Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

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How to Stay Sober Through a Parent’s Illness – By Amy Dresner 08/05/19


I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable.

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I think it was about a year a half ago when my mother became wheelchair-bound and was diagnosed with dementia. The two trips to visit her in Santa Fe were so stressful that my bestie, also a recovering addict, started vaping for the first time and she still hasn’t stopped. We had five days to clear out her apartment, find her a board and care, break her lease, put her stuff in storage, forward her mail, and much more. I cried most of that trip but it all got handled.

My life is different now. My mother can’t hear well and she’s confused. She can’t walk or use the computer anymore. People bathe her. She calls me multiple times a day about the same thing. On top of that, I was suddenly given the “power of attorney and appointed Social Security payee.” I was in charge of all her bills, speaking to her nurse, speaking to her chaplain, and speaking to her social worker.

Role Reversal

If there’s one thing addicts don’t seek out, it’s responsibility. As an only child, I alone had to handle all of it. Sure I was sober but mature? Hardly.

I recently had to sign a form to approve the use of Narcan should my mother overdose on her Oxycontin. When the nursing staff assistant tried to explain opiates and Narcan to me, I stopped her.

“I’m …um…well-versed in Narcan. I’m an ex-junkie.”

I heard her mutter an “Oh” followed by an uncomfortable silence.

I’ve never had children for a sundry of reasons: my genes, my fertility, my financial situation, my shitty relationships. Suddenly I had a child and it was my mother. The role reversal was sudden and jarring and I recall rocking and crying and whimpering, “I don’t want this.” But it was all mine, like it or not.

My relationship with my mother was always difficult. I was resentful for her physical absence during my childhood and her emotional absence always. But suddenly all that resentment melted away. Resentment is a luxury, I realized, and as her caretaker, there was no room for it anymore.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (2)

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Almost 50, with Zero Life Skills

Having spent 30 years of my life mentally ill and struggling with addiction, having to “adult” suddenly felt premature and impossible. It was like coming out of a time warp. I was almost 50 but I had zero life skills: No idea how to pay taxes or when to rotate your tires or how to hold down a “real” job, let alone handle all my mother’s shit. Sure I had other life skills: making a crack bong out of a Mountain Dew bottle or how to hit a rolling vein or manipulating people into taking care of me. But these weren’t so helpful now.

I was a grown woman but I still felt and honestly acted like a child most of the time. I still needed my mom but now she wasn’t available. I’d never felt like she “heard” me and now she really couldn’t hear me. I never felt she “understood” me and now she really couldn’t grasp what I was saying. I hate to use the “t” word but yeah it was triggering.

We had grown closer during this sobriety but now, suddenly, she wasn’t somebody I could bring things to. She became somebody who brought things to me and they were all “emergency” needs: Afrin, salted nuts, Nars concealer. My mother had always been particular, snobby, and demanding. That didn’t change. I quickly accepted all of these things and began to lean much more heavily on my father.

Gutted

Then, about a week ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was gutted. He and I are impossibly close; he is my mentor, my hero, my best friend.

“You can’t go. You’re my person,” I wept pathetically into the phone. Everything good about me comes from him: my humor, my intelligence, my writing ability. And now he’s ill. Really ill. My first reaction and I’m not proud of this at 6.5 years sober, was to kill myself or get loaded. My brain screamed, “GET OUT.”

We all have those things: if “this” happens, I’ll get loaded. My dad’s death was always that: my hold out, my exemption. When I told him that a few years ago he said, “Too fucking bad, Ames. It’s in my will if you get loaded, you get nothing.” Fuck.

It’s all so selfish. Fuck his cancer, I’m hurting and I need to attend to that. Suddenly I was making it about me. I try not to cry on every phone call but am rarely successful. I feel weak and small.

I started to spiral, lumping all the bad on top of each other as we do: I’m single, I’m broke, I’m getting old. My parents are dying. But if I know one thing, it’s that a relapse would kill both of them faster than the diseases they were battling. It just isn’t an option.

Still, every day I have the urge to escape my body, numb the pain, check out. Not because I don’t have a strong program or I’m not connected to my higher power or any of that bullshit, but because I’m an addict and we don’t like feelings and we get high to avoid them. Six and a half years of sobriety doesn’t negate a lifetime of drugs and suicide attempts as my top and most successful coping mechanisms.

