“Addiction Does Not Discriminate.” The Higher You Climb, The Harder You Will Fall From ‘Grace.’ Memories From a Former NFL Pro Athlete…

“Addiction Does Not Discriminate.” The Higher You Climb, The Harder You Will Fall From ‘Grace.’ Memories From a Former NFL Pro Athlete…

Most of us regular folks can not begin to imagine incredible opportunities to come into our lives like those who play professional sports. And writing with Vance, it has been a fantastic journey thus far to be privy to all those memories and those shared by him and in his voice within the pages of his book and a new memoir.

Just like myself, I loved dancing way back in the day, lol and did compete loads as I was pretty good at it but never got to the level of a professional freestyle dancer. And that was ok. I knew what it took, all the grueling hours of practice and being creative enough to come up with “the next new move” to help stand out from everyone else competing.

Not that I didn’t want to put in the work, I sure did, but you ultimately want to get on a dance tour for a singer or band, and I was one not cut out for all the days and month of being on the road or flying here and there.

Vance had those attributes and the ability and the fire to make it to the NFL. He had the drive and conviction since that little boy throwing a football around with his father. He worked hard as he grew up to make those dreams of his become blessings. And those blessings can become for good or can become a “fall from grace” if you are not careful. Even with the best intentions and Christian upbringing.

Fast forward to today. While writing this book with a high profile person, I have had some fear and the reality of “am I doing a professional job with such a writing project?” Co-writing with a man that had such a fantastic pro football career and not knowing a “lick” about the game, lol, to be able to do justice to his past life, career, and his legacy.”

I am hoping so. Lucky for me, Vance is BIG on sharing his feeling on his Facebook page  about whatever is on his mind and touching his “heart.” He is like me and shares it all for his family, friends, and fans on his Facebook page so I can first, KNOW WHERE the heck he is, and second, know what he is feeling or thinking about addiction and his recovery journey.

The past few weeks he has touched on many relevant topics as he travels around the country advocating and speaking his truth and his testimony of why he is still living and breathing after addiction tore this ballplayers life to the brink of death. So here is his voice and he thoughts on why he does what he loves doing today!

Happy National Recovery Month. ~Catherine

 

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Many of you (my fans of football) remember this day, 1986 Championship game against the Cleveland Browns. I’m at the top of the photo, with one goal… help our team go 99.5 yards, then score a Touchdown to WIN the AFC title. The reason I’m posting this picture? Because it reminds me of another photo. Me in a coma after using & drinking myself nearly to death.

Just like many of you, struggling with an addiction to alcohol, pills, drugs, porn, gambling, whatever that hole you’ve dug yourselves into, and feeling as there is no way out. You are on the 99.5-yard line, and one step back, you die, game over. At this point in the game, no one believes that you can pull it off. No one believes after all this time, seeing no progress that you will pull off a miracle. Odds are they are right, so what are you going to do, give up?

Or are you going to get in the huddle, rehab, and make a play, and another one, and another one, aka 1 day at a time. Are you going to listen to the quarterback, therapist, and believe they know the path to victory if you will just have faith. It’s time to trust that there is a way out of this hell-hole you are in and that it takes a team to win this game. There will be bumps, setbacks, 3rd and long, maybe even 4th and long, but you can’t punt because if you do? YOU DIE…

 

“I thank God that Ihad already experienced this play in my life before, except this time it was life & death.

There was a death, the old me because what he believed was a lie. My game plan was to surrender to what I believed was right in my eyes, and the evidence was my history. It’s not about me anymore, Jesus take the wheel.

Thanks to amazing counselors, mentors, pastors, parents, John Elway, TREATMENT and a new way of thinking. “


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“I’m Owning My Sobriety, are you ready to make that play and own yours?”

