An Important Message and Op-Ed Letter and Submission – Our Nation needs Treatment. By My Friend and Advocate Ken Abraham.

Ken Abraham, CEO at “Get A Pardon” & Founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE. He resides in Dover, Delaware.

Ken Abraham

Ken currently advocates and educating for much-needed change to fix our criminal justice system, former trial lawyer Ken Abraham is a veteran of over 500 jury trials and more than 200 non-jury trials. He lost 2. Highlights of his legal career include trying the first case in the state under the new death penalty law (1976); and representing the first defendant in the state to be tried under a mandatory minimum sentencing law. He is unusually well prepared to do what he does!

After 10 years practicing law, Ken moved to Florida and went into business. He now heads CCJ and says, The dysfunction of the system affects everyone. People are being harmed by our “criminal justice system” every day. Apathy? It’s inexcusable. Get INVOLVED!”

Our Nation needs Treatment 

 

 

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Our nation is plagued by several unsolved major systemic problems. Some are in the spotlight, like the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. But three recent front-page stories, about the slayings of Molly Tibbett and the rape and murder of Celia Barquin Arozamena, the female golfer slain in broad daylight.

Who cannot the remember of the Las Vegas mass shooting by Stephen Craig Paddock (we still do not know the motive of this deranged mind) …I assume a problem gambler that just reminds me of the huge problem we do not talk about: America’s neglect of addictions and our mentally ill. We now know that the mass shooter in the Rite-Aid distribution center had been diagnosed with a mental illness, and all of the aforementioned murderers were mentally ill.


We need federal and state governments to step up and acknowledge this huge plague, and DO something about it. The primary purpose of government is to protect its citizens, yet people are dying every day due to government in-actions. There are dozens of articles on my website full of facts about this problem. Some are: depending on which study you read (nobody knows the actual number).

But between 35% and 55% of all violent crimes – rapes and murders – are committed by people with one or more diagnosed mental illness. Mental Health “treatment” in our prisons is a total joke and shameful, virtually nonexistent. At least 45%, and perhaps 60% of all inmates have one or more mental illness (again, the exact number is unknown).

And … our neglect of the mentally ill is costing us more than $444 Billion annually! That is an astonishing amount of money, but far worse are the societal and personal costs of our inattention to mental illness: the pain and suffering, the anguish, the loss now reaching our youth!

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Accurate statistics regarding our homeless Americans are even more elusive than the data on inmates. Best estimates are that about 3 million to 3.5 million homeless people inhabit America. I can find NO reliable study on how many may have or suffer mental illness, but based on my extensive experience with such people, at DIMH and on the streets, I would say that at least 30 % have one or more serious mental illnesses.

How many of them could become possibly working, tax-paying citizens, if they had adequate health and mental care? A million, I can safely say. Many addicts have mental illness, most often depression, by far the most widespread undiagnosed mental health illness in America. Many politicians and others finally now see that they need treatment, not prison, yet we lack the resources they need. We must call upon everyone involved – legislators, social workers, police, prison officials, victims, prosecutors, and public defenders – to “raise a ruckus” and get governments’ attention on this issue.

We need proper training for police and for prison workers, effective non-custodial treatment programs, aftercare, and more. Until they do “raise a ruckus”, more people will die from the inaction, just as surely as people are dying in the streets every day due to our failed “war on drugs”.

 

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Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, founder of “Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover, DE

 

    Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE

               MAKE it a great day!  ~  Ken Abraham

 

                   www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net

              Founder, Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, (CCJ)

 

           430 Kings Hwy., Suite 414, Dover, DE 19901

      Founder, “Adopt a Prisoner” Church Reentry Program,

          And founder of no more organizations this decade! 

                               1-302-423-4067

                                 

 

 

 

 

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A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

“Those of us maintaining long-term sobriety know that addictions don’t care if you are rich, famous, a sports pro, have status, …ADDICTION has no boundaries on who it “Touches.”  ~Author/Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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Through the years within my recovery and writing journey, I have met many amazingly talented people who have become friends and like me, they feel writing is a necessary part of maintaining our recovery and a part of the advocacy work we do. While writing two years for a popular recovery magazine, I have met and interviewed many high profile people turned friends like my buddies, former NFL pros Vance Johnson, Randy Grimes, and also tattoo artist Kat Von D! …No, I don’t get “star struck” at all, as my friend Jason Hyland is no different.

He was well on his way to go from the minors into the Major League of Baseball family until addictions derailed those dreams. Coming from a home with an alcoholic father passed to Jason, now clean and sober, he has a unique gift of inspiring and motivating others to enjoy your life even when maintaining recovery.

As Jason shares of himself; “I am a former minor professional baseball player. Boston bred, thick & thru. And I’m Living the Dream!” Not surprising as I find him humorous and to be an exceptional writer and author of his first published book that was released just this past June 2018 titled; Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What.”

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Jason’s book is now available in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart Online.  I am about to read it myself and will definitely come back when done reading it and add my ‘Book Review’ here on my Recovery Blog, Amazon, which he has all 5-star reviews, and GoodReads. Here is more about the new release and it shares a wee bit more of what Jason does to “pay it forward” to those who still suffer from addiction.

About Jason’s Book

Hyland’s charismatic, witty, and candid writing style brings you onto the couch with him as he takes you through the wallows of addiction and alcoholism at its greatest depths, to a rejuvenated, motivated, inspirational rebirth. He is an example that addiction does not discriminate and puts to rest the stigmas attached. He was a man who seamlessly had it all with a bright future ahead, but the power behind drugs and alcohol took a stranglehold on him, halting any progression. Stop Thinking Like That is not your typical addiction story leaving you sad and depressed, rather you end each chapter inspired and uplifted.


After a nearly two-decades-long run in and out of the bowels of the diseases, he finally surrendered and found the courage to ask for help. His journey in recovery gives hope to anyone facing great challenges in life, that no matter how far down you have dropped, you can pick yourself up, and be even better than you ever imagined. During his first couple months sober, a newfound passion and burning rush filled him within. This passion has brought to light what is now Stop Thinking Like That.


All the while living in a sober-home with upwards of eighteen other addicts and alcoholics, he relentlessly pursued his passion of spreading the message of hope. His tireless efforts ooze through the pages in his quest to find the greatest version of himself that exists. He leaves you wanting to jump out of your chair and attack life, with constant motivation and reminders of what we are capable of despite how lost we may feel we are.

