Firsthand Addiction: What Withdrawal is Really Like

Written By: Fiona Stockard

Firsthand Addiction: What Withdrawal is Really Like

Today, we’re going to explore what withdrawal is really like. You won’t find any catchy medical lingo or D.A.R.E. warnings here. This is one addict sharing her experience, strength, and hope!

opiate withdrawal

My (Many) Withdrawals

It’s no secret I’m a junkie. I don’t hide that part of my life at all. In fact, I wear it as a badge of honor. I survived my addiction and you can survive yours!

Today, I’m a sober junkie, an addict helped by good people, and the grace of God. That wasn’t always the case. For quite a few years, I was the most un-sober junkie around! During this period (I like to call it my blue period, after that J.D. Salinger story), I detoxed more times than I can count.

I went through hell each and every time I was dope sick. Ever detoxed? Well, let me tell you, it sucks! Ever wondered why junkies get crazy when they can’t get high? It isn’t just ‘cause we love drugs (though we certainly do). Junkies get crazy ‘cause they know how hellish withdrawal is.

Now, I’ve heard kicking benzo’s and alcohol are worse, but I don’t have personal experience with those. Yeah, I took a ton of benzo’s, but I was never physically dependent. I drank like a fish, but I never got the shakes if I stopped. If I didn’t do heroin for a few hours though, all bets were off. I was a mess, in literally every sense of the word.

The first symptom to hit me during detox was a runny nose. Pretty innocent, right? Not when you’re leaking buckets of snot and sneezing every ten seconds. Once that started, I knew the reallybad stuff wasn’t far off.

I’d start getting cramps all over my body. My legs, arms, stomach, neck, hands, feet…you name it. My muscles tightened and wouldn’t unclench. Think the worst Charlie-horse imaginable. No amount of hot water or massaging helped.

Then, I’d start vomiting. Like projectile vomiting. Everywhere. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Along with this uncontrollable vomiting, I’d get uncontrollable diarrhea. Look, I know, no one wants to talk diarrhea. It’s a very real part of being dope sick though.

Finally, I’d be weak and shaky all over. You know when you haven’t eaten for like ten hours and your body feels like it’s going to collapse? Yeah, I’d feel like that nonstop.

Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal

In addition to my very scientific description, find some signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal below.

• Extreme Anxiety
• Nausea & Vomiting
• Hot and Cold Sweats
• Shaking All Over
• Feeling Weak All Over
• Muscle Aching & Cramping
• Running Nose & Uncontrollable Sneezing
• Diarrhea
• Restless Leg Syndrome (oh boy does this suck!)
• Extreme Irritability

Everyone’s body is different. So, some people may experience different withdrawal effects. This one girl I got high with, when she started to kick opiates, she just spelt for days. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have minded being her!

I’m Going Through Withdrawal and It Sucks: Tips and Tricks For an Easier Withdrawal

This is the part everyone wants to know. How can I make my withdrawal easier? Well, the simple answer is that detoxing from anything sucks. There are some junkie life hacks that help though!

Go to Detox

There are tons of drug and alcohol detoxes out there. Most will taper you off with (relatively) safe medicine. The downside of going to detox is the cost. They’re expensive, with some charging upwards of $2000 a day!

Don’t Use Prescription Drugs

Many prescription drugs help with withdrawal, but don’t use them! Not only are you substituting one addiction for another, but I know I got my prescriptions from street pharmacists. The point of detoxing is to try and change your life. My life didn’t begin to change until I stopped buying pills from sketchy f**kers!

Use OTC Medicines

There are a ton of OTC medicines that help with being dope sick. These include: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen (for the aches and pains), Benadryl (for the runny nose and to maybe get some sleep), and Immodium AD (for the diarrhea).

Vitamins are Your Friends

Most vitamins help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. Think about it like this – the more good stuff you put into your body, the better you’ll feel. Particularly useful during withdrawal are: B-complex vitamins, mega-doses of vitamins C and D, and fish oil capsules. None of these are magic bullets, but they’ll help.

Eat Bananas

Restless Leg Syndrome is caused by a deficiency of potassium. While you could simply take potassium vitamins, eating food also helps ease withdrawal symptoms. So, combine eating food with taking potassium, and you get eating bananas! They’ll make you feel better, trust me.