Visit Today and I’ll help you WIN! ~www.vanceinspires.com  

 

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Another Post from Vance that touched my HEART:
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I spoke to 4th & 5th graders at Sand Creek Elementary School today. I opened up about not only an amazing life of fun, sports, friends, dreams, Super Bowl Rings, and the Denver Broncos, but I also talked about the tuff times, bullying, being shy, being around addiction and mommy and daddy not always getting along…

I talked about domestic violence and how it affected me. It got real quiet in the room of about 150 students. I also asked for a raise of hands if they knew anyone who suffered from drug, alcohol use or domestic violence…130 kids raised their hands.  😦  😦

After I shared I hugged the kids, and they thanked me for talking to them. In fact, 150 of them told me they believed in God, so I shared who they were in Jesus, and to remember that when they grew up. Walking out full of thanks and hugs, this 9-year-old beautiful little boy said: “what you talked about is happening in my home” we walked away together for some private time.

We cried as I prayed that the Spirit of God would fill him. I said: “I’m your uncle Vance now, and whenever you need me I will be there.” I gave a card to his teacher and principal and asked if they would contact mom about our new relationship.

 

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This is that beautiful young man (above) as I didn’t want to show his beautiful face for obvious reasons.

I hope your listening moms & dads, your kids are 💕❤️LOVED

OWN Your Sobriety and Stop Domestic Abuse 

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Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

I was utterly heartbroken and shocked when I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the passing of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. We lost a huge addiction and recovery champion and tireless advocate of alcoholism as well as other addictions.

It hit me pretty hard as I was honored and privileged to have interviewed him by phone and have him as my featured article in the May/June 2017 issue of InRecovery Magazine where I was a former writer and columnist of  “The Author’s Cafe Column.”
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You can still visit the cafe’ column online and read the full article and my past interviews.  I also was an Addictionland Gambling Recovery expert blogger the same month as Christopher was in October 2014 blogging about alcoholism on Addictionland. When I interviewed him for my article for In Recovery, he was kind, not shy to be open about his past, and very gracious. He truly knew about real living while maintaining long-term recovery. Just some of what I learned about him.

Although, when I looked online to see how he passed, I could not believe how the “media” was reporting his death. He was being attached to the “Kennedy” name all over the news. I know he would not have wanted that at all as he was not close with many of the Kennedy family members as he told me in our interview. It was due to many of them still being heavy drinkers and recreational drug users except for John Jr. before his passing, and a couple cousins he spent time with.

And Christopher spoke about that in many interviews and articles in the media he said after we spoke. We all know even with family, we need to set boundaries around unhealthy relationships when we maintain recovery. And that was what Chris had done and was not shy about sharing this fact.

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And as news and media history goes, we know the many stories about The Kennedy families of drug and alcohol use and even cheating on their wives and husbands. Addiction does not discriminate on who it “touches.”

And when you are a famous or high profile figure, it can be more difficult for it playing out publically in today’s world of sound bites, media, and technology advances. He shares some of this in his many books he has written, but much in his book ‘Moments of Clarity.’ Sadly his passing has come on the heels of his new book release just some months back titled; ‘When Your Partner Has An Addiction.”

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Here is more about Christopher of what The Associated Press reports are reporting of his passing late Tuesday evening.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — “Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.

Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.

Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it “must have been too much for him at that point,” Kennedy said.”

Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.” (Below Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Actor-husband Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Actor Tony Curtis.)

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“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.

He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing “The Twist” from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.

He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.

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Christopher Kennedy and his cousin John F Kennedy Jr, in Hyannisport MA

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“You can’t get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male,” Lawford wrote. (Above Chris and John Jr.)

His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce in 1966.

With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leaped into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.

In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.

“There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately,” Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. “But all of that got me here. I can’t ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today.”

Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin “did something very difficult,” airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.

“He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn’t going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative,” Kennedy said.

Lawford was “tormented by the fact” that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said.  “Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him,” Kennedy said.

His life’s work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
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“He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife,” Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). “He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period.”

After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015′s “What Addicts Know.”

He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003′s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” made appearances on TV shows including “Frazier” and “The O.C.” and had recurring roles on the soaps “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” playing a senator in the latter.

He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.

“The names give you an entree, absolutely, but it’s a kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it.”

He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah, and Matt.

