Message of the day

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress. - Mahatma Gandhi
~...

Making a Decision – First Step to Quit Drinking

ʽʽ Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

- W. H. Murray, from The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

What does it mean to make a decision? A decision is a commitment. It is diving into the now, this moment, the moment that you have right now at this very instant. There is no shadowy future date that awaits your decision because there is no power in tomorrow. A decision requires boldness and that fist pumping exhilaration of Yes, I will!

If you hesitate all is lost. If you start a sentence with “but”, or if you try explaining “I can’t because”, you are doomed. We who have addictions are undisciplined, fearful, and indecisive. We are a slave to our addictions. But in that moment of decision, we hold freedom in the palm of our hands. We just know we can do what we decide. We know that we have all the answers inside of us.

Deciding can change the path you are on in an instant. So be bold, and in this instant- decide. Whatever it is you are struggling with, let it go. Whatever fears you are suppressing, stop playing it safe. Nothing will ever change for you until you make a decision to change.

There is nothing that you can’t do. And in that boldness be the observer. Watch yourself expand and open up to all possibilities. As Murray says, now providence will take over and unforeseen things will occur. If you are in a lonely place, let people into your life that can assist you. No one expects you to do this journey alone. Once you open yourself up to all possibilities your life will be full.

There is only this moment.

In Recovery – Intimate Relationships

When we are inside an addiction, we have an intimate relationship with our substance of choice whether it is alcohol, drugs or food. Or we may have a relationship with an addictive behavior like gambling or shopping. This relationship with an addiction often prevents us from having healthy relationships with the people around us. The addiction isolates us. We can’t seem to connect to people in a healthy way. Too often we might feel that we don’t fit in or we feel lonely and misunderstood. In recovery it is important to replace our intimate relationship with the addiction with healthy relationships.

When I speak of intimacy I am referring to an emotional connection with another person. Even if we can connect with one person, it creates something we can build on. For example, in the television series Grey’s Anatomy the character Cristina is always saying to Meredith, “You are my person.” Cristina has found one person who she can confide in that offers her little or no threat, one person who she can be open and vulnerable with. In turn Meredith has Cristina as “her person”. They share love, mutuality and compassion built on a foundation of respect. They teach each other, learn from each other and trust each other. However, having only one go-to person is not ideal. You can’t get all things from one person, nor should you expect to.

Most people think intimacy is a sexual activity. Sex may be an aspect of intimacy but there are many different forms of intimacy. The relationship between Meredith and Cristina is an intimate relationship, but it doesn’t involve any physical activity. If you think about it, you may have more intimate relationships in your life than you realize.

In their book “The Intimate Marriage”, H.J. Clinebell and C. H. Clinebell describe many types of intimacy. Besides sexual intimacy there is emotional intimacy whereby you share your thoughts and feelings with one another. There is intellectual intimacy when you can share ideas, and learn from each other.

If you enjoy sports you may share an intimate relationship with someone who shares your fitness goals, or enjoys watching competitive events for fun. You may have also have relationships at work that bind you as you share responsibilities and work on common tasks. During times of crisis or conflict you might share closeness with someone who helps you cope. You may have someone close to you who shares a love of beauty, music, or the arts. You may have projects that you co-create with someone and through that process you develop a bond. You may have a spiritual intimacy with someone whom you can share philosophies or religious experiences.

An addiction often takes away our intimate relationships. An alcohol or drug addiction affects our relationships with nearly everyone around us including our family, friends and co-workers. We stop doing many of the activities that we used to do and lose the connections with those people who we shared things with. We even stop doing the things that we are passionate about. One by one our healthy relationships fall to the wayside. Our goal once in recovery is to start getting those relationships back. Some we can repair and some we can’t, but finding a connection to someone who is “on your side” and who you can say, “You are MY person” is a healthy start.

Peer Pressure in Adulthood

Unwittingly, some of us carry around our experiences with peer pressure, from our youth into adulthood. Remember when, in high school for example, there was a constant stream of information telling us how to fit in, how to dress, how to act, and how to become one of the “beautiful people”? Who did not want to be popular and be accepted by our peers?

If we were in the popular crowd, we were fortunate. However, we were conforming to what was expected of us to stay there. If we were not so fortunate, we felt like an outsider and the message became “you are not good enough”.

The peer pressure experienced from our past can echo into our present. Sometimes we go to any length to be accepted and liked, both in our professional and personal lives. After all, we need to hear positive things about ourselves and be recognized and valued. That’s normal. But if our self esteem or confidence has been threatened by some trauma from the past and if we feel that we are not good enough, an addiction can fill that void. Some of us can turn to food, others to gambling, alcohol or drugs. For a little while this works.

When we decide to make changes in our lives, like dealing with an addiction, we often do a mental checklist to be sure that we will still be accepted by our peers. We question whether we will continue to fit in. Our concerns may go something like this: (and you can substitute the word “drinking” with the addiction that you are living with.)

