More Than a TV Show: The ABC’s of a Successful Intervention

How to Have a Successful Intervention

how to stage a successful intervention

Those who need help the most, still sick and suffering addicts and alcoholics, often don’t want it. They don’t believe they have a problem. They don’t think they need help to quit drugging and drinking. They’re scared to stop.

Whatever the reason, many addicts and alcoholics are unwilling to get better on their own. This is where interventions step in and become a truly invaluable tool in effecting long-term recovery.

That’s right folks, interventions are more than just that emotionally manipulative TV show! I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. I know I’ve experienced firsthand what an intervention is like.

For those of you who haven’t had that pleasure, find some tips and tricks for how to organize and run a successful intervention below!

Learn about the Drug(s) Being Abused

There’s nothing that will make an addict or alcoholic tune out faster than being lectured by someone who has no idea what they’re talking about! Can I get an amen!

So, before staging an intervention for your loved one, make sure to learn about whatever drugs they’re abusing. And I mean more than a simple Google search.

Reach out to addiction treatment centers (which you should be doing anyway!) and speak to the experts. Talk to friends and family who’ve struggled with similar addictions. You can even go to an open AA or NA meeting and ask some members for information about various drugs.

Seek Professional Help

This one should be obvious. If you’re going to stage an intervention for a friend or family member, hire a professional interventionist! They exist for a reason!

Nothing’s worse than finally gathering the courage needed to confront someone in active addiction and the confrontation going south. Emotions run high in interventions. Tears will be shed and four letter words will be uttered. Be prepared!

That’s where an interventionist becomes vital. They’ll be able to smooth any outburst and get the intervention back on track. They’ll be able to organize everything efficiently and maximize the potential of your loved one accepting help.

Have a Backup Plan

What’s the plan if your loved one doesn’t accept treatment? What are the potential consequences? What are the very real risks? How can you, as a family member, friend, or spouse, best prepare for the worst-case scenario?

This is where a backup plan becomes invaluable. Figure out the consequences if your loved one refuses treatment. Figure out what proactive measures you’ll take for yourself. These can be things like seeking individual therapy, attending a support group, or even taking legal action.

It’s important to come up with a realistic backup plan, one that you can stick to should the worst happen. Let’s say you decide that if a family member doesn’t go to treatment, you’ll cut all ties. Is that realistic and doable? What about family gatherings?

These are all things to keep in mind while formulating a backup plan.

Patience, Tolerance & Love!

Finally, we come to practicing patience, tolerance, and love. This is the glue that holds interventions together. Remember, even though anger may be running high, we love our addicts and alcoholics!

This is especially important to keep in mind because addicts are masters at manipulation! During my intervention, I tried everything imaginable to change my family’s mind. Thankfully, they’d hired an interventionist who saw right through my tears and yelling!

If my parent’s hadn’t practiced patience, tolerance, and love, I don’t know if I’d be here! So stay cool before, during, and after any intervention and remember, we can all change!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
You or someone you love struggling with addiction? Our addiction professionals are here to help.

Recovery Isn’t Easy…It’s Worth It!

Recovery Isn’t Easy

On of my favorite sayings goes a little something like this – I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

recovery is worth it

I’m not sure who first uttered those words. Maybe it was an athlete or a coach or somebody like that. What I am sure of is that saying applies 100% to recovery.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about recovery from addiction, from an eating disorder, from self-harm, or from anything else. Recovery is difficult. It’s fraught with emotional valleys and tough terrain.

Of course, recovery’s also filled with the most wonderful moments I could ever imagine. In my experience, though, we remember the challenging times more than the good ones. I think that’s just how life is.

Recovery is Worth It

Even though it’s difficult at times, recovery is SO worth it! I’m preaching to the choir here, I’m sure, but let’s explore some of what makes sobriety so wonderful.

First, and most importantly, there’s the freedom! Imagine being imprisoned for so long that you forget you’re imprisoned. Imagine forgetting what the outside looks like. The sun, the breeze, the bright blue sky…you don’t remember what any of those are.

That’s what active addiction and alcoholism are like! We’re stuck in a self-imposed prison of fear, anger, resentment, self-pity, and selfishness. We’ve been stuck there so long that we’ve forgotten freedom even exists!

So, to get sober is to be free. Even during the tough times, the times when a drink or drug is screaming our name, we’re still free. We’re bathed in the sunlight of the spirit, to quote the Big Book.

Then there’s the relationships recovery gives us! Did you know I never once had a real relationship before getting sober? Well, with the exception of my parents and grandparents. I had selfish motives in mind, coconsciously or unconsciously, during every other interaction with a human being.

And then I got sober. I suddenly realized there was an entire world (really, the entire world!) of people I could help. There was an entire world of people I could talk to with nothing selfish in mind. I could do something for someone and except nothing in return!

That was an eye opener to say the least!

What other blessings did I receive as a result of recovery? Well, they’re pretty much endless! I gained acceptance. If something doesn’t go my way, well, I don’t have to like it. What I do have to do, though, is accept it.