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In closing, here is a little more about his writing and activism per Wikipedia: 

In September 2005, Harper-Collins published Lawford’s memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (William Morrow 2005, ISBN 0-06-073248-2), which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2009, he released Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a series of essays by public figures, athletes and entertainers who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Almost every interviewee sought help from a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous or another spiritually based means of support for recovery. In his own life, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. Lawford worked extensively in politics, government and the non-profit sector holding executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

He has held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns, as well as with The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. FoundationSpecial Olympics and The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. He was later a Public Advocacy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Department of Public Health Advisory Board.

Yes, we have lost an addiction and recovery warrior, champion, and an outspoken advocate within September 2018 National Recovery Month. Even though I know he is in a much better place and is “Now Home.” It still hurts those who are left behind and especially when it happens suddenly. My thoughts, love, and prayers to his wife and children for this sudden loss, and to all his extended family and friends.

The Recovery world has a little less “Sparkle” without Christopher in it.

~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon~

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National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

“I am a woman maintaining recovery from addictions and I am dually diagnosed with mental and emotional health challenges. My gambling addiction is what finally brought out my mental health symptoms to the point of trying suicide…TWICE.”

And I have not talked about it much. That comes from stigma. I don’t really want a label attached to me even though stigma is still prevalent among those recovering from addiction, but mental illness still has a long way to go. Of course, we have to have a name for the many forms of mental illnesses, but many times those who suffer become targets and ridiculed. That comes from NO Understanding and Lack of Empathy.

Just my own feelings. It is why I advocate, I try to help educate and inform the public that we who have mental illness are no different from others. We may just have a few more challenges than those who don’t have mental health issues. There has been an alarming rise of those recovering from addictions being diagnosed with some form of mental and emotional problem.

According to this article by my helpful friends of The National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Recovery Village. I treat my mental health just as my medical health. I am well managed, take my meds properly, and don’t use alcohol. I always keep my appointments and live life. I don’t let my challenges hold me back from what I enjoy doing! I do however need to be open and comfortable doing so. Here is a new attempt…Lol. I do hope all who visit find this article informative.  ~Catherine

Mental Illness and Addiction: America’s Struggle to Accept the Connection
Article By Staff at The Recovery Village.

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The United States is knee deep in a polarizing discussion on mental health and the best ways to help people struggling. Another topic Americans continue to wrestle with is how to address drug and alcohol addiction. But is there a relationship between the two issues?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million) in the United States suffer from mental illness each year. Additionally, 20.2 million people in the United States suffer from a substance use disorder and a little more than half of them also have a mental health disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder.

Despite the prevalence of both mental illness and substance use disorder, a cause-and-effect relationship between the two is not universally accepted by many people in the United States.

The Recovery Village, a leader in substance use disorder treatment and mental health, recently conducted a survey that uncovered an overlap between mental health and addiction among the respondents’ answers. This information could help more people accept that there is a link between the two, and acknowledge them as equally important illnesses, helping create a culture that promotes healing and treatment instead of criticism and blame.

What Is Mental Illness?

First, it’s important to define mental illness. Medical experts summarize the disease as any disorder or disorders that cause a person to experience an altered mood, thinking pattern or behavior. According to Medline Plus, mental health disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders or personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia

From the survey conducted by The Recovery Village, approximately 62 percent of people said they either currently suffer or have suffered from a mental illness in the past. The most common mental health disorder that survey respondents said they suffered from was depression (78.46 percent), with anxiety disorders (70.73 percent) a close second. Mood disorders (37 percent) followed, and multiple respondents included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a write-in answer.

Respondents were allowed to submit multiple answers, as many people suffer from more than one mental illness. The number of respondents who suffer from a mental illness is not the only evidence of the issue’s significance. Nearly 63 percent of survey respondents said they know at least one family member who suffers from a mental health disorder and 54.25 percent said they know a friend who suffers from this disease. Few people surveyed — only 57 out of 400 — said they don’t know anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder, a reason to believe that this issue either directly or indirectly affects a large majority of Americans.