Hold on tight, because this journey is one exhilarating roller coaster ride that will leave you inspired to be a better person and with the drive to help others. No matter the adversities you face in life, you can overcome them and live out the life you always dreamed of.

Hyland is living proof that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. 
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Now, Jason and I met on Twitter and he is my “Re-Tweet King!” When we see each other on Twitter, we have a chat through DMing each other as I learned pretty quick how amazing he was and how he truly cares about those suffering from addiction! As a matter of fact, he was so generous that the very firstRecoveryfest Music Concert” put on by ” Above The Noise Recovery Foundation” – Jason gave away 20 Free Tickets to it as Macklemore performed and many others!


He inspires and will motivate you to not just “Live Life Within Recovery,” he “Inspires” you to “Live Your Life 2 The Fullest” while maintaining recovery! I do believe the photo above Proves my point! Lol. As he shares on his ‘Tweet Profile,’ he describes himself like THIS:  
“Bestselling Author of Stop Thinking Like That. Former minor leaguer turned addict turned Recovery Coach, I live to Inspire, Motivate & Spread HOPE thru Sobriety 7/24/17!”

So, he was willing and gracious enough to answer some interview question about his talented writing style as the book reviews for his new book are exceptional, so he had to have done a pretty good job writing his first book … Here are my interview questions I asked him from more of a “writers perspective” and how he answered.

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1) What inspired you to write a book?

I entered detox on July 24, 2017, and with me, I brought an empty notebook. I figured I would have a lot of alone time on my hands and thought journaling would help take up as much as possible. I journaled every night about basic things, from what I ate that day, any people I may have conversated with, like those who liked me, who doesn’t like me, etc, etc, just stuff like that.

Nothing major, just used for time consumption. Then one day I wrote a story about what my mornings were like during the heart of my addictions to alcohol and opiates. To this day, every time I read that piece I’d get goosebumps and it brings me immediately back to that environment. I was shocked at how great this piece came out so I brought it to a counselor at the 6-month program I was now living at, whom I trusted and she was amazed, as well. She said she felt all 5 senses through my writing of the imagery, and I said I might be onto something.

I had shared in my early weeks of recovery, and during one of the group sessions that I was going to write a book, and of course, everyone thought I was crazy.  But after this piece, I knew it was going to happen. I went out and bought a 5-star notebook with plans to use each section for a particular characteristic needed to succeed in not just recovery, but life itself. On the first page I wrote down the chapters names, and at the point, each chapter would be about one of the characteristics and I’d include a personal story relevant to the trait.

This, of course, isn’t how the book turned out to be, but the journey had begun. At one point I was writing in three different notebooks while reading a book a week on personal development and inspirational stories. My mind was being consumed with nothing but positivity and it oozed out of me into my writing. Something within me kept telling me to keep writing, this feeling was so real, burning in my belly, to continue no matter what. Naysayers, critics, haters, family, friends, no one believed in me, but that was okay because all that matters was that I believed in myself.

 

2) Tell us about your writing process

The program I admitted myself in we could not have a cell phone, internet access, or a car, so I had to utilize the 2-hour gaps we were allowed to leave the house as best I could. I would write in my notebooks at night and then walk to the library to type it up the following day. I did this nonstop literally until I graduated that program on February 23, 2018.

It is great to look back on all the notebooks, print-outs, mini notebooks with certain words I liked from a book a read and wanted to put into my book, and so forth. I did the math and estimate I spent around a 1,000 hours between writing ‘Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What’ and then editing and publishing. The most tedious and time-consuming part was uploading my book onto Createspace, Amazon’s publishing platform. Writing came easy to me, and while doing so you’re not thinking about things such as fonts, formatting, page #s, etc., so I researched the best fonts for a self-help genre and taught myself everything on the fly.

Literally, from the first page to the last, and front cover to back, I did it. I hired someone from Morocco from the Fiverr to put the book cover together based on a design I drew in, you guessed it, a notebook. I have the pictures to show the drawing to the actual cover, and it is a beautiful sight.

3) What advice would you give other addiction-recovery writers?

Do NOT listen to the noise. There will be a lot of people trying to make you go about your recovery their way, try to slow you down, or to tell you that you can’t, it is all BULLSH*T!

Don’t listen to anyone, just follow your gut instincts. The further along you get the more people will try and hold you back. Those are the ones you do not need around. Toxicity is not allowed. AND just as importantly, be HONEST! People want to know you’re authentic and real, so don’t fear to be as raw and candid as you must.

Remember, writing is your therapy first, others second, so do whatever it takes to keep you on the right path. You will notice more people joining your side and rooting you on the more honest you are, as well as people reaching out to you because they realize they aren’t alone in this battle. Your truth speaks wonders.

 

4) How did you decide how to publish your book?

A family friend has published multiple bestselling books, so I reached out to him for advice.  His only advice was “to keep writing,” stating many people ask him for help, but then never follow through.  I followed through, and he continued guiding me on the process.  He suggested self-publishing my first book for two reasons; build an audience for future works, and to save/make maximum money.

I wasn’t working obviously while in rehab, so I didn’t have the funds to work with a publishing company, nor utilize an editor but was fortunate that my much-smarter-than-me girlfriend offered to edit the endless amounts of work I continuously sent her.” The closer I neared the finish line the more motivated I got. I knew the end result before I even got there. I sent my mother an email back in November which I saved, stating simply,  “I will become a bestselling author!”

Within 2 weeks of  ‘Stop Thinking Like that;’ and the help of pre-orders, made it became at release a #1 national bestseller in multiple categories in both paperback and Kindle, at the same time! It was such a proud moment, I had tears streaming from my eyes because I did it.

Not only to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to as mom always stated, but to show all those who are struggling and feel hopeless that they too can achieve anything they want.  I am nobody special, I was at the bottom stealing from family, going through rubbish for cans, and stealing toilet paper from Burger King bathrooms. Today, I can now call myself a bestselling sober author. I set out on a mission to show anyone and everyone that “The sky truly is the Limit.”



5) Why a recovery book?

Funny thing is, it isn’t really a recovery book, but more so self-help and personal development book. And it is NOT a memoir by any means, although it does include some personal stories about where drugs and alcohol took me, the power they had over me, and hitting bottom.

It is about finding yourself at your bottom, then crawling, digging, scratching, and kicking your way out behind discipline, perseverance, good ‘ole fashion’ hard work, and most importantly faith in yourself. It is about realizing you can still achieve all your goals in life, live out the life you’ve always dreamed of and then some. It doesn’t matter how far down you may be today, your new life can start at the snap of a finger.

