Special Featured Guest Article by Author, Dr. Jane Galloway~The 12-Steps Work!

Special Featured Guest Article by Author, Dr. Jane Galloway~The 12-Steps Work!

A Door That is Open to All-The 12-Steps As Spiritual Path.

by Dr. Jane S. GallowayAuthor of “The Gateways- the Wisdom of 12-Step Spirituality- Dynamic Practices That Work”  

“Your Bottom – It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning”  ~Rev. Dr. Jane Galloway

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It seems that almost everyone who has a deep spiritual conversion through the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, at one time or another says, “I wish everyone could have the spiritual experience of this universal spiritual path!”

More than a few have tried to translate their excitement into books or articles too.   I don’t know how many who aren’t already on the 12-Step journey ever read these things, but I never have, and I have been on that path for a long time.

My interest is in how people thrive, not in the study of illness.
Working for years with young children, I studied the ground- breaking work of Jean Piaget on the four cognitive stages of child development, so it makes sense that I understand the work of 12-Step recovery through a developmental lens.  The Steps do, after all, provide a template for growing up, albeit as adults.

It is true that many who find themselves in treatment for addiction have missed some crucial stages of foundational growth along the lifespan, often accompanied by trauma. The Steps begin with an admission of powerlessness over whatever source we have chosen as artificial fuel. Step 2 introduces a Higher Power to the conversation.

It is also true that the working of these Steps is designed to connect us to a lifelong, integrated connection to both a solid foundation and “god as we understand god.”… The 12th Step actually presumes that an awakening is the sole result of this process, and begins with “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps…”
And they work. The Steps…they work. And that makes them pragmatic, practical and qualifies them as a path that deserves some deeper inquiry.

 
Over the years of my own recovery, I doodled brightly colored grids comparing the 12-Steps, the 7 Chakras, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, The Kabbalah Sephirot (Tree of Life), Chinese Meridians and the basic teachings of the Jesus Path from the Nagg Hammadi Scrolls book of Thomas. Something was at work there and knew I would get around to figuring it out one day, but in the meantime, I doodled ladders.

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Believe it or not, as a former agnostic who was really, really mad at God, after I got sober I actually left a rather successful acting career to formally pursue both the study of religions, and ordination as a minister, and to look at AA, William James, and American Pragmatism as “The Growth of a 20th Century Pluralistic Spiritual Movement”.

At the same time, I studied and worked in the Human Services, The humanistic psychologies of Maslow and Carl Rogers, and found some links between both of the above areas in the Human Potential Movement and Positive Psychology movements in Post WW ll America. But it wasn’t until a member of a spiritual community I led in New York City cornered me and said that while I was great at teaching a lot of things, they wanted to know what worked for me.

And my instant answer, after many moons of study, practice, attending seminary and 12-Step meetings, chanting circles, having my aura drawn and doodling ladders, was immediate. “Oh, that’s easy. It’s the 12-Steps, and all of this other holistic psycho-spiritual stuff I have done along with them.” And then she said, “Write that.” So I did.

The Gateways- the Wisdom of 12-Step Spirituality /Dynamic Practices That Work (Sacred Stories Publishing Sept. 2016) includes all of those brightly colored ladders, plus a lot more. In describing my work as “a development model,” I have consistently met with a sort of puzzled silence from both recovering people and spiritual folks. So I finally began to get at the core of the thing.

The following, describing developmental psychology (from the website of the American Psychological Association) says what the 12-Steps do, minus the spirituality: “Developmental psychologists study human growth and development over the lifespan, including physical, cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality and emotional growth. “ apa.org  American Psychological Association Science in Action.

In “The Gateways”, I prioritize the spiritual, go into the basic essence of each Step, then create a technicolor system of practices and possibilities for exploring a lifelong path of deepening, growth, and expansion along spiritual lines using the 12-Steps.  Along with that is some history and a couple of personal stories to show how this has all worked in my life, a juicy Resources section, a Bento-Box of Mind/Body/Spirit tools and a suggested 12-week program for leading a spiritual growth group using the method.

https___www.janegalloway.com(3)
The actual book is gorgeous, and the psycho-spiritual, holistic, hands-on work in it creates a resource for all of those people who may or may not be on a 12-Step path per say, or may not be addicted to anything, but desire to go back and build a strong spiritual foundation for a life that works.

And the book is so pretty you could eat it. Truly. But don’t. Use it! And enjoy.

It is my hope that the resource I have created in this work is a practical companion for the beautiful channeled wisdom of the AA founders when they described the spiritual path of the 12-Steps in Chapter 4 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, We Agnostics:

“To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive, never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open we believe, to all.”

