“Find Your Own Path To Recovery” ~ By Mike of ‘OWN SOBRIETY’ Who Is My Special Recovery Guest …

“Find Your Own Path To Recovery” ~ By Mike of ‘OWN SOBRIETY’ Who Is My Special Recovery Guest …

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As I was deep within my gambling addiction 12+years ago, toward the end and 9 months before I entered treatment, I began to abuse alcohol as obviously my gambling addiction wasn’t “doing it” for me any longer. Not only did that make me more Stupid with Money and gambling but it made me spin more and more out of control and toward my first and not the last suicide attempt.

It is why I have educated myself about many addictions and not just advocate gambling addiction recovery. We know it is not about the “preferred addiction” that is the problem when we become addicts of any kind, it’s about how to interrupt the “cycle” and the poor habits and behaviors of any addiction, including gambling and alcohol.

Once you lose the “control” over any addiction, you are too far gone as an ADDICT.  More importantly, when you are ready to enter and maintain long-term recovery and reclaim your life back, as Mike shares in this guest article and to “Find Your Own Path To Recovery!”

Make sure you visit Mike and check out his website for more personal and informative articles and posts and his amazing “SOBER FRIENDS CLUB.”

~Advocate, Catherine Lyon

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When you first enter into recovery from substance abuse or addictive behavior, everyone will tell you how you should do it.  In the beginning, you should listen to them.  Do anything other than what you were doing in active addiction.  But, as time rolls on, you need to find your own path in recovery.  Through self-evaluation, research, and trial, you can find a path that is suitable for you.

Early in your recovery, I believe that it is important to listen to the advice of others who have been in your shoes or who are professionals in the field.  I started my most recent, and hopefully last journey to recovery in a medical detox facility.  I ended up being in there for eight days and it was during that time that I promised myself that I would do anything and everything that I could do to make this time work.  That meant listening to everything that I was told to do and taking advantage of every resource provided to me.

I literally made recovery my full-time job.  I wasn’t working at the time, I was too sick, and I wasn’t tied down in a relationship.  I had a place to stay at my parent’s house and took full advantage of the opportunity to just get better.  I’m a pretty energetic and self-motivated person so I put that strength to work for me in fully immersing myself in my recovery.  I knew a couple of things from my past attempts at recovery – that I could put together a few months of recovery and that I couldn’t do it by myself.  What that meant to me at the time was that I needed to go to AA meetings, which I didn’t like but was willing to do.  Through self-evaluation, research of my own, and trial, I eventually found what is now my own personal path.

The key here is that I did what I was told while doing my own evaluation and research at the same time.  The treatment center that I detoxed at offered me an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and recommended that I see a therapist along with going to AA or Celebrate Recovery meetings.  So, I took advantage of the IOP program and made an appointment with a therapist.  I completed the seven-week, 21 session IOP in conjunction with going to AA meetings and therapy.

During this time, I took it upon myself to begin researching addiction and the different treatment options available.  I searched the internet and connected with online support groups.  I found the book This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and read it in its entirety.  I discovered a support group that I had never heard of before called SMART Recovery which used self-empowering tools based in REBT and CBT therapies.  This jived with what I called “the intellectual approach” to recovery that is outlined in This Naked Mind and complemented what I was learning from my therapist.  I soon realized that there wasn’t a single path to recovery and that I could do what worked best for me as long as I was willing to put in the work and was honest with myself.

Self-evaluation is the hard part of this process. 
In early recovery, most of us aren’t equipped to be completely honest with ourselves and to look at ourselves objectively.  It took time in counseling to start trusting myself and having the confidence to say, “This isn’t going to work for me long-term.”  I knew that being required to go to AA meetings on a regular basis to stay sober wasn’t going to work for me.  The biggest motivator for my recovery was to address my anxiety and tremors that had become so severe that I could barely accomplish basic tasks like cooking or going out in public.  I am very introverted and the thought of having to go too rigid meetings was a big obstacle for me.

When I attended AA meetings at the beginning of my recovery, I would go with others I had met in detox and IOP and was mostly quiet.  The ability to do SMART Recovery meetings online and the less rigid structure and feel of the meetings were a game-changer for me.  When I read This Naked Mind, it spoke to me on every level.  I knew there was something to this self-empowering approach to recovery that I could get behind and eventually, with the help of my therapist, had the courage to stand up and say I’m going to do my recovery differently.  I know how I am and what is going to work best for me.  It took a little time to get there and figure it all out, but by staying true to myself I gave myself a chance at a happy, healthy, long-term recovery.

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Maybe AA is the path for you. 