But if I’ve finally learned anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what I feel like doing, it matters what I do. I can’t control my feelings or thoughts but I can control my actions.

When I’m Not Crying, I’m Angry

When I’m not crying, I’m angry. I’m so fucking angry. Fuck you, God. God never gives you more than you can handle?! Well, this feels like more than I can handle. And fuck me. Fuck me for having been a complete wreck for most of my adult life.

And then in between the tears and the rage, there’s numbness, where I feel nothing because it’s all just too much. I catch myself just staring into space, zoning out on the multitude of Pyrex dishes at Target. Not lost in thought, lost in nothingness.

I don’t think anything prepares you for the death of your parents. I don’t care how old you are or spiritually fit (insert eye roll). Sure, they’re in their 80’s; it’s bound to happen, it’s part of life, blah, blah, blah.

But you still never think it will happen. And when it does, you are suddenly faced with an aloneness that is inconceivable, an unending void that will never be filled.

I look back now at me mourning a break-up for over two years. What a fucking joke. You can get a new boyfriend. You can’t get a new mother or father.

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I've been through a lot of tough times, more than my fair share and these words are very true.

How I’m Staying Clean

I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable. So how am I staying clean? Well, I started vaping again (judge away, fuckers). I’m talking to my sponsor every single day, I’m talking to my friends, I’m working with my sponsees.

I’m crying. I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m trying to be of service to my parents and process my grief elsewhere. I’m calling friends and asking for support. Sure I don’t always answer the phone, but don’t take it personally. Sometimes I’m just too shut down to talk. I sleep and nap …a lot. Depression or escape? Does it really matter? It beats the alternatives.

When I asked other people in recovery how they made it through a parent’s illness and death, almost all of them said the same thing: They didn’t. They drank and used during the whole process to escape the pain and it was the biggest regret of their lives.

Whether the parent had known or not was immaterial. They were haunted by the guilt they felt and if they could do it all over again, they’d stay sober, give their parent the gift of being completely present, and not run from the feelings. I can and will do that, as ungraceful as it might be.

I said to one of my sponsees: “You are about to witness a magic trick. You are about to watch your sponsor go through one of the most painful times ever and not get loaded.” I think I was telling myself as much as her.

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amy-dresner.jpg


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 29AlternetAfter Party ChatSalonThe FriskyCosmo LatinaUnbound BoxAddiction.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.

 

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I Welcome Recovery and Wellness Writer, Patrick Bailey. Guest Article About ‘How to Spot a Gambling Addiction’…

I Welcome Recovery and Wellness Writer, Patrick Bailey. Guest Article About ‘How to Spot a Gambling Addiction’…

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Spotting Gambling Addiction and Determining Its Causes. By Patrick Bailey 

Gambling can be considered as a very dangerous kind of vice. To the person engaged in gambling, money is very easy to risk. He is living in an illusion that whatever he gambles now, he can easily get back. In the long run, this mindset can lead to a person’s financial downfall. The truth of the matter is, odds will never be in the gambler’s favor even if its blackjack or poker he’s playing. Gambling is thriving continuously because it’s the house that’s always taking the wins. 

What are the different kinds of gambling? 

Gambling is composed of many different kinds of activities, so this means that there are also many different kinds of addiction-related
 to gambling. The only challenge with gambling is that it’s not evident when a person gets addicted to it. And as opposed to traditional belief, gambling doesn’t end with casinos, cards, or slot machines. It also doesn’t end with gambling or alcohol rehab centersJoining a raffle, betting with friends, or buying lottery tickets are all considered different kinds of gambling.  


Addiction
 happens when the individual already believes that they’re in deep financial mess and that this problem can only be solved by risking that they possess in hopes of getting a bigger sum of money in exchange. Regrettably, this only sends the person into a vicious cycle of wanting to win back what they lost. This dangerous and damaging cycle continues to occur until the person is forced to enter rehab to break the habit.

Another kind of addiction to gambling happens when the individual joins the game and offers to make risky bets just to get that emotional high resulting from placing big and risky bets. These kinds of bets only pay off occasionally. In both circumstances, the individual bearing this kind of addiction should have that innate desire to stop risking and gambling for himself and not merely to appease friends or family members. 


So what
’s causing gambling addiction and when does it become a problem?

