Is The 12-Step Way The Only Way? I don’t Think So. It Is a Solid Part of a Good Recovery Plan, Just Not The Only One.

Is The 12-Step Way The Only Way? I don’t Think So. It Is a Solid Part of a Good Recovery Plan, Just Not The Only One.

“We have a choice on HOW we want to recover. And everyone’s experiences can be different.  It is WHY we have the choice, to begin with! But The 12-Step way shouldn’t be the ONLY WAY to recover from any addiction.”

As we find by this new Guest Featured Article Courtesy of The Fix Magazine! ~ AS I Celebrate my 5-Year WordPress Recovery Blog Anniversary!!

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Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us.

Keep up the good blogging.

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When 12-Step Doesn’t Work…


“In the 12-step program, if you’re not getting better it’s because you can’t or won’t adhere to the simple program, and it is definitely NOT your fault.”

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” –The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

I could write rehab reviews like a New York City socialite could write restaurant reviews, detailed with an extensive variety of experience and a favorite for every season. I was close with all of the staff at one, asked to leave for causing trouble at another, and I visited my preferred choice on two separate occasions, making myself at home and staying a while each time. Although many of the rehabs I took residency with differed greatly, they all seemed to share a fundamental staple regarding treatment: 12-step meetings were the way, and anything else was the highway.

Early in recovery, the meetings were my favorite part of the day. Once discharged from inpatient treatment, I’d hop in my dented up silver Honda and travel 50 plus miles to attend meetings with my former rehab mates. It gave me something to look forward to and was a great way to maintain the mere semblance of a social life, my previous social life having been obliterated.

I loved hearing the speakers tell their heart-wrenching and inspirational stories of overcoming immense adversity and eventually finding their way. I loved thinking to myself, “Wow, you’d never guess they were once an addict,” and hoping one day someone would look at me and think the same. I loved the strong coffee, stale cookies, and smoke breaks; it was like a cozy blanket and comfort food to me. I loved 12-step meetings, but the longer I stayed, the more the love began to feel unrequited.

As time passed, I enviously witnessed my peers collecting their milestone chips. I stoically sang happy birthday to people celebrating one, two, five, sometimes 20 years of sobriety. “Keep coming back, it works if you work it!” I’d smile and clap and secretly resign myself to what appeared to be my only two options: keep relapsing and likely die or go to meetings for the next 20 years. Either way, I’d never be escaping my identity as an addict. It never sat well with me that after 20 years of abstinence from mind-altering substances, people in the program would still be in meetings identifying as addicts.

Time and time again, I’d hear a person share with the group how one desperate, dreary day, they’d dropped to their knees and begged God to remove from them the burden of addiction, and the next day they’d woken up and poof! It worked. After a person hears that so many times, they’re bound to try it themselves. I must have tried it as many times as I heard that same testimony. “Stay until the miracle happens,” they’d say. I stayed. I waited for the miracle. I’d wake up desperate for deliverance, only to find defeat. Why was God removing their burden but leaving me with mine? I was deeply genuine, crying, begging even—so naturally, I grew cynical. The more I thought about it, the more I started to realize that everything I was seeing work so well for my peers, was not at all working for me.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and  Narcotics Anonymous, while technically three distinct programs, they all share the same philosophy and principles. There is no strict delineation between the groups and you’ll often meet people with a breadth of narcotic experience in AA and people who struggle with alcohol use in NA and many are drug users and drinkers with gambling problems or addicted. The steps are the same for all and somewhere within those steps is where all the “magic happens.”

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Before you can attempt the steps, you have to find a sponsor who will show you the way. A sponsor is another person in recovery, typically with an arbitrary minimum number of sober months or years that seems to vary depending on who you ask (but with more time than you). Ideally, they are a mentor, a trusted confidante who will talk you off the wagon’s edge.

They’re someone you tell your deepest darkest secrets to. Literally, your fourth step requires you to write a list of your life’s mistakes, from minor faux pas to your most egregious offenses, and then spill all the dirt to your sponsor. This was the first of many roadblocks I ran into within the program.

