Recovery Guest Writer ~ Meet Aurora McCausland … Kids Drug Education

Recovery Guest Writer ~ Meet Aurora McCausland … Kids Drug Education

What Kind of Drug Education Is Your Child Getting at School?


When people hear the term “drug education”, they assume negative connotations. However, that is a misconception. Drug education isn’t an attempt to convince your child to do drugs, it’s the exact opposite. Drug education is not only a necessity for your child’s health and future but in most cases, drug education isn’t being taught to our children at a young enough age. And in a lot of cases, children aren’t getting any sort of drug education at school.

 

Most parents think it won’t be their kid

 

Parents tend to assume the best of their children and assume they would never dabble in drugs. And yes, parents do know their children better than a random observer would. However, parents are often willing to overlook the negative things and actions when it comes to their children. Well-meaning parents all too often conveniently don’t notice the signs of drug use, simply because they don’t want to believe that it’s a possibility. And even if your child has never used illegal substances, it’s very possible that they know someone that has.

 

“Say no to drugs” isn’t enough

 

Drug education is important for a lot of reasons. If your child is ever confronted with the decision to do drugs or is ever interested in experimenting, they need to have the education necessary to make a good decision. Education is the key to prevention. Without knowledge, your child doesn’t have the tools necessary to make a decision in that sort of situation and may make a rash decision that they won’t be happy with.


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Without education, horrible mistakes can be made

 

Consider synthetic drugs. Many synthetic drugs are much stronger than their traditional counterparts. If your children aren’t getting the education to know what synthetic drugs are and how much damage they can cause, they won’t have any idea what they’re getting into if they are presented with them. There have been instances of death when a teenager is offered synthetic drugs and, thinking they are something else, such as LSD, take a dose that is much too large. Education can prevent this.

 

They can handle the information

 

In middle school and high school, your child’s brain is still developing. This is the best time for them to get the drug education that they need. They need to be able to assess the risk and learn to make decisions for themselves when they are presented with the opportunity to do drugs. Your children are smart. They are able to handle the information. If we aren’t communicating with our kids and giving them that information, someone else is going to be giving them information.

With nothing to compare it to, they’ll believe the other information they are given. Don’t give them the chance to be confused, and give them the information that they need from the beginning. This isn’t to say that if you don’t make sure your child is getting a proper drug education that they are going to be out on the streets in search of cocaine. It just means that you would never want that sort of situation for your child, and educating your child is the best means of prevention.

 

Educate, instead of saying “don’t use”

 

With a lot of taboo subjects, people tend to opt for a blanket statement, disregarding any pertinent information that would be useful for decision making. If we don’t educate our children, how are they supposed to know anything? Ignorance is absolutely not bliss, and especially not in a situation like this. Ignorance and education could be a life or death difference.

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Educate about over-use of legal substances

 

Teaching our children about illegal drugs is incredibly important. What’s equally as important, is teaching them about the dangers of things that are legal. Alcohol, tobacco, and prescription medication/opioids are all things we should be talking to our children about. Again, without education, youth don’t have any way to create well-meaning decisions about something. If you know nothing about something you nothing about how to protect yourself from it. Teach your children about the dangers of overuse of substances that are legal, as well as the dangers of using illegal substances.

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~ This article was written by Aurora McCausland ~

Aurora McCausland

Aurora is a 20-something with big hair, a love for Nutella. New Mexican raised, living in Utah. Twitter addict. English and Journalism Major at U.V. Utah, with a minor in French. She’s been writing since before she can remember and a model …

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My Recovery Guest Today – Meet Aaron Emerson…”Hope From DOPE”

My Recovery Guest Today – Meet Aaron Emerson…”Hope From DOPE”

Most all know just how difficult maintaining recovery can be. Especially when we come out of rehab or treatment and in early recovery. No one knows this better than my dear friend and advocate, Aaron Emerson. I have been a supporter and friends with Aaron for a couple years now. I can tell you this guy “Never Gives Up.” 

Yes, we all may have relapsed before, but Aaron is very adamant in sharing what he learns if and when we all at times have a slip. The most important fact is, Aaron is Honest, Real, and Transparent about the ups and downs of maintaining recovery.

So, that is what is my point is with this post and having Aaron share some of his story with all of us today, courtesy of his latest newsletter … “Hope From Dope” is a newsletter written by Aaron Emerson, a recovering addict, and alcoholic. It contains his writings from his Hope From Dope blog, updates on his recovery and more. 