There are many contributory factors when it comes to addiction to gambling. One factor here is the desperate need for money. Another factor would be the need to feel high and thrill. Also, it could be because the individual wants the social status attached to the names of successful gamblers or he simply clamors for the entertaining and fun atmosphere of most gambling places.

The sad thing is that the moment the person gets addicted to gambling, the cycle can’t be broken easily. What’s even sadder is the fact that the severe kind of addiction can set at the moment the person feels financially desperate and commits to taking back the entirety of what he had lost in gambling.

And while he can gather 
massive amount of wealth from winning, more often than not, it won’t equal to the amount of money he already lost along the way.  More often than not, gamblers don’t even come close to break even.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression

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How do we know if a loved one is getting addicted to gambling?

The red flags and signs that an individual is having gambling problems are pretty similar to the signs of other kinds of addiction that require admittance to treatment facilities. These signs may be one of the following: 

  • The urge to keep his gambling habit  a secret 
  • Experiencing difficulties in managing his gambling habits 
  • Continuously gambling even if he can’t afford it 
  • One’s family and friends express their concern over his gambling habits 


And just like any kind of addiction, the trademark of gambling addiction is the feeling that you can’t stop even if you want to. If an individual feels like he 
needs to gamble one more time, if he is anxious over the thought of stopping, or if he is hiding this from his loved ones, there is a very high chance that that person is struggling with gambling addiction. 

Excessive Gambling and its Emotional Symptoms

Too much gambling usually leads to a plethora of emotional red signs and symptoms. Among these signs are suicidal tendencies, depression, and anxiety. In severe cases, these depressive and suicidal thoughts can actually make the gambler end his life. Losing all you have to gambling can be a very devastating situation and it can easily lead the person to feel totally hopeless. 

Excessive Gambling and its Physical Symptoms  

Since gambling can lead to self-harm, anxiety, and depression, physical manifestations should be seriously looked into. Anxiety and depression usually lead to being sleep deprives, resulting in dark eye circles, acne, weight loss, weight gain, or pale skin. 

Gambling Addiction and its Long-Term and Short-Term Effects  

Gambling can lead to numerous long-term and short-term effects. Addiction to gambling also leads to other kinds of addiction as coping mechanisms especially for people who get easily anxious and stressed out by the act of gambling. As a result, these gamblers can also turn to alcohol, drugs, and other activities to lessen the anxiety accompanying their lifestyle. In these cases, they might need to be admitted to rehab centers.

Apart from the financial, physical, emotional, and psychological damages brought by gambling addiction, it can also cause damage to relationships.
 

If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling addiction or any kind of addiction, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Who knows, one phone call or a rehab visit can save your life, property, and financial future.

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About Patrick Bailey 
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Patrick Bailey

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Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. He attended the University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business and hold a Bachelor’s Degree and resides in the state of Michigan. He writes for several publications and on his Official Website – Patrick Bailey.

Connect With Patrick on Social Media!
On Facebook 
Twitter
LinkedIn

Recovery News: ‘Transformations Treatment Center’ Has a Very Big Announcement and Comes From Lyle Fried. Just For Our HEROES…

Recovery News: ‘Transformations Treatment Center’ Has a Very Big Announcement and Comes From Lyle Fried. Just For Our HEROES…

Most know I advocate about addicted and problem gambling. However, I’ve educated myself about other addictions so I may network and support many who advocate and treat addictions. We can do so much more for those who suffer together within unity to save even more lives. Addiction does not discriminate. It “touches all walks of life including our Vets, Active Military, Police and Firemen, even EMT’s and many more.

And? We all know that addictions and the “cycle” are the same from one addiction type to the next.

So when exciting news from a friend shared in his newsletter about a New Program being offered and as I am about share, my friend Mr. Lyle Fried who I met when he worked at “The Shores” but is now at the amazing “Transformations Treatment Center ~ Hope 4 Our Heroes” located in Delray Beach, FL. I just HAD TO SHARE IT! They treat substance abuse and Mental Health. That is important to me as I am dually-diagnosed.

Another buddy of mine also works with Lyle at Transformations that I got to finally meet this past April 2019 at Arizona’s State Capitol & Speaking Event for “The Ride Around America 4 Addiction Awareness” of Big Jim Downs.

Of course, I am talking about Mr. Randy Grimes! He is a former NFL Pro of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and we’ve been friends a long time but never met in person. He and his beautiful wife Lydia came too! Best Day and Speaking Event I had spoken at EVER! Lol.