 

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Please visit my website at Jane Galloway.com
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Teen Gambling and Addiction. Addicted Gambling IS Reaching Our Youth! “Problem Gambling Awareness Month.”

It can be a ‘hidden addiction’ when it comes to youth. You cannot see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath and there are no scars on their body. However, problem gambling can be seen as the ‘gate way’ to several high-risk behaviors and problems. Gambling is a serious addiction and has […]

9 MAJOR CONSEQUENCES OF YOUTH PROBLEM GAMBLING — TEENS AND THEIR FRUIT MACHINES ….


RECOVERY Guest Post ~ Courtesy of ‘Teens and Their Fruit Machines’ Australia….And It IS Happening In The USA.”

About

Teens & Their Fruit Machines is a campaign aimed at raising awareness towards the increase in problem gambling, amongst our youth.

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“It can be a ‘hidden addiction’ when it comes to youth. You cannot see it in their eyes, or smell it in their breath and there are no scars on their body.”

However, problem gambling can be seen as the ‘gateway’ to several high-risk behaviors and problems. Gambling is a serious addiction and has damaging effects on not only the victim but also their family and friends.  With all of the statistics telling us how many young individuals are affected by this addiction, it’s important to recognize the consequences and problems they face from gambling.

Teens who gamble have higher rates of:

  1. Bankruptcy/ money problems

An average problem gambler loses around $21, 000 per year. Some poker machines can allow a gambler to lose more than $1, 500 in just one hour. In Australia, young people (18-24 years old) spend more money on poker machines than any other age.

  1. Absenteeism from school and early drop-out

This includes poor academic performance and loss of motivation.

 

  1. Housing crisis and homelessness

Whether it’s through financial problems, due to money lost from addiction, or family members kicking young adults out for their problem, homelessness is a common link to gambling addiction.

  1. Substance abuse

This involves alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Problem gamblers are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol and four times as likely to smoke daily, than non-gamblers.

  1. Suicidal ideation and suicide

Problem gambling can lead to feelings of helplessness, as youth feel they have nowhere else to turn. Only 15% of problem gamblers seek help due to stigma, leading them to face the issue on their own.

  1. Mental health issues

This includes anxiety, depression and anti- social behavior.

  1. Criminal behaviour

A higher rate of illegal activity such as robbery, in order to fund their addiction and financial difficulties perpetuated from their problem.

  1. Disrupted family and peer relationships

For each problem gambler, it is estimated that 5-17 other individuals may be affected by their addiction. This could include emotional impacts such as guilt, arguments, disapproval and disruptions to family life.

 

 

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TOP WAYS FOR YOUTH TO GAMBLE ~ What Are They Betting ON?

Scratching tickets, playing cards or watching horses, whatever it is, young people gamble in many ways.

But whether it’s Keno or backing a Bachelor Winner on Sportsbet,  what are our young actually gambling on? Well in the US they are placing BETS ON:

Poker Machines:

 Don’t let the bright lights fool you! If I haven’t said it already, these fruit machines are dangerous! Around 4% of age youth regularly play poker machines, with 15% of people who play being problem gamblers. If it couldn’t get any worse, young people aged 18-24 spend more money on these machines, than any other age group. Poker machines are by far the most problematic form of gambling for college age group.

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POKER/Cards: A Must Read Story – Teens and Poker The Guardian

 
Steve learned the basics by stacking “play money'”  at “Poker school’ sites run by the big online poker companies alongside their gambling sites. Within a month, he was betting cash. “I just typed poker into Google and started playing on the first sites that came up. I deposited money using my own debit card and just registered using a fake date of birth.”

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So, 18 months on, is he winning? ‘Oh yes, definitely, in the long run, but you can have huge swings each week. This week I lost $2,000 [online poker is denominated in dollars], but the week before I won $3,000. Poker’s all about skill in the end and I’ve taken the trouble to learn the game.’ Steve intends to postpone university for a year to play ‘full time’ for ‘five or six hours a day.”

BUT?

The number of High school-age and College students calling gambling helplines in America has doubled in the past two years. Ed, who runs a helpline for the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling, blames internet poker. “I have been in this field for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything as crazy as this,” says the reformed gambling addict. “It’s much like when crack cocaine came out in America in the Eighties. Internet gambling is something right now that you almost can’t stop.”

Two years ago, Paul, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, stole his father’s American Express card to play online poker. Within a few weeks, it was $10,000 into the red. He hoped to win it back before his father found out, but was forced to confess when the bill arrived: his father had to pay up. Paul says the lure of the 24-hour online poker rooms was irresistible: “There was no real age verification or proof of anything needed to play.”