Force Yourself to Eat

Like I said above, eating helps. Withdrawal takes a lot out of your body. If you’re not putting anything back in it, you’re going to feel even worse! Eating while detoxing sucks and yeah, you’re going to puke most of it up. Whatever you keep down though helps a lot though.

Reach Out

No one wants to be around people when they’re detoxing. Hell, it’s hard enough to make it to the couch! Have supports in place though. Sometimes just talking helps. If you want to reach out to us – shoot an email to info@sobrietyforwomen.com or talk to us on Facebook.

Firsthand Addiction: What ODing is Really Like

Written By: Fiona Stockard

Firsthand Addiction: What ODing is Really Like

Welcome to Sobriety For Women’s newest column, Firsthand Addiction!

In our first article, we explore what overdosing is really like. None of that after-school special s**t, just one addict’s experience. Enjoy!

overdose

My Overdose

The year was 2006 and I was in BAD shape. I was strung out on opiates, heroin mainly, and taking handfuls of Xanax for breakfast. Of course, like most addicts, I was sure this was just a phase and eventually I’d be fine. Then I ODed.

I remember taking about ten footballs (one milligram Xanax pills) and walking into a gas station. I remember seeing a cop. He probably should have scared me off, but I was pretty hardheaded. Plus, I was dope sick and we all know how that goes.

I bee-lined straight to the bathroom and cooked up some heroin. I remember throwing an extra bag in my cooker and thinking, “I’m going to get HIGH right now.”

The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital. If you’ve never woken up with tubes down your nose and throat, let me tell you, it’s not fun. Apparently, I had ODed.

According to the police report, I stumbled out of the bathroom and right into that cop. He searched me and found heroin and Xanax. As he was cuffing me, I passed out and couldn’t be woken up. He decided a hospital was better than jail. Thanks Mr. Policeman, you saved my life.

The scary part of this whole experience was that I don’t remember ODing. I remember cooking the dope and that’s it. If I were alone, I probably wouldn’t be here today.

Like any addict worth her salt, ODing wasn’t enough to make me stop. It did, however, wake me up to just how bad my addiction was. Not long after, I went to treatment for the first time.

Signs and Symptoms of Overdose

General signs and symptoms of a heroin overdose include:

• Having a hard time breathing
• Having a weak heartbeat
• Tightness in muscles
• Twitching of muscles
• Face, mouth, and fingernails turning blue
• Extreme nodding off (falling asleep for short periods of time)

How to Avoid ODing

It’s a bit harder to talk about how to avoid ODing than it is to list signs and symptoms of an overdose. However, here are some common sense tips to help avoid an overdose.

Don’t Use Heroin

Duh! If you don’t use heroin, you’re not going to overdose! For many addicts though, this advice is pretty impractical.

Use With Other People

If it hadn’t been for that cop, I probably would have died. Make sure to use with other people.

I know, I know, this sucks. You have to share drugs and other people are annoying. Still, it beats dying.

Don’t Use Too Much

Again, this is kind of an obvious tip. If you don’t use too much heroin, you won’t OD, simple as that.

What I mean is – don’t use too much of a new batch. If you just got a new stamp (heroin package) and don’t know its strength, do half as much as you normally would.

Don’t Inject

It’s harder to OD if you’re not injecting. Yes, it’s still possible to overdose by sniffing or smoking heroin, but it’s MUCH more rare.

Don’t Mix Heroin and Other Drugs

If I hadn’t mixed heroin and Xanax, I probably wouldn’t have ODed.

I know mixing opiates and benzo’s feels good. I know mixing opiates and coke feels good. I know mixing opiates and anything feels good, but trust me, just say no!

I ODed, What Now?

There are a lot of myths about what to do when someone OD’s. Most of these are just myths though!

Don’t put the ODing person in the shower, don’t inject them with anything, don’t make them puke, don’t make them eat or drink, and definitely don’t let them sleep it off.

If someone around you is ODing, you do two things. First, and most importantly, call 911.

I don’t care if you still have drugs, or if you don’t like cops. Save someone’s life. Don’t be an assh**e.

Second, slap them in the face. This is more for fun than anything else, but hey, it just might help.