I seemed to burn through sponsors like an Uber driver does a tank of gas. My first sponsor and I were unknowingly involved in a 12-step love triangle. Program romances were rampant and newcomers were fresh meat. This is not uncommon and is jokingly referred to as the 13th step. I had a few short-lived sponsors before I found “the one.” She was my perfect match, and then . . . I moved 700 miles away. Although I pleaded with her to continue sponsoring me via Skype, she said it would be best for me to have a sponsor close by.

My next sponsor was someone I felt instantly drawn to and grew very close to. After working through the first three steps, I recorded all of my transgressions, ready for the big reveal. Then casually during an AA group dinner, a mutual friend referenced some seriously confidential information I had shared with only my sponsor, making it apparent our confidentiality agreement had been breached. Although we remained close friends, the trust was damaged beyond repair and my fourth step progress came to a halt.

The good thing about the 12-step program is that other addicts guide you through your recovery. The bad thing about the 12-step program is that other addicts guide you through your recovery. The first time someone struggling with addiction or alcoholism reads The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the similarities are so striking, it’s as though you’re reading your own diary at times.

People who have experienced addiction share the same symptoms, underlying causes, triggers, and lifestyle and The Big Book articulates that in a way that transcends time, age, and gender. There is, however, a glaring difference between someone early in recovery and a seasoned 12-stepper with several years under their belt. This difference was problematic for me.

Newcomers, or people early in recovery, are generally vulnerable and shaky. It is not uncommon for a newcomer to relapse once or even multiple times. One of the main draws of AA and NA is that the program offers a “sober network,” a community of like-minded individuals who have gone through the same thing and can, therefore, teach the newcomers how to treat their disease. The sober network that the 12-step program provides, however, is not purely sober.

One of the first things you’ll hear going into recovery is that you have to cut ties with your using buddies. I agree with that 100 percent; But in AA and NA, you are actively hanging around people who are barely clean, habitually relapsing, or even just there for the court-mandated requirements and not clean at all. For some people in the program, that’s not an issue.

For me, however, it was like these people were a walking billboard: “Potential Using Buddy,” with loud sirens and flashing lights, a temptation I could not seem to ignore despite two years of actively trying. My addict brain was drawn toward other vulnerable people in the meeting. One of the most important developments in my recovery was acknowledging and owning up to my tendency to take advantage of those situations. When I finally put my foot down and said I cannot recover in the company of fellow addicts, I closed one door and opened a new door to a realistic opportunity for recovery.

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During my two-year and some change trial of the 12-step program, I earned hundreds of chips. You’d think that’s a good thing, but it’s not. In your first 30 days, you get a chip each day and then a 30, 60, 90-day, 6-month, and 9-month chip after that, and from then on, they’re earned yearly. In AA and NA, if you’ve acquired a set number of sobriety days and then you relapse, you are required to stand up, announce that you are newly sober again, and take a newcomer chip every day for your first 30 days back—recounting your sober days from scratch. If you keep relapsing before you hit 30 days, that’s an unending requirement of standing up and identifying as a newcomer.

I remember a specific exchange with a program friend that in recollection feels poignant. I was sharing that I hated counting days and my friend said, “Why? It’s an accomplishment.” I replied, “Maybe for you. For me, it’s repeated humiliation and shame.” And it was. I was in the program as a newcomer for so long, I’d still take a newcomer chip the same day that a peer I came into the program with would receive their one-year chip.

After two years of stumbling through the program, I started seeing an addiction therapist. I disclosed my ill-will toward counting days and she responded by simply suggesting that I stop. That’s not allowed, I told her, the rules are strict. She said if I hated counting days, just stop. I was filled with a huge sense of relief.

Convinced I was incurable because of my abject failings with GA, AA, and NA, I began seeing my addiction therapist twice weekly. It was there in therapy that I was able to free myself of some of the constraints the program had placed on my treatment path and explore more fitting options.