“HE IS A FIGHTER” and he never gives up with “God In His Corner!”

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Treatment Works; My Story ~ By Aaron Emerson.

 

 

“I have been to rehab 7 times” …

Yes, seven times I have checked myself into rehab. Many of those times I did it to simply get my family off my back and a couple more times because I was homeless and didn’t have anywhere else to go. 

But this last time, well, I entered rehab totally broken, ashamed, hopeless and humiliated. At the same time, though, I was finally ready to do everything they asked me to do and willing to give recovery a try again.

It was a rehab in Memphis, Michigan called Sacred Heart. Based on the 12 Steps, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and family support, it is a treatment center that mainly serves low-income individuals from Michigan. It is a terrific place that employs therapists and workers who are recovering addicts themselves. And, well, it saved my life.

The day I checked myself into Sacred Heart, I had two warrants out for my arrest for stealing a credit card. I was a broken person, my relationships were all shattered and nobody trusted me.

Years prior, I had been living a life of recovery after several years of heroin addiction and it was the happiest I’d ever been. However, after I let up on how many meetings I went to and distancing myself from my recovery program, I drank some beers at a wedding, triggering a downward spiral of a couple more years of on and off drinking and drug use.


So, walking into Sacred Heart on December 8, I was humiliated that after building a life of recovery, I was now back in active addiction, facing some criminal charges. I had shared my story at area high schools and been featured in news stories about recovery. But here I was, strung out and hopeless once again.

About the only thing I had going for me that day was that for the last week, I hadn’t used drugs or drank. After the cops were called on me for acting violently after a night of drinking, an Ingham County Sheriff’s Sergeant helped convince me to check into treatment and get my life together for my daughter.

I actually listened to him. The way he treated me like someone who needed help and not as a crazy criminal really gave me hope. I was used to cops doing everything they could to stick me with charges and lock me away, so when an officer who was high up on the chain in law enforcement showed me compassion and seemed to really care about me and my daughter, it triggered me to try to get sober and go back to rehab.

And since that night when Sgt. Harrison helped me instead of locking me up, I haven’t used drugs. Rehab went very well and Sacred Heart helped me get some stability in my life. When I left a few weeks later, I was sober and motivated to get to a meeting as soon as I got out.

I did and two days later I turned myself in to handle the warrants. I got a personal bond and a month later was sentenced to Drug Court in East Lansing, which provides treatment and therapy instead of jail or prison. Drug Court has introduced me to a very good support system and given me a strict, balanced life to build around.

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I now have a job working 30 hours a week, go to meetings and therapy each day and am trying to be the best father I can be to my seven-year-old daughter. My life is extremely busy with work and all the meetings and therapy, but it is helping me. I feel like I have a very sustainable foundation in my recovery. I have a sponsor and a recovery coach that I call every day and another recovery coach that helps me and my family piece back together our relationships.

Out of all the sponsors, recovery coaches, therapists and probation officers I have in my life, I genuinely feel like each one of them cares deeply for me and plays very important but different pieces of the puzzle. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Sgt. Harrison motivating me to go to Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart truly helped me develop a foundation to get my life back together and I will forever be grateful for that.

It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen, it is never impossible to stand back up and fight! It doesn’t matter if you have never been to rehab or if you’ve been to treatment ten times, never give up! While in active addiction, it seems impossible to ever get sober and be happy without drugs and alcohol. That is a lie the disease of addiction tells you. The memories and hope I am experiencing today is something to cherish.

Never give up. Don’t ever be ashamed or embarrassed to admit you have a problem and need help. It takes a lot of strength and courage to check yourself into treatment or ask for help, but it is the first step to building a happy life of sobriety.

Treatment works!

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THANK YOU, Aaron, for being my Guest Today!

You can follow Aaron’s journey and share your support by visiting his website “Hope From DOPE”  and by connecting with him here on Facebook too!
Please check out his book as well now available and e-book now only $3.99 here on Amazon Kindle… 

To Hell And Back: Heroin And Recovery: My Life Of Addiction And Recovery Told Through Past Journals by [Emerson, Aaron]

Sharing Other Recovery Blogs Sharing Voices of Gambling Recovery. Meet Arnie Wexler, A 50 Year Veteran of Recovery From Gambling Addiction.