Faith Facts Friday with Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Basic Text Broken Down – Part Two

Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other recover from drug and alcohol addiction. It was founded in July of 1953, just celebrated its sixty-first anniversary, and boasts over 60,000 meetings worldwide.

NA’s central literature is the Basic Text. With a sponsor, the Basic Text, and a workbook, NA members work the twelve steps. Through working these steps, NA members learn that “Just for today, you never have to use again!” (xxiii)

Today, we’re going to examine Chapter Two of the Basic Text, “What is The Narcotics Anonymous Program?” This chapter breaks down exactly what NA is and, more importantly, what NA isn’t.

NA Basic Text

The chapter opens with italicized text, which is read at the start of most NA meetings. In this text, it states, “This is a program of abstinence from all drugs” (9).

Many addicts, upon deciding to get clean, think they can still drink alcohol. This isn’t the case at all. In order to recover from addiction, we must abstain from all drugs, even alcohol. That’s right, folks, booze is a drug!

One of the things that kept me away from twelve-step programs for such a long time was my idea that they were these complicated, impractical, old-timey groups. Turns out I was wrong. NA declares, “Our program is a set of principals written so simply that we can follow them in our daily lives” (9).

Okay, I could wrap my head around a simple set of principals. Once I learned they were about god though, I again got skittish. “Maybe I don’t really need help,” I thought, while nodding off. Of course I needed help! I was just scared.

Fear not, NA addresses this reservation as well. “Though the principals of the Twelve Steps may seem strange to us at first, the most important thing about them is that they work” (12).

Well, I couldn’t deny my way of living was pretty crappy. Happy and well-adjusted people don’t normally end up homeless! If NA claimed to have a better way, and thousands of addicts in meetings backed this claim up, I was willing to give it a try.

The chapter goes on to lay out exactly what NA isn’t interested in hearing you share in meetings. “We are not interested in what or how much you used or who your connections were, what you have done in the past, how much of how little you have, but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help” (9).

You mean I can go to meetings and not have to worry about hearing a thousand war stories? My experience was that meetings were a place to talk about how much dope I did and how crappy my life is now. When I read this shouldn’t be, and wasn’t always, the case, I got a glimmer of hope.

So, if meeting aren’t for groaning and moaning about living a clean life, what are they for? This chapter says, “Our primary purpose is to stay clean and to carry the message to the addict who still suffers” (10).

This made a lot of sense to me. My primary purpose in life was now to stay clean. Hell, staying clean was already my main goal! How do I manage to stay clean? By passing this message of recovery to still suffering addicts.

There’s an important distinction to be made here. The recovering addict’s primary purpose is to carry the message, not offer therapy, money, or anything else. NA makes this abundantly clear by stating, “NA does not provide counseling or social services” (11).

This is important. NA isn’t a treatment center. They’re not a therapy group. They’re not a place to get advice on your marriage. Narcotics Anonymous is a twelve-step fellowship, devoted to helping addicts recover from a seemingly hopeless condition.

In fact, the chapter ends by echoing this idea. It reads, “Many books have been written about the nature of addiction. This book concerns itself with the nature of recovery” (12).

Much like AA’s Big Book, the Basic Text isn’t about addiction. Rather, it’s a vehicle to spread the message of Narcotic Anonymous. It’s a vehicle to spread hope to every addict.

Jimmy Fallon is Killing Rob Ford!

Written By: Tim Myers

HEY! JIMMY! LEAVE ROB FORD ALONE!

Okay, Mr. Fallon, let me start by saying I love the crap out of you. You’ve reinvented late night television and brought back meaningful content to network TV. I never miss a show.

In fact, your show is the only program my fiancé and I both like! That’s huge, Jimmy. If I have to watch another episode of HGTV’s Property Brothers, I may donate my TV to one of those starving infomercial kids. I feel like being able to watch Real Housewives would do way more for their self-esteem than my ten cents a day. I hate HGTV Jimmy. Those Property Brothers are as entertaining as dead goldfish wearing stupid ties and stupid tool belts.

Jimmy, the point is, this isn’t an attack on you. We love the crap out of you! We watch your show every night before bed. You’re like my security blanket or my skinny little bedtime story.

But, here’s the thing. You need to leave Rob Ford alone.