I have been blessed to have this second chance, and it didn’t take long to realize I had a purpose. That was to use and share my story to help others as ‘Stop Thinking Like That’ has opened up those many doors for me.

6) What do you think about the future of book publishing for addiction/recovery books?

I know you will start seeing more addiction/recovery books being published for two reasons:

1) – Self-publishing has given the average writer the chance to show their work to the world. I am not alone in saying many do write to help their recovery, as people like myself can take all those journals, notes, and stories, and put them into a book with our name on the cover.

2)With addiction being an American crisis and epidemic, everyone knows someone that is affected by addiction, no one is immune. The general public is now aware that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, where you live, what color you are, or what job you may have, ADDICTION DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. You are seeing more individuals building up the courage to come out and tell their story.

It is not about being anonymous anymore, people realize they are not alone and that it is okay to be vulnerable, which I believe is a sign of strength. It takes courage and vulnerability to allow yourself open up to the world. It is how we can not only heal ourselves but help others at the same time.  Admitting you need help is VERY difficult, anyone will tell you that. So when we do find that courage to do so, we realize we don’t have all the answers, and that takes guts.

7) What types of genres you write or would like to write?

I have read upwards of 30 books in the first 6 months of my recovery all about personal development and helping me become a better human being. From; ‘Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People’ to Chris Herren’s ‘Basketball Junkie,’  to Tony Robbins and John Maxwell. Everything I read helped me in one way or the other, and I quoted around a dozen of the books I read in my book. I am a very positive person because I have witnessed firsthand the power of a positive mind.

The human brain is extremely powerful, and a determined mind is the most powerful thing known to man. I love reading about success stories, industry titans, everyday people overcoming massive odds, and building up my “knowledge brigade” aka my brain. I like to learn, and there is an infinite amount of knowledge to discover within the pages of any book.

8)  Will, you write another book and why?

YES! Because I want to help as many people as I possibly can and for whatever reason, my Higher Power whom I choose to call God has given me the platform to do so with writing.  And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I really enjoy writing, too

 

9) Lastly, what is one funny thing NO ONE Knows about you?
When I was young my mother would put me to sleep by playing jazz music, in particular, Kenny G…and I still do that to this day. 🙂

Readers, you will enjoy seeing Jason on this “Catching Up with Katy, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives video! – I welcome a very special guest Author, Jason Hyland.” 
An amazing in-depth interview with Jason worth a watch!

http://haverhillcommunitytv.org/video/april-2018-jason-hyland

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I want to thank Jason for allowing me to share some his story and about his amazing writing style with all my recovery friends and visitors. Please take a listen to Jason’s full story above and below at an outdoor Recovery Speaking event! They both are heartfelt and uplifting and a true example of how we can make it through the other side!

 

 

You can connect with Jason on social media and visit his  Website ~JasonHyland.   –  Twitter –  Instagram –  Facebook –  Amazon Profile and Book Purchase!

“Being of Recovery Service”~ Meet Jim Downs and His Wife Marisol of “Big Jim’s Walk, Inc.” Doing God’s Work To Stamp out ADDICTION.

“Being of Recovery Service”~ Meet Jim Downs and His Wife Marisol of “Big Jim’s Walk, Inc.” Doing God’s Work To Stamp out ADDICTION.

Hello Recovery Friends, Family, and Warrior Advocates,

 

I am happy and blessed to announce that I have accepted a volunteer position with “Big Jim’s Ride Around America!” Founder, Jim Downs and his beautiful wife Marisol are ready to embark on their next “Journey of Hope” and the second addiction awareness event through Big Jim’s Walk Inc., Foundation! I met Big Jim and Marisol last year while Jim was in the middle of his walk.

I could not believe why he was doing what he was doing and I thought this guy is crazy! But once I visited his website and Facebook as I watched via his sharing his journey by FB Live videos, I knew there was something very special about Big Jim. God was working through this man right before my very eyes. God called upon this big gentle guy to speak to the masses and help an addict get help through a spiritual path and to let “Jesus” take the wheel.

I can tell you, while on this walk, so many people were amazing to help Jim along the way. I saw the trials and roadblocks that came his way like not having enough money to sleep somewhere, camper problems or just to get a hot meal. But then, all watching including myself would rally on social media and BAM! People began donating right then and there and helped out to get it DONE!!

It was such a blessing to watch!  It was like watching GOD in action provide the blessings and solutions to help Jim on his path of walking to raise awareness and help shatter the stigma of addictions and to share that God, through his son Jesus Christ loves everyone, even those riddled with addictions!

So I began to help some and share where he was and what he was doing through social media just trying to help out a little. So let me share a little of his story with you now as he and Marisol gear up for the next event!

In doing so, I hope it will help inspires ALL OF YOU to help this amazing man and come aboard and be a part of the “The Big Jim’s Foundation Team!” as there are many ways you can like these amazing “Sponsors have already.”  Read more about this event and will welcome you aboard! ~Catherine

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“Big Jim, aka, Jim Downs stand is for love of God, family, and his recovery by raising awareness of the addiction epidemic, saving lives from addiction while shattering stigma through Jesus Christ, his Savior.”

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Jim Downs was not born into wealth, fame, or to an athletic family. Quite the contrary.

His hard life began at birth, as a child of God, but sadly an unwanted pregnancy and was given up right after his birth. When Jim turned three months old, new parents adopted Jim. His new parents welcomed him as he grew to be ‘the apple of his father’s eyes,” Then, tragically at three and a half years old, his father passed away, leaving him with only his mother.  A year and a half later she remarried, and his new adopted father never embraced him, Jim started feeling unloved and a profound sense of abandonment, a constant burden to his second father that lasted many years until his father’s passing.

Some of the underlying roots to why he may have turned to addictions while growing up. A need to numb the pain, haunting’s, and hurt as a child. Unbeknownst to Jim, his ‘Holy Father’ above was watching and waiting for him.  Jim began looking for anything to fill that void and feelings of emptiness, at 12-years old he started drinking alcohol and smoking weed. It progressed and at 14 -years-old he turned to hard drugs.  Meth became his demon.  All the while, God had been walking next to him.

Side by side, God traveled Jim’s road with him, the years of destruction and self-sabotage.  God never left him, Jim didn’t know who he was.  Besides, as addicts, we feel the massive shame and guilt of turning our backs on God as Jim had. Thinking; “how can God love or care about a man who lies, cheats, causes pain to others and a hopeless drug user like me?”