THAT’S THE PROBLEM!

 

 

Sports Betting & More of Internet Gambling:
Sports’ betting is the fastest growing form of gambling around the world. A study by the center for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University, reported a 70% increase in individuals presenting to gambling help services with sports –betting problems in 2009. Not only this but now online gambling! And is now worth an estimated $30 billion. And online poker is estimated to be worth $6 billion annually in the US alone, as the Justice Department has apparently opened the door to internet gambling by reversing their longtime position that online poker and betting was illegal.

 

 

 

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You can pretty much bet on anything on the Internet today! With the increasing accessibility of the Internet around the world, young people have the ease of gambling from the comfort of their own home or dorms.  Not only that but young people can access betting sites from their tablets, smartphones, iPods, laptops and whatever new gadget appears in the store.

In other words, the betting environment has changed, and the breadth and intensity of engagement with the gambling industry and following with it. Not to mention gambling advertising, which swarms our online news, and news feeds!  Last week, I was offered to make a bet on The Bachelorette winner!

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Let’s face it, parents, now YOU need to add gambling and the dangers of how easy they can start to have a problem with it or even become addicted when you have “the talk” with them about drugs and alcohol.

 

Some stats from Center on Addiction say’s “that with most types of addiction, perceptions of who’s at risk for a gambling problem are often wrong. The most recent available data indicates that 2.1 percent of U.S. youth aged 14-21 engage in problem gambling – virtually the same percentage as adults with the disorder. Two-thirds of youth reported gambling in the past year and 11 percent said they gambled more than twice per week.

 

Though it’s hard for teens to access casinos, online and at-home betting is another way for adolescents to gamble, making it difficult for adults to monitor or detect. Like substance use and addiction, most adults who have a problem with gambling began during their teenage years.”

 

 

 

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** Presented by “Recovery Starts Here! – Author/Columnist, Catherine Lyon” **

 

 

    

About Gambling Addiction and Does Self-Ban From Casinos Work?

We all know that old saying; “if want something bad enough you will find a way to get” and that is certainly true when you are talking gambling addiction.

So, you decide you are going to “BAN” yourself from a casino so you can STOP GAMBLING. Well, does this really work? Well, not from my personal ridiculous experiences . . . .

But first, shouldn’t we be educated about a what gambling addiction is? And is it really just fun and games? For many affected, NO, it is not and they will try anything to STOP!

 

WHAT IS GAMBLING ADDICTION?

Here is what my good friends of the National Council for Problem Gambling  define’s this addiction.

Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. And again, have no sense or fear of consequences from the destruction they are causing.

Isn’t Problem and Addicted Gambling a Financial Problem?

No. Problem gambling is an emotional problem that has financial consequences. If you pay all of a problem gambler’s debts, the person will still be a problem gambler. The real problem is that they have an uncontrollable obsession with gambling. But, in order to recover, the gambler needs to be willing to accept and surrender to the fact that he or she is in the grip of a progressive illness and has a desire to get well and stop gambling.


Isn’t Problem Gambling Really the Result of weak or financially irresponsible people?

No. Many people who develop problems have been viewed as responsible and strong by those who care about them. Precipitating factors often lead to a change in behavior, such as retirement or job-related stress.

The number one gambling addiction fact that you should know is that gambling is NOT just a financial problem. Some problem gamblers do not have financial issues even though they may lose money gambling. Gambling is an emotional issue where a person feels the need to gamble to alleviate stress or because they feel a certain type of euphoria when they gamble. Gambling is an obsession that can take over your life if you let it go too far, this can lead to the loss of relationships, jobs, and, yes, finances, but the issue behind compulsive gambling is not financial, it is emotional.


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For me, gambling became a way for me to cope, escape, and numb old feelings that came back to haunt me of what I went through as a little girl in my early childhood, then into a teen and on into adulthood. And even though 12-Step programs and support tell us we can arrest the addiction and recover, I myself disagree from a “treatment” standpoint. In order for me to reach full recovery, I had to process all the “old” in a healthy manner of all the uderlying issues before I was able to grasp a well-balanced recovery and make it into long-term recovery.

As I am a firm believer in doing the “inner work” within ourselves is just as important as learning the skills, tools, and being educated about the disease. So I do 12-step meetings, but I do them for support and to be with others who understand this addiction and be of service to others.

IF you think you have a gambling problem? I always suggest to people that a great place to start is to stop by  Gamblers Anonymous ~ 20 Questions and answer HONESTLY their 20 Questions and it will give you a good view if you have a problem and need help.

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Now About Self-Banning or Self Exclusion: What Is This?