I know it seems funny. I know the guy is nuts and it’s easy to make fun of him, but you’re hurting him. Yes, Jimmy, you’re killing Rob Ford.

My Name is Tim and I’m an Attention-holic

I’m a recovering alcoholic, and the only thing I crave more than drugs and alcohol is attention. My six siblings refer to me as the golden child. Not because I’m so star spangled awesome, although I certainly am. Mostly, because when I blow all my money on coke, end up in the hospital, in rehab, or in jail, I get all the attention.

Oh, and when I manage to squeak out something to actually be proud of, I GET ALL THE ATTENTION. If I kick a dog or if I kiss a dog, it’s all about me. This teaches me nothing. This allows me to frolic through life untouched by consequences.

That’s what you’re doing to Rob Ford. The more crack he smokes, the more attention you give him. The more stupid s**t he does, the more you talk about him. The more you talk about him, the more attention he gets, the more attention he gets, the more famous he becomes, the more famous he becomes, the more money he makes. So, guess what Mayor Ford’s going to do when he’s no longer famous or trending on Google… that’s right, smoke more crack.

You’ve taught him that, Jimmy. Our media’s taught him that. We’ve all taught him that. No one knew who Rob Ford was then he smoked crack. Now, AMERICA LOVES HIM.

Rob Ford could be on a poster, promoting crack.

rob ford crack

“Hi, I’m mayor Rob Ford. Do you ever sit around thinking, “man my life sucks!” Have you ever wished for a life of excitement and fame? Do you crave attention and wish that everyone knew your name? Well, if so, you’re not alone! I used to suffer from the same feeling…until I started using this amazing new product called Crack! It’s simple, for just 365 daily installments of $100, you can turn your life upside down. You’ll find yourself on the cover of papers like Busted, Police Beat, Missing Persons, Wanted, Home and Crack-Den, and many more! Who knows, you could end up on an episode of Cops, go viral on YouTube, or end up with nightly segments on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. So, if you’re looking to change your life, try crack, just like I did!”

If you leave him alone, Rob Ford is just a normal sick and suffering addict. If you continue to make jokes about him, he’ll become a rich and famous sick and suffering addict. Crack made him famous, Jimmy. He associates crack with fame. He’s a dog whose mouth salivates when you show him crack.

What’s My Point?

I got sober three and a half years ago, after ten years of trying. Finally, my parents and siblings turned away, and I was motivated to get help. They didn’t help me into rehab and they didn’t come to the hospital. They cut ties and I was forced to help myself. I was forced to find peace inside of myself, not rely on the attention of others. That’s how it works.

Please Jimmy, leave Rob Ford alone. You’re widely known as the nicest man on the planet. You shouldn’t be perpetuating this disease.

Jimmy, if Rob Ford were to die from this disease, you’d feel awful. I don’t want that. Do the right thing. If Rob Ford starts to do well, support him. Bring him on your show. Tell him you’re proud of him. Give him attention for doing the right thing. Make him famous for turning his life around. Make him salivate when he see’s a picture of himself smiling. No one should be famous for smoking crack.

Robin Williams and Depression

Written By: Tim Myers

Robin Williams Committed Suicide, But You Don’t Have To

Robin Williams chose to end his life yesterday. He’s dead and everyone is mourning the loss of one of our greatest actors.

Robin Williams Depression

99.9% of the people posting on Facebook never met Mr. Williams. Think about that for a second. He touched so many lives through his god given talent that millions, who had no relationship with him, are crying.

Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Amy Winehouse all died by accident. None were celebrated in the way Robin Williams is being celebrated. None were loved in the way Robin Williams is loved.

Why?

So, why’d he do it?

Well, I think I know why. See, I’ve wanted to commit suicide quite a few times. I suffer from depression. I’m a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, just like Robin Williams.

There were many times in the past I’ve wanted to kill myself. Not in the seeking attention kind of way. Not in the dramatic kind of way. In the pit of my stomach, calm realization that my pain can be over, I’m going to do this kind of way.

I’ve been there. I was so sick of my failed attempts to get sobriety, so sick of my constant up and downs. I reached a point where I felt doomed to live in a constant state of sadness.