As National Problem Gambling Awareness Month comes to a close, I want those who may know someone or have a family member touched by or may have a problem or have become addicted to gambling here Arnie Wexler …

He knows what it takes to recover from the #1 addiction claiming lives by Suicide today. There is Help and Hope for this cunning disease. Arnie has just celebrated 50 years maintaining his recovery from it and SO CAN YOU. SO, please take a listen to his Guest Interview by Nicola of “I Love Recovery Cafe”

Nicola talks to Arnie Wexler about Compulsive Gambling (Podcast)

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Arnie Wexler is a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor (CCGC), and was the Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey for eight years.

Arnie is one of the foremost experts on compulsive gambling in this country and has been involved in helping compulsive gamblers for over 30 years. He has appeared on many of America’s top television shows, including Oprah, NightLine, and 48 Hours and 60 Minutes.  He has been quoted and profiled in hundreds of magazines and newspapers.

Contact Arnie at his Website here

 

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Courtesy and Presented by “Gambling Recovery Can Start Here!” Advocate/Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

Is There A New Revolution, A More Holistic Approach To Treatment Options? It’s Coming!

Is There A New Revolution, A More Holistic Approach To Treatment Options? It’s Coming!

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,


Many of you know I am a big fan of reading and visiting many websites and online magazines and news like ‘Keys to Recovery’ The Fix, and Psych Central’ which is where I found an amazing article about how the “Future of Addiction and Recovery” is going through a new revolution as this generation becoming addicts of all types of addictions NEED and are looking for a new, more Holistic Approach to long-term recovery and treatment options. I am also a firm believer that what works for one person may not work for another to maintain long-term recovery after treatment, and more facilities are realizing it.

It seems many 12-step based models are very outdated and were not written or meant to be a “treatment” based program for full or long-term recovery. It seems many writer and authors who maintain recovery and addiction experts are also gearing more and more books toward an open-minded, wellness and holistic approach to recover from addiction. It gains the addict to less “roadblocks and prevents relapse” when addressing all areas of mind, body, and spirit, not just the cycle and behavioral portion of addictions. So today I wanted to share this amazing and informative article Courtesy of PsychCentral so we can have open comments and talk about how you feel about this.

Is there a real revolution going on in the way of what addicts choose or want in treatment and how to maintain recovery? I think you’ll say yes after reading this article…


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Finally, the foundations for the creation of next-generation therapies have been laid that could help turn these numbers on their head.

Recent developments in our understanding of the biological and neural networks involved in substance abuse disorders and psychological theories of behavioral change, coupled with the rapid evolution of technology-assisted therapy mean that the pivotal time is now.

As we speak, over 30 of the World’s leading experts on ending addiction and facilitating life-long recovery—including expert scientists and therapists, TED speakers, thought-leaders, and international best-sellers—are speaking at the online Healing Addiction Summit.

And that is what it is going to take: The knowledge from the best minds in their respective fields, being united at the frontline in creating holistic, multipronged, therapeutic systems that adapt to the individual and their support network to effectively prevent relapse round the clock and reliably promote lifelong, successful recovery.

We are failing addiction sufferers and their families.

Most addicts in the US never receive treatment (estimated at 10% or less), and although heatedly debated it is clear that most conventional addiction recovery programs alone do not result in lifelong recovery for the majority of people. Tragically, this equates to life-long suffering that ripples through the addict’s lives to their loved ones and our communities and society as a whole. As put by Summer Felix-Mulder, co-founder of Clear Health Technologies and host of the currently running Healing Addiction Summit:

Addiction doesn’t just affect the addict, it affects families, it affects friends, it affects every relationship.

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Ultimately, the seemingly endless addiction cycle of sobering up, relapsing, and hitting rock bottom often ends in drug-related death. In the US, a shocking 100> people die every single day from the number one cause of injury-related death, drug overdoses and poisoning.

With such high stakes at risk, failing to treat and heal those suffering from addiction, the addicts themselves, and their families, is not an option.

Why do addicts relapse?

Behavioral change maintenance, also known as sustainable behavior change, is the ultimate goal in addiction recovery, where a recovering addict refrains from old addiction sustaining behaviors (e.g., drug seeking and use) and maintains new abstinent behaviors (e.g., use of craving coping and wellness strategies).