What will people think about me if I quit drinking?

What am I going to say to people when I refuse a drink?

Will people treat me the same way when I stop drinking?

Will people think I have a problem and therefore am weak?

Will people find out that I have an addiction?

Reflections:

1. What are some of the messages about yourself that you received in the past from other people?

2. What are the messages you are receiving from people now?

3. Do you care so much about what others think that it is stopping you from getting well?

4. How much do you want to change?

5. How much do you worry about what others will think?

Feeling Good Without an Addiction

When a person quits drinking alcohol or tries quitting any kind of addiction one is often left with an empty feeling or a kind of void or black hole; also time – minutes and hours of time to fill that were once taken up by the addiction. I’m not sure which is worse – the depression of the black hole or all that extra time. How to fill that void and fill those hours is a challenge to any recovering addict. If you are successful with this, you will likely be well on your way to recovery – if not, you will probably relapse or replace one addiction with another. For e.g. some may quit drinking but then start to smoke, gamble, or over eat. Some get hooked on addictive medications or pain killers. Some are drawn to dangerous thrill seeking or sex addictions. Notice that the new addiction may be just as destructive as the last. Why do we feel so good (we think) with an addiction and so bad when we stop?

The human brain is an extraordinary organ. It controls everything. It allows us to think, dream, solve problems, and feel emotion. When we drink, eat, or take drugs the brain then releases a chemical called dopamine which then gives us feelings of pleasure. The brain remembers this pleasure and of course wants to experience this over and over again. Let’s use food for example; we eat every day to survive and this is of course more important than any other need. But when someone drinks alcohol, the brain takes on the same need as when you eat, but this need becomes more important than any other need and eventually the addiction is so strong that nothing else matters and instead of getting pleasure from the addiction you end up depending on it just to get through the day.

Naturally we as humans love the way our brain produces the dopamine and gives us pleasure. So when someone quits drinking and doesn`t feel that pleasure anymore it can create other emotions such as sadness, anxiety, stress, and depression. Did you know that we can replace our bad addiction with a healthy one and still feel that pleasure?

Here are a few things that you can do to get that good feeling back plus fill your time with healthy choices:

• Eat healthy. Get involved with grocery shopping and cooking. Foods such as bananas, watermelon, beets, chicken, fish, and cheese help replace depleted nutrients. Most people with an alcohol addiction are malnourished, even though they swear that they eat well. Alcohol inhibits the bodies ability to absorb nutrients. Plus alcohol is full of empty calories.

• Take vitamin supplements. You aren’t going to be able to get all your nutrients from food and being deficient of vitamins and minerals affects your health in profound ways. Alcohol induced deficiencies include Folic Acid, Thiamine, Niacin, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12.

• Supplement Minerals. Magnesium is known to increase dopamine levels. Being deficient in magnesium can lead to anxiety, depression, muscle spasm, tremors and chronic pain. Other mineral deficiencies may include Calcium and Zinc.

• Try Ginko Biloba. Ginko Biloba contains flavonoids known to improve memory and enhance dopamine levels.

• Exercise. Have you ever heard of runners high? Vigorous exercise is a serious mood boost. Find a sport or activity that you enjoy and make it part of your weekly routine.

• Try Green Tea. Green tea contains polyphenols which can increase dopamine levels. Plus green tea is a healthy choice.

• Start a journal. Journaling is a great way to de stress, plus it keeps your thoughts from going round and round in your head. Write down your struggles, your frustrations and resentments, your goals. Journaling keeps you conscious of how you are thinking. If your thinking is getting too negative add a gratitude list to your journal.

• Meditation. Learning meditation is an art, but to keep it simple, find a quiet place and each day sit and be still. Concentrate on your breath going in and out. Try doing this for 10 minutes and then increase the time as you feel comfortable. Your brain will probably jump from one problem to another, but keep at it, and in time meditation will improve concentration and decision making and lower anxiety. If this seems too hard, and you aren’t getting anywhere with it, try Yoga.

• Do something you love. There is no better medicine in the world than being passionate about something. Return to things that you left behind because of your addiction. Get involved in your life and enjoy yourself. Laugh often.

Yes we all miss the high of our addictions. After all, if we weren’t getting something out of them, why keep them up? Stopping an addiction isn’t easy and when our moods plummet to anxiety, worry, depression and fear, it is easy to just go back to what we know. We know the addiction will make us feel better. It is the “feeling” that we want, not all the destructive behaviors that go with it. Unfortunately, chasing that “feeling” results in millions of deaths each year. Try the simple methods above to improve your chances of staying well. If these natural methods don’t work, consult a doctor for medications.

Can You Successfully Treat Addiction at Home?