If you’ve never experienced clinical depression, this is what it feels like – you’re trapped in a cement box and no one is around for miles. It’s always dark. All you hear are your own screams and the voice in your head keeps saying “it won’t get better until you die.”

That’s how it feels when the depression takes over. I’m willing to bet that’s what Robin Williams felt like before he committed suicide.

That’s how I felt four years ago, sitting in a red leather chair in Lake Worth, Florida. Tear pouring down my face, a kitchen knife tight in my hand, a note on the table, bottles of vodka across the floor, and the sick thought that my twelve-year-old sister would be better off when I’m dead.

I was never thought I’d wake up, but I did.

Hope

I don’t want to die anymore. Here’s why:

  • I’ve accepted that I suffer from depression.
  • I sought out professional help and continue to see a therapist.
  • I take non-narcotic medication everyday, as prescribed.
  • I regularly attend Twelve-Step meetings.
  • I pray and meditate everyday.

Do I still get sad? You bet your ass I do, but it never gets as bad as it was. It never takes me back to the red leather chair.

I suffer from the disease of addiction and the disease of clinical depression. They’ll kill me if I let them. Through the use of these five crucial things I keep my diseases at bay, in remission, and away from my soul.

I guarantee that for twenty years Robin Williams did these same five things. He was sober and happy. For the last several years, he wasn’t. His diseases convinced him it was time to go.

Robin Williams committed suicide…but I promise you don’t have to.

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Two

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down chapter two, There Is a Solution.

There Is a Solution

The chapter opens by saying, “We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, know thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Bill. Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem” (17).

This is the great promise of AA, a SOLUTION to alcoholism. AA doesn’t claim to keep only certain members sober. They don’t offer single digit recovery statistics. Rather, Alcoholics Anonymous lets people RECOVER from alcoholism.

Recover. As in get better. As in “the problem has been removed” (85). Of course, this only happens after some serious work with a sponsor and god!

The chapter goes on, “But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours” (18).

This is another pillar of AA, the idea that alcoholics can help fellow alcoholics, in ways no one else can. I’ve had a ton of great therapists, but they didn’t get me sober. Hell, they didn’t even help me to cut down.

Once I met this ex-problem drinker, who ended up being my sponsor, I started to change. Of course, I didn’t trust her all at once. She established trust by telling me her crazy experiences. She told me about how badly she wanted to stop drinking and using, but couldn’t. She shared her experiences, emotions, feelings, and thoughts, which were just like mine!

On the next page, it says, “We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs” (19).

I’ll explore this idea in greater detail in later columns. For now though, it’s important to remember that abstinence itself is only a beginning. Recovery is about much more than not drinking. It’s about living a life that benefits other people and society at large. I mean, how selfish and stupid would it be to get sober and still be an asshole!

Next, the chapter lays out some of the different types of drinkers. They propose there are moderate drinkers, hard drinkers, and alcoholics. The moderate drinker is your typical social drinker. They can take or leave booze. The hard drinker suffers consequences from their drinking, but ultimately is able to stop. The alcoholic though, pardon my French, but they’re f**ked. That is, they’re f**ked until they find a solution!

Maybe the solution to alcoholism is will power. Maybe alcoholics just don’t have enough will power. That makes sense, right? Nope. AA says, “ Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink” (24).

Okay, that makes sense. It’s definitely true to my experience. So will power doesn’t work. What about embarrassing and painful memories? What’s that they always say in rehab? Play the tape through? Wait, so that won’t work either?! What if I go to a lot of therapy and counseling? Surely a better understanding of myself will work.

Nope. The chapter goes on to say, “Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time” (26).

Okay, I’m screwed. I can’t use will power and I can’t use therapy. What can I use to get better?

The answer’s simple. Remember when I talked about RECOVERING a little while ago? Well, according to AA, “ There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others” (25).

The process they’re talking about is the twelve-steps. Through working the steps (all of the steps, in the correct order, under the guidance of a sponsor!!), we recover. Simple as that.