Now keep in mind, each STATE in the US may have their own rules and policies about this option to help someone stop gambling and harm. So for an example, I currently live in the State of Arizona so I will share this STATE’S options as there as Indian Tribe Casinos all over this state, so people have many options and ACCESS to GAMBLE.

Here is what my friends at Arizona Dept. of Problem Gambling say about  Self Ban:

Self-Exclusion or Self-Ban is a process that allows a person to request to be banned from all Indian Gaming Facilities within the State of Arizona and to be prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses, and the use of any of the services or privileges of the facility.  You can choose either a one-year, five-year, or ten-year exclusion.  This exclusion is irrevocable and cannot be altered or rescinded for any reason during the selected time period on the form.

How Do I Exclude Myself?

There are a number of ways you can go about excluding yourself. You can download the exclusion form found on this site, fill it out, have it notarized and mail it to the Department of Gaming along with a current photo of yourself. Please note: The self-exclusion will not be processed without proper notarization and a current photo. We can accept the photo electronically via email but we must have the original, notarized self-exclusion form sent to this office.

You may also come to the office to complete the entire self-exclusion process which includes meeting with the self-exclusion administrator who will discuss the program, notarize the form and take your photo as well as give you additional resources for problem gambling.

Please click on the FAQ link to the right for more information.  Questions & Answers on Self Ban  . . . .

Many casinos and states are also trying to help by offering these additional Ban Services as well:

The self-exclusion procedures and the self-exclusion forms are in a PDF format. To obtain a free copy of Adobe Reader, click here.

Download a copy of: Self-Exclusion Procedures; Self-Exclusion Form

BAN YOURSELF FROM USING ATMS AT MANY CASINOS

The Everi STeP program allows you to exclude yourself from using ATMs at over 1000 gambling locations.

Automated Systems America, Inc. (ASAI) can also assist in blocking ATM transactions in some Arizona casinos.

BAN YOURSELF FROM INTERNET GAMBLING

Gamblock prevents access to internet gambling sites.

Please make sure you visit their Q&A Facts page about more questions of Self Ban and Exclusion, you will find it Helpful….

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The Interesting and Comical Side of Gambling and Self-Ban:

Now, of course, I will KEEP in perspective that gambling is something many people do from time to time. But for others, it becomes an obsession, and they risk losing their livelihoods and much more because of the affliction, THAT IS NOT Funny.

But I have been sitting in the rooms of AA and Gamblers Anonymous a long time, and also when I was in treatment twice in our weekly group meetings. I can tell you I heard all sorts of stories about others who did try the self-ban from casinos. Now I never had the nerve to self-ban from the only Indian Casino 41 miles North of my home in So. Oregon where I lived at the time of my deep gambling addiction. But I have heard many stories from other women who did.

Needless to say, many told of them disguising themselves with make-up, wigs, sun glass’s and the like to hide their identity from the guards. and praying they didn’t hit a BIG jackpot for an attendant to have to come and pay them out or they would be Kicked Out! To me? That is living on the far off the edge! BUT? “If you want something bad enough?” ….

I have had many stories through the years of good and bad about self-banning, but here is a place and website I came across with stories that are both Postive and Negatives of gamblers who self-banned and gambled anyway on Psych Forums-Gamblers Banned I think you need to read. Here is one person’s experience:

“In the US it doesn’t work well. My wife signed the self-exclusion in all local casinos but she is able to play in all of them. One time she was playing, I told security that how come they let her plays when she signed self-exclusion, they immediately kicked her out. But casinos are businesses, and none of them will say no to FREE money. There is no real penalty for letting people who self-excluded play so why should they enforce it? I was considering suing them but all lawyers I contacted said that I can’t win.”

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I hope you have found this to be helpful information and informative. I know I have never written and shared much on Self-Banning and I find it interesting. I think for my own addiction, it most likely would NOT have helped me as I am a type of person that would find another way to “Get What I Wany.”  And self-ban could just backfire as of some other horrific stories I heard as in the rooms as well. Having access to NO MONEY to a gambler can make them turn to criminal acts. Yes, I heard some stories about this as well.

And this I DO have my own personal experience as I wrote about it in my current book, “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” And part of my title of my Memoir: “Confessions” was my way of taking accountability and ownership of the poor choices I made and the people I had hurt when I was gambling and deep within my disease.