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Connecting Mental Illness and Addiction

Many people suffering from a mental health disorder resort to drugs or alcohol as a dangerous form of self-medication. Additionally, many doctors prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications to patients with a mental illness, and these drugs can be addictive. While some people misuse substances as a response to mental illness, others developmental health concerns after prolonged drug or alcohol addiction. For example, people who misuse cocaine or other stimulant drugs might experience long-term behavioral changes, including depression or anxiety, as the body functions alter permanently due to the substance’s effects.

How many people suffer from co-occurring disorders? A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 7.9 million adults in 2016 suffered from substance use disorders and mental illnesses. Rates were highest among adults between the ages of 26 and 49. The Journal of the American Medical Association found information that links the two diseases:

  • Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental health disorders are also affected by substance misuse
  • Around 37 percent of people addicted to alcohol and 53 percent of people addicted to drugs suffer from at least one mental illness

America Still Behind on Accepting the Connection

The survey conducted by The Recovery Village shows an even stronger connection between co-occurring disorders. There is a large overlap between the number of people who have been affected by each disease. Of the 343 people who said they know someone who suffers from a mental health disorder, 303 people (88 percent) said they know at least one person who also has an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. However, since some people could know multiple people, one with each illness, this information might be open to interpretation.

The survey respondents’ first-hand knowledge and experiences with these two illnesses provide even better evidence of the relationship between mental health disorders and addictions. Around 39 percent of the people surveyed said they have struggled or currently struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction, and nearly 35 percent said that they have struggled with both an addiction and mental health disorder.

Out of the 156 people who admitted to struggling with addiction, around 89 percent said they also suffered from, or still struggle with, a mental illness. Yet not as many drew a definitive connection between the two. Only 59 percent of respondents said they believe there is a relationship between mental health disorders and addiction. While that is a majority, the respondents’ beliefs about the potential connection are not reflective of their personal experiences.

Destigmatizing Mental Illness and Addiction

As the United States continues to discuss ways to make mental health treatment more accessible, the conversation of removing the negative stigma remains on the frontlines of discourse. However, a similar negative view of addiction continues to fester in the country, creating a more difficult landscape for people to accept and find treatment for their disorders.

Claire Rudy Foster, a contributor to Huffington Post who is in recovery from addiction, summarized the public’s perception toward substance use disorder: “Never mind that I’ve been sober and in recovery for more than 10 years. That doesn’t matter to the people who don’t know how this disease really works. They expect me to be ashamed of myself. To them, addiction is code for Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, grunge, needles, misery. They assume that I shot up. I must have stolen and lied to pay for my habit. I must be a criminal.

Maybe I am morally infirm as well.” The negative perception about addiction that exists in the United States can often become a roadblock toward lifelong recovery. If people suffering from substance use disorder do not have support from their peers, the healing process becomes more challenging.

Many medical professionals stress that a link exists between mental illness and substance use disorder. Additionally, the survey responses show that a majority of people who have suffered or are suffering from one of these disorders have also experienced the other. Yet only a little more than half of Americans are certain that a connection exists, potentially allowing the negative stigma surrounding addiction to fester within the country.

Increasing awareness and understanding can help create a more positive environment for people seeking recovery from substance use disorders. For those who have an addiction to a harmful substance and also suffer from a mental illness, there are many resources and hotlines available.

Seeking and receiving help from medical experts can make a big difference toward finding peace and living with either or both illnesses.
~The Recovery Village

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September Is National Recovery Month

Mental illness is a growing epidemic in the United States. The disease has affected the mood, thinking, and behavior of millions of people across the country. However, many Americans remain unaware of the widespread existence of mental health problems, and some of those with psychological issues avoid lifesaving treatment.

To reduce mental illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created National Recovery Month. Every September, the organization helps people host events designed to educate the masses about mental illness… So Please Visit and be Educated addiction.