Maybe you just want to add a little variety to your recovery.  Whatever the case, find where you stand and what you know you will actually do.  If you have a problem with a part of recovery, tell someone.  If you know what you are doing isn’t going to work, find a different way.  Just because it isn’t the popular method doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you.  Take it upon yourself to discover yourself.  Hit the internet and start finding out what other paths are available and what others are doing.

” Read books.  Ask questions.  Make connections.  Be curious.” 

Get excited about the opportunity to find yourself and improve yourself that recovery provides.  If it is boring or counter-intuitive to you, it probably won’t work long-term.  Get your legs under yourself a bit and then have the courage to do what is best for you.  You will find that there are tons of ways to practice recovery.  There are a lot of programs and paths out there.  Google things, ask questions in online groups, go to the bookstore.  Gain knowledge and find your own beliefs.  It’s 2019, we have minds of our own and a plethora of ways to find information and do research.  Take advantage of it.

Finally, try different things.  Go to a SMART Recovery meeting or a Refuge Recovery meeting.  Try therapists and see if you click with one.  If your treatment center offers programs, try them.  Keep trying new things to find what works for you and what doesn’t.  Eliminate excuses.  Keep a hold on the things that do work and let go of the rest.  It is your recovery and your life, you are entitled to think for yourself and be a bit selfish.  I promote mostly non-12-step approaches, but I did try them.  I have attended AA, NA, and 90 meetings in 90 days.  I have read a lot of the Big Book.  I have lived in a halfway house.  I have had a sponsor.  Those things weren’t comfortable for me so I kept on searching and trying other things.

The trial part of this process was the fun part for me.  I get excited about finding myself and improving myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always feel motivated to act but I do force myself to try.  If you take nothing else away from my message, just take the excitement of the journey.  Do you want a better life?  Do you want to achieve your goals and dreams?  Recovery enables you to accomplish all of that.  Find what gets you excited and pursue that relentlessly.  It all starts with getting yourself healthy and living a better life conducive to your goals.

Recovery is a vital part of achieving what you want to do.  If you can’t get excited about recovery on its own, then view it as a part of the larger goal you want to achieve.  Without recovery from your substance abuse or addictive behavior, do you have a shot at achieving that dream?  Incorporate your recovery into your excitement for achieving something bigger.
Have you found your own path to recovery?  What has worked for you and what hasn’t in your recovery?  What methods do you use?  Comment below or send me a message via social media to let me know how you are owning sobriety.  And as always, please like, comment, and share if you find this post useful or relevant to you.  I always appreciate your support Cat!

Love Y’all,
~Mike

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About OWN Sobriety and MIKE

OWN Sobriety is a blog and resource site, launched in August 2018, that is dedicated to a modern and holistic approach to recovery from addiction.  OWN Sobriety promotes understanding and exploration of ALL recovery programs.  It’s about finding the tools that work for each individual and making your recovery your own.

“Hi, I’m Mike.  A 35-year-old guy from someplace in a weirdly shaped state (it’s Indiana).  I used to drink lots of alcohol and pop benzos to deal with life.  Then, it became a problem.  So, I did it for a few more years just to be sure it was, in fact, a problem.   Now, I don’t.  This site is my platform for sharing my story, my journey, my thoughts and whatever other little quirks that spill out along the way.”

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OWN Sobriety

 

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

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

WELCOME, ALL Recovery Friends and New One Visitors!

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

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

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

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

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

~Catherine

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

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

Dear Alcoholics Anonymous,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your face lit up. “You got it!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Problem Gambling? My Friends of Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Explains and NCADD Shares April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

What is Problem Gambling? My Friends of Nevada Council on Problem Gambling Explains and NCADD Shares April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

Now that March was yesterday ending “Problem Gambling Awareness Month and the beginning of April which is Alcohol Awareness Month. I thought I would share two informative articles that share what some of the warning signs of Alcoholism and Problem Gambling are. I help advocate both because toward the end of my addiction to gambling, I began to abuse alcohol as gambling just wasn’t working as my ‘escapism’ and using to cope with life and old past pain from my childhood.

Those of us that end up becoming addicted to something usually have roots and underlying issues as to “WHY” we began using that has still hurtful and unprocessed like my own childhood trauma and sexual abuse. Not always from a negative problem that we may turn to addictions.

It could be from overindulged or wealth and a child growing up with no parental mentoring or guidance and feel entitled. Either way, gambling, alcohol or even drugs that may have been recreational can become an addiction for many, many reasons.

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When the Fun Stops – By Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

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Just as some people can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is possible for a person to become obsessed with an uncontrollable urge to gamble. For the problem gambler, making a bet is not just about having fun or winning money. Gambling becomes an emotional response to change the way they feel. 