Ok, ok, let me get back to Lyle and the Big Announcement About Transformations!

Help For Our Heroes

We are excited to formally announce the new branding of our veterans and first responders program here at Transformations Treatment Center and wanted to share with you a little bit about how this came to be. Program founder, Carlos Farina, enlisted the help of some of his clients to come up with a name that truly represented the heart of the program. What our clients came up with, in our opinion, hit the nail on the head – the Help For Our Heroes Program.

Now we just needed a logo. One night, Carlos must’ve been so excited about the new branding that he couldn’t sleep, so he decided to sketch some ideas of what he thought the logo should look like. What he came up with was great, we just needed to refine it a bit and we ended up with what we feel is an all-encompassing representation of the program Carlos built.

New Website and Social Media

Along with a new name, the Help For Our Heroes Program will also have its own website as well as its own Facebook page, which are now both live and ready for all of you to visit. We are so grateful to have been able to create these unique pages for a program that has helped hundreds of our veterans and first responders and we are so excited to share them with all of you.
Help For Our Heroes – Website
Help For Our Heroes – Facebook Page
Check out our new brochure!

Click here to download

If you would like to schedule a tour or receive any of our printed materials, feel free to reach out to me.
MAKE SURE YOU VISIT THEM https://helpforourheroes.com/

And If You Know a First Responder, Military, Policemen Friends you may know who may be Suffering in SILENCE? Please Share the link above with them or their family!

Many Thanks to Lyle for permission to share these Vital Services with all my Recovery Blog Friends and Visitors!!

Advocate/Author,
Catherine Lyon

Lyle Fried, CAP, ICADC
Client Services Representative
Transformations Treatment Center
Phone: (888) 919-2619
Cell: (772) 332-8711
LyleF@transformationstreatment.com
www.transformationstreatment.center

****The Help For Our Heroes Program
is part of a comprehensive treatment curriculum offered at Transformations Treatment Center. Transformations are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) and accredited by The Joint Commission as well as the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Learn more about our accreditations. 

Here is a little more about the New Services 4 Our Heroes:

This program is specifically designed for military veterans, police officers, corrections officers, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency personnel to help them cope with the problems incurred by job stress and chemical dependency.
This program is led by a military veteran and former first responder who is also a Masters Level therapist. He designed this program to help our veterans and first responders overcome the underlying issues that lead to addiction.

These brave men and women are subject to a level of physical, emotional, and mental stress unlike anyone else. As their jobs have become even more demanding, stress levels have increased to the point where they experience some of the country’s highest rates of substance abuse, depression, and suicide. Our program has successfully treated hundreds of veterans and first responders nationwide, setting them on the path to a healthy, sober life.

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Help For Our Heroes

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

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

Are the 12 Steps Safe for Trauma Survivors?

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

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

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

PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guilt, Shame, and AA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the 12 Steps Can Harm People with PTSD

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

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

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

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

If you owe an abusive ex-partner money, are you supposed to pay them back if you’ve cut off all contact? These are issues that require careful consideration. Sharing both lists with a compassionate person has the potential to help survivors recover. Sharing both lists with someone who is too harsh in their suggestions and assessments has the potential to push those in recovery back into active addiction.
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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (1)
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The care of a loving, compassionate, and knowledgeable supporter, like a sponsor, can help sort out these dangerous triggers. Since such a large percentage of people in 12-step programs have experienced trauma, sponsors should be able to provide trauma-informed care; otherwise, going through the steps may end up retraumatizing their sponsees and leaving them vulnerable to relapse.

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

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

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

Find Kristance on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn, or her blog.

 

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month and This Guest Article Has Some Good Points! “A Dear John Letter” …

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month and This Guest Article Has Some Good Points! “A Dear John Letter” …

WELCOME, ALL Recovery Friends and New One Visitors!

One thing I enjoy maintaining recovery is doing research and reading. One of my favorite MAGS I subscribe to is called “The Fix Magazine” as they have some fantastic recovery writers and articles that just make sense and open view of choices of recovery paths. My feelings are, as long as you pick a path and recovery journey that works for YOU?

Then what you choose is your business, and that’s IT. Not all treatment and recovery programs come in “one size fits all,” so how you want to work a program, and there are MANY OPTIONS, that gets you BET FREE, CLEAN, and SOBER is the most crucial issue.