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My therapist told me I didn’t need a sponsor, I didn’t have to count days, I didn’t have to recover in the company of other addicts, and it was okay for me to try medication-assisted treatment. In the 12-step program, if you’re not getting better it’s because you can’t or won’t adhere to the simple program, and it is definitely your fault, so this therapist was either a hippie or an angel. Whatever she was, I had hope for the first time.

Now, not to say during my time in the program, I did meet hundreds of people who have successfully recovered. The program can work and I would never suggest otherwise. While it has given life back to tens of thousands of people all over the world for almost a century, it has also left others baffled, frustrated, and defeated.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for addiction and I think suggesting there is is the number one defect of the 12-step program. The program didn’t work for me and that does not make me flawed or a failure. It doesn’t work for many people, and that doesn’t make them incapable of being honest or unwilling to invest in their own recovery. And for those of us who don’t find our solution in the 12 steps, there is a multitude of other options.

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Marriage and Family Therapist Rebecca Deighan stresses the importance of building a network of support, and while that network may be GA, AA, or NA, it doesn’t have to be. It’s more about having a network of people who are supportive and caring, a sense of community. When asked about the 12-step program not working for everyone, Deighan said, “Everybody has a right to self-determination.”

Learning to trust your own instincts and know what is or isn’t working for you is no easy feat for people battling addiction. Having a therapist who encouraged me to trust my own opinions regarding my treatment was incredibly valuable. I can thank almost two years of therapy and medication-assisted treatment for my success in recovery.

There are many options when it comes to recovery: church, yoga and meditation, therapy, exercise, medication-assisted treatment, using self-help books and apps, support groups (12-stepSMARTWomen for SobrietyLifeRing, and others) and more. I recommend trying one or a combination of any of the above.

“Hello, I’m Emily and I’m an addict,” are words that will likely never leave my lips again. I don’t identify as an addict now and I won’t in 20 years.

I chose a recovery path that has left my life as an addict completely in the rear-view mirror, and for me, that’s right where it belongs.

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Emily J. Sullivan

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Emily J. Sullivan is a Los Angeles based writer specializing in addiction, mental health, relationships, and lifestyle. When she’s not chasing around her twin daughters, she’s writing, dancing, geeking out on Game of Thrones with her fiancé and soon-to-be stepson, or shopping for Jimmy Choos on eBay.

 

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

I told myself at midnight new years’ eve, I was going to write, share, and be more open and transparent about my mental health issues this year. So when I came upon this article and gave it a read, I knew I had to share it today as many of us who maintain recovery from addictions are dually diagnosed with mental health challenges like myself. And those who don’t understand what it is like to battle agoraphobia along with depression and a few other disorders I have been working through, many seem to cling to “The Stigma” around all of the ABOVE.

Now, yes, I do understand that those who have not been touched by mental or emotional problems or disorders or know or have a family or friend who does, not all people are sorry to ‘ignorant’ about these topics. However, there some who don’t think mental health problems, like Tom Cruise, even exist. HA!

I’m here to say they do and about 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffers from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and more.

That is 1 in every 5 people suffer in just the United States alone. So, sorry Tom Cruise and L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, YOUR WRONG. Here is an article that helps us have insights on how paralyzing “FEAR” can make us feel TRAPPED…By 

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How Fear Traps You into Being Someone You Are Not…

“The fear response is triggered when facing danger.”

The “danger” could be not measuring up to a desired or imposed standard, not getting done what you set out to do, not fulfilling expectations (your own or someone else’s), being seen as less than perfect or failing at something. There is also the “danger” of not fitting in and being noticeably different from the norm. All these fears and anxieties stem from questioning your ability to cope with life’s challenges and people’s responses to your actions.

External messages from the media and authorities are also powerful triggers of anxiety and fear. Believing the world to be a dangerous place creates a pervading sense of powerlessness that undermines your personal power and inner strength in many different ways. 

  • Fear manipulates you into forgetting how strong and competent you really are.