Think of a Jenga tower as the power to resist cravings and desires to use. It is made of many useful, interconnected blocks that represent the perhaps 100s of factors that can help prevent relapse:

  • Some of these blocks are red. They represent the emotional and physiological resources (e.g., good sleep, low stress, neutral/positive mood) needed to start entraining a new behavior to make it an automatic habit while resisting an old habit.
  • Some of these blocks are green. They represent the tools and abilities one has to self-regulate and exercise self-control over old addiction habits and behaviors.
  • Some of these blocks are blue. They represent the good habits that prevent drug relapse. Self-control requires fewer resources the more that the behaviors that prevent relapse and promote recovery are entrained in the brain and become a habit.
  • And then add contextual factors into the mix. Changes to the addict’s physical and social environment can shake things up. An emotional rock of a friend moves away, having to attend a wedding with an open-bar, or a new club opens next door and it’s like pointing a power fan at the Jenga tower. You better hope the right blocks are in the right places!

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In reality, some of the blocks can be removed without too much fuss. One night’s bad sleep, so what? The tower might sway, cravings might even go through the roof in stressful moments throughout the day, but a balance is regained and relapse is resistedthe tower stands strong. Remove a few more blocks and another couple fall off, create weak patches, or remove some of those important foundational blocks and, very quickly, when just a second ago the tower stood steady, it all comes tumbling down.

This is how falling off the wagon seems to creep up on addicts and their support network. No one can monitor all of these blocks all of the time, not even the addict, and certainly not their counselors, therapists, friends, and family.

All it takes is the wrong block to be removed at the wrong time. For non-addicts wanting to start new healthy habits or quit bad ones this equates to an “off day” or moment of poor self-control, but for addicts, this can be devastating and life-threatening.

Why aren’t conventional drug rehab programs enough?

One of the current mainstays of drug and alcohol rehab treatments involves engagement in a 12-step program pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous that the majority of rehabilitation centers rely upon.

About 60% of public treatment programs in the U.S. report that the 12-step model is their primary approach, and most encourage or mandate 12-step involvement, with about half holding 12-step meetings onsite.

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Research on the effectiveness of these programs is controversial and is subject to widely divergent interpretations and will not be discussed in this article. Nonetheless, it is resoundingly clear from the latest reviews and meta-analysis that while there are undoubtedly recovery-related benefits for some people, the most effective programs of the future will NOT be based on the 12-steps.

And why should we expect 12-steps-based rehab programs and treatments to work across the board today? It was created in 1935 (when we knew next to nothing about addiction) and is essentially a set of religious/spiritual principles that have changed surprisingly little over the years. It is not a carefully crafted system based on proof of what works best for the majority of people or under various circumstances. And it is certainly not tailored to the individual to maximize effectiveness and ensure that the recovering addict has maximal protection against relapse 24/7.


There is not one single reason to expect such drug rehab programs to be universally effective.

And how can future drug rehab programs be better at preventing relapse and promoting recovery?

  • By evidence-based design.
  • By providing round the clock assessment and care.
  • By developing holistic approaches that take into behavioral change theory and account for psychology (mind), biology (the body and brain), and, for some, spirituality (soul).
  • By helping addicts use interventions and tools tailored to the individual’s needs at the exact moment they need them, not simply learning about them in a meeting and hoping they are used when times are tough. Prompts and guidance are needed to guarantee success under stress.
  • By helping addicts maintain the healthy habits and quality of life needed to stay clean that even the most healthy and successful individuals can struggle to maintain on the daily.
  • By being affordable, desirable, and accessible for all.

This can only be achieved realistically by designing programs that integrally capitalize on smart devices. Objective biosensors and mobile phone applications can be used to detect and tell the addict and their support network when one block has been removed from the tower when two blocks go, and when that power fan is trying to blow the whole blooming tower down. And can provide the tools to prevent relapse both before and when the crisis moments strike.

With recent research demonstrating both the effectiveness of predicting relapse from wearables and smart device-derived data, as well as reports of high user compliance and adherence to wearables and mobile phone applications that are used to tackle and study addiction, the time is now to develop dynamic, research-based, person-centered, technology-assisted drug rehab programs.
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So it seems ‘The future of All Addiction Types’ and abuse disorder treatment is bright, is holistic, is personalized, is round the clock, and most importantly, will be designed to help heal from addiction, brick by brick…

I will close as I recommend this amazing book I have read and has helped me tremendously in my recovery path and inner healing. It is not your zen or wishy-washy meditation type of book at all. I know you will all Enjoy It! And please visit my friends at Psych Central

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Authors, Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi and Cliff Stevens ~ on Amazon

“Find the Seeker! with the subtitle “The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness”, based on the tried and tested wisdom of a living Master and enlightened ones throughout the ages, accompanies us on a life-changing inner pilgrimage. A powerful, straight-talking wake-up call to people of all faiths and confessions, holding up a mirror to our worldly existence, suffering and the intricate workings of the ego.