Yoga and Eating Disorder Recovery

Written By: Katie Schipper

How Yoga and Eating Disorder Recovery Work Together

Like the many-faceted and complicated make-up of an eating disorder, yoga and eating disorder recovery both function as multi-disciplinary and varied practices. They share variance; eating disorders on one parallel, and yoga perhaps it’s spiritual counter point. Like addiction, eating disorders are hard explain because causation is so varied and can be difficult to treat as recovery lies largely in the individual’s willingness to seek and accept treatment. There is also the necessity of various approaches to treatment – therapy, inpatient hospital stays, ongoing care, the willingness to be honest and persevere; and undoubtedly a spiritual component. That isn’t to say that one needs to find God to heal an eating disorder, but rather that some practice that affirms the value of mind-body-soul health in such a way that ongoing recovery seems meaningful. For someone who has struggled with eating disorders, there is usually a component of exercise abuse – whether that has been over-exercising to burn calories or a fear of physical activity or any variety of related issues, the reintroduction of activity has to be intentional and considerate. Furthermore, a goal beyond weight loss and calorie burning should be present in an exercise routine. Practicing yoga for eating disorders established there goals.

Yoga and eating disorder recovery

Read about the misconceptions of eating disorders

How Yoga Helps the Eating Disorder Recovery Process

Yoga presents itself in such a situation because of its grounding in mind-body connectivity and the variety of practices available. One of the most rewarding outcomes of a yoga practice is the profound sense of relaxation that follows – this ‘letting go’ is a feeling foreign to those struggling with eating disorders. For some, it may be a feeling they’ve had only a handful of times, if ever at all. So on a very basic level yoga re-teaches (or introduces) the participant to the concept of relaxation. And more than any pose or posture, this is achieved through a class-long focus on breathing: inhale-exahle. The postures are secondary, always, to the breath. So what yoga really offers is a mediation in disguise. Utilizing meditation through yoga and eating disorder recovery is often an extremely useful tool for those trying to heal.

Read even more facts about the misconceptions of eating disorders

Getting Grounded With Yoga for Eating Disorders and Recovery

Classes for those in recovery from eating disorders should be thoughtful – for a group that has been conditioned to see the body through a distorted lens and to obsess about appearance, the yoga studio should be traditional in that it does not have mirrors. Many modern studios are wall-to-wall mirrors; this would not be appropriate for yoga  for eating disorders designed to help people recover. Classes should be chosen with the help of a therapist – the idea isn’t to introduce an intense hot yoga practice or a cardio routine but rather to build a practice that fosters relaxation and re-connection to the spirit that have been lost through what is usually a lifetime of dissociation from feelings and sensations.

Yoga is A Valuable Resource for Those in Recovery

Yoga and eating disorder treatment go hand in hand therefore making yoga a very valuable practice and resource for anyone in recovery from an eating disorder. For someone in early recovery from an eating disorder it can be a life-changing tool. For most people it can provide a sense of relief if approached from a traditional stance. It is wise to be aware of the potential for letting yoga become another symptom of an eating disorder and because that potential exists anyone with an eating disorder who is early in recovery should always make sure a therapist or treatment center is involved with starting a practice.

An Open Letter to Dustin Johnson: There’s Hope

Another High Profile Addict

 Dustin Johnson, one of the best golfers playing today, is an addict.

dustin johnson drugs

Now, this may be a strong proclamation, hell it may even sound like libel, but it’s absolutely true. Johnson recently failed a drug screen after testing positive for cocaine. This is Johnson’s third failed drug screen in five years. In 2009, he tested positive for marijuana. In 2012, he tested positive for cocaine.

After this most recent failed drug screen, Johnson’s management company issued a statement that he would be taking a sabbatical from professional golf – “I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced.”

Convinced Yet?

All of this is to say that addiction doesn’t discriminate. It affects those from the bottom of the barrel, right up to those at the very top. You could say it’s an equal opportunities offender.

Now, at this point, you still might not be convinced that Johnson is an addict. He’s a careless, professional athlete, you may be thinking. He screwed up a couple times, but who hasn’t, you may be saying. Let’s take a minute to define addiction, and look at how it commonly manifests.

What is Addiction? How Does it Manifest?

Addiction is defined as a chronic, progressive illness, characterized by an individual’s repeated use of a substance, despite negative consequences.

Okay, so addiction is chronic, or long-term. Three failed drug tests in five years sounds chronic to me. While he hasn’t been shot-gunning beers and doing blow for decades, five years of drug abuse is long enough to do major damage to one’s body, family, reputation, etc.