  • Fear negates your resilience. Feelings of helplessness trick you into believing that you do not have what it takes to tolerate hardship and bounce back from adversity.

  • Fear narrows your focus to mainly notice problems, damage, hurt or harm.

  • Fear impairs realistic thinking so the scale and likelihood of potential danger are often overestimated. Unless you live in a war zone, a dangerous neighborhood, an abusive relationship or have just experienced a significant natural disaster, most commonly assumed dangers are less prevalent or disastrous than imagined.

  • Avoidance is one of the responses to fear. Self-imposed restrictions on where you go or what you do limit your options and shrink your world.

  • Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.

  • Fear prevents you from living in the here and now. Worrying what might happen and anticipating dangers and calamities in the future removes your attention from the present, the only place where you can function to the best of your ability. Dwelling on past events instead of focusing on the present also clouds your perception to the realities and opportunities of the now.

  • Survival emotions such as anger (fight); worry, panic and anxiety (flight); depression and hopelessness (freeze) limit your emotional expression and narrow your emotional range. Negative feelings drag you down and deplete vital life force while positive emotions such as trust in yourself, courage and hope strengthen and nurture you.

  • Fear cuts you off from the flow of life and universal benevolence you could tap into.

  • Destabilized by fear you lose your firm grounding in your own power. This diminishes your ability to recognize potential agendas by external sources of fear. As a consequence, you become an easier target for manipulation and abuse.

Fear is the result of a physical mechanism involving the adrenals and various other body systems. In cases of real and acute danger, this is useful as it alerts you to the need for action.

However, the same kind of responses are also triggered by imagined danger. With the lines between real and imagined danger often blurred in modern life, fear in all its forms can become chronic. Like with ‘Agoraphobia’ or other panic type disorders.

“Tricking you into believing that you are weak and without inner resources or that a catastrophe is imminent, fear and its allies are some of the most damaging emotions to allow into your life. You have a choice what you do with your fear: stay in its thrall or make the decision not to be pulled into it and question it is associated — and usually automatic — thoughts.”

 
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There are many different ways to defuse fears. All of them involve feeling it without trying to suppress the feeling or run away from it. Like other emotions, fear follows a bell curve where it rises, peaks and eventually subsides if you stay with it as a witness rather than disappearing into it. When you have weathered the emotional storm and feel calmer, take a good look at your thoughts and the reality of the situation.

Examine your triggers and the beliefs associated with them. What is their origin, do they reflect the truth? What is your fear about? How you see yourself, how other people might think of you, what you are told about the world? What keeps you in a state of fear?

Depending on your situation, devise your own path to freedom. You may decide on “gradual exposure”, i.e. approaching a feared situation not at once but in several small increments over a number of days or weeks.

You could also draw a “fear ladder” with your “little” fears at the bottom rungs and the “big” ones on top. Begin addressing the less difficult ones and gradually work your way up. It will show you that you do not have to give in to fear and let it define your life and how you see yourself.

Enlist help and support if you need it, but ultimately no one can do this work for you. Remember, you are much stronger and more resilient than fear will allow you to know.

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About Christiana Star

Christiana is a counseling psychologist and writer with a strong focus on self-help, personal growth, and empowerment. Combining professional experience with a spiritual outlook on life, her work offers new perspectives, insights, practical tips and easy strategies that can be applied straightaway. When she is not writing, Christiana can be found in nature: tending her fruit and vegetable garden with various degrees of success or exploring Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches with her very quirky little dog.

Download the free ebook “10 Keys for Moving Forward when Life Has Changed”, receive the monthly newsletter or access her weekly blog at www.christianastar.com.


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This part of her article HIT ME, “Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.”

That is me! I feel safe in my places within my “Comfort Zone.” It truly is debilitating and then I get depressed as it feels like looking out a window as LIFE is passing by WITHOUT ME In It…

So, what role does fear play in your life? What have you found useful in overcoming fears? If you are struggling, what is your difficulty?  Please share your feelings and comments with me.  Maybe together we can help one another…


Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Holiday Recovery Resource Pick addictionblog.com Has Help From Many Addictions…Even From Gambling

Today I am shining the spotlight on one of my favorite blogs I enjoy reading good articles and always who has great information about gambling and other addictions. They have an array of recovery resources and suggested treatments options they display on their site as well. I am a firm believer that reading and research to stay educated maintaining recovery is vital.