 

Some problem gamblers may gamble to relieve boredom or avoid feelings of anxiousness or stress. Others may gamble to ‘numb out’ when feeling helpless, guilty, or depressed. As they continue to gamble, they become more and more emotionally and mentally dependent on gambling, with less and less control.

The impact of this addiction is much greater than the obvious financial losses that can result from repeated gambling. The long-term result is a steady deterioration of the mental and physical health of both the gambler and their family.

Surprisingly, problem gamblers are often the last ones to realize what is happening to them in spite of mounting negative consequences and increasing emotional impact. They may attribute their difficulties to a mere financial problem or believe they are just not being ‘smart’ enough when they gamble. The fantasy that one more big win will solve the financial problems and return everything to normal drives them on to gamble even harder.

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KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS

 

Most people who gamble do so with no harmful effects. They set limits and stick to them. However, for a small percentage of the population, gambling can become more than a game, and lead to serious consequences for both the gambler and their family.

Here are some of the warning signs:

For the Gambler:

  • Gambling to escape worry or trouble
  • Gambling to get money to solve financial difficulties
  • Unable to stop playing regardless of winning or losing
  • Gambling until the last dollar is gone
  • Losing time from work due to gambling
  • Borrowing money to pay gambling debts
  • Neglecting family because of gambling
  • Lying about time and money spent gambling

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For the Family:

 

  • Unexplained financial problems
  • Reduced involvement in social/group activities outside the home
  • Emotional distress, anger, depression
  • Lack of communication among family members
  • Items of value lost or missing
  • Family members working overtime or taking a second job to make ends meet
  • One member (gambler) noticeably absent from or disinterested in normal family activities

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If your gambling is no longer fun, don’t wait for the problem to get worse… Get Help Now or call the 24-hour Problem Gamblers Helpline.

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Facts About Alcohol

  • 2.8 million worldwide deaths caused by alcohol annually.
  • 3rd Alcohol addiction is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.
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  • 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use in the U.S., while 40% of all hospital beds in the United States are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption.

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Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States – By NCADD.

17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence.

Alcohol addiction can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications. It also damages a person’s emotional and mental health, financial stability, career, family, friends, and community. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.

17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence along with several million more who engage in risky binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance and can cause severe health consequences, even if it’s only used for a short period of time. In the United States, many people begin using alcohol at a very young age. 66.6 million people from age 12 to 17 report binge drinking. That’s 1 in 4 young people, many of whom also report using other substances or trying other high-risk behaviors.

Engaging in binge drinking can lead to problems with alcohol. The problem can be exacerbated by a home environment where heavy drinking or alcohol use is considered “normal.” A family history of alcohol problems is the single major factor that can predict alcohol addiction, which is one type of substance use disorder. More than half of all adults have a family history of alcohol addiction or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has severely misused alcohol.

Alcohol use disorder can develop in anyone who is predisposed to it. The condition cannot be predicted by what kind of alcohol the person drinks, how long they have been drinking, or even how much they drink. However, early alcohol use, binge drinking, and a family history of problems with alcohol are all linked to future health issues.

Cutting back on drinking, eliminating alcohol completely, and avoiding any form of alcohol are all ways to reduce health risks. Substance use disorder affects the person who drinks: it also affects the entire social system around them, from their co-workers to their children. A healthier individual helps create a healthier family, community, and country.

Alcohol addiction and alcohol misuse can affect all aspects of a person’s life.  Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, can damage emotional stability, finances, career, and impact one’s family, friends, and community.

Over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments, and social problems, including but not limited to:

  • Dementia, stroke, and neuropathy
  • Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide
  • Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, violence including child maltreatment, fights, and homicide.
  • Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
  • Increased risk for many kinds of cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and esophagus
  • Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
  • Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis
    Alcohol addiction

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If you are questioning your alcohol use – take our self-quiz and see where alcohol might be a problem for you. Or learn more about drugs.

 

Facing Addiction with NCADD), Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcohol addiction by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcohol addiction, and recovery. Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use!

Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery.  It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.

With this year’s theme — “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” — the month of April will be filled with local, state, and national events aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcohol addiction, particularly among our youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives. Local Facing Addiction with NCADD Affiliates as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations will sponsor a host of activities that create awareness and encourage individuals and families to get help for alcohol-related problems.

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I will be advocating out loud on April 10th, 2019 at 4 PM at The Phoenix, AZ State Capitol Event for and supporting BIG JIM’S WALK FOUNDATION AND His Biking Around America 4 Addiction Awareness along with many other recovery friends!

It will be in the Capitol Lawn and Rose Garden area with many Special Guest Speakers. So come out and Rally for Addiction Awareness in Phoenix!

~Catherine Lyon, Author/Advocate

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