Addiction is progressive. This means that as time passes, it gets worse. In 2009, Johnson was smoking weed. By 2012, he had moved onto cocaine. Drug progression? Check.

Addiction is characterized by the repeated use of a substance, despite negative consequences. Well, Johnson continued to use despite failing drug screens. He continued to use despite knowing he’d be tested again. He continued to use despite being a high profile athlete. He risked current and future endorsements, not to mention his reputation. Sounds like there was repeated use, despite numerous negative consequences.

My Experience, Strength, and Hope

While I’m by no means a professional athlete, I certainly am an addict. Today though, I’m a sober addict. I’m in recovery and have been for quite some time.

There’s this tricky part of addiction, the part where the addict doesn’t think they have a problem. There are innumerable reasons for this. For me, it was the people I used with. They used as much, and as hard, as I did. They shot dope, smoked crack, and engaged in crime, right alongside me. This allowed me to trick myself into thinking everyone used like I did. Obviously, this wasn’t the case at all.

After years spent destroying myself, I realized that MAYBE, just maybe, I did have a drug problem. Then a funny thing happened, I realized I’d always known I was an addict. I’d just stuffed that knowledge down inside and covered it with a film of opiates and crack. This knowledge allowed me to come into recovery, which was only the start of my journey.

I relapsed a handful of times. Remember, addiction is chronic. It doesn’t just disappear overnight. Addicts need to do some HARD work to get better. In the beginning, I wasn’t ready to do this work. So, I got high. After enough pain, I did the work. I went to treatment, got involved in the twelve-steps, and attained peace of mind.

Okay….So?

Listen, I’m not Dustin Johnson. That much should be obvious! I’m not a professional athlete and I’m definitely not rich. I don’t know who Johnson uses with, or how his loved ones feel about his use. I do know a few things though.

I know how Johnson uses. I know how much he doesn’t want to use. I know the lies he tells himself.

I know how baffled he is after he does get high. I know that feeling of complete disappointment with yourself. I know that self-hatred.

Hell, I bet I can even tell you exactly what he says after a binge – “That was f*cking horrible. I gotta do something…okay, no more hard drugs. Just booze.” I know all this because I’ve been there.

So, from one addict to another, get some help Dustin. You don’t even again have to feel this crappy. There’s another way of life and it’s so much better than active addiction. There’s hope, I promise you that Dustin, there’s so much hope.

Understanding the Why of the Addiction Stigma

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Addiction Stigma, Why is There One?

There are various forms of addiction stigma that exis. Stigma can be understood in terms of the different ways it manifests at the self, social and structural levels.  Self stigma ‘is defined as a subjective process that is characterized by negative feelings (about self), maladaptive behavior, identity transformation or stereotype endorsement resulting from an individual’s experiences, perceptions, or anticipation of negative social reactions’ on the basis of a stigmatized social status or health condition’ (Livingston, 2011). Meaning, judgments addicts and alcoholics have about themselves. Social stigma ‘describes the phenomenon of large social groups endorsing stereotypes about and acting against a stigmatized group’ (Livingston, 2011). Social stigma exists among member of a society. Lastly, structural stigma ‘refers to the rules, policies and procedures of institutions that restrict the rights and opportunities for members of stigmatized groups’ (Livingston, 2011). Structural stigma refers to negative attitudes and behaviors of representatives of public institutions such as people who work in the government, health and criminal justice sectors.

Addiction stigma

An Addiction Stigma to the Power of 3

All three manifestations of stigma influence one another. For example, social stigma (the way society views people who have addiction) has a deep effect on self stigma (the way those suffering from addiction view themselves). Several studies have identified stigma as a significant barrier for those suffering from addiction accessing health care and drug abuse treatment. Moreover, structural stigma can affect social stigma and vice versa. An example of this would be President Nixon’s famous coining of the term the “war on drugs”. In a way, this term allows the public to view those suffering from addiction as enemies of the state rather than as sick people. It makes anything related to addiction punishable by law. Substance use disorders are often treated as moral and criminal issues, rather than a health concern. In fact, ‘criminalization of substance-using behaviors exacerbates stigma and produces exclusionary process that deepen the marginalization of people who use illegal substances’ (Livingston, 2011). Therefore, the social processes and institutions that are made to manage substance use may actually contribute to its continuance (Livingston, 2011).  With all three working together as one an addiction stigma and the addiction stereotypes that follow become difficult to overcome.