This article in this month’s The Fix actually caught my attention because there has been for a long time, some battles lines drawn on those who just choose to do a 12-Step recovery program and that’s all.

Well, my gambling addiction was terrible that I needed anything and everything to gain my life back and break free from the “Cycle.” See, the cycle is the same from one addiction to the next. Also the habits and behaviors we learn deep in our addictions. Look, when you are sick, broken, and hopeless?

It just may take more than one program or option to help you maintain your recovery. I’m not at all bashing AA, NA, GA, or 12-step programs. I’m merely sharing so everyone has insights into what works for some, may not work for you or me. AND? I felt exactly like the same as she does of AA and me of GA.  (Gamblers Anonymous).

~Catherine

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Dear AA, We Need to Talk  ~ By Dee Young 04/16/19

“You weren’t straight up so now we’re on the rocks.”

Dear Alcoholics Anonymous,

I’m leaving you. I’ve had enough after 31 years and that’s not even counting the 2 before that. Oy, those were rocky. You sounded way too Christian with just a spritz of Buddhism thrown in for a twist. We’d be nothing but a sour mix because I’m a devout Jewish atheist.

“Trust me,” you cooed. “Alcohol is cunning and baffling. I can help.” But when you strongly suggested I pray on my knees, I lost it.

I screamed, “Jews don’t pray on their knees!”

You weren’t alarmed but you asked that same old tired question. “How can you be an atheist and a Jew?”

Before I could explain culture versus religion to you with my secular “bagel Jew” crack, you cooed at me:

“That doesn’t matter. Anything can be a higher power—a chair or a doorknob. Just as long as you know you’re not it.”

With an eye-roll, “A doorknob? What’re you, high? That makes no sense.”

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Unfazed, you kept trying to lure me in. “You’ll see the hoop you have to jump through is wider than you think.”

But, oy vey, the goddamn god stuff left me feeling shaken so I split. Then when alcohol stopped working altogether, I ran back. I dreamed about you warming me up like a stiff scotch used to. But instead of giving me euphoria, you said I needed to admit I was powerless over alcohol. If I surrendered this time, you said I could pour my sadness into you. I was lost and you were gentle, so when you told me to close my eyes, I did.

You asked, “Can you think of anything that’s more powerful than you?”

“Yes,” I said. “Rain. No matter how much I screamed at the sky, it wouldn’t stop raining.”

Your face lit up. “You got it!”

I beamed. “Oh! And the ocean, too,” I said. “Waves will keep crashing no matter what I do.”

“Right. You’re powerless over alcohol and I can restore you to sanity.”

Hands on hips, I yelled, “I’m not insane!” But I was still shaken, not stirred.

“You can use G.O.D. as in Group of Drunks,” you reminded me, then led me to a dark church basement where you said I’d feel welcome. But the pathetic coffee left me craving something stronger; I wanted to be under the influence till I was over the limit. Yet, still attracted to the liquor-free confidence there, I decided on the GOD acronym. Until the speaker cracked a book open and read Step 11.

You smarmy liar! And I was vulnerable, trying to quit getting lit.
You gaslit me:

“To certain newcomers and to those one-time agnostics who still cling to the A.A. group as their higher power” …

Still desperate and confused, I kept going because people were nice to me. At a lunchtime meeting, the speaker talked about her fifth step. It sounded so much like confession I got excited and whirled my head around scanning the room for communion wine. Those early meetings taught me to pray—for a liquid lunch.

You said it was a spiritual program so I had to accept the idea of a higher power. That nearly crushed me. You really didn’t understand that some people know there isn’t any GOD. I’d held out hope that you were going to unveil yourself as top shelf stuff but most of the time, you seemed like Mad Dog. Especially when you said stupid shit like, “Your best thinking got you here.”

I wanted to be with you in the rooms, but most of the time I was dragging my ass around. But now I’m sick of feeling trapped. I hate your smoke and mirrors trickery. Your demand for rigorous honesty can cramp my style. When we almost broke up and I wanted to bolt, I cheated on you with meetings for atheists. The problem was there were so few of them and they were just as dogmatic.