Immensely uplifting and rewarding, the book serves as a travelling companion and guide, enticing readers with a vision of what we really are -which can only be directly experienced – by helping us unfold our true nature and reboot our spiritual search so that we can abide in the one Self. In this way, seekers become finders, and we can enjoy the bliss and lightness of Being that is inherently ours. 

Catherine

“March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and Time To Start The Conversation Along With The National Council on Problem Gambling.”

“March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and Time To Start The Conversation Along With The National Council on Problem Gambling.”

Welcome Recovery Friends and All Visitors,

Let me just get this out right off the BAT! MARCH is Problem Gambling Awareness Month just in time for the Biggest Gambling Sports Betting Month — March Madness for College Basketball …And NO, that is NOT a Coincidence. There, I said! So that is why my Guest and introduction Article is by “The National Council on Problem Gambling

ABOUT THEM

Our mission is to lead state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policy and programs for all those affected by problem gambling.  Our purpose is to serve as the national advocate for programs and services to assist problem gamblers and their families.  And our vision is to improve health and wellness by reducing the personal, social and economic costs of problem gambling.  The National Council is neither for nor against legalized gambling.  NCPG is organized with 3 classes of members: state affiliate, corporate and individual. The NCPG concentrates efforts on the national level, while the state affiliates work at the state and local level. Major National Council programs include:

  1. The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700), a single national access point to local resources.
  2. The annual National Conference on Problem Gambling, the world’s oldest and largest problem gambling-specific conference.
  3. National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (annually in March).
  4. International Holiday Lottery Campaign (annually in December).
  5. Administration of the National Certified Gambling Counselor (NCGC) credential.
  6. Providing education on problem gambling issues to Federal, state, tribal and international governments and agencies.
  7. Distribution of information and literature on problem gambling treatment, research, and recovery.
  8. National referral resource on gambling counselors and treatment facilities.

HISTORY

The organization was founded in 1972 by Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne and Dr. Robert Custer, among others. From the outset, the Council established two principles that remain in effect today: that the organization would be the advocate for problem gamblers and their families, and that it would take no position for or against legalized gambling. This stance is encompassed today in our vision and mission statements above. A history of the NCPG from 1972 to 1985 by Msgr. Dunne was published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 1. To join as a member or to support NCPG with a tax-deductible contribution, click here to view our Membership Types and Benefits.

Washington, DC – This March, the National Council on Problem Gambling will host the 14th annual Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) in collaboration with its affiliates, members and corporate partners across the country.

Approximately 2 million U.S. adults, or 1% of the population, are estimated to meet criteria for serious gambling problems, and another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered to have moderate gambling problems; yet for many, gambling remains a hidden addiction. The estimated national social cost to families and communities due to bankruptcy, divorce, job loss, home loss, and criminal justice costs associated with problem gambling is $6.7 billion each year.

This year’s PGAM theme, “Have the Conversation,” focuses on the importance of an open dialogue and candid discussion about problem gambling. A variety of media materials will be used throughout the month to highlight the common warning signs of problem gambling and bring attention to the resources available for those struggling with a gambling problem. NCPG’s state affiliates and members, both individual and organizational, will offer local programs specifically geared to their communities. A calendar of local activities held during Problem Gambling Awareness Month can be found at ncpgambling.org/pgamevents/.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month will also feature Gambling Disorder Screening Day on March 13, 2018, in collaboration with Cambridge Health Alliance. Screening Day is an international movement designed to support healthcare providers in the identification of gambling problems. Gambling disorders lead to financial, emotional, social, occupational and physical harms, yet many cases go undetected, due to limited assessment for this problem. Screening Day addresses the imperative and provides tools to detect gambling-related problems as early as possible.

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month is an important time for us to reach new audiences with critical information about prevention, education, and treatment for Problem Gambling,” said NCPG Executive Director, Keith Whyte.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.ncpg.org/chat for confidential help.