And There is More

Substance use disorders are also linked and overlap with a large amount of other stigmatized health conditions (e.g. HIV/AIDS, etc), unsafe behaviors (e.g. impaired driving) and social problems (e.g. poverty and criminality) (Livingston, 2011). The stigmas and addiction stereotypes that are attached to these health conditions, unsafe behaviors and social problems make substance use disorder more highly stigmatized than other health conditions.  Additionally, as there is some truth to some of these stereotypes (for example many people suffering from addiction do drive under the influence) it becomes a challenge to counteract these stigmas.

Combating the Addiction Stereotypes

However, some measures have been found to be effective when combating the addiction stigma and other stereotypes associated with drug abuse. For example, self-stigma can be reduced through therapeutic interventions in drug abuse treatment such as group-based acceptance and commitment therapy. Interventions found to be successful for reducing social stigma include motivational interviewing and communicating positive stories of people with substance use disorders. Lastly, changing stigma at a structural level can be achieved through contact-based training and education programs targeting medical students and professionals (e.g. police officers, counselors) (Livingston, 2011).

Works Cites

Livingston, J. (2011). The effectiveness of interventions for reducing stigma related to substance use disorders: a systematic review. Addiction Review , 107-39-50.

Faith Facts Friday with Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Basic Text Broken Down – Part One

Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other recover from drug and alcohol addiction. It was founded in July of 1953, just celebrated its sixty-first anniversary, and boasts over 60,000 meetings worldwide.

NA’s central literature is the Basic Text. With a sponsor, the Basic Text, and a workbook, NA members work the twelve steps. Through working these steps, NA members learn that “Just for today, you never have to use again!” (xxiii)

What exactly is the Basic Text? How does reading a book help someone achieve and maintain clean time? The aim of these articles are to answer exactly those questions.

NA Basic Text

Prefaces

The NA Basic Text is now in its sixth edition. Throughout each edition, there have been short prefaces explaining the changes made. Now, in the sixth edition, there are only two prefaces. One is the preface of the most recent edition, while the other is the preface of the very first edition.

Of particular interest is a short section from the preface to the first edition. It states, “As addicts, we know the pain of addiction, but we also know the joy of recovery we have found in the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous” (xxiii).

This is a central facet of NA, the fellowship. Anytime an addict is struggling with cravings or other issues, they can go to a meeting and instantly be surrounded by family. They’re home in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous.

Introduction

This chapter, as the name suggests, is a brief introduction to the program of NA. Founding NA members adopted their program of recovery from Alcoholics Anonymous. However, they make sure to note, “Alcoholism is too limited a term for us; our problem is not a specific substance, it is a disease called addiction” (xxv).

Here, they lay out an important concept, the disease model of addiction. This, much like AA’s disease model of alcoholism, is a three-part model. There’s a mental obsession, a physical allergy, and a spiritual malady. In order to recovery, all three parts of the disease must be addressed.

The way that NA treats the disease of addiction is by getting connected to a Higher Power and carrying a message of hope and healing to new members. This can be seen when, on the next page, they say “Our purpose is to remain clean, just for today, and to carry the message of recovery” (xxvi).

Chapter One – Who Is an Addict?

This chapter outlines who may benefit from the Narcotics Anonymous program.

One of the first things it points out is that “Some of us believe that our disease was present long before the first time we used” (3).

This idea, that drugs weren’t the problem, is central to any recovery programs. In fact, for many addicts, drugs were the solution! The problem rests within the addicts themselves. The problem was our inability to cope with life!

In fact, the chapter goes on to state this very notion. “We tried drug and combinations of drugs to cope with a seemingly hostile world” (4).

Once again, as addicts, drugs offer us a solution to the hardships in life. The problem is our inability to deal with these problems.

The chapter goes on to say, “We had to reach our bottom, before we were willing to stop” (7).

This is another idea central to NA – that addicts can only get better after hitting a bottom. I know this was certainly true for me. I had to lose everything before I thought that maybe I needed help. I had to isolate myself from everyone before I thought I might be the problem.