 

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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Guest Article Share by SoberRecovery That Addresses – Is Addiction a Choice, a Disease, or Both? By Caitlin Thiede

Guest Article Share by SoberRecovery That Addresses – Is Addiction a Choice, a Disease, or Both? By Caitlin Thiede

Welcome Recovery Friends and New Visitors,

This topic has been a question and debate that has been around a long time. Do addicts make the choice to destroy their lives? Or is addiction really an illness and disease? Or is both? When I visit other addiction/recovery websites and online magazines to be informed, educated, and learn more about recovery, I seem to find some engaging articles.

Since my own addiction I maintain recovery from, this question always seems to get a lot of comments because gambling addiction is still so underground. The action of gambling is still seen in the light of “just a few hours of fun and entertaining,” so how could an activity like this produce addicts? Part of that comes from Stigma. I can tell you I have read a lot of negative comments from people I assume have never been touched by a gambling problem or know someone with one. So you won’t seem to receive empathy or understanding from someone like this.

It is why I write, blog, and advocate. I want to change the landscape around and the conversation that needs to begin about addicted gambling. Addicted compulsive gambling doesn’t happen over night. Just like many other addictions. But it is time to bring it into the light and out of the shadows. So let’s read this article and learn if addiction is a choice, a disease, or both …Catherine

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Addiction is claiming the lives of people at an alarming rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 33,091 deaths from opioids in 2015. This number is largely reflected by an increasing use of synthetic opioids and heroin.

The Clean Slate

After going through 12 Step Processes and other recovery treatments to eventually overcome addiction firsthand, Steven Slate, who authored an addiction site named “The Clean Slate,” is starting new conversations on how we approach addiction. Slate is most famous for his TED Talk speech on “Addiction Is A Choice.” Through the TED Talk and his organization “The Clean Slate,” he is advocating a deeper look beyond the age old debate of addiction as a disease vs. addiction as a choice.

Slate’s website states regarding the addiction as a disease theory:

“On the issue of ‘addiction,’ you will change it when you cease to believe that heavy drug and alcohol use is your best option for finding happiness. Work on changing that belief if you want to change your habit.

Believing in the ‘underlying causes of addiction’ (and/or ‘self-medication’) model creates a more complicated problem. If you invest in this idea, then every time life sends a problem your way, or when you feel the very normal emotions of sadness, depression, stress, or anxiety – then you will feel as if you must use drugs and alcohol. If you cease to believe that heavy drug or alcohol use is your best option for happiness then you will cease the heavy use of drugs and alcohol – regardless of whether you continue to face depression, stress, anxiety, etc.”

His site continues with the answer to a challenge his “choice” theory often faces:

“You say addiction is a choice, so what do you suggest people do, use willpower to quit?
‘Addicts’ have no less or no more ‘willpower’ than anyone else. Every behavior that every person makes at any given time is, in a sense, an expression of willpower. … Essentially, if you choose to think differently about drugs and alcohol, and about how they fit into your life and competing goals, then your desire for them will change.”

Although this may sound outrageously optimistic to some, Slate’s perspective on the issue is relevant to every psychiatrist, doctor, clinician and addict who may be in treatment. His site poses (and answers) the most important question of all—is our approach towards diagnosing addicts making them feel empowered or leaving them feeling powerless?

Pros & Cons of Each Viewpoint

When researching articles of addiction as a disease, it accurately argues the brain’s physical changes in response to a drug. Addiction is the malfunctioning of brain and nerve endings due to excessive dopamine levels. A normal brain would respond “happily” to pleasurable things such as good food, healthy relationships, and rewarding experiences. However, an addicted brain sends signals to nerve endings that there is something wrong. What would trigger “happy” feelings for a normal brain is no longer enough for the addicted brain.

The pros of the “addiction as a disease” argument is that it circumvents the demonization of the drug user. On the other hand, this judgment can also lead to addicts indulging in self-destructive behavior because they feel there is something innately wrong with them. This viewpoint also sends messages that addicts are at the mercy of something bigger than them, and it may leave them feeling like a helpless victim stuck in a never-ending cycle.

Alternatively, the “addiction as a choice” viewpoint rightfully defends the addict as a person of will. This attitude translates into empowerment, and can boost the user’s confidence and self-esteem as they conquer the most unfavorable circumstances, symptoms, and mindsets. On the down side, this outlook can encourage a lack of compassion for addicts because they “could have done better.”