Then, a ‘Miracle,’ as homeless and deep within many of his addictions, Jim had seen a sliver of light that God had opened up for him.  He reached out to that light, and he entered a treatment program in Panama City, FL.  Here is where his life transformation and conviction within Christ began.  At that moment he chose life and walked into a recovery program at The Panama City Rescue Mission.

His first blessing and miracle from God.  Jim began treatment learning the recovery tools and skills that aid his recovery still today, but another test and trial came by way of losing his best friend Alex Peters only 4-months into his treatment.  At a crossroad, Jim not only felt Gods spirit in him but the stirring for his ‘Second Miracle’ was building that included losing Alex!  This lit a fire in him as God revealed and gave Jim his real mission and life purpose.

And so it began, “Big Jim’s Walk Across America.”

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After 16 months in the addiction recovery program, Jim left The Panama City Rescue Mission at 7 a.m., Feb. 1, 2017, and embarked on an eight-month walk/hike leaving the front door of the center. Going from Panama City, Florida, to Canada by walking “The Appalachian Trail” beginning in Georgia.  Why?  It would be his aftercare program like no other to keep him stable within recovery through his faith.  Jim said it best;  “I want anyone who is in the final phase of their recovery program to remember this event and be empowered not to go back to their ‘old life’ when they leave any recovery program,”

Jim said. “They need to step out within faith and let God guide them to a new way of life. There is life after addiction.

Jim shares;  “this hike and walk will be a spiritual journey for me, bringing me closer to God.”  “I’m out here to find myself, who I am, what I stand for.”  Jim did complete his walk and even got off the trail as God asked him to.  “God wanted me on the road, not a trail to talk to others and raise awareness of addiction.”  He did in honor of his best friend Alex who died of a drug overdose and seeing Alex’s family left heartbroken.

Along the walk, Jim carried a large wooden cross part of the way. Jim said;  “since God asked, I will witness and testify to anyone that will listen to me about how I turned to, and I accepted ‘Jesus Christ’ into my life as my Lord and Savior, He changed me and the life I live.”

As his walk continued a ‘Third Miracle’ was coming as God had a big one in mind for Big Jim that would knock him off his feet!  Before his walk, God had chosen an “Angel” who was watching on social media.  This angel told her mother she was watching Jim’s walk because she wanted to see how God, through Jim, was using him and guiding this “Big Guy” to share hope, witness, and educate those he spoke with and met along the way.

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This “Angel” is Marisol Lozano.  They slowly began a penpal friendship that of course, later on, turned into a beautiful relationship and a marriage along the walk.  An extra-special one as a prophet married them. Their beautiful prophetic ceremony solidified them to one another and brought them even closer to their ‘Heavenly Father.’  Jim completed his “Walk Across America” ending in Canada with God and his “angel”  Marisol Lozano by his side.

Today, Big Jim and Marisol along with an amazing Big Jim’s team is already in place and working hard before Jim embarks on the next “Miracle and Mission” God has called upon them to accomplish. This one is already shaping up to be bigger than the walk, more significant than we could ever imagine!

“Announcing “Big Jim’s Ride Around America ~ Jim Bikes America 4 Addiction Awareness.”

Jim will bike around America to raise awareness of the epidemic of addiction. Big thanks to Performer Cycles, so on Jan 1, 2019, Jim will leave from the steps of The Fort Myers Florida City Hall on a bicycle and pedal addiction awareness to all the lower 48 state capitals. Almost 14,000 miles in one year!

The event will be filmed courtesy of Bethel Film Production as Jim encourages thousands to enter recovery, bring communities together to fight for those struggling with any addiction as they share their stories and voices. Jim will talk with ‘State Capitol Politicians’ in hopes of changing the way they approach and pass legislation of addiction bills and issues.

You can help The Ride by Donating or Purchasing Jim’s Gear ~ And Help #BuildTheRecoveryHype 

Visit Big Jims’s Walk Foundation Website and Donate Today.

Become a #Sponsor of this event by contacting Marisol Lozano lozanomarisol2627@gmail.com or call her at (

Now you purchase Jim’s Gear and Equipment as a #FaithDonation right on FB Courtesy of  REI -Co op Outdoor & Sporting Goods Company! Located in Seattle, WA.

Everyone can Jim and Marisol get “Big Jim’s Walk Foundation” filed as a Non-Profit here at our Go Fund Me 501c3 Filing!

We #ThankYou in advance for your support with helping Jim stamp out addiction and PLEASE..please watch and share our ‘Official Video and Announcement’ for “Big Jim’s Year Long Ride Around America.”


God Bless,

Catherine Lyon ~ Social Media Manager “Big Jim’s Ride.”

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Welcome Recovery Friends, Warrior Advocates, and New Visitors,

I am so happy and blessed that Amy agreed to let me reshare her article which comes by way of The Fix Magazine. She is an amazing “in your face –let it hang out” writer and blogger for them. The Fix share news about addiction and recovery from drugs and alcohol and is one of the top resource magazines around!

I happen to have signed up for there newsletter a while back and seen Amy’s article. Being dual-diagnosed myself and still have bouts of depression at times, I felt this article of hers really needed to be shared with all my friends here.

It is very informative and I just love Amy’s views on a variety of issues and her writing style! I hope you enjoy reading it and learn some from it as I did! Don’t forget to grab of copy of her book (link listed in her bio) if you have not read it.

It is truly a great read and her life memoirs are “one of kind!”  ~Cat 

Depression in Recovery: Do You Have Low Dopamine Tone?

By Amy Dresner 09/10/18 ~ Courtesy of The Fix Magazine
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Mature Woman Depression Looking Away
((The Fix does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship.  If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.)

 

I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care.

I just came out of a six-week depression. That might not sound very long, but when you’re in hell it feels like forever. Good news: I didn’t bone any 25-year-old strangers; I didn’t cut myself; I didn’t get loaded; I didn’t smoke or vape although I really, really wanted to. I didn’t even eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s while binge-watching I Am A Killer. I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments.

I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t wash my hair. Suicidal thoughts bounced around my head, but I ignored them like I do those annoying dudes with clipboards outside Whole Foods.

I’ve suffered from symptoms of depression since I was 19, so it’s an old, old friend. What really annoys me was that some (dare I say many?) people think at five and a half years of sobriety, you shouldn’t feel depressed. What I kept hearing from AA fundamentalists was:

“It’s your untreated alcoholism.”