We are only “as sick as our SECRETS” so I wrote and shared most all of what I’d DONE in a public forum within my book to hopefully help others and may they learn just far this cunning, sick and progressive addiction will take you! Here are some signs to look for if you suspect a loved one may have a gambling problem. Visit my friend’s page at  Addictions.com for more information and helpful treatment and support options …

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Any addiction causes highs and lows in a person, and gambling addiction is no exception. According to the NLM, here are some psychological signs of gambling addiction:

  • “Feeling bad after you gamble, but not quitting”
  • Feeling guilty for spending time away from your family or hurting them, but not quitting
  • “Always thinking about gambling”
  • Believing that gambling is not a problem for you, or avoiding thinking about how much time and money you actually spend on gambling

Gambling addiction does become a compulsion, and it is easier not to think about it than it is to soberly consider the repercussions of gambling on your life. Addictions.com

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**Presented by Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of  “Addicted To Dimes” **

 

Let Them Hear Us! Joining My Friends At “Facing Addiction.” Are You Facing Addiction Today?

 

Facing Addiction

Dear Author & Recovery Friend Catherine Lyon,

This is a critical time for anyone connected to the addiction issue. We are just over a week into the new Congress and at the end of next week, a new president will be sworn in. Here are just a few quick things you can do today to ensure that our leaders continue Facing Addiction in 2017 with us:

Sign and Forward an Open Letter to President-Elect Trump

The new administration has made a commitment toward reforming our nation’s health care system. We hope you’ll sign this letter to the President-Elect and his new administration, urging them to maintain their commitment to facing addiction issues in whatever replacement health care package emerges. If you’ve already signed our letter, please take a moment to forward this link to your family and friends and post it on social media. We need your help today!

Tell Your Story in a Letter-to-The-Editor

One of the leading roadblocks to improving the collective response to addiction is better understanding. Last year we saw the tragic viral images of overdose victims posted by police officers who were shaming people who become addicted. Shaming doesn’t work. The only way people will build empathy about addiction issues is to hear stories from other perspectives – recovery, loss, the struggle to access health services – you have a unique story to tell. A letter, outlining your personal perspective and connection to addiction can make a huge impact. Please click here to submit a letter today!

Pilot Community Program

Facing Addiction is proud to offer this application for communities needing support to build a targeted grassroots approach that changes local responses to substance use disorders. Examples could include building diversion programs that move low-risk offenders from court involvement or formal criminal justice system supervision to health-centered interventions. To learn more about this program, and to submit an application for your community, click here.

Thanks for all you do – advocacy is about action. Join us by taking action today.

Regards,

Michael King
Director of Outreach & Engagement

I PROUDLY STAND With My Friends at Facing Addiction! Let’s All Get Involved Above!  

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*** Author and Recovery Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ***

Guest Article About Gambling The Addiction & Our Addicted Brain.

ARE WE ONE STEP CLOSER TO A CURE?

Gambling addicts have ‘WEAKER’ brains – just like alcoholics and drug addicts, scientists discover

Experts at Imperial College London hope their discovery that gambling triggers two key areas of the brain, will lead to new treatments- 3rd January 2017

Guest Holiday Article From ‘The Fix.’ Is A 12-Step Program All You Have In Your Life? By Katie MacBride

I am starting my New Recovery Holiday Article Share series with an interesting topic and question. As in many Gamblers Anonymous meetings I have attended, I have heard some say that they gave up all their friends and are only friends with their GA, AA, or NA pals that they meet. They only go to 12-step functions like dances, holiday parties and more.  I don’t know if that is a healthy and well-balanced recovery. DO YOU?  Does AA, GA, Na or others have to be your life?

We have had the talk here before if 12-Step Programs is the only way to recovery from addiction, and most said no not really.  Now please, I am not knocking the 12-steps at all. My experience was I attended to be with other like -minded people looking to recover and as support. So let’s read another perspective about this and share how you feel about this in my comments. I like to know what others in recovery have to say. So share your VOICE  .  .  .  .


Does AA Have to Be My Life?
By Katie MacBride of The Fix Magazine

Dear Katie,

“Have you ever heard someone in the rooms say that we live AA and visit life? My sponsor tells me that but sometimes I have a hard time with it because I don’t feel like I got sober just to go to AA all the time, I got sober so that I could live my life. But she seems to believe that you get sober through AA so you have to live the AA triangle all the time. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with that because I think the point of AA is to bring the principles with you into how you handle your everyday life. Could you offer your opinion on that?”

Spend enough time in or around 12-step programs and you’ll have aphorisms coming out your ears. Many of these are useful—whether or not one is in a 12-step program or not. (I’m a big fan of HALT, even though I thought it was incredibly stupid when I first heard it—more on that here.)

I always think of Sandra Bullock in the movie 28 Days when she’s mocking her treatment counselor for telling her to take it “one day at a time.” She scoffs, “‘One day at a time,’ what is that? I mean like two, three days at a time is an option? I don’t need the Romper Room bullshit.”