 

About the National Council on Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gaming. For more information on the 32nd National Conference on Problem Gambling, visit www.ncpgambling.org/conference.

 

 

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And lastly, if you want an in-depth look at how gambling can impact one’s life in a negative manner? Read my E-book which is now on sale for $2.99 on Amazon Kindle.  One Reader Says; “Excellent: Great read for the addicted gambler. Puts everything in perspective if you let this addiction continue to consume you. I can relate to her struggles.”

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Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat)    How does a good girl go bad? Based on a true story, told in the author’s own words, without polish or prose, this haunting tale of addiction, family secrets, abuse, sexual misconduct, destruction, crime and…. recovery! One day at a time, one page at a time. Learn of this remarkable and brave story.
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An Important Article Share and Topic Recovery Friends from “The Fix.” Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Relapse?

An Important Article Share and Topic Recovery Friends from “The Fix.” Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Relapse?


This is a very informative article
as many of us maintaining recovery are always looking for more “openness and enlightening” ways to keep us from not only ‘Relapse’ but looking to stay moving forward in recovery and a deeper meaning of happiness and fulfillment to true serenity in our lives from addiction.

I myself have started a new book that just may help you get it! It was written by one of the few living Zen Masters, Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi of today and his pupil and Author, Clifford Stevens so at the end of this post I will share this new book release with you titled; Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness and Highly Suggest it!

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The Fix – Guest Article By Elizabeth Brico 02/21/18

“Mindfulness meditation teaches people how to accept suffering as a normal, cohesive experience, and then move on from it.”


Relapse has always been a harsh reality of addiction, but as the opioid black market fills with powerful synthetics, relapse on heroin and similar drugs grows increasingly dangerous. Fatal overdoses nearly doubled between 2015 and 2016—the majority of which are attributed to opioid-based drugs.

We are bombarded daily with news headlines—some factual, some fictitious—announcing the newest therapy, or the latest hysteria-provoking scare (does death by fentanyl dust at the grocery store sound familiar?) as we scramble to unearth an affordable and effective way to curb the tragic rise in overdose deaths. Advocates wage vicious wars using news stories and social media, trying to figure out what treatment works best; what will finally fix it?

What if one of the most promising treatments to help prevent relapse has not only already existed for thousands of years, but is free and available to anyone?

Although research is still young, several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation may prevent relapse by helping people in recovery acclimate to the idea of stress as a normal experience that can be handled without the aid of substances. Opioid addiction is especially problematic because these powerful drugs actually change the way the human brain functions. Prolonged opioid use damages the pleasure-reward system and alters the way we experience both pleasure and pain.

Opioid agonist medicines like methadone and buprenorphine are often used to help mitigate these brain changes, either for the short or long-term, but Derek Alan Crain, the Executive Director for Mindful Therapy Group based out of Seattle, Washington, thinks that mindfulness meditation can be an incredibly useful tool in concert with other evidence-based treatments.

“With mindfulness, you’re teaching patients how to tune into their feelings; you’re teaching them how to suffer,” says Crain.

The idea of teaching people in recovery from addiction how to suffer may sound counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t addiction pretty much just a ton of suffering? But when a mindfulness practitioner like Crain talks about teaching people “how to suffer,” he means providing the tools and space that will allow us to accept personal suffering as a normal, cohesive experience and then move on from it. It’s true that people with substance use disorders suffer a lot. Addiction is a vicious, complicated cycle that often reinforces itself by generating more suffering which we try to escape by using or drinking. Viewed in that light, teaching someone in recovery how to suffer makes a lot of sense.

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Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves accepting experiences without judgment, including negative experiences. Rather than aiming to empty the mind or think nothing, as in other types of meditation, mindfulness asks only that the practitioner resists valuing certain thoughts and feelings over others. So, if a person is engaging in mindfulness meditation and finds herself worrying about that fight she just had with her spouse, instead of pushing that anxiety away, she would honor it.

Mindfulness asks that she recognize that the thought is there and that it’s uncomfortable, but she doesn’t quantify the experience—she doesn’t try to fix it. She can ask it to pass but she doesn’t force it away. Eventually, if someone practices this enough, she starts to understand the inherent transience of emotional states. This is very useful for people in recovery from addictions because it allows them to understand their suffering as something with an end. It also helps them to develop patience and perspective, two qualities that are often overridden by an addiction.