I can hear your disdain when you call me one of those “unfortunates” who can’t get the program because I’m constitutionally incapable of being honest. Now that’s grandiose. I’m sick of your self-righteous finger wagging at me, saying you’re not judgmental but then labeling me the belligerent one if I challenge anything you say. But come on, the idea of a looming spirit in place of intoxicating spirits is ridiculous.

Okay, I admit I’m grateful that you always took me back. You’ve been patient and kind and most of all, you stuck by me. But damn it, I’m sick of being barked at for doing things that aren’t suggested. So I’m at a crossroads. The fear of leaving is a biggie. You and all of our friends will pull away from me if I leave you. The pressure to stay feels a lot like the bar pressure to do one more shot.

If I went that route, at least I could take breaks from feeling everything so acutely while also stuffing down any critical words about you. Whenever I express frustration about how hypocritical you can be, I get looked at with pity: “Poor Dee. She’s taking her will back. Let’s pray for her. It only works if you work it.”

I wince at that crap. I refuse to wear a cone of shame if I save a seat, or gossip, or don’t feel like stacking the chairs some days. A lot of people think it’s healthy to fear to slip but I no longer want to fear anything. Peer pressure reminds me of junior high.

“Please quit telling me if I’m upset it’s because I’m obstinate, immature, and willful.”

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Uh oh. But what if you’re right? If I leave, would I regress? I never want to be the sorry sot I was before we met. Those stakes are too high. I was afraid to give up alcohol and drugs because I “knew” I needed them. Then you proved me wrong. If I storm out, does that make me a brat who won’t take my medicine?

You’ve always been a good listener and who else would love me in spite of my god rants? Maybe I am at the right party now. Though I long for the schnockered nights, I ain’t in my twenties anymore. I don’t even know if I could still stay up till four in the morning, much less hit the after-hours until the Tequila Sunrises. Yearning for wild nights of yore could be euphoric recall — rosy as a maraschino on top.

Maybe staying together is fine after all. We’ve talked so many times about my expectations and you’re right—it’s stupid to blame you for being imperfect. I mean, look at me.

G.O.D. can stand for good orderly direction, with Buddhism’s tangy flavor: a god within. Now that I’m thinking things through, I suppose a frothy soy milkshake could satiate me more than White Russians ever could. And, seriously, who wants a shit-faced higher power within anyway? No marriage is 100 percent bliss; perhaps I just caught a 31-year itch. My mind easily wanders back to booty calls with sexy bar pickups. Libidos on fire. At weak moments I ache to go back there. Then I snap out of it.

Truth is, I love Netflix nights chillin’ with decaf chai latte from Starbucks. You’ve been there for me time after time. So, let’s hold up the paper cup. Cheers, AA. I’m not going anywhere.

What’ll it be tonight? Barfly or Leaving Las Vegas?”

College Students …Don’t Get Drawn Into Online Gambling as Student Debt is Bad Enough. Tips-How to Delete Student Debt.

College Students …Don’t Get Drawn Into Online Gambling as Student Debt is Bad Enough. Tips-How to Delete Student Debt.

 

I am keenly aware how much of a “Game Changer” the laws passing in many states in America “Legalizing Online Sports Betting” IS …Let’s face it, college students love supporting their school’s teams in any form of sports and with “March Madness” in full swing, students may be more willing to give it a try. BUT? Many can be more leaning to, and it can become a problem for them. Hence,
MARCH is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Now, I am not saying students WILL become addicted to online sports betting, but the possibility is always there. That would be devastating to these students as many already when leaving college are swimming in Student Debt!

If you are a student, and you feel the need to gamble or bet on sports? Please do it responsibly, and my Guest Article is here to help share some tips and advice on helping YOU get of Student/College Debt.

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Helping College Student Get Out of Debt 


You’ve made it. You’ve passed all your final exams, lined up a few potential job opportunities, and are ready to get that degree in your hands. Maybe you had hopes that all those
anxieties you felt before you started your first semester of college would be gone after four years of schooling. But graduating brings on a whole new set of challenges. Finding a job in your field of study, finding affordable housing, and of course, paying off the loans that have been building up over time.


More than 40 million Americans have some form of student loan debt, with almost 6 million of those borrows owing more than $50,000. These numbers aren’t meant to scare you, but more to show you that you’re not alone in this. This kind of debt can take a mental toll as much as a financial toll. Maybe you have a plan in place to keep your student loan payments in check, but what about those that don’t? After all, it’s difficult enough to get through a grueling college experience, let alone prepare a foolproof plan to pay back your loans in a timely manner.