The Verdict

All arguments aside, this ongoing debate concerning addiction highlights a significant flaw in our system; rallying for a label may be prioritized above rallying for the success of an individual. Instead of focusing on why someone becomes an addict, we need to redirect the conversation to how an addict can heal. No matter why or how someone gets to this point in their lives, our only job as professionals, friends and family is to love them unconditionally. Of course, not to judge their choices or debate the root of their addiction. If you or someone you love is an addict, remind them that they aren’t alone.

PLEASE Browse There directory of treatment centers to find one that may be a good fit, or call 800-772-8219 to speak to a treatment specialist today. You can also subcribe by visiting here at SoberRecovery!

What to Expect from Your First Few Days of Rehab by Alek Sabin. My Weekend Recovery Guest.

What to Expect from Your First Few Days of Rehab by Alek Sabin. My Weekend Recovery Guest.

Fighting against addiction is not an easy process, as it is a behavioral disease that can take over every aspect of your life and actions. However, every recovery begins with a simple step: getting help. For many addicts, this means going to inpatient rehab.

If you’ve never been to an inpatient rehab facility, then one can seem very intimidating. The images in your mind may flip between something resembling a prison or a judgement panel of doom doctors. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. To help one get comfortable with the idea of inpatient rehab, here’s an honest take on what to expect from your first few days of inpatient rehab…

Intake process

First of all, every patient goes through an intake process, where there is a full examination of the addict that includes a comprehensive medical exam, as well as an interview about their personal history and past of substance abuse.

Before this happens, you’ll have already packed everything that you’ll need for rehab, and are ready to spend anywhere from 30 to 90 days in this new home. These examinations will determine if you need to go through a detox process, which is absolutely necessary for people who have developed a dependency to alcohol, heroin, or other extremely addictive substances.

First Days Rehab 3

Detoxification

If you’re in inpatient rehab, then you likely will need to undergo the detoxification process, where harmful drugs are eased out of your system in a safe medical environment. This may include treatment with naloxone or other types of medically administered drugs that gradually wean the body off of a substance.

Trying to quit cold turkey on a drug like heroin can be incredibly dangerous, as vital organs may need it to keep going, and the mind is unable to produce certain chemicals on its own. This process typically lasts 2-3 days under constant medical supervision.

First group meetings are always awkward

After your body is clean of a certain substance, next comes the healing of the mind, which is a significantly more complicated process that takes time and effort. One of the scariest aspects of this new experience is the first group meeting that you go to. Even though other participants in the group will be used to each other, you will pretty much feel terribly awkward, and that’s a guarantee.

Sharing deep emotional feelings that are difficult to bring up with total strangers isn’t something that you can just do on your first go, but it’s something that you’ll get used to and come to love and appreciate, as it is necessary to create a lasting recovery. Make sure that you look for a good peer to get help and advice from, during this time.

Get ready to be searched

When you first come to a treatment facility, you probably aren’t that removed from the last time you used an illicit substance (or you wouldn’t be there in the first place). For this reason, the facility you are at will need to routinely search you and your belongings to make sure that there are no harmful substances in their place of recovery. This is in the interest of the addict, as well as everyone in the facility, who is there to avoid temptation and make personal progress.

Time away from loved ones is rough

Eventually, your friends and family will be able to come and visit you during the treatment process, but the first few days you will probably be on your own. This is to help an addict transition into the inpatient rehab lifestyle, and allowing friends and family to visit too early can make it difficult for a person to dedicate themselves completely to their treatment. Your loved ones will understand this, as they want to support you and your recovery.

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The rewards are great

If these events and steps seem awkward and scary, it’s because they are, at least at first. However, the honest truth is that inpatient rehab presents the best possible environment to reclaim control of your life and make a lasting recovery. When leaving, make sure you have aftercare and support waiting upon your leaving so you have the best chance at making your recovery journey an open door to Living a Balanced Happy Life You are Worthy Of!   ~Alek Sabin