I could never do that in active addiction and alcoholism. I could never accept anything, good or bad! Today, I can accept anything. Sometimes it takes a little kicked and screaming (remember, recovery isn’t easy!), but I’ll eventually feel the truth of it in my bones.

I gained love, which goes back to being selfless. I learned how to love someone with my entire heart. Want to know the secret? It’s as simple as putting someone else’s needs before your own. That’s love! Of course, then we have to watch out for codependency, but that’s an article for another time!

I gained emotional stability. I’m no longer a rollercoaster of up’s and down’s. I’m no longer angry, scared, happy, and sad all within ten seconds! Today, I’m able to experience an emotion without running from it. I’m able to embrace everything this world makes me feel.

Sometimes these feelings are good and sometimes they’re bad. But guess what? I’m able to sit and experience each one. What a blessing!

So remember, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be so worth it!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
You or someone you love struggling with addiction? Our addiction professionals are here to help.

What is PAWS Anyway?

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Ah, good old Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome! Maybe you’ve heard of it. If not by that name, I bet you’ve heard of PAWS. If you’re anything like me, that acronym left you scratching you, wondering why people were talking about animal feet!

post acute withdrawal syndrome

Most women in recovery know Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome all too well. It’s the reason we were a bit off the walls in early-sobriety. Well, okay, one of the reasons!

For those who aren’t familiar with PAWS, sit back and learn the in’s and out’s of post acute withdrawal. Being prepared and knowing how to best mitigate Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome can be a HUGE help in early-recovery.

After all, anything that gives us a proverbial leg up is welcome. I hope you all enjoy and this helps!

PAWS Symptoms

 

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms can range from mild to serious. It’s important to remember two things when reading the following list. A) I’m not a doctor, but rather a recovering alcoholic with firsthand experience of PAWS. B) Everyone’s body is different. You may not get all the following symptoms (fingers crossed!).

Find a list of common Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms below:

  • Anhedonia

this is when activities which used to be pleasurable no longer are. The best way I can describe it is like a strange form of apathy. I know I should be happy to be at the beach (because, duh, I love the beach), but I’m simply not.

  • Depression

depression as a result of alcoholism or addiction makes sense. I mean, many drugs are depressants and alcohol definitely is! I’m going to make a very unscientific claim here and say that depression is the number one side effect of prolonged drug use.

  • Anxiety

again, no surprises here. Being sober after using drugs and booze to medicate is scary! So it makes sense that anxiety is a common PAWS symptom. Sometimes post acute withdrawal anxiety is low-level and constant. Other times, it comes in sharp bursts known as panic attacks. Either way, trust me when I say it gets better!

  • Trouble Concentrating

I was convinced that I had ADHD in early-sobriety. It turns out I had no such thing. Prolonged drinking and drugging impact the frontal lobe, the area of our brain that controls concentration, pretty hard. So, it makes sense that I had trouble concentrating.

The frontal lobe also controls judgment, inhibitions, our emotions, and organizational skills. Watch out for trouble in all of those areas during Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome!

  • Irritability

I was basically a huge mess in early-sobriety. While this was largely due to PAWS, it was also due to some of my character defects! One thing that straddled the fence between both was irritability. Watch out for this when you’re counting days. Trust me, it’s better to catch yourself before you say something stupid, than to make amends afterwards!

  • Mood Swings

ah, mood swings! These are probably the most recognizable aspect of PAWS. Your emotions in early-sobriety will often go a little something like this

10:00a.m. – I’m happy! OMG, life is so good!

10:01a.m. – This is so annoying, I can’t even deal right now.

10:02a.m. – No, I just need to chill. Life is really pretty amazing. I can’t believe how blessed I am!

10:03a.m. – I’m so angry! Someone stole my parking spot, don’t they know what I’m going through!

And listen, ladies, if you think I’m poking fun at you, think again. I’ve experienced the above scenario thought for thought…some are sicker than others!

  • Strange Sleep Patterns

another one of the most common symptoms of post acute withdrawal is disturbed sleep. It’s uncomfortable and, since sleep affects most other areas of our lives, has far reaching implications. It’s for this reason that many doctors recommend taking non-narcotic sleep aides in early-sobriety. Of course, that decision is ultimately up to each woman, her doctor, and a God of her own understanding.

  • Cravings

having drug cravings in early-sobriety is perfectly normal. In fact, it might be stranger if someone freshly sober didn’t have the occasional, or quite frequent, craving. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them any easier to deal with! The good news is that the longer we stay sober, and the more work we do on ourselves, the less intense and frequent cravings become!

Beating PAWS

 

Now that we know the more common symptoms of post acute withdrawal, let’s figure out how to overcome it! The answer is surprisingly simple – take good care of yourself!

This can mean different things for different people, but there are some general guidelines on how to practice good self-care.