It is also the same for family and loved ones of the addict to have places they can get help and suggested information on how to safeguard themselves while looking for help for their loved one or friend. This article does just that. So I hope everyone gives it read and it helps others and written by Sydney Smith LPC, LADC, NCGC-II for Addiction Blog. org

 


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A Gambling Problem Can Be Difficult To Detect

Problem Gambling can be hidden for a long time which often makes it very difficult to detect. By the time the problem surfaces and the family finds out, the devastation and wreckage can be tremendous. Family members tend to know that something is wrong with their loved one but due to gambling addiction’s invisible nature, especially in the early stages of the disease, it can be extremely hard to identify.

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of, and ways to identify if your loved one has a gambling problem. Then, we’ll invite your questions about how to get help at the end.

Determining If There Is A Gambling Problem

As a family member, we may or may not know the extent of the gambling problem or how long gambling has been an issue for our loved one. We may know about the gambling, but still, have much uncertainty as to whether there is a gambling problem. So if you are asking yourself,  “How do I know if my loved one is a problem gambler?”

…the following are questions and information that may help determine if there is a gambling problem.

SIGN 1: Time away. If I know the person is gambling, the amount of time spent gambling or engaged in gambling activities increases. The gambler can be gone for long unaccounted for periods of time.

When the gambler in my life gambled, he often gambled while he was at work. So, in the early stages, I did not know how much time he actually spent gambling. As his gambling worsened, he would not come home from work and would disappear for 24 hours at a time.

SIGN 2: Obsession to find money. Is the gambler becoming preoccupied or obsessed with obtaining money to gamble or thoughts of gambling? The great obsession can be on coming up with ways to borrow money, taking out loans, pawning items for cash, or planning their next bet.

Living with a gambler in the past, I would frequently have jewelry missing or items of value just disappear. Later I would learn that my gambler would pawn these items to obtain gambling money or to chase his losses. Later in the progression of the disease, the gambler may be physically present but not there, as the mind is preoccupied with gambling.

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SIGN 3: Emotional volatility. Does the gambler have moods swings or gambles as a means to cope or change feelings? A gambler deep into his addiction can exhibit mood swings similar to those of a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The extreme up and down in moods can be hard on both the gambler and the family members. The “up” moods can follow a win, and the gambler may even brag about the winnings. The “down” mood can be very depressive and the gambler may experience anxious or depressed mood, anger, and become irritable.

Gambling is used to change the way the person is feeling and the family members may hear the gambler make statements such as, “I had a stressful day at work and I just need to go gamble to unwind.”

SIGN 4: New Secrets. Are there secretive behaviors or hiding? Is the gambler becoming very secretive in his actions and with his money? Hiding of gambling wins or losses, hiding lottery tickets, tax documents, etc. becomes common.

In my therapy practice, I often hear the spouses say, “I found payday loan papers, or while cleaning, I found ATM receipts from the casino.”. The family may begin to lose trust in the gambler as the hiding, concealing, and lying about gambling grows.

20 Questions Family or Spouse To Ask Yourself

 

These are a few of the more noticeable warning signs one may experience with the gambler. In addition, Gam-Anon created a simple list of 20 questions for family members to ask themselves.

Family members of problem gamblers will answer “YES” to at least seven of the twenty questions.

  1. Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
  2. Is the person in question often away from home for long unexplained periods of time?
  3. Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  4. Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
  5. Does this person promise that he or she will stop gambling, yet gambles again and again?
  6. Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended?
  7. Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?
  8. Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?
  9. Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
  10. Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling?
  11. Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses?
  12. Do you search this person’s clothing, go through his or her wallet, or check on his or her activities?
  13. Do you hide his or her money?
  14. Have you noticed personality changes in him or her?
  15. Does this person consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?
  16. Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibility for his or her gambling onto you?
  17. Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods to try to control his or her life?
  18. Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling sometimes to the point of self-destruction?
  19. Have you ever threatened to break up the family because of the gambling?
  20. Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

What Can You Do Next?