All the “Romper Room bullshit” can be annoying as hell, especially when the person reciting it seems way too cheerful and peppy for somebody, not on drugs, a drinker, or addicted gambler. There’s a reason for those irritating sayings, though. When something happens that makes us consider drinking or using, we often don’t have time for lengthy, well-reasoned arguments about why it’s a bad idea.

If we’re lucky, we have time to get one annoyingly oversimplified and yet somehow appropriate saying between our ears. That one phrase has to be easily accessible through the fog of our craving and snap us back to reality. It has to remind us of what it was like when we were drinking and using, and why we work so hard to stay sober. It turns out those quippy little Romper Room quotes are great for that. I’m not familiar with the saying “live in AA and visit life,” but what I have heard—and am guessing your sponsor means—is “don’t put the life AA gave you in front of your AA life.”

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This, like many of the aphorisms, can seem both confusing and annoying. What is the difference between the life AA gave you and your AA life? Isn’t it all just…your life? Or, as you more eloquently put it, isn’t the “point of AA to bring the principles with you into how you handle your everyday life”? The short answer is yes. We get sober so we can live our lives. The tools that we learn in recovery, whether through a 12-step program or some other treatment program, are skills that you’ll take into the world with you as you go along in your everyday life.

Your sponsor (if I am understanding her correctly) is also right, in that you can’t get complacent about recovery. This is one of the biggest points of contention among those who dislike AA. It’s a cult, some folks will say, they make you go to meetings forever! They tell you to put AA before anything else! How can you live a normal life if you’re supposed to be focused on AA for the rest of it? These are the kind of claims that can make someone trying to figure out the new and complicated world of sobriety overwhelmed and completely freaked out. So let’s break down what it means.

Without getting into the disease controversy, or the “is AA, GA, or NA the best method” controversy, there is one thing about addiction and recovery that are unequivocally true:

If you want to no longer be actively addicted to something, you need to behave, and ultimately think, differently than you did when you were actively addicted. It sounds simple, but anyone who has tried to do it can attest to how difficult it is to accomplish. So the goal of any recovery program (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, AA, SMART Recovery) is to help an addict break their long established patterns of substance use.

It doesn’t end at just breaking the habits, though. Another thing you’ll hear people in recovery say is, “Getting sober is easy, staying sober is hard.” I don’t know that I’d ever call getting sober “easy,” but we often have more motivation to get sober than we do to stay sober. When I had ravaged my life as a result of my drinking, I had no choice but to build from ground zero up.

If I needed a reminder as to why I shouldn’t drink, all I had to do was look at the barren wasteland around me and the rubble beneath my feet. As I rebuilt my life, the barren wasteland changed into a vibrant city. My world was (and is) now comprised of people, places, and things and it’s tempting to become lost in that. There’s nothing wrong with living a full life outside your program of recovery, but there may be a danger becoming so preoccupied with it that you stop doing the WORK to maintain that recovery.

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People who undergo treatment for depression with a combination of therapy, medication, and exercise may not maintain that program with the same vigilance 10 years down the road as they did when they first entered treatment, but some ongoing maintenance will likely always be necessary.

The same is true for addiction. But addiction is a sneaky jerk, and alcohol and drug use are so commonplace that it’s not hard to forget that as addicts, we can’t use those things with impunity. I got sober at 23 years old and I can’t count the number of times I’ve wondered “maybe it was just a phase and I could drink ‘normally’ now,” even though I have literally no evidence to support that thought and abundant evidence to the contrary.

It’s also easy to get wrapped up in what being an addict/alcoholic means for the rest of your life. At the risk of tossing my own Romper Room slogan into the mix: try not to worry about it and take it…yep…one day at a time. Keep doing what’s working for you now. Remember what your life was like before sobriety and do what you need to do to hold on to your recovery.

The rest will work itself out.


Please visit Author, Katie MacBride over at The Fix Magazine and get all your questions answered about addiction and recovery.

Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author, and Columnist at “In Recovery Magazine’s The Author’s Cafe.”  My ebook is now on Sale at  Amazon Kindle Store  . . . .

 

Addiction and Recovery Through The Eyes of Hollywood In The Fix … Guest Article Share

Eric Roberts Discusses Addiction, Recovery, and Hollywood with The Fix . . .

 


By John Lavitt 07/22/16

“People who suffered a lot during childhood tend to ‘accidentally design’ lives that contain a good deal of similar suffering. That feels like home to them.”  It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the star.