PAWS

First, eat healthy! Avoid processed food, high fructose corn syrup, and taking in large amounts of refined sugar. Stick to fish, whole grains, fiber rich foods, natural sugars, and fresh vegetables. Although this sounds tough (and expensive!), it’s actually pretty easy. Once you start feeling the benefits (thinks like increased energy, a better/more stable mood, and increased concentration), you’ll want to stick with it.

Second, practice meditation! There’s nothing better to keep you in the moment than practicing staying in the moment! That may sound a bit cliché and corny, but I promise it’s true. Plus, mediation helps alleviate mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and poor concentration.

Next, get plugged in with a support group. Support groups can range from twelve-step fellowships, to “rational recovery” groups, to group therapy, to plain old friends. They’ll do wonders for your overall mental health and cravings. A support group also fosters a sense of belonging that’s vital to long-term recovery.

Finally, do some work on yourself! Although this is one of the harder suggestions to implement, it’s also one of the most beneficial. Working on ourselves is the first positive step many addicts and alcoholics take. It’s the doorway through which we walk to freedom and recovery!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
You or someone you love struggling with addiction? Our addiction professionals are here to help.

The Science Behind AA

Spirituality & Science…Together?

We all know that AA and other twelve-step fellowships work. Most women in long-term recovery are living, breathing, and awesome proof of it! What we don’t know, though, is why AA works.

science behind AA

Let me clarify, we don’t know scientifically why AA works. While it’s easy to say that the twelve-steps work because of God, that answer doesn’t satisfy most scientists, researchers, or academics.

The first question you may be asking yourself is who cares what scientists think? I know I certainly asked myself that more than once! My opinion, our opinion really, doesn’t matter in this case, though. After all, think of how many suffering addicts and alcoholics would flock to AA if it were better understood!

(I know, I know, recovery is for people who want it and do it, not for people who need it. That fact aside, we can all agree that a better understand of AA, NA, CA, etc. would benefit the public at large. Remember, our lives today are about how we can best help everyone!)

Well, a substance abuse and mental health counselor named Joe Nowinski set out to understand the how and why of Alcoholics Anonymous. Find out what he found out below!

A Surprising Introduction

 

In the 1980’s, Joe Nowinski worked in student health at the University of Connecticut. One day, he went to a training at Hazelden, one of the country’s oldest and most respected treatment centers.

Of his introduction to AA, Joe says,

“I looked up at a large poster on the wall. It was the 12 steps. My eye was immediately caught by the word God that appeared there a number of times, and my gut reaction was something like, “Oh no! I’m a cognitive-behavioral therapist! I don’t believe in God!” (The Fix).

Sounds like someone had a little contempt prior to investigation!

After spending a week at Hazelden, Joe soon changed his mind. He was able to experience firsthand the power of twelve-step recovery. He saw the change it brought over people. He saw the benefits of honesty, open mindedness, and willingness!

Research into 12-Step Recovery

 

Following his auspicious introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous, Joe participated in something called Project MATCH. This was a study that looked at the outcomes, or rates of abstinence, quality of life, etc., of various therapies. It was also, to date, the largest psychotherapy outcome study ever conducted.

The results were astounding to researchers and clinicians alike. It turns out that “Twelve-Step Facilitation Treatment,” aka becoming involved in a twelve-step fellowship, kept more people sober!

William R. Miller, a therapist involved in Project MATCH, wrote,

“On at least one time-honored outcome measure—the percentage of patients maintaining complete abstinence—those in the Twelve Step Facilitation treatment fared significantly better than did patients in the other two conditions—a substantial advantage of about 10 percentage points that endured across three years” (The Fix).

I’ll stick with something that gives me a 10% better shot at staying sober!

Various other studies have examined the effectiveness of twelve-step recovery. “Twelve-Step Facilitation Treatment” was compared to something called Motivational Enhancement Therapy. The results showed that those involved with “Twelve-Step Facilitation Treatment” (really, can we just call it working the steps!!) stayed sober for longer.

Another type of therapy that includes twelve-step principles is called MAAEZ (which stands for Making AA Easier). MAAEZ has been shown to lead to higher rates of abstinence than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, long considered the gold standard of addiction treatment.

12 steps and science

So, it’s abundantly clear that twelve-step based therapies work! It’s obvious, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that twelve-step principles work. What Joe Nowinski also found out is that all self-help groups help people.

Organizations like SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety (not to be confused with us, Sobriety for Women!) also help boost rates of abstinence and improve quality of life.

What Joe didn’t find out was exactly why AA and other twelve-step fellowships work. While that’s unfortunate, all he had to do to get an answer, however unscientific it might be, was ask a member of twelve-step recovery!

The twelve-steps work because they take me outside of myself. They allow me, through a God of my own understanding, to become selfless, honest, and strong. They allow all of us to experience real freedom for the first time!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
You or someone you love struggling with addiction? Our addiction professionals are here to help.

