Act Like a RECOVERING Addict, Not Like an Active Addict

Written By: Fiona Stockard

Let Me Paint You a Picture

The scene opens on beautiful Delray Beach, Florida. It’s a cool summer evening. The breeze blows just right.

tattooed woman

Three women stand in a Publix parking lot. Woman one is me, your spunky narrator, Fiona Stockard. Woman two is elderly, maybe seventy-five. She has white hair and wrinkles. She could be your grandmother. Woman three is maybe twenty-one. She’s covered from head to toe in tattoos and wearing nothing but a tank top, booty shorts, and a backwards hat. A cigarette dangles from her lips.

The tattooed woman grabs a motorized shopping cart and starts driving around in circles. She’s bored and restless, you can tell from her expression.

The elderly woman starts hollering at the tattooed woman. “Hey, hey…hey,” she yells. The tattooed woman keeps driving in circles.

“F**king drug addicts, this town is full of ‘em,” the elderly woman mutters. She walks off into the night.

St. Paul, Minnesota

Two women, both in their early twenties, wait for the bus. It’s a brisk morning, both are sipping coffee. Steam rises from their cups. Both have recently checked into a halfway house. Both are out looking for jobs.

homeless-woman

Woman one, let’s call her Jenny. Jenny has on ironed black pants and a light charcoal blazer. She’s wearing heels, not too high, and carrying a briefcase. Her hair is styled perfectly.

Woman two, let’s call her Tabitha. Tabitha has on a band tee shirt, ripped jeans, and ratty shoes. She hasn’t showered in days. Her hair looks more like a bird’s nest than anything else.

That night, in process-group, both go over their day. I sit among the rest of the women, bemused, pretty sure I know what’s going to happen next. Tabitha’s furious. “I got on the bus and someone tried to sell me crack! This town sucks. I can’t stay sober here! Every day it’s the same thing! ‘Want to get high?’ or ‘I got what you need, let’s party.’ This town is full of drug addicts!”

The therapist turns to Jenny. He asks how many times Jenny was offered crack. None, she responds. The therapist turns back to Tabitha. “You’re offered crack because you look like you smoke crack, Tabitha!”

The Moral Of The Story

Although I write a pretty killer dramatic monologue, both of these events actually occurred. I was there and witnessed firsthand why the stigma around addiction exists.

See, the rest of the world thinks addicts and alcoholics are bad people because of people like tattooed woman and Tabitha. We need to “practice these principals in all our affairs.” All of our affairs! Tattooed woman had about nine months sober, yet she acted like she was actively getting high. This hurts our entire recovery community!

The local Delray Beach Government is trying to pass anti-recovery legislation because of people like tattooed woman! Her dumb s**t only adds fuel to the fire. If you don’t act (or for that matter look) like a woman in recovery, you might as well keep getting high.

My parents told me they knew I’d changed when my words met my actions. Tattooed woman and Tabitha both sounded great at meetings. They seemed to have a grasp on sobriety. They could talk the talk. Still, they looked like s**t. They acted like s**t. They didn’t walk the walk.

Had tattooed woman or Tabitha told any innocent bystander they were in recovery, we all would’ve been f**ked. If someone had no contact with other recovering addicts, they’d associated tattooed woman and Tabitha’s behavior with the entire program. This hurts us now and will hurt us in the future.

Let me paint you one final picture. Remember that elderly woman? The one who could be your grandma? Well, she has a daughter. Her daughter works as a hiring manager at Publix. One day, Jane Doe walks into Publix and asks for a job. She tells the hiring manager that she’s in recovery. You bet your sweet a** the hiring manager is going to remember the story her mother told her about tattooed woman.

Act like a recovering addict, not like an active drug addict. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to the rest of us.

Faith Facts Friday with Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Basic Text Broken Down – Part Three

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)

NA Basic Text

Today, we’re going to examine Chapter Three of the Basic Text, “Why Are We Here?” This chapter explains why we need Narcotics Anonymous!

Why Are We Here?

This chapter opens with italicized text. Like in the previous chapter, What Is The Narcotics Anonymous Program?, this text is read at the start of most NA meetings. This italicized text reads, “We seemed incapable of facing life on its own terms” (13).

That’s an important point! I don’t just suffer from addiction. I suffer from escapism, which often wears the mask of addiction. Before drugs and booze though? I’d read, or play games, or do anything else to avoid facing real life. By that logic, a solution to my addiction must address more than drugs. The solution that’ll work for me needs to address life itself!