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Academy Award-nominated actor Eric Roberts and the brother of actress Julia Roberts and father of actress Emma Roberts was known in his early days as one of Hollywood’s edgier characters both on and off the screen. In more recent years, however, Roberts, who was featured in both The Dark Knight and The Expendables, has become hard-working and prolific. He appeared in over 25 films and television series in 2016 alone.

Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, where his parents ran an acting school out of their home, Roberts embraced the family calling. His film career took hold in 1978 when he appeared in the cult favorite, King of the Gypsies, for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination. Then in June of 1981, Roberts was involved in a serious car accident which left him comatose for three days with a bruised brain, broken bones and much facial trauma. As a result of the facial trauma, there was a change in Roberts, both on the outside and the inside. Partying harder and abusing prescription drugs, he subsequently found himself playing villains and bad guys. This shift led to his breakout performance in Bob Fosse’sStar 80 in 1983.

In 1987, Roberts was arrested for harassing a woman and striking a police officer, both while under the influence of drugs. He pleaded guilty to harassment, but the other charges were later dropped. Upon marrying his wife Eliza in 1992, Roberts embraced a path of sobriety with occasional relapses. A later problem with medical marijuana dependency led to a featured appearance on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

On your personal website, you show the courage to express yourself beyond what a controlling publicist would want to hear, revealing in a series of quotations your views on addiction, anger, codependency, and more. Unlike so many celebrities, how did you find the personal conviction to speak your mind and what does it personally mean for you?

Thanks for checking the site so carefully. That really means a lot. I like to refer to that section as “Notes & Quotes.” I started it before blogs or Twitter or Facebook, and I guess that kind of free-flowing philosophizing is a little more common now that there are all those forums to do it in. It wasn’t common at the time. But I really do feel the need to share those thoughts and the things I learn.

On the quotes page of your website, you say about yourself, “For a while, the only thing that made him feel better was to feel bad.” Can you explain this idea for our readers who want more insight into such personal struggles? Why would feeling bad make anyone feel better?

I truly believe from observation that we are comfortable with what we’ve had most of in our lives. People who suffered a lot during childhood tend to “accidentally design” lives that contain a good deal of similar suffering. That feels like home to them.

In the section of your website on acting tricks, you say, “I like the idea of putting something comical into an intense drama, and being intense in absurd circumstances within a comedy.” When faced with life obstacles like addiction and negative emotional reactions like anger, how does comedy help soften the moment? Is being able to recognize the absurdity of modern life a way of staying sane and balanced?

Being alive means being able to laugh. Sometimes you have to find humor in difficult circumstances in order to put one foot in front of the next. Don’t you find that to be true? By seeing the absurdity, even in our goals and dreams, it sometimes helps us live with what we have, rather than comparing it all the time with what we wish we had. We can laugh without minimizing things. That’s a big lesson we all need to learn.

In the section on addiction, you say, “An addict is like a bad imitation of a human being … Addiction is the abdication of choice.” Can you expand on these ideas? What do you mean by “a bad imitation?” Many people would say addicts choose to do the drugs and abuse themselves. How do you explain this “abdication of choice?”

Addicts are not bad people, goodness knows. But being controlled by a compulsion often brings out the best and the worst in us. I think when you are in the throes of addiction, you are miles away from being able to exercise choice.

A great example would be a workaholic who is also a devoted mother. She may long to make the choice to spend valuable time with her kids. However, her compulsion about work—having to organize all her pencils by color, let’s say—keeps her from being able to make and act on the choice to be with her kids.

In the section on addiction, you say, “You’re employed by your addiction. And it’s an unregulated place to work. It’s not the doing of the drug—It’s the doing of the stuff you do to get the drug.” Can you explain what you mean by “unregulated?” How is an addict employed by their addiction?

You really feel enslaved. And it’s unregulated because you end up having no regard for other obligations. An example from my own past was when I was on my way to an important meeting for a movie, but I knew my pot dealer was coming over. I chose to wait for the dealer and ended up being late for the meeting. In other words, the addiction or dependency was calling the shots. That’s not a good way to live.


In a recent interview, you said, “I actually started acting at speech therapy because I had a terrible stutter as a kid. My parents found out that when I memorized stuff, I didn’t stutter. So it became speech therapy at first.” I actually grew up stuttering as well, and I must admit it was traumatic. When I first discovered alcohol and pot, it was like a revelation. It made me feel normal, and I did not have to worry so much about my stutter. It made me friends. Did you have a similar experience?

I had never thought of it that way, but yes! That’s a very interesting point.