This list can be found on the Gam-Anon website or in Gam-Anon published literature. If you can identify with any of the information listed above:

  • Continue to educate yourself about gambling addiction through resources and literature.
  • Reach out to a trained professional.
  • Attend a Gam-Anon or any 12-step support meeting for friends and family of addicts.

If we believe our loved one has a gambling addiction, it is OK to encourage them to seek help, however, it is vitally important for us as family members to seek out our own help.  We are not alone, there is hope, and life can get better. 

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I’d like to add that the addict does need to make the first step. Yes, it is vital and important that the spouse and family SEE through the anger and disappoint them may feel when first learning they are living with a gambling addict like my husband was. But once you look beyond that, your next step is to reach out for help to first safeguard your finances for you and your family. Gama-anon can help but also look into help from a professional. 

Maybe a financial advisor or a friend. Contact your local health department to see if the State Lottery has funded treatment and help for you and the gambler. My own treatment and my husbands guideness counselor were free and paid for by the Oregon State Lottery, including my crisis center stays and treatment. I do meetings with Gamblers Anonymous online, but there are many options for the addict and the family. And, yes, after everything we went through with my gambling addiction, my husband and I worked through it and are still married today over 28-years. You can read all about HOW in my Memoir…

WE DO AND CAN RECOVER!

Catherine 

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Happy Sober, Clean, Bet Free Holiday Article Share Series. Were Getting Through Holidays Together!

Hello, And Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

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Since this year for me has a been a bit cray – cray with co-writing a memoir with another, also book promoting for authors, advocating and recovery article writing, and guest blogging much more, I decided to do a little something different this year on my recovery blog. Most know I am passionate and adamant about being around through the Christmas and New Year holiday for those who may be struggling, need more support or feel tempted to stray maintaining recovery.

It can be a “risky” and tricky time for holiday parties, booze, desperate gambling due to lack of money for gifts, and party time means more recreational drugs around. Sad, but it is true. So I thought, why not share many Holiday articles with a mix of a few of my own this year and we help one another as a collective!

I have had some awesome guest recovery authors and articles this year and decided to share a few of them, along with some new ones I have permission to share as we all need support from as many people and places as we can get. So I will begin with an article I just read that will help with ideas of staying safe over the holidays on Sober Recovery!

*Three Reasons To Connect With A Recovery Community Through Holiday Time by  Toshia Humphries *

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The holiday season is upon us. Many are traveling to be with family while countless others gather with friends and significant others to celebrate the festive time of year. However, not everyone has a picturesque holiday experience.

The forces that could pull you into relapse tend to get stronger around the end of the year when you’re likely to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and reconvened with people who likely saw you during your addicted past. Now more than ever, it’s important to build up a support network to ensure you stick to your commitment.

Here are three reasons why you need to connect with a recovery community during the holidays.

1. Prevents isolation.

Staying connected to the recovery community can prevent isolation which is typically a precursor to relapse. Isolation can also worsen symptoms of any dual diagnosis such as depression, anxiety, and other mood or personality disorders. All of these can escalate to relapse, accidental overdose or even suicide.

2. Provides a sense of family.

Staying in touch with the recovery community allows for a substitute family experience if family holidays are not possible due to either death, distance, or estranged. And, if the family is an option, the family dynamics make relapse more probably, the recovery community can act as a chosen family; one that is ideally far more supportive and less dysfunctional.

The recovery community is also equally as necessary for those who have families and enjoy being around them. In fact, possibly more so, as it is easy for those individuals to forget they need the recovery community or recovery itself. Often, these individuals begin to think that sobriety alone is enough—it’s not.

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3. Keeps you active in recovery during the holidays.