Amelia’s Story

Honesty – Her Story Begins on 11/24/13

As I sit here it’s Saturday night, well early sunday morning now, and I can’t believe it. I am sober. The TV isn’t spinning as I watch it. I’m not vomiting. My mind is clear. This is the first Saturday night in six years that I haven’t been completely smashed out of my mind.

Hi everyone, my name is Amelia and I’m an alcoholic. It wasn’t until Thursday night that I actually said those words out loud to a group of people. I never thought that day would come. I never thought I would be the one standing in an AA meeting admitting to people I barely know that I’m an alcoholic.

Surrender – Step One

I think that Step One must be the hardest step. It has been for me.

drinking story

all photos courtsey of the author unless otherwise noted. This isn’t one of hers

Now, my story doesn’t start with me having a horrible upbringing and coming from alcoholic parents. I think a lot of people have that misconception about addicts. I had the best childhood a girl could ask for. I had the most amazing parents who loved me dearly. I was so happy.

I believed in my religion with all my heart and never wavered. The only time I was ever around alcohol was when I would visit my grandpa on Sundays. He was always sipping on a double vodka cranberry. I have always been a curious type, so naturally I wondered what it felt like to be drunk. Still I never wavered in my beliefs.

When I turned eighteen I moved down to Cedar City for school and had the best roommates ever. I absolutely loved my first year of college. I met the love of my life, or I thought so at the time anyway. We got engaged after a year of dating. I was preparing to get married in the SL temple as an avid Mormon. Life was going just as I had planned and dreamed as a little girl.

The wedding date was set for June 18, 2004. I remember going through the temple on June 15th and having so much love and support from family and friends. I was making everyone so proud and I felt proud of myself. The night before the wedding my world came crashing down. My fiancé called the wedding off.

It was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever faced. To this day it seems weird that it actually happened to me and I’m sitting here writing about it. I made it through. I made it. At the time I didn’t think I was going to. It seems like life was a constant “I made it through” moment. At least it was for me.

After my wedding I didn’t know what to do. I was now nineteen wearing garments with no real idea what that meant. All I knew was that I couldn’t take them off simply because I didn’t get married. I always had to wear them. To me it didn’t seem fair, but because of what I was taught I wore them religiously for two years.

An Alcoholic is Born

About six months before my twenty-first birthday, I started having second thoughts about everything. I didn’t understand a lot about the Mormon church and I felt like I was stuck in something that I couldn’t get out of. I was living in fear of everything. What would happen if I slept without my garments on? What if I missed church? I knew that this was not how God wanted me to feel.

God is not fear based. God is love. No one should feel fearful of what happens to you when you take your garments off. So I did it, I took them off. I walked out into the world without my garments. It felt good to not have to put on a perfect face anymore. I could be me.

On my twenty-first birthday I got invited to go out with a few friends to the bar. I was skeptical because my parents were already hurting that I took my garments off and was not going to church. It took a minute to decide what to do. I lied that night about going out drinking and little did I know that eight years later I would still be lying not only to them, but to myself. Until today. I will not lie anymore. I am going to be 100% honest and real.

The second alcohol touched my lips I was hooked. I’ve been taught this week that alcoholism’s actually a disease. It’s something you’re born with. It’s like cancer or diabetes. It needs to be treated or you will die.

active alcoholism

me while drinking

At first I didn’t think I was hooked. I just knew I liked going out and I liked to party. When I was twenty-two I got into a relationship with a really awesome guy. He drank, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought it was cool that I was able to go home and make myself a cocktail and relax. I was told that it was normal to go home and have a cocktail. If you aren’t an alcoholic, it is normal. But if you have a brain like me, its not.

I remember everyday just really looking forward to going home to that drink. I would make myself a cocktail as soon as I walked through the door. At first it was one or two, but as the years went on it turned into three and four with a few shots in between. I still talked myself into thinking it was normal because I was home relaxing.

I found myself going to bed some nights and, as soon as my boyfriend fell asleep, I’d get up and take three or four more shots. Jason used to make the comment all the time like, “Wow, it seems like this vodka is running out fast. I swear we aren’t drinking this much.” I would always tell him that we were and try to talk him into thinking he had more than he did. Lies. I was lying again.

A few years into our relationship, Jason and I started fighting a lot. I’ve learned over the past few days that it’s hard for alcoholics to hold relationships unless they get help. I believe that to be true now and I blame alcohol for my breakup with Jason.

When we moved to MT it was kind of a last ditch effort to fix things. We had good days, but we also had a lot of bad. Most of those days I was drunk. I don’t think Jason knew how much I was drinking. A lot of times before he would come home from work, if I was home first, I’d take a few shots just to start the night. Sometimes it would be up to fifteen quick ones.

The problem with an alcoholic is when we drink it changes us. It turns us into a different person. I remember one night actually throwing my phone at the wall and breaking it. That is not Amelia. That is alcohol.