“Listen to these tapes about prayer and meditation.”

“You’re not connected enough to your Higher Power.”

“You’re not going to enough meetings.”

“You need to do more service.”

Thankfully my sponsor, who has a foot in the medical world, did not say something along those lines.  One of my big problems with AA is that it looks at every mental problem through the paradigm of your “alcoholism.” If you’re suffering, you should look to the program for relief.

Nobody would tell you to “drive around newcomers!” more if you had diabetes or kidney failure, but if you’re feeling down, that’s what you’re told to do. As it turns out, AA is not completely off the mark: “Addiction is a not a spiritually caused malady but a chemically based malady with spiritual symptoms,” addictionologist and psychiatrist Dr. Howard Wetsman told me.

“When some people start working a 12-step program, they perceive a spiritual event but their midbrain is experiencing an anatomical event. When they’re working a program, they’re no longer isolated and they no longer feel ‘less than,’ so their dopamine receptor density goes back up [and they experience contentment],” he explained. But what if your program hasn’t changed or feels sufficient and you still feel depressed?

What if you’re working your ass off in your steps and helping others and you still feel like shit?
“Well, low dopamine tone experienced as low mood can be brought on by fear and low self-esteem (the untreated spiritual malady part of alcoholism/addiction) but it can also be brought on by biochemical issues,” Wetsman added.

Huh?

So was I experiencing the chemical part of my “addiction” or was I having a depressive episode? Perhaps my whole life I’d been confusing the two. Of course, all I wanted, like a typical addict, was a pill to fix it. But as I’ve done the medication merry-go-round (and around and around) with mild to moderate success, I was hesitant to start messing with meds again. I didn’t have a terrific psychiatrist, and SSRI’s can really screw with my epilepsy. And Wetsman was talking about dopamine here, not serotonin. Hmmm…

Dr. Wetsman has some interesting stuff about brain chemistry and addiction on his vlog. He mentions something called “dopamine tone” which is a combination of how much dopamine your VTA (Ventral Tegmental Area) releases, how many dopamine receptors you have on your NA (Nucleus Accumbens), and how long your dopamine is there and available to those receptors.

Stress can cause you to have fewer dopamine receptors and fewer receptors equal lower dopamine tone. He’d explained to me in previous conversations how almost all of the people with addiction he’d treated had what he described as “low dopamine tone.”

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When you have low dopamine tone, you don’t care about anything, have no motivation, can’t feel pleasure, can’t connect to others. In addition, low dopamine tone can affect how much serotonin is being released in the cortex. Low midbrain dopamine tone can lead to low serotonin which means, in addition to not giving a shit about anything, you also have no sense of well-being. Well, that certainly sounded familiar.

Dr. Wetsman has a very convincing but still somewhat controversial theory that addiction is completely a brain disease and that using drugs is the result, not the cause. I really suggest you get his book, Questions and Answers on Addiction.

It’s 90 pages — you could read half of it on the john and half of it while waiting at the carwash. It explains in detail why most of us addicts felt weird and off before we picked up and why we finally felt normal when we used. Again, it’s all about dopamine, and it’s fucking fascinating. No joke.

In his vlog, he explains that dopamine production requires folic acid which you can get from green leafy veggies (which I admittedly don’t eat enough of) but it also requires an enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) to convert folate into l-methyl folate. Certain people have a mutation in the gene that makes MTHFR, so they can’t turn folate into l-methyl folate as effectively, and those people are kind of fucked no matter how many kale smoothies they drink.

But it’s not hopeless. If people with this genetic mutation take a supplement of l-methyl folate, their brain can make enough dopamine naturally. Of course, once you have enough dopamine, you’ve got to make sure you release enough (but there’s medication for that) and that you have enough receptors and that it sits in the receptors long enough (and there are meds for that too).

So this all got me wondering if maybe my MTHFR enzyme was wonky or completely AWOL. Dr. Wetsman urged me to find a good psychiatrist (since I’m on Prozac and two epileptic medications) or a local addictionologist in addition to taking a genetic test for this mutation. In his experience, patients who had a strong reaction to taking the l-methyl folate supplement were frequently also on SSRIs. They either felt much better right away or really really shitty. But if they felt even shittier (because the higher serotonin levels work on a receptor on the VTA which then lowers dopamine), he would just lower their SSRI or sometimes even titrate them off it completely. And voila. Success.

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It’s all very complicated, and this whole brain reward system is a feedback loop and interconnected with all kinds of stuff like Gaba and Enkephalins (the brain’s opioids) and Glutamate. But you guys don’t need me for a neuroscience lesson so I’m trying to keep it simple. The basics: how do you know if you have too little dopamine?

You have urges to use whatever you can to spike your dopamine: sex, food, gambling, drugs, smoking, and so on. What about too much dopamine? OCD, tics, stuttering, mental obsession and eventually psychosis. Too little serotonin? Anxiety and the symptoms of too high dopamine tone. Too much serotonin? The same thing as too little dopamine tone. Everything is intricately connected, not to mention confusing as all hell.

Being broke and lazy and having had decades of shitty psychiatrists, I decided to go rogue on this whole mission (not recommended). I mean I used to shoot stuff into my arm that some stranger would hand me through the window of their 87 Honda Accord so why be uber careful now? This l-methyl folate supplement didn’t require a prescription anymore anyway. What did I have to lose? I did, however, run it by my sponsor whose response was: “I’m no doctor, honey, but it sounds benign. Go ahead.”

I ordered a bottle. A few days later I heard the UPS guy drop the packet into my mail slot. I got out of bed, tore open the envelope and popped one of these bad boys. A few hours later I started to feel that dark cloud lift a little. Gotta be a placebo effect, right? The next day I felt even better. And the next day better still. I didn’t feel high or manic. I just felt “normal.” Whoa. It’s been weeks now and the change has been noticeable to friends and family.

Normal. That’s all I ever really wanted to feel. And the first time I felt normal was when I tried methamphetamine at 24. It did what I wanted all those anti-depressants to do. It made me feel like I knew other people felt: not starting every day already 20 feet underwater. I found out later that my mother and uncle were also addicted to amphetamines which further corroborates my belief that there is some genetic anomaly in my inherited reward system.

When I emailed Dr. Wetsman to tell him how miraculously better I felt, his first response was “Great. I’m glad. The key thing is to take the energy and put it into recovery. People go two ways when they feel amazingly better. One: ‘Oh, this is all I ever needed. I can stop all this recovery stuff.’ Or two: ‘Wow, I feel better. Who can I help?’ Helping others in recovery will actually increase your dopamine receptors and make this last. Not helping people will lead to shame, lowered dopamine receptors and it stops being so great.”