The chapter goes on to list some ways addicts try to manage their use. We tried things like “…substituting one drug for another…limiting our usage to social amounts…” (14).

There are about ten million other examples, but let’s focus on these two. They’re the ways I have the most experience with! I can’t count how many times I swapped drugs. I was convinced I could smoke crack like a lady! I mean, I only really had a problem with opiates, right? I’d drink all night because, hey, at least I’m not doing drugs, right?

On the flip side, I’d only do as much coke as my friends were doing. We weren’t cokeheads, just girls having a good time! I’d smoke a blunt because everyone else was smoking. I tried, desperately, to make my addiction into something social. Do I even need to tell you this didn’t work? Well, guess what? It didn’t work!

The chapter soon echoes this idea. “Regardless of what we tried, we could not escape from out disease” (14). Ain’t that the truth! I couldn’t outrun myself, or my addiction. No matter how high I got, I ALWAYS had to face myself afterwards. No matter how long I refused to look in the mirror, I’d ALWAYS catch myself looking from the corner of my eye.

“Failure had become our way of life and self-esteem was non-existent” (15). That was the result of my addiction. I destroyed myself. I hated myself. I couldn’t do anything positive. The few desperate times I tried, I failed. This wasn’t on purpose (though I was an excellent self-sabotager), but because I was 100% selfish and self-centered.

The chapter goes on to make it clear that addiction is a disease, not a moral issue. “We find that we suffer from a disease, not a moral dilemma. We were critically ill, not hopelessly bad” (16). You mean, I’m a failure and have no self-esteem because I’m sick? I’m not a bad person? That realization was huge for me! After all, sickness can be cured. There’s medicine for it. I found my medicine lives in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous!

Probably the most important part of Why Are We Here?, comes in the form of three realizations addicts often have:

“1. We are powerless over addiction and our lives are unmanageable;
2. Although we are not responsible for our disease, we are responsible for our recovery;
3. We can no longer blame people, places and things for our addiction. We must face our problems and our feelings” (15).

Coming to terms with the idea I’m powerless and my life is unmanageable was easy. I mean, one look at my track record proves that. I also knew I wasn’t responsible for my disease. In fact, after learning I had a disease I was super relieved! Taking responsibility for my recovery sounds hard though. I mean, who likes responsibility? For that matter, what addict likes anything even resembling responsibility?

The final idea, number three, scared the s**t out of me. It was the hardest to wrap my mind around, the hardest to accept. I had to stop blaming other people and other things? I had to face my problems? I had to face my feelings? I had to face life?

F**k! I started getting high in the first place to escape other people, problems, and feelings! I started getting high to escape life! Besides, how the hell do you deal with that stuff, anyway?

Find out in the next installment of Faith Facts Friday With Fiona – NA Edition!

The 13th Step: Predators in Recovery

Written By: Fiona Stockard

13th Step? I Thought There Were Only 12

13th step

Ah, the sneaky little 13th Step. The little talked about, but widely known, practice of being a shady motherf**ker. One of the reasons to stay away from clubhouses. The reason for that old saying, men with men and women with women.

At this point, you may be scratching your head and wondering “thirteenth step? I thought there were only twelve-steps?” You’re not alone. Although 13th stepping is as old as AA itself, it isn’t talked about much. So, what is this 13th step?

13th stepping is the practice of someone with sober-time doing the dirty with a newcomer. It’s when someone with multiple years bumps uglys with someone with multiple days. Tired of these lame ass metaphors? Yeah, me too. 13th stepping is when some who knows better f**ks someone who doesn’t know better.

Sounds shady as hell, right? IT IS! Despite being almost as unspiritual as drinking, it’s still fairly common, especially in areas with lots of young, sober people.

Isn’t That Old Behavior?

So, we know what 13th stepping is (you still gagging? Yeah, me too). Now, the million-dollar question, why do people do it?

Why do people who are trying to “practice these principals in all our affairs” engage in such harmful behavior? Why do people, trying to grow in the image and likeness of their own God, prey on newcomers? S**t, I wish I had an easy answer for you.

There are probably a million reasons. First, remember that not everyone in recovery is a saint. A sober horse thief is still a horse thief. To put it another way, a sober predator is still a predator.

Just because someone has time, well, that doesn’t mean they’re working a program. The rooms of recovery are filled with scumbags. They’re also filled with, hands down, the best people on earth. Sadly though, the scumbags are sometimes more prevalent.