I remember calling the one I love the most horrible names. I remember just blacking out at night then getting up and starting it all over again. Waking up knowing there was a fight but not remembering what was said. I still didn’t think I had a problem. I just told myself I was dealing with a hard relationship. Excuses.

The Downward Spiral

When Jason and I broke up, he moved out and my drinking got really bad. I would go to school, stop at the liquor store, go home, and drink. The entire bottle. Now those ten shots weren’t working. I had to have a pint to feel it.

I remember waking up some mornings and my mom would call me and talk about things we spoke about the night before. I would have zero recollection of talking to her. I would play along as if I knew what she was talking about but could not remember. I had friends in MT that told me I drank a lot. A couple of my friends called me “cocktail girl” as a joke. I thought it was funny. I didn’t think it was a concern at all because I was dealing with a breakup and I was single. Again, excuses.

When I moved back to Utah is when it started to click that maybe I had a problem. I was so used to living by myself and doing whatever I wanted. Now, suddenly, I was back in a religious setting where nothing I would normally do was allowed. I remember panicking because I didn’t know where I was going to drink at night to “relax.” That didn’t stop me though. I started putting booze in my car and running out all night to drink vodka straight from the bottle.

recovered alcoholic

this photo isn’t of the author

By the time I went to bed, I was so drunk. No one could tell though. I was very good at playing it off. Alcohol was the only way I could sleep at this point. I couldn’t live without it. People would make comments to me about my drinking but I would always defend myself and say I was fine because I’d never had a DUI. Excuses. Excuses!!

Alcoholism doesn’t always mean that you’ve had a DUI. Alcoholism is a disease. You can’t just have a drink like a normal person and enjoy it. There is no controlled drinking and never will be. You will kill yourself trying to make yourself like other people.

Weekdays were horrible. I would get up every day hungover. Throwing up in the shower was a normal routine. There was one night in the week that I worked the graveyard shift and I always had my bottle in my car waiting for me when I got off Saturday morning. I would drink the entire pint before falling asleep, which would leave me waking up hungover at 2pm. Working for Hospice it was especially hard because I saw a lot of death. My patients and their families loved me, but I always wondered why. I hated myself. I always though “if only they knew the kind of person I really was.”

On the weekends I would go out with friends and my bar tab was always more than everyone else’s. I would get so drunk that sometimes my friends would have to pull over so I could get out of the car and vomit. By the time I got home I was so drunk that most of the time I couldn’t make it upstairs without holding on to everything in sight. My mom would come upstairs and ask me what I had been doing and I was so drunk I could barely hear the question.

There was one night I fell down eleven stairs. My mom found me at the bottom. I slightly remember that night and also some nights trying to smooth things over telling her I only had one drink, but she knew I hadn’t. Lying to her was the only thing I knew how to do when it came to alcohol. I couldn’t hurt her anymore than I knew I already had. I had to lie.

Most of the time I was still nursing the bottle in my purse that she couldn’t see. I know one day I am going to have to apologize to her. She deserves that. She never deserved waking up at 2am from me falling down a flight of stairs. I can’t imagine the worry I put her through. Maybe one day when I have my own child I’ll understand. I know that my mom is the only one in this world that could handle me and God knew this when he gave her to me. That is one thing that I am grateful for through all of this.

Rock Bottom

I drank every day but weekends I went all out. Saturday nights I’d go through a half gallon of vodka alone. Because of that, Sunday’s were never really the best days. The only word I’ve been able to associate with them are “hungover.” I have been hungover to the point where I throw up ’til I go to bed at night. This happened most Sundays.

mormon alcoholic

sober on the left, while drinking on the right

My mom would ask me why I would lay in bed all day and I would just say I was tired from the work week. Most of the time I would just lay there and cry because I wanted to change so bad and be like a normal person. I would look on Facebook and be so jealous of my friends who were out doing things. I wanted to be like that, but didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to be normal. I was a slave to the bottle. It was my friend but it was also my worst enemy.

It was a hate/love relationship. When it was around, it called to you and made you feel like the only way you’re going to feel good is if you drank or that you won’t be able to sleep unless you got drunk. It’s a never ending battle and it takes a wake up call to actually change.

My wake up call happened a few weeks ago. I remember waking up one Sunday morning and being completely soaked in my own urine. I had drank to the point where my brain was no longer connected to my body. I shouldn’t be alive. I shouldn’t be here typing this and if it weren’t for my dog, I wouldn’t be. I have never in my life felt like that. It was that moment of low that I can’t explain.

I knew that I had to do something, because if I didn’t I’d die. I can’t live like that anymore. I can’t and I won’t. So here I am. It took me a couple weeks to decide to quit after that incident, but here I am.

I’m not going to lie and say I enjoy being sober. My body feels better, but because of how my brain works I just naturally like being drunk. I won’t give in though. I won’t. I am going to overpower the one thing that has overpowered me. I’m going to take this challenge that God has given me and make it just a slight stepping stone to my next place.

I hope one day I can help other people that struggle with addiction. I’ve got this. Today, day seven. One week sober. Come with me on my journey to sobriety.