Ashley and Jaime are both in outpatient treatment for opioid addiction. Ashley had been using prescription opiate painkillers to mask childhood trauma for a number of years, and Jaime was addicted to heroin and pills for nearly three decades. Now, they both use medication-assisted treatment (buprenorphine), peer support, and individual counseling, but each expressed that the addition of mindfulness meditation helped prevent them from relapsing.

Jaime tells The Fix that he meditates for about 10-20 minutes each morning, using his breath as the anchor of his focus. Ashley reports that she engages in mindfulness meditation three times a week for about an hour each session—though she admits it took six months to work up from a few minutes at a time.

“I don’t think about using drugs nearly as much as I used to,” Ashley admits. “I’m more patient and more positive,” she says with a wry chuckle. “A lot of my addiction was unresolved issues I didn’t want to feel or think about. Now I’ve learned how to process them instead of getting high.”


Ashley is well-dressed, with clear skin and a posture relaxed almost to the point of ambivalence. The only visible cue to the traumatic history she discloses to The Fix is her flat affect and a slight unmeasurable distance in her eyes. Beyond that, she looks like any other middle-class young white woman. She admits that before she integrated regular meditation into her recovery, she struggled with frequent relapses. Although buprenorphine reduces the drug cravings and blocks the euphoric effects of opioids, people with trauma histories—like both Ashley and Jaime—may still have problems with frequent relapses when triggered.

Bessel van der Kolk, a Boston-based psychiatrist who has devoted his career to the study and treatment of trauma, says that “[trauma] lies in your body, so when you start taking drugs, you feel calmer. When you stop taking drugs, you have a dual issue: one is the withdrawal from the drug, the second is that you’re dealing with pain and trauma that’s still in the body.”

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While medication-assisted treatments like methadone and buprenorphine have been proven effective at reducing cravings and correcting some brain changes likely attributed to drug use, they don’t target traumatic responses. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

Van der Kolk says that current addiction programs in the United States tend to ignore the curative effects of becoming re-connected with one’s body. He says we need more “programs where people become familiar with their bodies. Self-regulating their bodies should be the focus of treatment because it’s bodies [that] are stuck.”

Jaime, who could easily blend in with any group of average middle-aged men, echoes Ashley. “Meditation minimizes my [drug] use thoughts. It helps me realize when I’m trying to justify doing a shot of heroin or something.” He speaks with the plain, unapologetic candor of someone who has long accepted his identity as someone with an addiction, a quality often mirrored in followers of the 12-steps; a group to which Jaime proudly belongs.

He adds, “It helps with my anxiety too—I’m not as fidgety. I’m more in tune with myself and the world around me.”

Finding something relatively simple and freely accessible that can deter relapse is no laughing matter. While it’s impossible to know for certain how many of the 42,000 opioid overdose deaths reported in 2016 can be attributed to a relapse, it is well established that using opioids after a period of abstinence can be fatal. For people on opioid agonist medications, like Ashley and Jaime, attempting to overcome the blocking effects of the treatments can also lead to a fatal overdose.

Even without the risk of death, relapse can be an emotionally debilitating experience that leads some users to discontinue treatment altogether. Most of our current treatments focus on detoxification or acute stabilization, but relapse prevention is just as important—and a recovery practice that can function as well 10 weeks into recovery as it does after 10 years could be a vital piece of the puzzle.

Crain believes that another reason meditation helps with relapse prevention—in addition to its role in repairing maladaptive stress responses—is that it encourages an intimacy with the self.

Results from some rat studies imply that social isolation plays a role in addiction. Rats who were isolated and kept in cages demonstrated more addictive behaviors than those that were housed in a social environment. The phenomenon was also observed in Vietnam vets; a large number of soldiers became addicted to heroin while overseas, but a disproportionately high number of them discontinued use when they returned home to their communities. These studies have led specialists to speculate a social component to addiction.

Crain thinks that meditation helps people in recovery fall in love with themselves, sometimes for the first time in their lives. This self-intimacy, and the concurrent production of oxytocin, colloquially called the “love hormone,” helps people integrate and bond with their social communities, which is an important aspect of addiction recovery.

Meditation is not a magical cure for addiction. Although a mindfulness meditation practice can help reform and strengthen opioid-damaged neuropathways so that they are better able to respond to stress, mindfulness alone can’t treat acute addiction or prevent someone from experiencing withdrawal. It can, however, be a powerful tool against relapse.