So no, I’m not going to stop going to meetings or doing my steps or working with my sponsor and sponsees. Being part of a group, feeling included and accepted, even those things can create more dopamine receptors. But sadly I’m still an addict at heart and I want all the dopamine and dopamine receptors I can get. However, I also know that enough dopamine alone isn’t going to keep me from being a selfish asshole…

But maybe, just maybe, having sufficient dopamine tone and working a program will.

 

 

Amy Dresner

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Amy Dresner is a recovering drug addict and all around fuck up.

She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012. When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, Addiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books.  Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.

 

 

Recovery Month Featured Guest Article. “A Gambling Story.” By Charles Watson.

Recovery Month Featured Guest Article. “A Gambling Story.” By Charles Watson.


Will call her “Jenny.”

Jenny is a thirty-eight-year-old who shared her gambling addiction story with my friend Charles Watson who is a content writer for addiction/recovery and health-related issues. Jenny let us share some of her feelings and struggles with addicted gambling as part of an interview with Charles. To keep her bit anonymous, I’m using the first name only. Here is what he learned from his talk with Jenny. As we know those of us maintaining recovery, sharing our stories can be a powerful tool to help others and share hope…

“My Gambling Addiction Story”

I never wanted to admit that I was addicted to gambling until I went home late one evening and found my 10-year-old son quietly sitting outside our apartment. Next to them was a bag full of toys and some school stuff.

The moment I saw him, I knew what was going on. Still, I waited until my son blurted it out, “uncle told us to leave, mom.” Yes, we were being evicted. I know I was five months behind our rent and that we only managed to stay longer since the landlord pitied my son. Then again, this fact didn’t stop me from falling deeper and deeper into my gambling habit.

On my way to work, I’d pass by the casino, try my luck at one of the machines there, as if it’s a part of my daily morning routine. For me, that was how I should jumpstart my day. After work, I’d pass by the casino again, and no matter how full or empty the casino parking lot would look like, I always had a reason to go inside. If the parking lot was full, I’d talk myself right inside thinking that the machines will be paying out now. If the parking lot was empty, then I’d think that the slots will pay out again this time. That’s how bad it has gotten! My thinking was even addicted and going entirely in the wrong direction.

My Backstory

I came from a struggling family. I had eight other siblings, my mother worked as a preschool teacher while my father prided himself in being a professional drunk. We could barely make ends meet because my father would always steal my mother’s money for alcohol. My siblings and I ended up working odd jobs to support ourselves. Cash was hard to find for us back then.

Luckily, I got a scholarship for college and with blood, sweat, and tears I was able to graduate. Since I was at the top of my class, I attracted a firm and was hired as a PR and Advertising Consultant in one of the biggest PR firms in the city right after graduation. Even though I was new, my firm was confident to let me handle large accounts.

Having drive and determination and a “DON’T- take-No-for-an-answer” attitude, I was promoted after a year. I was just 24 at the time I landed the account that turned my career around. I was doing really great and for the first time ever, I felt like I could do anything, and finally, money was now effortless to find making life much easier. I was at the peak of my career when I met Josh, the father of my child.

I knew him to be a well-mannered gentleman who came from a good family. He presented himself as somebody who is successful in his career and is financially stable. I felt secure having Josh in my life. This is the same reason that prompted me to move in with him, even before we were married. In 2007, I gave birth to our first child. Since I feel like I needed to spend more time with our newborn, I decided to quit my job.

I gathered all my savings and invested it in a business Josh was planning to start. In short, I gave Josh all my money. A week after I gave him the money, he talked to me again, now asking me to give him more. He said he needed more investors for his business. So, I borrowed money from friends and from the people I worked with in the past. I gave him a total of $50,000…

“After getting all the money from me, Josh just disappeared.”


How my gambling problem started

I was furious. I couldn’t accept the fact that Josh left me and for a younger woman. I cried buckets and buckets of tears day after day. I overdosed on sleeping pills and alcohol in attempts to escape from my problems. I also met a few friends who invited me to the casino to ‘supposedly’ unwind and rest from my worries and stress. When I told my new-found friends that I don’t have money for the casino, they told me to pawn anything valuable I have. So, heeding their advice, I pawned the diamond ring Josh gave me as a gift for our anniversary. Off we went to the casino!

When I saw the colorful lights and festive atmosphere of the casino, I was ecstatic. After a very long time, I finally broke away from my misery. That day, the casino became my savior, my refuge, and my escape. I tried playing with the slot machine and voila! For my fourth try, I won big! Whew! I felt like my life was slowly getting back on the right track that night. That night ended with me bagging another big win before we left! I was hooked!

The next day, I spoke to my old boss and asked him to take me back. I felt if I went back I would win big again. Then, I got my old job back, but it was very different this time. My motivation to work was to have money to spend at the casino. My thinking sure changed after those couple big wins. Every time I received my paycheck, I would immediately go to the casino and into the arms of my slot machines. I would always think about the fun, dream world, and seemingly happy casino atmosphere. It was something that I could not get over. And just how fast I got hooked!


Acknowledging The problem and Doing Something About It

I never acknowledged it as a problem until I saw my son crying because he was starving. We had nothing in the fridge. No water, no electricity, as well. I realized I was no longer buying groceries and I was not paying our bills. All I was thinking was the casino! After spending another night at the casino, I went home to an eviction notice. We had nowhere to live. I only had five dollars in my wallet. How would we survive? I decided to stay with my mom and dad. I shared my gambling problem with my mother, and she asked me to speak to her friend who is a counselor.

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We made my first appointment and after, I was happy to find a counselor who was empathetic and supportive of my decision to break away from my gambling habit. I still see her every week. Even though I’m still struggling, I can say that I’m doing the right thing and on the right track. It’s ironic how we only decide to do something about a problem once everything else in our lives is a mess. My experience was genuinely becoming unmanageable.

I’m still thinking about the casino and the rush and high I get every time I go there. But then again, when I look at my son, I know there is more to life than my need to temporarily escape from my problems and issues. I have work to do in learning the proper tools and skills to keep me from gambling as I now know I have a problem with it.

In closing, I’m trying to stay on the right track — for myself and give a better life to my son.

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AUTHOR BIO:

Guest Blogger: Charles Watson. Brand: Sunshine Behavioral Health


Charles L. Watson is a freelance writer. Although he holds no medical or psychological degree, his content writing specialties include both addiction, recovery, and health-related topics. You can read more of his content for Sunshine Behavior Health. He would like to thank “Jenny” for her time and honesty with regards to her story above. While the story itself is heartbreaking, let us remember that gambling itself is an addiction and recovery from this disease is possible.  Charles can be reached on Twitter.

Tips for Building a Support System During Recovery By Christine H. My Recovery Guest.

Tips for Building a Support System During Recovery By Christine H. My Recovery Guest.

“Addiction has an interesting effect on our interpersonal relationships. Even after we’ve gone through the process of becoming sober and repairing our lives after addiction, the scars of addiction can continue to impact the most important relationships in our lives.”

This is especially problematic considering how essential relationships are for ongoing recovery. In fact, some researchers have gone so far as to claim that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, but connection. Sociologically, addiction can have a powerful impact on isolation, and feel “cast out.”

Addiction can make it hard to integrate back into normal life: getting a job, going on dates, making new friends, and being yourself with close friends and family. However, it is possible, and the benefits of building up your support network of friends and family are absolutely worth the investment that you put into it.

A support network doesn’t just empower your recovery after addiction, it also brings you moments and experiences that help you know that recovery (and life itself!) is worthwhile. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

1: Friends who have also experienced addiction are invaluable… as long as they’re as dedicated to recovery as you are.


Often, the new friends that we make during recovery are individuals who have been through something similar to us. They might be friends that you make in group therapy, a support group, or in residential rehab. They might even be people that you just happen to connect with spontaneously when you learn about your commonalities.

However, it’s important to remember to protect your sobriety carefully. Maintaining friendships with people who are currently involved in addiction, without any attempts to change, can be damaging to your own wellbeing. Tread carefully, and trust the advice of professionals and sober friends who have helped you in your own recovery process.

2: Do what you can to build family relationships wherever possible.

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Family relationships are complicated. However, they’re also the best resources when you really need help. The family knows you best, and they’ve taken care of you in the past, and vice versa. That being said, sometimes those of us who have experienced addiction in our lives are more likely to have some family relationships that contribute to underlying causes of addiction, instead of healing them.
It’s important to utilize professional resources, in this case, to repair family systems when possible. Having an experienced third party looking at your family dynamics can help you to identify harmful patterns and communicate effectively, instead of falling into familiar, unfruitful arguments.


Besides utilizing professional help to repair family relationships, there are two things that you can do whenever possible in order to further support family connections. First, recognize when you’re responsible for something being difficult or hard for another person to bear, and apologize appropriately.

Second, express gratitude more often for the things that family members do for you. Many of these things will be small, and others will be large. No matter the size, show appreciation for those people closest to you that you’re otherwise likely to take for granted.

3: Some things need professional help.

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If you’re leaning on your friends for weekly intensive, introspective discussions to support your ongoing recovery, it can be a lot for them to handle. First of all, your friend might not have the experience and education they need to really be helpful.

Second of all, a little help from a friend might turn into a lot very quickly. Make sure that you utilize professional resources where appropriate, including group and individual therapy, sobriety coaches, and sponsors (which aren’t professional, per say, but are still specialized.)

4: Make new friends too.

It’s important to recognize that during this period, you might be rather needy. Don’t rely on just one person to provide all that you need, or you could burn them out fast. After addiction, it’s easy to withdraw and only rely on a few trusted individuals who understand the whole story and have shown themselves to be supportive of you. And you don’t need to get into codependent relationships.

However, being active supports a sober lifestyle, and you will probably need different friends for different purposes. Go out and meet new people. They don’t all need to know your whole life story; some will simply be acquaintances. But acquaintances who encourage you to go out, be active, and do things that you love are also invaluable.

5: Give as much as you get.

I mentioned gratitude towards family members above; it’s important to infuse gratitude in all of your interactions with other people. When we recognize all the ways that others help us, it motivates us to help them, too. No friendship is a one-way street, and you’re never the only person out there who needs a helping hand. Acknowledge that most of the people around you are also going through something hard, although their challenges might look different from yours.

Find opportunities to be a true friend to them, just as they are to you.

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Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

I have been busy buzzing around some of my recovery sites and online mags I enjoy reading, including the ones I receive news by email. TWO interesting articles I read this past week were “Note Worthy” of re-shares by SoberRecovery as the articles are not only interesting but very informative about two topics that many of my recovery friends and parents who visit me want to know more about.

FIRST: Why do some people become an addict and others don’t?

SECOND: Do we ever give up on helping an addict?

So, here are two articles I found that share some insights and answers to these questions with some amazing advice. Even those of us maintaining recovery always need to learn more and read all that we can to be able to be aware and gain knowledge about all addictions. Learning can powerful and helpful tools for maintaining recovery …
Catherine 🙂

 

Why Do Some People Become Addicts and Others Don’t?

Courtesy of SoberRecovery  Mag, Staff

 

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There are many factors that can point towards a future addiction problem, but all in all, the nature of addiction is a mystery. Science may have a set of markers indicating future addictive patterns, but there is really no formula. Nor is there a set way to avoid addiction if these markers appear in a person.

Some people are born into families with long histories of addiction, but they will not use drugs or alcohol until much later in life. However, the behavior patterns of an addict may be present and noticeable from an early age.

Even more, not all addicts will drink alcohol or use drugs, further adding to the mystery of addiction.

Spotting Addictive Traits

Genetic traits may point to addictive behaviors in the future, but not everyone in an “addictive” gene pool will become an addict, and some addicts may have no family history of the disease. Those predisposed may work to control addiction by not participating in drinking or drug behaviors. They may show other personality traits similar to an addict’s, just not the use of addictive substances. They are also likely to become emotionally attached to the personality traits of an addict.

Some science focuses on early childhood patterns of behavior that may indicate addictive traits. These are most often characterized as risk-taking behaviors, a need for attention that goes beyond a normal level and sometimes early childhood trauma.

 

  • Risk-taking behaviors: These traits may be recognized in young children who are more active than their peers. They tend to repeatedly do things that place them in danger of being harmed. Very seldom do they know why they take these risks or why they are punished for behaviors that are not the norm.
  • Need for attention: This pattern may combine with risky behaviors. Some children will do things primarily because their need for attention is so great that they look at negative attention (punishment) as better than no attention. Many of them may develop this chronic need as a result of early childhood abandonment or abuse.
  • Early childhood trauma: A pattern of seeking safety can be developed around trauma. When children are exposed to a traumatic event(s), they may begin to seek a safe place. If none is available, they will learn to protect themselves in inappropriate ways. This can become addictive if food, gambling, drugs or sex become their tools for feeling safe. They can use these tools to dull their emotional pain. Since these tools offer only short-term relief and no resolution to the situation, addiction may ensue. 

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Some of these tendencies may be learned when children are raised in an environment that focuses on escape from all emotional development. This means that the family is not emotionally present for one another. There is no process for feelings that come up in the course of day-to-day living. No one is speaking about their feelings of pain, anger, sadness or grief.

This is a socially-imposed condition that has existed for many years. When parents do not teach children to talk about their feelings, there is no structure for healthy emotional venting. As we learn more about the importance of expressing feelings, this can change.

In a home where mom and dad are not emotionally connected to feelings, children learn to avoid those feelings that are termed “negative”.  These feelings become problems as they go unexpressed. As time goes on, pain becomes trauma, anger becomes rage and sadness or grief becomes depression.

Finding relief for these emotions can become addictive. If alcohol or drugs bring a feeling of relief, the addict will return again and again to this solution, which then becomes a problem.

Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events in later life can also bring a person into addictive patterns. A person may have genetic traits that are channeled in positive ways, such as careers, education and attaining financial success, but a single event or crisis may tip the scales and patterns that were controlled in the past can start to become a problem.

  • Example 1: This may look like a young man who comes from a high-risk environment, but gets an education, develops a successful career, has a family and looks like a normal, healthy citizen. During this period, he may drink socially, even heavily at times, but is able to function and maintain a relatively good picture of success. Relationships are strained, but the family keeps up a good face, despite functional breaks such as poor health and other symptoms of addiction. At a later age in life, the children may leave home or another big change occurs; or the man may retire and find that what kept him going is removed. The fabric of the structure is under stress. One or more of the family may begin to practice addiction.
  • Example 2: A young man or woman may have relatively normal upbringing and behaviors when young. They may be involved in a traumatic event, such as a terrible accident or military combat. This can then leave them without coping skills to overcome the emotional impact of the event. They may turn for relief to drugs and alcohol. If this becomes a pattern, an addiction may become manifest for this person. Tendencies may have been present for many years that suddenly expose themselves to the person and those around them.

Seeing the Signs

Recognizing traits and patterns of behavior is the first step out of denial. Getting help at this point can look like this:

  • Learning new coping skills for stress, anger, and emotional regulation
  • Learning healthy relationship tools
  • Beginning a conversation with loved ones who are showing signs of addictive personality traits
  • Opening your mind to new options for dealing with life
  • Becoming willing to change what isn’t working for you

There are therapies and treatment available for everyone involved in addiction. When a family system has been impacted by addiction and behaviors leading to addiction, everyone needs to learn how to be supportive of changes needed to break the patterns. Everyone may need to learn new skills and how to communicate and support each other in healthier ways.

Opening the door to recognizing a problem is only the first step. Change must occur to break the patterns of behavior and poor thinking that create and support an addiction.

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When to Stop Trying to Save an Addict


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If you have a loved one suffering from gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, you’ve likely experienced one or more of the following heartbreaking scenarios:

  • Staying up late worrying about whether or not they’ll get home safely tonight
  • Waiting anxiously in the hospital waiting room for the doctor to break the good news that they’re going to pull through an overdose
  • Hearing the guilt-inducing demands for more money or variations of the “if you love me, you’ll let me be” comment?
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There are countless other painful day-to-day experiences one encounters when living with or loving a drug addict. Most of the time, you’re scared for them, you want to help them and you want them to change their ways but you don’t know how to get them to do so. And because you love them, you don’t want to increase the already-growing distance between the two of you—so you end up covering their tracks. Time and time again.

You give them the five more dollars that they’re begging for; you clean up the vomit in the bathroom from the night before; you tuck them into bed to sleep off an episode; you sign them out of the hospital early because they’re miserable and begging you to let them out. When does it ever stop?

 

The Conundrum

First of all, it is important to know that nobody is blaming you. Addiction is complicated and painful and we often believe that we can love those around us into sobriety. However, sadly, that is never the case. As difficult as it is to hear, behaviors, like giving your friend that measly five dollars or signing your son out of the hospital for early release, are actually enabling your loved one to continue down his or her self-destructive path. The addicted part of their brain remembers that they can always get money from Mom with guilt-tripping tactics or that they can always rely on their best friend to pick them up no matter what hour of the night.

As part of the disease, an addict will go to any means to get what they crave—even at the emotional expense of those they love. Although they often will exhibit guilt and sorrow for their behaviors the next morning, once the cravings kick in, they’ll be doing everything all over again. Addiction is a vicious cycle and drugs will continue to fuel that one-track thinking pattern of doing whatever is necessary to get that next high.
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It may be one of the toughest things you’ll ever have to do, but friends and families of addicts need to let go of the notion that they can save their loved one in order for there to be any chance at real change. By doing so, you can begin to explore your personal limits and define your boundaries.

Time to Pull Away

As much as it hurts, sometimes pulling away from the addict’s vicious cycle may call for ultimatums. This can include ending a romantic relationship, cutting off the addict financially, forcing him or her to move out of the house, or taking away their child custody rights, just to name a few.

By simply telling the individual to “stop doing drugs” or that “things need to change soon,” you’re just giving the addict either too broad an obstacle to conquer or too much wiggle room in which they can find ways to manipulate the situation (which they’re very good at doing). Therefore, the key is to be specific and unclenching with your boundaries. By implementing exact, time-sensitive consequences for their repeated bad behavior, the addict will then be forced to make a choice.
It is also important to keep in made that this choice is for your loved one to make alone and, as frustrating as it to watch, they may not want to choose recovery—even with all your inflicted consequences. He or she may need more time for the reality of the consequences to sink in before they take any action towards sobriety and, ultimately, it is only he or she who can decide to get out of the dark pit that has swallowed him or her up.

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Finally, in the midst of caring for your loved one, remember that you are also responsible for taking care of yourself. You can’t allow your loved one to fuel their addiction at the expense of depriving you of all your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Your health is of equal importance and by doing what is best for you—even if that includes walking away from the toxic situation—you are coincidentally also doing the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one.

 

If you or someone you know is seeking professional support, please visit SoberRecovery and their directory of counseling and therapy centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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