Thanks for reading my story :)
Today I celebrate day 103 :)
I am a completely different person inside and out!

sober alcoholic

me at 90 days!

Powerd by Lighthouse Recovery Institute: Leaders in Gender Specific Addiction Treatment.
You or someone you love struggling with addiction? Our addiction professionals are here to help.

The Relapsing Roommate Handbook

By Tim Myers

How to Deal with a Relapsing Roommate

The number one phone call us people in recovery get goes a little something like this – “my roommate is using…what do I do?” This happens every day in recovery communities like Delray Beach and, if you’re living with a recovering alcoholic, it can 100% happen to you!

relapsing roommate

If three people move into an apartment, one of them will most likely use. Those are the facts. I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic. So, for all of you out there who may find yourself in this predicament, here’s a handy guide.

If your roommate is drinking, you should…

STEP ONE: Have a House Meeting

Confront your roommate together, never one on one.

Bring along someone with more time than you and someone who’s been in this situation before. Ask your roommate if they’ve been using. Point out several things that you’ve noticed about their behavior that makes you believe this.

If the deny it, you can ask them to take a drug test. You can pick these up at any local drug store. Once you have confirmed that they are using, move to step two.


STEP TWO: KICK THEM OUT!

“I can’t do that, they’ll have no where to go!” or “I can’t do that we have rent to pay.” These are poor excuses to kick someone out.

100% of the time the situation gets 100% worse if you don’t make the using roommate leave. Never ever has it worked out. Never.

Tell them they can’t live here anymore and they have to leave right away. Now, you don’t have to be a jerk about it. They’re sick and suffering, so be compassionate and helpful. You can do this in step three.

If your roommate is accepting help and wants to be sober move on to steps three to five. If not, stay away. Ask them to leave, call the cops if they won’t, and above all else, keep you and your home safe.


STEP THREE: Help Them Find a Halfway House

Your relapsing roommate is broken and scared right now. Help them get on the phone and help them find a place to stay. There are many halfway houses and many will work with your roommate on payments if they have a job. Once you have a place that your roommate has committed to, move on to step four.


STEP FOUR: Take Them To A Meeting

By taking them to a meeting you’re showing your roommate that you still care about them and their recovery. They’ll remember this and hopefully they’ll do the same thing for another person if the situation arises.

This will also put them in a good mood and get them back on the right path before they even step foot in the halfway house.

STEP FIVE: PRAY!

This is the most important step because it’s showing God that you care for your friend and that you’re grateful that you’re still sober.

Take this time to reflect on all the blessings in your life and ask for help for your roommate. In trying times like these, it’s easy to forget to pray, but praying is probably why you’ve stayed sober. It’s probably what your roommate should have been doing.

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The Real College Basketball Madness

The Overdose Death of a Cheerleader

By: Tim Myers

While you fill out your college basketball tournament bracket this year, as you cheer on your favorite team and dunk another wing into ranch dressing, I want you to think for a minute about who you’re cheering for.

college sports overdose

You may think you’re cheering on your favorite team, but what you’re really doing is spending time idolizing the NCAA, an institution partly responsible for the death of one of it’s own. Danielle Cogswell, a former University of Louisville cheerleader, died of an overdose in the summer of 2014.

On July 28th, the body of University of Louisville cheerleader Danielle Cogswel was found in an off-campus student-housing complex with ties to the University. The Associate Athletic Director called her death, “saddening.” I call her death criminal.

The twenty-two year old Danielle died from an overdose of heroin, amphetamines, and Xanax. Let me say that again – heroin, amphetamines, and Xanax. Based on the sheer quantity of chemicals in her system, it’s safe to say this wasn’t a one time only, experimentation overdose. Danielle had a serious problem and this is where fault can be, or should have been, pinned on the NCAA and the university.

Dangerous Student Athlete Standards

The University of Louisville is required by the NCAA to do drug screenings of all student-athletes. But guess what? Cheerleading isn’t an NCAA sanctioned sport.

These girls fling themselves over three feet in the air day in and day out. They flip, tumble and, in most cases, are the star attraction of every home and away game. They compete in competitions and their athletic skill is on par with their male counterparts.

The NCAA, though, doesn’t feel these female student athletes deserve the same level of attention to their health as the rest of the student athletes. The tennis team, swimming team, and even the badminton team are required to take drug tests.

The reason that cheerleaders are not tested is simple. They’re required to look good, not perform well.

College basketball players and football players are asked to perform at the highest level, bringing in huge endorsement contracts, advertisers, and boosters. They drug test their athletes to prevent the school from being held accountable for infractions that would impose sanctions. In turn, these would strip the university of the dollars their male athletes earn for the school. So, in the process of making sure they covered their butts from losing money, the school let Danielle slip through the cracks.

Amphetamines, Xanax and heroin promote weight loss. It’s no wonder the university doesn’t test the cheerleaders. Had the NCAA required testing for cheerleaders, Danielle might have gotten the help she needed.

Her coach Todd Sharp said that Danielle was, “an elite gymnast in the upper echelons of our program.” Apparently being an elite gymnast doesn’t mean you’re an athlete and it doesn’t mean the NCAA cares about your health.

A Disturbing Response

Danielle’s story was carried in the national press for a minute or two. It was, however, nothing compared to the coverage a male point guard or god forbid a quarterback would have gotten.

university of Louisville cheerleader

Just search Google for “college sports overdose” and you’ll see nothing for pages and pages but the story of Len Bias. Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose in 1986. Danielle died this year.

Why the NCAA doesn’t drug test cheerleaders I don’t know. Why they don’t consider cheerleading a sport I don’t know. These women are athletes and they deserve just as much care and attention as everybody else. So, will these policies change now that Danielle is gone? Nope.

When asked after Danielle’s death if the University of Louisville will increase drug prevention and education options for cheerleaders and dance teams, Christine Simatacolos, the Associate Athletic Director, responded, “We are constantly reviewing our policies to be sure we are providing the best possible support.”

Fantastic, because after one of your students dies of a drug overdose what really makes a difference is a save your own butt, politically correct answer. Saving your own butt is what brought us to Danielle’s death in the first place.

Hey, Associate Athletic Director Christine Simatacolos, this is what you should have said, “Your goddamn right we will, we will do what ever it takes to make sure this never ever happens again.”

There you go Christine. Next time a young woman dies at your school, that should be your answer.

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5 Meditation Tips for People with ADHD

By Tim Myers

Practical Tips for Meditation

ADHD meditation

How many people with ADHD does it take to screw in a light bulb? Want to Ride Bikes?

See, that’s the problem people with ADHD have when it comes to meditation. I have ADHD. I have NOT been able to sit still since my head first popped out.

Going to the movies is a problem. Sitting in church is horrific. Going out to dinner is fine…until they ask if I want dessert. Dessert? Dessert? I’ve been sitting in this wooden chair for forty-five minutes, you have nothing good enough to keep my butt in this seat one second longer.

Now, my sponsor tells me that meditation is crucial to my long-term sobriety…so I’m screwed, right? Nope, even an ADHD affected individual like myself can find the necessary tools to meditate.

With that in mind, here are five meditation tips for people with ADHD!

5) You Don’t Actually Have to Stop Moving!

Buddha is a liar! Meditation doesn’t have to mean you sit still! Boom! Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or draw. As long as your mind is focused on the right thoughts or actions, you’ll be able to slow down.

You can pray, focus on a negative situation, and then think about how to handle it based on AA principles. You can even journal as a form of meditation!

4) Use Music to Focus!

Find a song with 100% positive lyrics or pick your favorite song and interpret the words to meet your desired goal for meditation. If you’re bummed, find a song that speaks to motivation and the improvement of your mood. The song doesn’t have to have lyrics either. Let the mood of the music lead your thoughts and help maintain your focus.

3) Two Minutes is All You Need!

Start at two minutes. Can ya meditate for two minutes? Start at two and then move to three. The longer you meditate, the more you’ll ratchet it up.

ADHD peeps may not be able to sit still, but we do love a challenge!

2) Make it a Routine!

ADHD affected drug addicts do love routine. It helps us stay on track and get stuff done. Most people think we prefer to be scattered, but that isn’t true at all. Routine is our comfort zone and it saves us from stress.

Pick a time for meditation that you can repeat day after day. This will ensure that you’re practicing your mediation techniques each day. This then makes the connection between you and your higher power stronger. Routine will also make it easier to stay in one place. The more you do it the easier it is.

1) Make it Fun!

Recovery got easy when it became fun. We first started doing drugs because it was fun and made us feel great. Meditation can unlock a whole new world of recovery if you make it fun.

As soon as it becomes a joy to do, you’ll do it every single day. Meditating everyday will make your reflection time more potent and more powerful than any drug.

Meditation will change your life. There’s no wrong way to do, just do it. Period!

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Why Women in Recovery Rock!

Women in Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous, the primary program of recovery from addiction amongst substance abusers worldwide, was founded by – and initially exclusively for – men.

women in recovery rock

Men would gather for coffee and conversation as their devoted wives met separately and figured out how to cope with the emotional distresses their husbands had caused them over the years. While some of these women undeniably struggled with excessive consumption themselves, it was their duty as wives to support their husbands as they overcame addiction, keeping up the home and caring for the children.

In 1935, the societal role of the female in any matrimonial relationship was relatively cut-and-dry. It was a woman’s responsibility to fulfill expectations of being a good wife and mother, and sweep any personal hindrances under the rug. As times began to change and women’s liberation gained momentum nationwide, ladies began speaking up and seeking help themselves.

While the first female member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Florence Rankin, joined the fellowship in March of 1937, females did not heavily infiltrate the program until the 1960s.

Girls Rule!

The first women in recovery displayed absolutely astonishing amounts of courage, and helped to pave the way for decades of recovering women that came after them. The initial role of women within the fellowship was complicated by numerous factors, and sadly, many wives and mothers found it easier to simply perpetuate the allocated role of committed homemaker than to rattle societal standards.

Not only did gendered structure assume an alcoholic to be male, but there were also fears revolving around the alleged sexual behavior of drinking women – a stereotype that has trickled down for years since and shaped the current prevalence of women in the rooms.

While the innumerable benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs in the lives of women have been proven time and time again, less than one-third of all fellowship are females. This is due, in large part, to the misguided stereotypes that have followed women throughout history. While these pigeonholes are constantly being disproven, many women fail to seek treatment based on fear of disapproval or the general stigmas relating to women in recovery.

Fortunately, in recent times, being a woman in recovery is not only accepted – it is celebrated! Female-exclusive treatment centers have been established nationwide, and the importance of addiction recovery amongst females has become exceedingly clear.

As women, the only current barriers we face are self-imposed. We are strong, we are capable, and we are deserving. Slowly but surely, the role of women in recovery is growing, and as it does, more and more ladies are casting the hindrances of shame and stigma aside and giving themselves the chance at the fulfilled and joyous lives they so warrant!

 

 

 

This essay was written by Cayla Clark, a woman in recovery and writer for many top south Florida drug rehabs!

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Are Workaholics Also Alcoholics?

Longer Hours = More Drinking

A new paper, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests there’s a link between working long hours and heavy drinking.

overwork and heavy drinking

Sounds kind of obvious, right? The longer you work, the more tired and stressed you are. For many people, the solution to this stress is alcohol. Speaking from personal experience, alcohol and drugs were my answer to stress, and most everything else, for many years!

Well, now there’s science to back up this common sense truth. The longer and harder you work at a job that raises your stress level, the more prone you are to drink to excess. What’s more, these new findings show that gender, race, and economic status don’t factor in at all. Rather, it’s a one-to-one relationship between hours worked and alcohol intake.

Marianna Virtanen, the author of the paper and leader of the study, had the following to say about the link between overworking and overdrinking:

“…these findings suggests that some people may be prone to coping with excess working hours by habits that are unhealthy, in this case by using alcohol above the recommended limits” (Voice Chronicle).

So, what exactly does this study tell us? What are the new facts?

Work Hard & Play Hard

Scientists from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, located in beautiful Helsinki (hello, can I get a job there!), studied date from more than 330,000 people across fourteen different countries.

Their findings show that people who work for forty-eight or more hour per week are 11% more likely to drink heavily. That’s a rather large increase! Heavy drinking is defined as men having twenty-one or more drinks per week and women having fourteen or more drinks per week.

Backpacking off this new research, Cassandra Okechukwu, of the Harvard School of Public Health, estimated that there are two million people drinking heavily due to work. Again, that’s a lot of people driven to the bottle for no reason other than working long hours!

What this study doesn’t take into account are rates of alcoholism. Remember, heavy drinking and alcoholism are two different beasts altogether. So, if working long hours makes you 11% more likely to engage in heavy drinking – how much does it contribute to alcoholism?

That, my dear readers, is a conversation for another time. For now, let’s look at some of the dangers of heavy drinking.

Dangers of Heavy Drinking

Okay, this part is fairly obvious. Drinking to excess brings with it some significant dangers. This is true of heavy drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism, or mixing alcohol and other drugs.

Health problems common to heavy drinking include: heart disease, liver issues (including chronic Hepatitis), kidney problems, alcohol poisoning (overdose), increased risk of stroke, increased risk of cancer, drunk driving, unsafe sexual practices, and other negligent behavior.

Is There a Solution?

Here we reach the crux of the new research. Is there a solution to heavy drinking brought on by working forty-eight plus hours per week? Unfortunately, the research and resulting paper don’t suggest a solution. Rather, they state:

“Further research is needed to assess whether preventive interventions against risky alcohol use could benefit from information on working hours” (Voice Chronicle).

alcohol and work

So, I’d like to suggest my own solutions. First, stop stressing out over work! This is much easier said than done, however it’s absolutely possible for everyone. If work is stressing you out, instead of turning to booze you can try meditation, journaling, talk therapy, other forms of therapy, or even talking with friends.

Second, if you find yourself drinking to excess, seek help! Don’t stay stuck in the cycle of drinking, feeling guilty, working, getting stressed, and drinking more! Trust me, it’s a hard cycle to break, but it’s 100% possible to come out the other side.

Think about it like this – if I can get sober, then anyone can get sober. If I can stop drinking to excess, then anyone can stop drinking to excess. This is true of people who drink due to work, stress, family issues, or anything else.

Finally, I’d like to suggest adopting a spiritual way of living. This is wonderful for living a life that’s productive, happy, and stress free. Once again, it’s hard to live based on spiritual principles, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges and work involved.

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