And lastly, as Crain says, “An addict has been hiding from suffering his whole life. With meditation, you’re embracing that suffering. You’re normalizing it.”


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SO as I close, I highly suggest this new book; Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness that I am finishing for my recovery as being in long-term sobriety means continuing to learn and grow to a healthy and happy full life. We all are “works in progress” from addiction, being armed new education on the many ways to live a well-balanced and happy life is the way to go!
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About The Book:

Find the Seeker! by Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi and his pupil, Zen teacher Clifford Stevens, takes us on an inner pilgrimage, compassionately picking us up where we are, whether beginners or longstanding seekers. Based on the wisdom and profound, first-hand experience of a modern-day Master as well as the teachings of enlightened ones throughout the ages, the book reboots our spiritual search in order to renew our limiting, thought-driven, and ego-dominated lives. Focusing on the spiritual dimension underlying Existence which all of us share, the book addresses people of all faiths who suffer, are unhappy and seek to lead more fulfilling lives.

“Find the Seeker!” is not a wishy-washy, feel-good book offering a quick fix or esoteric porridge or pandering to those who want a spiritual baby rattle to rely on. Instead, it serves as a traveling companion and guide, enticing readers with the vision of what we really are – Absolute, eternal and unconditional Being, whole and divine – which can only be directly experienced and embodied. It serves as a powerful wake-up call for those who mistakenly believe in their being separate from the Oneness and living in a state of duality, reminding us that the Kingdom of God is really within us.

Although written by one of the few living Zen Masters and using some Zen stories, the focus is not on explaining Zen, its tenets or history. The book is in stark contrast to the majority of books which indulge in superficial descriptions or sayings and provide seemingly “precise” instructions, lists of goals or steps to take which trap us into continuing our dependency on intermediaries and religious institutions or our self-delusion of being less than we really are. Instead, accompanying the authors along the age-old pathless path we have always been on, we are called upon to empty ourselves and “drop” all our preconceptions and expectations and the limited “self” which thinks it has a life of its own, as well as the heavy backpack with all our experiences and learnings.

The book holds up a mirror to our worldly existence, suffering and the intricate workings of the ego, which entraps us in the never-ending soap opera and roller coaster of life’s ups and downs. We are led to live mindfully in the here-now, delve more deeply into ourselves and to be Self-reliant – enabling our inner guru to unfold our true nature so that we can abide in the one Self. In this way seekers become finders, and we can become the Oneness we already are, enjoying the vibrant bliss and lightness of Being that is inherently ours.

The book not only appeals to people interested in Zen but spiritual seekers and people of all faiths and confessions, especially those who suffer, are unhappy, and still have unanswered questions about spirituality, God, and life. As a result, it targets readers searching for books on personal development, body, mind, and spirit, self-help, spirituality and religion, Buddhism, Zen or finding happiness, especially those recovering from addictions. Please visit their website and blog for helpful information and “Weekly Wisdom” at “Find The Seeker – Weekly Wisdom.”

 

 

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others — Navigate My Recovery – Guest Article Pick!

Just recently, I have found myself in the trap of not believing that I am good enough to be around certain people. If I let it fester too long, my self-esteem begins to erode and I can end up feeling depressed. I recently read an article that I found incredibly helpful and wanted to also […]

via Navigate My Recovery…

Scott’s website is my “Recovery Pick” this weekend for all to visit.

Especially this post about how many of us compare ourselves to others maintaining recovery. “If You Want We Have?” You got to do the recovery work and “inside job” to accomplish this. Never judge or compare to others as you may lose a little of your power to others. I thank Richard for letting me share some of his post from his awesome Recovery Site!

~Advocate & Author, Catherine Lyon

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My name is Scott Kixmiller. I am a person in long-term recovery from Substance Use Disorder. I am also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist. To achieve these statuses, I worked in the areas of substance abuse and mental health treatment for thousands of hours over the course of several years. and I passed state level exams. This was all after achieving my Master of Social Work degree at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Please remember that even though I am licensed and the states of North Carolina and Virginia, the information contained on this site is for your use and not meant to be the replacement of a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or licensed mental health professional.  It is also not meant to be a replacement for reliable clergy.  Your use of the information and participation in this site releases me from any and all liabilities.