In the movie Star 80, you played a truly unlikable character almost perfectly. As Paul Snider, the Svengali-like husband of Dorothy Stratten, the 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year and rising Hollywood star, you embraced the cruel and obsessive ugliness of the character. Roger Ebert later spoke of the Star 80Syndrome. He felt you deserved an Academy Award for the performance, but believed that, “Hollywood will not nominate an actor for portraying a creep, no matter how good the performance is.”

What was your relationship like with legendary director Bob Fosse? Star 80 was the last film he directed before his death. Did he drive you to work hard to bring forth such a performance?

I always loved reading Ebert. It’s very interesting to me that he said that. I think what he pointed out has proven to often be true. I relished playing that role and having the opportunity to be a part of telling that story.

I adored Bob Fosse and admired him beyond description. Our complex relationship was written about in Sam Wasson’s book, Fosse, about his life. (From an American Theatre review: “Wasson depicts the tortured director as ‘a bottomless wound of insatiability.’ So closely did Fosse relate to Dorothy Stratten’s psychopathic killer that he directed Eric Roberts to play the character as ‘me, if I wasn’t successful.’”)
I thought we were close, but we’d both have done better had we been sober.

Discussing the craziness of your early days in Hollywood, you said, “When I got into movies, they would send you to the prop truck and there would be lines of cocaine. Everybody—from the executives and producers to craft services—was high on that drug. Everybody was wrecked on the movie set. It was out of control, and I was a kid.” Are you happy that crazy side of Hollywood is now in your past? Is it still happening every now and then on movie sets? How did seeing such drug use by famous and powerful people you must have admired affect you?

I am so relieved that craziness is in the past. I’d likely be dead if it were not. I really don’t see that kind of excess on sets anymore. I do believe that prescription drugs are the danger now. And Red Bull. I have to admit that back in the day, it was depressing to see great talent that I truly admired taking those kinds of pointless risks.

In the section on codependency, you say, “A codependent feels their value is predicated upon a willingness to devalue themselves.” Given your insight into the entertainment industry, how is codependency expressed in Hollywood? As an actor, do you experience a particular brand of a codependent relationship with your agent, manager, publicist, and lawyer?

I think that was more prevalent in the older days of Hollywood during the studio system. I do know that some people are bullied by their reps. Agents should remember that they represent the actor’s best interest.

 

In the section on the human condition, you say, “With something so widespread as addiction, compulsion, self-destruction, low self-esteem, various abuses … Can we call it a disorder?” Do you believe our society is toxic at its core, and thus, produces damaged people? Or is being flawed and experiencing such difficulties just the normative state of being human?

I think we need a certain level of ambivalence about just how comfy life is…in order to accept our mortality. I know that sounds like a little much, but if life were pure joy, how would we accept it’s not being eternal? When you ponder it from that perspective, nature is genius.

You were estranged for several years from your sister, actress Julia Roberts. The source of the estrangement had mainly been your past drug use. In 2004, you toldPeople magazine that you had reconciled with Julia when you visited her in the hospital after she gave birth to her twins.

When Pretty Woman came out in 1990 and Julia, as you once said, “became the biggest star in the world,” was it hard for you as an actor to see the intensity of her sudden international celebrity eclipse your own? Would you say that her success potentially fueled your addiction at the time?

Julia’s twins are beautiful kids, and it’s a pleasure to be their uncle. It’s always important to repair family relationships. In terms of what happened in the past, I didn’t need my sister’s huge success to fuel my addiction. I did that fine on my own! At the same time, I have to admit that it did kind of blow my mind. Such success is always startling. It made me proud and thrilled and envious all at once.

In 2010, you appeared as a cast member in the fourth season of the VH1 reality television series Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew to treat your dependency on medical marijuana. Your wife Eliza and your stepson Keaton Simons appeared in episode 6 to discuss the effects of your addiction on their lives. I recently interviewed Dr. Drew, and he told me how overall, the show helped raise national awareness about recovery.

Despite this positive macrocosmic effect, did it have a constructive microcosmic effect on your own life? Would you do it again?

I would absolutely do it again, and I am very appreciative of the work that Dr. Drew did with us. It was life changing for all of us in a very good way.  By the way, John, thanks for these great questions. It’s clear to me that you put in the work, and I appreciate that as someone who does the same.


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Now, I have to my own little bit to this story. The article I enjoy as I have the pleasure of tweeting back and forth with Eric Roberts over on Twitter.  For awhile there I think he may have thought I was a”stalker” as I had begged and tweeting him to come join one Wed night for our #Addictionchat we have on Twitter.  He has replied a couple of times saying I should send a request to his wife’s TripleeeProductions, as she is his manager …  and yes, I have, but still no answer.
I do however enjoy watching Eric’s films and on TV. . . .  *Cat Lyon*