Sex feels good and there are always going to be people trying to feel good. There are always going to be people interested only in selfish satisfaction, even if AA attempts to teach us different.

Some people may not think what they’re doing is wrong. My friend’s sponsor is a great guy. He helps a ton of men and has been sober since the 80’s. He does service and makes sure the hand of AA is always available. Still, he hooked up with his wife when he had a year and she had a few days. Did he think he was 13th stepping? Probably not. They’re still together, and sober, so it worked out.

However, most of the time, the story doesn’t end with happily ever after. Most of the time, someone relapses. Usually it’s the newcomer being preyed upon. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, it’s the assh**e taking advantage of the newcomer. I mean, they’re not living by spiritual principals, anyway!

How Do We Stop 13th Stepping?

Again, I wish I had an easy answer for you. Like most harmful things in life, stopping 13th stepping is complicated. It requires education, patience, and some good ideas. Hey, good ideas? I have a few of those!

First, and this is already common practice, newcomers should stick with their own gender. The saying “women with women and men with men” was invented for a reason. In early sobriety, limit the amount of time you spend with members of the opposite sex. It’ll take your focus off God, trust me, I know. So ladies, if a guy approaches you and says he’ll sponsor you – kick him in the nuts and run away! This applies to cute guys, too!

Next, there should be education about 13th stepping. I certainly didn’t know what it was when I came into recovery. Lots of people may know about 13th stepping, but they’re not talking about it. Let’s get a dialogue going! Let’s get people sharing who tried to take advantage of them. That way, newcomers will know to stay away from those people.

Finally, I think clubhouses should have a no-tolerance policy. If someone is a known predator, kick ‘em out! I don’t care if this person has fifty years sober. Like I said above, a sober predator is still a predator!

Firsthand Addiction: What Addiction is Really Like

Written By: Fiona Stockard

Firsthand Addiction: What Addiction is Really Like

The term addiction is tossed around loosely and frequently now-a-days. “I’m addicted to buying shoes,” or “I’m addicted to diet soda,” or “I’m, like, so addicted to being in the club right now!” We hear this stuff everyday. Have we forgotten what addiction really is?

what addiction is really like

Let’s find out what addiction looks like as we explore it from one addict’s perspective.

What is Addiction, Anyway?

Addiction is when someone has a physical allergy to substances, mixed with a mental obsession about those substances, both of which are driven by a spiritual malady. That’s a very twelve-step way of looking at it, but it’s also the only way that’s ever made sense to me.

So, what’s this physical allergy all about? I think of it like having any other allergy. If a bee stings me, the area around the sting gets all puffy and gross. If I use drugs, my body processes them differently, and demands more. My body gets all puffy and gross, metaphorically and literally!

In active addiction, the only way I could stop this physical allergy was to be removed from the drugs. I had to be arrested, or in rehab, or locked in a room without a key. Otherwise, I was going to find a way to use. In sobriety, stopping the allergy is as simple as not picking up a drink or drug.

The mental obsession is exactly what it sounds like. When the thought of using pops into my head, it won’t leave until I use. If you’re not an addict, this is probably the hardest part to understand. Why not just think about something else? Why not see a shrink? It doesn’t work like that for addicts. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t.

Stopping the mental obsession is simple, but not easy! Basically, addicts need to experience an “emotional rearrangement” if they want to get better. Our core values and guiding principals need to be swapped out for new ones. The only way I know to accomplish this is through building a relationship with God. Remember, simple but not easy!

The spiritual malady sounds much harder to understand than it is. Really, it means all the crap that made me use in the first place. Things like low self-esteem, insecurity, anger, resentment, and self-pity. Once these are dealt with, the spiritual malady goes away.

The best way to remove these things is through God. While therapy helps tremendously, it isn’t a replacement for getting in touch with a higher power. Again, I don’t know why this is, it just is.

How Can I Tell if I’m an Addict?

Addiction boils down to two things, control and choice. Sounds too simple, right? Diagnosing addiction based on just two criteria? There are doctors who charge thousands of dollars to determine if you’re “really” an addict. Just ask yourself the following two questions:

• When I use drugs, can I choose when to stop?

• For that matter, can I choose when to start using, or does it just sort of happen?

If you answered no to one question, you may have a problem. If you answered no to both, you’re probably an addict.

It’s important for me to make clear – I’m not a doctor! All my advice is based on my own experience with addiction and recovery. Everything I know, I learned through treatment and twelve-step fellowships.