Staying connected to the recovery community keeps you active in your recovery throughout the holiday season. It provides consistency and gentle reminders that relapse has nothing to do with having a dysfunctional family. It has to do with you. And, if you were an active addict with a picturesque family, then you could easily be in relapse with the same.

The key to getting through the holiday season is not to lose sight of your recovery. Staying connected to your recovery community keeps you plugged into that recovery process, keeps you accountable and allows you to do the same for others. Most importantly, it serves as prevention against relapse and provides everyone with a sense of family, even if they don’t have one of their own.

For these reasons and more, staying connected to the recovery community throughout the holidays is a life-saving choice for everyone. Wishing you all a happy and safe recovery throughout the holiday season!

~ Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~

 

 

 

“It Seems Someone Knows Someone Who Knows Someone With A Gambling Addiction.” Guest Author, Chris Davis Shares…

“It Seems Someone Knows Someone Who Knows Someone With A Gambling Addiction.” Guest Author, Chris Davis Shares…

Hello and Welcome Recovery Friends and New Visitors,

As many of my recovery friends know I advocate in places throughout social media and here on my site to raise awareness, inform, and try to educate the public about the dangers of problem or addicted uncontrolled gambling.  I meet many people who become friends who are maintaining recovery as I am from this disease. My friend on FB, Chris had made a post that I wanted to re-share as it shows most people we come in contact with seems to know someone or a relative with a problem with gambling.

I also wanted to congratulate Chris as he just moved from Kansas here to Prescott, AZ as he has a new job here. He is working for treatment facility who cares and helps those looking to recover from gambling addiction called; Algamus Gambling Recovery Services running house services.  He himself has been in recovery from this illness and now can help others. You can connect with Chris on Facebook! 

 

” I found recovery from gambling on 8/15/13
September is Recovery Month. I’m posting this in hopes that those of you who need help from gambling and want recovery, this shows it’s possible!”  ~Chris Davis

 

Today is one of my days off, so I wanted to go open a local checking account here in Arizona. While opening it the lady banker and I were just having a good conversation. She asked what got me to leave Kansas to come to Arizona. I told her I came for a job. She asked me what my job is. I told her I am a house manager at an inpatient gambling treatment center. We talked about many things during the 45 minutes of opening an account. I told her I felt this is where God had called me to be at this time. We kept talking and she said that there are probably a lot of people out there that have a gambling problem. I said; ” I feel it is very under-reported because many hide it so well or are in denial they have a problem.

Eventually, she shared with me that her family lost track of her uncle for a few years and when they finally found him he was living on the streets. I think she said he had blown thru all of his retirement money by losing it at the casinos around Arizona. This is why I speak openly about my recovery from gambling because the issue of problem gambling doesn’t get talked about enough. I do support advocacy for drugs and alcohol as well because they affect so many too. Most the publicity or articles I see about gambling is either promoting it or something like the article I saw online the other day about a teacher in Michigan was found that she had stolen from the school’s homecoming fund and another camp fund.

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She had taken about $50,000 from the funds and was found she had lost $90,000 on slots in 2016. When I first realized I had a problem with gambling I didn’t know where to get help. So, if you are reading this, then you don’t have that excuse of not knowing where to turn for help. Some need inpatient treatment but are unwilling to take a month or two to get the help they require. I work at an inpatient gambling treatment center now so I can connect you if you are ready to stop gambling and get better. Contact me on my Facebook page that is listed above. I also can help you get you to some inpatient drug and alcohol treatment as well.

Why wait until it gets worse before you get the help you need? It WILL get worse. There IS HOPE, but you have to be willing to want it.

~Chris Davis Recovering Gambler

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About Algamus:

Algamus provides compassionate, professional and comprehensive counseling and gambling-specific residential treatment in the mountainous setting of Prescott, AZ. Designed to further educate and support the compulsive gambler in their search for abstinence and recovery, we pride ourselves on offering the best services available. Our facility offers the most effective treatment modalities and methods to assist the problem gambler in discovering freedom and balance.