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What’s the First Step?


There are a few rather simple ways to help manage your student loans, and you may even find a few tips out there on how to stop paying your student loans altogether. However you decide to pay off your debt, whether you choose to enroll in income-driven repayments, pursue a career in public service, or receive loan forgiveness; the first step to managing debt is understanding it.


Understanding what type of loans you currently have to pay back will give you a better idea of how to pick the right repayment options. There are two types of student loans:

  • Federal Loans
  • Private Loans

Federal loans have protections from lenders, where private loans do not. It’s likely that you filed for federal student loans at some point during your time in college. Since private loans are not backed by the federal government, they are far more risky and expensive than federal loans. For that reason, they’re not nearly as popular.


Regardless of which type of loan you have, make sure to check out the National Student Loan Data System to view a complete listing of all your federal loans. If you’re not seeing some of them on there, they’re likely private loans. Begin by viewing your current credit reports, and make note of both the lender contact information and balances of each private loan. Both of these things will be necessary for the future.

Pick a Repayment Method


Repayments can be both daunting and downright confusing. Take the time to fully understand the pros and cons of each method of repayment. There will be trade-offs between each option, but here is a general overview of each:

  1. Standard Repayment

For loans that aren’t consolidated, you can choose to repay in a standard method. All this means is that your payments will be the same over a ten year period. Depending on your balance, these monthly payments may be high, but the quicker you pay off your loan the less you’ll be paying in interest.

  1. Income-Driven Repayment

If your debt is relatively higher than your current income, you may want to take advantage of the income-driven repayment plan. Your monthly payments will be established by the percentage of your current income. This means if you don’t earn a lot at the moment, your loan payments will be significantly lower.

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Although there are clear advantages to this type of repayment plan, there are a few significant drawbacks. You’ll be required to verify your income annually, and because the payments are lower, interest charges will be considerably higher.

Get Your Loans Forgiven

There is a federal program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness that forgives student debt remaining after 10 years of qualifying payments for those in nonprofit, government, or public service jobs. There are even more loan forgiveness programs and options for those working in the military, those in teaching positions, or those in medicine.

Most Importantly

Don’t ignore the debt! Ignoring your debt can lead to some serious consequences. Not making payments at all can lead to your loan defaulting. If that happens, the loan balance as a total will become due, wrecking your credit score. You may even have your wages and tax refunds garnished by the government. If you know you’re in danger of defaulting, talk honestly with your lenders. There may be a way to keep this from happening.

Don’t panic! So many people before you have had trouble making payments on their loans due to unemployment, health issues, or those general unexpected financial challenges. Remember, options for managing your loans exist. There are legal and legitimate ways to postpone your payments for a short period of time.

If you’re experiencing a temporary hardship, try deferment or forbearance. Some or all of the loan’s interest may still accumulate even if your payments are postponed. If it’s at all possible, make interest-only payments. Begin today with using these tips and wipe out your student debt!

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Gambling Recovery Ramblings and I’ll Be On a New Radio Show! Rise Above Radio With Mac Mullings on KOKC.

Welcome Recovery Friends and New Friends! 

I am so excited to announce as part of my advocacy and in honor of March being Problem Gambling Awareness Month, I will be the guest speaker this Saturday, March 16th, at 3 PM CT on-air and Live on FB from KOCK Radio 95.3 FM and 1520 AM and will be a Live FB Event so come follow on https://www.facebook.com/RiseAboveKOKC/


And Mac is part of the SoberWorx Radio Family as well! So I hope you will tune in or come to Mac’s FB Live to take a listen! Here is why MAC began Rise Above Radio and what they are about.

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Rise Above Radio 1-6-18 Hour 1

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Rise Above Radio with Mac Mullings

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WELCOME TO RISE ABOVE RADIO

WHO IS MAC MULLINGS – THE SURVIVAL DRINKER?

“Addiction is the only disease that will try to convince you that you don’t have one.”

My drinking career didn’t start out the way it ended. It never does. The social drinker turns into the survival drinker.

Life isn’t happening according to our plan so we pour something on the rocks to escape reality.

FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN


We are priming the machine for a slow suicide mission. The more challenges I faced the stiffer the drinks.