What I’m trying to say is – don’t be an idiot. Get a second opinion. If you’re dealing with cancer, you’d get a second opinion. Treat addiction just as seriously as cancer. Trust me, it is.

I’m an Addict…What Can I Do?

There are a ton of options available for treating addiction. We’re lucky ‘cause this wasn’t always the case. Treatment options include:

• One-on-One Addiction Therapy
• Intensive Outpatient Treatment
• Outpatient Treatment
• Inpatient Treatment
• Twelve-Step Fellowships (AA, NA, CA, etc.)
• Self-Help Groups (SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery, etc.)

What do these treatment options mean for the still sick and suffering addict? Simply put, they mean get off your ass and start getting better! A ton of options are available, don’t be lazy. There’s no better day than today to change your life!

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Three

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 three, More About Alcoholism.

More About Alcoholism

This chapter is all about identification. At its most basic, it’s designed to let prospective AA members identify their drinking with alcoholic drinking. That’s what More About Alcoholism did for me. It gave me hope knowing that others drank like I did, yet were able to get better.

On the second page, various methods of controlled drinking are listed. They’d be comical, if I hadn’t tried some myself. Drinking only beer? Been there, done that. Not drinking at work? Been there, done that. Did these methods work for me? Not even a little!

Later in More About Alcoholism, Jim’s story is told. Jim was a used car salesman (big surprise!) who couldn’t stop drinking. He managed to put a bit of sober time together, but relapsed after mixing whiskey with milk. He thought he could drink, as long as he had a full stomach and mixed his drinks! While I never tried this exact pairing, I did mix weed with tobacco. I was convinced I could smoke weed, as long as it wasn’t only weed.

Further on in the chapter, AA compares our alcoholic drinking to jaywalking. We get sideswiped, clipped, maybe ever full on hit, but just can’t stop. Finally, we’re badly injured and taken to the hospital. After getting out, we start jaywalking again. We’re promptly hit by a truck and killed.

Seems a little bit extreme, right? Well, think about how our loved ones view our addiction. To them, we’re just as tragic as the jaywalker. We keep getting hurt, yet can’t stop drinking or using. We’re incapable!

Fair enough, but what if you’re not convinced you’re an alcoholic? Don’t worry, AA has that covered, too. “Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once” (pp. 31-32).

I couldn’t pass this test once, let alone more than once. Then again, it’s a little harder to try controlled dope shooting and crack smoking! Still, the point remains. People that drink like we drink, that use like we use, can’t control their intake. It simply isn’t possible.

Finally convinced you’re an alcoholic? Try this on for size, “The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker” (p. 30).

This was certainly true for me. All I wanted, and I mean all I wanted, was to use like other people. I didn’t understand why every time I drank, or got high, bad things happened. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that I wasn’t able to control my use.

The chapter goes on to say, “We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control” (p. 30) and “Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever” (p. 33).

Again, these were true for me. I could stay clean for short periods, but every time I used, my life rapidly spiraled out of control. Okay, so what could I do to stop? Go to treatment and learn about myself? Yeah, that sounds good!

More About Alcoholism says, “He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all his reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside…” (pp. 36-37).

Here, alcoholics are introduced to a very important idea. Self-knowledge won’t keep us sober. It’s that simple. Self-knowledge can help normal drinkers stop, but people like me? It just isn’t enough.

In fact, the chapter goes on to say almost those exact words. “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge” (p. 39).

Why can’t we stop drinking through self-knowledge? I’m not sure of all the reasons, but one is that we simply can’t remember how bad our drinking was! AA members say as much, “They said that though I did raise a defense, it would one day give way before some trivial reason for having a drink. Well, just that did happen and more, for what I learned of alcoholism did not occur to me at all. I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots” (p. 42).

So, we have these “strange mental blank spots.” That makes sense to me. There have been countless times where I started getting high without a second though. It didn’t once cross my mind that using was a bad idea.

What can I do? How can I stay sober? How can I live a life where I don’t hate myself and everyone else? Am I screwed? Nope. There’s hope. More About Alcoholism ends with the quote “His defense must come from a Higher Power” (p. 43).

When I first came into the rooms of AA, I didn’t like the idea of God or a Higher Power. Still, I was beaten up enough give it a try. Guess what? The God idea worked better than I ever could have imagined. We’ll learn how in two weeks!

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

What is The Narcotics Anonymous Program?

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.