JCAHO Accredited  Algamus, founded in 1992, is the oldest privately-funded gambling-specific residential treatment facility in the United States. We are the only Joint Commission (JCAHO) approved gambling program in the US. We’ve operated facilities in Florida, South Carolina, and even Quebec.

With only 14 beds, our program puts the individual first. Our nearly one-to-one ratio of staff to patients ensure that we meet each patient where they are in their recovery journey.  

We serve men and women from all walks of life and all types of gambling addiction: sports, poker, table games, slot machines, and more. We help our patients begin a new life that is no longer gripped by gambling. Since we focus only on gambling addiction, we understand the unique experience of our patients financial and legal woes better than other rehab programs focusing on drugs and alcohol.

We work with most commercial insurance providers and depending on your insurance partner and your plan, your problem gambling treatment program may be covered by insurance Call Today: 1-888-527-2098

Benn Featured On

Gambling Intervention

Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Rebuilding Family Relationships in Recovery
By Christine Hill

Addiction recovery can be a trying experience that will test a person’s willpower, but it it is also an incredibly fulfilling experience that builds us up as people. During addiction, many people have lost so much, whether it be their jobs, children, or family. Addiction thrives on the alienation that is created when these ties are severed. An important part of addiction recovery is rebuilding these bridges and regaining the connectedness that makes us whole. However, this isn’t always easy. Addiction frequently leads people to do things that hurt the people they love, and this can make it a tricky experience to build these relationships back up. However, it is certainly possible if you take the lessons of recovery seriously. Here are some tips on how to rebuild family relationships in recovery…

 

Ask for forgiveness and Amends

 

Addiction is a behavioral disease that operates by cutting you off from those who care about you. This alienation is what has allowed addiction to thrive and claim the lives of so many people in this generation. However, while addiction is a behavioral disease that is often out of an addict’s control, the actions that they take because of that addiction still hurt and affect their family, and this isn’t something that can just be simply forgotten. Just because an addict is in recovery and doing well, it doesn’t always mitigate what has happened. Always ask for forgiveness with the utmost sincerity, but don’t assume that they will always offer it, immediately.

 

Demonstrate real change
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Usually, addiction is a disease that operates in cycles. Before getting a professionals help that can assist in reaching lasting recovery, many addicts have tried to get better on their own to no avail. During this time, family members may have felt hurt by the constant push and pull of actions that were taken and promises that were broken. Because of this, it’s important to show how this time is different. Before worrying too much about repairing these relationships, focus on rebuilding yourself and making the changes that you need to make, so that you can demonstrate that this change is real and lasting.

 

Take family therapy

 

Most addiction treatment centers have a family therapy program. This is usually one of the most powerful programs that rehabs and treatment providers have to offer. Being able to speak honestly and openly with your family members, and have them speak openly and honestly to you in a setting that is devoid of judgment and mediated by a trained counselor, enables the possibility of communication that might have otherwise never happened. Talk to your family about joining you in the family therapy program, and make the most of the experiences that you have there. Here is an informative article about what to expect from family therapy.

 

Understand if they need time

 

People get hurt in the throes of addiction. That is the nature of how it operates. Pain and harm are the defaults that addiction goes back to. Because of this, some family members may need time to get over what has happened. This isn’t because they don’t love you, but because they need to protect themselves against the possibility of another heartbreak. Understand that this time is important, and focus on doing right by you. Eventually, this bridge will mend itself, and you may find that the relationship can grow even stronger than it once was.

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Listen and show empathy

 

When communicating with your family members, always take the time to listen to how they feel. Trying to get out from under the hold of addiction is a confusing experience, but they are also dealing with a great deal of confusion. Sometimes, families blame themselves for another family member getting caught up in addiction. Allow them to work through these feelings. It is unproductive to only talk about yourself and your feelings without taking the time to understand how your actions have affected them. This may hurt and be a difficult process, but it is an important one, nonetheless. Family therapy is a great setting to explore this process, but it’s important to keep it up in all your interactions.

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About The Author:

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.