My relationship with alcohol was a sign of spiritual bankruptcy.

“God loves you” was followed by an asterisk in my mind.

“God loves all his children except for you, Mac” the enemy would whisper to me. Leading me to believe that the greatest moments I would experience had passed.

Life began to feel empty. Empty like that last bottle I swore I wouldn’t drink.

The enemy thought I was breaking down but God knew I was breaking through.

RISE & RECOVERY

The idea for ‘Rise Above Radio Show’ came to me about this time last year. I was just over 90 days sober and God was planting the seed.

I’m pretty good at rushing things so with this I prayed for patience and direction.

Sometimes we have to shut up and listen. Be still. “God never talks to me!!”.

Do you ask him to? Are you ready enough to receive it?

RISE ABOVE IS GOD’s SHOW

Rise Above is God’s show, not mine. I believe in it and the need for it.

We must make a ministry out of what was misery. I don’t honor recovery by keeping it to myself and not encouraging others.

God is doing some amazing things with it and I like to say that we are just getting started.

The birthmark of a believer is a bulls-eye on it’s back and the enemy has his sights on it for sure.

Some don’t see the message of ‘Rise Above’ and it’s fair to say that given the opportunity they would rather replace it with a paid program to collect a paycheck.

MY PROMISE

One of the beautiful things about recovery is that I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t have to occupy my time with negativity.

One foot in front of the other and let God handle it. I’m not truly sober if I go about it any other way.

I have received many encouraging comments and it is very much appreciated.

I will stay true to the mission, I promise.

If you haven’t had the chance to listen, check out all our previous shows on the Rise Above Facebook page (give it a follow) and join us Saturdays from 2pm-4pm CT on KOKC Radio.
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Mac Mullings – Creator-Host/Rise Above Radio
Program Director/95.3 FM & 1520am KOKC
Co-host/The Ride w- Mac & Chad

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

“This show is changing lives, mine included. You don’t have to be an addict to be touched.  I grew up with an addict, and didn’t truly understand addiction or how to forgive until I listened to Mac.”

“Addiction was never an issue I had to deal with. I thought addicts were weak and lacking in character.  Then God brought Mac, along with several other people across my path and into my life, and I learned just how wrong my original assumptions were.

Rise Above is truly doing the Lord’s Work, raising awareness about addiction and its treatment, and opening the eyes of people like me, who would arrogantly look down upon those who are struggling
.”

“Thank God for ‘Rise Above Radio and Mac!’ What they’re doing for the community is truly amazing! Addiction is such an epidemic in our country today.

We need more pioneers like this in the world of recovery. We are seeing life’s saved and families changed because of ‘Rise Above and Mac’ getting the word out that Recovery is possible and there is hope!”

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So I hope you will join me and listen in as I shine a spotlight on a Silent and Dangerous Addiction! I will be sharing my Testimony and Shatter Stigma about this underground addiction that “Requires No Substance!”

WHY did I say yes to being on Mac’s show? Well, I want to share my story and to share current facts, stats, and some misconceptions about gambling addiction. To share with him that we just had a “tick up” in our worldwide population that now, 2.6% around the world are problem gamblers from only 1% prior. And this tells me with the expansions of gambling venues like legal online Sports Betting in several states, Indian casinos, and States Lottery offerings, this number is going to continue to grow.

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I think we all know that using gambling like I did to ‘escape or numb out from life’ and for all the wrong reasons is happening more and more and it IS having a negative impact in our communities and on families. It is reaching our high school and college-age kids too with again, now legal online Sports betting in some States and out of the 17+million problem gamblers in the USA?

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Parents? HALF this number is your high schoolers and young college adults!. It is also having a significant negative impact on our Retired Senior folks too. Look, I think we are all smart enough to know that gambling profits are not being made from those who are a “once in a while” Bingo players or gamblers. The profits from all venues and options of gambling are being from the people who are frequent, addicted and problem gamblers.

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So, anytime I get an invite on a platform like “Rise Above Radio” and like my monthly column called “QUIT To WIN” in ‘Keys To Recovery Newspaper’ a  free recovery publication, it helps me feel empowered to be able to share my experiences of how gambling addiction devastated my life and my husbands, share my strengths maintaining recovery and what works for me, and have platforms to share HOPE to those looking or reach out to RECOVER OUT LOUD . . .

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 ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon