSD self-medicate with mind-altering substances to alleviate symptoms but getting high or drunk only works for so long. Substance use disorders often evolve from using substances as a maladaptive coping tool.

There are many physiological correlations between psychological trauma and SUD. For example, there are similarities in gray matter reduction for both the person with PTSD and the person with an alcohol use disorder. Although the neural mechanisms of addiction in PTSD patients are not fully understood, research has found that in the prefrontal cortex, dopamine receptors may be involved in both conditions.

Memories related to fear and reward are both processed with the help of these specific receptors. It could be that the processing of traumatic memories affects the dopamine receptors, making them more sensitive to reward-triggering substances.

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Sometimes, people with a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD find their way to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. These programs are widespread, free, and require no commitment, which makes them more accessible than other types of treatment.

AA’s worldwide membership and lasting existence have caused the program to be of interest to researchers for decades. Previous research has found positive correlations between an AA participation and abstinence. There is less research on how 12-step programs interact with trauma recovery.

Studies on relapse factors have found that common predecessors to relapse in adults include anger, depression, and stress, among others. Recalling traumatic experiences, for someone with PTSD, can cause intense physiological and psychological reactions characterized by these same feelings: anxiety (stress), depression, anger, and frustration. It’s a combination that puts people with both trauma and addiction at a higher risk of relapsing.

Guilt, Shame, and AA

There are two sets of steps in 12-step programs that involve memory recall and direct involvement with others: Steps 4 and 5 and Steps 8 and 9.

Step 4 says: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” That step is followed up by sharing that inventory in Step 5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Later, Step 8 says: “Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” To deal with that list, Step 9 directs people: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

The gist with these steps is that they look at both the resentment/anger the person feels towards others (which always involves taking responsibility for a part or all of the event that caused the resentment and anger), and also the “harms” the person caused others. But there is no direct guidance on how to ensure a realistic and safe assessment of past events is made.

The AA book presents this step as if someone with a substance use disorder has the tendency to blame others. People with PTSD are wracked with self-blame, and it is self-blame and shame which fuels many people’s addictions, but shame is not explicitly addressed in the steps.

Guilt is very commonly experienced by people with PTSD. Survivor guilt can be a bit of a misnomer; PTSD develops from situations that are subjectively experienced as traumatic, but these circumstances don’t have to involve death (although they certainly can and do for many people). Simply surviving can feel like something the person is not worthy of. They may feel guilt when they don’t stay in pain and anxiety.

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“Shame is also common in trauma survivors, especially in people who have been sexually assaulted.”

Trauma survivors must restore a positive sense of self to find healing. Judith Herman, the author of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political Terrorexplains that “the survivor needs the assistance of others in her struggle to overcome her shame and to arrive at a fair assessment of her conduct.”

It becomes important, as the trauma reveals itself, to see it clearly for what it was so the person can integrate those experiences into their individual life stories.

AA literature is very focused on decreasing ego and on disrupting the selfishness of the person with the addiction. This is not necessarily a helpful baseline for traumatized folks; it can be harshly critical. The feeling of being judged can deepen the rift between the survivor and others.

Herman writes, “Realistic judgments diminish the feelings of humiliation and guilt. By contrast, either harsh criticism or ignorant, blind acceptance greatly compounds the survivor’s self-blame and isolation.”

The primary text of Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”) suggests alcoholics review their past sexual life when creating a life inventory in Step 4. For the overall inventory, the book suggests that the reader completely disregard “the wrongs others had done” and to look only at “our own mistakes.”

Even in situations where a person caused harm to the reader, the reader should “disregard the other person involved entirely” and find “where were we to blame?” These suggestions can be dangerous for survivors of intimate partner violence or child abuse who have been told that they were to blame for the abuse they suffered.

The book further details what to ask yourself when making an inventory of your sexual conduct:

“Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead?” It is worrisome that a sex inventory is taken to find out how “we acted selfishly” when one-third of women and one-sixth of men have been sexually assaulted or raped.

An estimated half of women who experience a sexual assault will develop PTSD. One study found that 80 percent of women with SUD who seek inpatient treatment have been physically or sexually assaulted and nearly 70 percent of men have experienced either physical or sexual abuse.

How the 12 Steps Can Harm People with PTSD

Because remembering past traumas makes the brain’s reward center more receptive to the effects of drugs, Steps 4 and 5 need to be approached with extreme caution for people who have experienced trauma.

Ideally, these steps jumpstart healing; but when they are done without support for the symptoms of PTSD, they have the potential to retraumatize. As the person shares their trauma with someone else, hopefully, the listener is compassionate and willing to point out where things were not the addict’s fault—at all.

A child survivor of molestation had no agency in the assault, and it is unconscionable to tell that child, now grown, that they need to determine where they were at fault. It is not possible to “disregard the other person involved entirely” when an event only occurred because of the other person. Sometimes we need to recognize this fact and say to ourselves (or hear from someone else): “You had no part in this, you were a victim at that time.”

In Steps 8 and 9 we are to list and resolve harms done to others. If step 4 and 5 didn’t properly address where our fault doesn’t lie, we may be inclined to list abuses and harm done to us as wrongs we did. It says not to make amends if it will cause harm to others, but we need an additional specification not to make amends if it will cause harm to ourselves.

If you owe an abusive ex-partner money, are you supposed to pay them back if you’ve cut off all contact? These are issues that require careful consideration. Sharing both lists with a compassionate person has the potential to help survivors recover. Sharing both lists with someone who is too harsh in their suggestions and assessments has the potential to push those in recovery back into active addiction.
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The care of a loving, compassionate, and knowledgeable supporter, like a sponsor, can help sort out these dangerous triggers. Since such a large percentage of people in 12-step programs have experienced trauma, sponsors should be able to provide trauma-informed care; otherwise, going through the steps may end up retraumatizing their sponsees and leaving them vulnerable to relapse.

Yet, there are no qualifications for sponsorship and no way for someone new to the program to be aware of these potential pitfalls. There are so many variabilities to the 12 steps and how they are implemented.

The way in which someone interprets the language of the steps can change how people understand themselves and their history. Trauma-focused recovery can be lost in the mix and deserves more explicit attention.

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Kristance Harlow is a freelance writer and mental illness advocate. She fights stigma and writes about uncomfortable experiences. She lives in a foreign land with her husband and rescue pups.

Find Kristance on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn, or her blog.