Outpatient treatment for addiction is a feasible and often the only solution available for many people.  Rehab facilities aren’t always practical or even affordable. Choosing an outpatient approach is even more practical as we implement new technologies to allow the treatment necessities come into our immediate surroundings. Along with new medications that we have at our disposal today, we can open up choices to enable better success of an outpatient program. A program’s success is more reliant on a person’s commitment and discipline, than it is to the location where treatment is given. While it is never easy to rid oneself of any addiction, whatever manner a person chooses it requires one key element –“a moment of clarity” that leads us to a decision to take action.  Although many are discouraged to try this sort of treatment option at home, it can work and has many advantages, yet it does require that key commitment above all.

To reach a decision to stop an addiction, you need to have a moment of clarity.   A moment of clarity is a very small window of time in which the real you surfaces, the insanity of the addiction is held at bay, and in this moment a clear message surfaces that you must do something about your drinking or your addiction. That’s the moment you must maximize to make a decision to stop the addiction. The decision made, you now have to choose a treatment option.

For many, an outpatient treatment program is the only option, and although some may believe that they may need to go somewhere to make a change it really does rely on the commitment one is willing to make. How many stories have you heard of people after going to an elaborate and expensive facility, come out and go back to old habits? This is because they failed to fully engage what was necessary and maybe never had that moment of clarity. Someone else either forced them or they were left with few options while essentially they just following along to buy time, until the next explosion of events occurred. Yet once making a commitment to do a home recovery program it should be considered nothing less than an outpatient treatment program as along with the decision come responsibilities necessary to achieve a successful outcome.

Being an outpatient in recovery affords privacy, no time lost from work, it’s inexpensive, and non-intrusive allowing less expulsion of one’s intimate situation to an outside circle of others who may judge.  You can recover at your own pace and set your own goals.  However, as the name implies “outpatient” means that you are still a patient and you are in need of help and medical attention. A favorable approach is to utilize a personal coach to guide you through the changes you need to make and responsibilities that are required.

Find an addiction coach or therapist that will agree to work with you from home.  With the various forms of technology at our disposal today, you can use Skype video or even a simple phone call to bring your coach into your living room or office. It doesn’t matter if your coach is in Canada or Tokyo, the key is getting an experienced party involved to help you reach your goal.

Another element that is a crucial part of success for many and your coach should advise you on, is using anti-craving medications to help make your program successful. New research shows that some medications actually reverse the addiction. While other medications can help slow down and even stop binge drinking, there are also drugs that can help control cravings.

Once you find the person you feel can help you, your coach can take an honest assessment of your situation and help you start the healing process.  Here is what your recovery at home may look like and the order you may want to take:

  • Get a checkup from your doctor
  • Address any medical issues
  • Decide which anti-craving drug if any that you need to take
  • Set goals for recovery and have those goals set within a time frame
  • Check in with your coach daily for the first week or two until the medications start working
  • Keep a drinking diary so you can chart your progress
  • Take at least 1 hour per day that you set aside to get your “homework” done and work on yourself
  • Turn undisciplined into discipline
  • Start making small changes and step out of your comfort zone
  • Start adding healthy activities to your routine
  • Start improving your diet and eat regular meals
  • Work on your sleeping patterns

All these suggestions can be found in The Breakthrough Plan for Alcohol Addiction, by Deborah Morrow, a free e-book available to you at: http://www.debbiethecoach.com/subscribe/

"Bring it" Are these famous last words for Charlie Sheen?

As we turn on the news each day, we’ve seen a shift in the focus from the pressing issues in the Middle East, the debates over health care and the union fight in Wisconsin to the self-destruction of Charlie Sheen.  What I find interesting is his portrayal in the media. He longs to not be judged; yet he opens his personal life to reporters, critiques, and TV talk shows.  He dares us to accept who he is and what some might call an unorthodox life style, but who is Charlie Sheen?  At this point does he even know?
On one hand, Charlie describes himself as old fashioned and chivalrous–chivalry being a lost art, he adds.  He’s a “nice guy” who believes in monogamy and traditional family values.  He admits he has his faults, but is trying to improve.  He claimed he was a people pleaser (but has recently changed), he used to let people kick him around (but not anymore), yet as he revises his persona he describes himself as “a peaceful man” as he exposes a sly smile, adding “with bad intentions”.  And there it is—that twinkle in his eye, that accompanies the self-deprecating remark leaving us to imagine what mischief is afoot.  This is the identity that keeps us coming back for more, what keeps us intrigued.  However, his rock star alter ego over shadows this identity.
What some might see as a rock star identity, I’ve come to understand is truly the Alcohol Identity, (or in Charlie’s case the Addiction Identity) showcasing a different version of who Charlie Sheen is.  In an abrupt shift, Charlie describes a completely different version of himself.  “I’m nobility, I’m cool, I’m a rock star and I have tiger blood.”  “I live in the moment of the moment.” he declares. This superior being that is the Alcohol Identity looks down on us normal and boring folk, and feels sorry that we “don’t feel the magic”; that we don’t have his wisdom and superior intelligence.   When asked if he is an angry person he states. “I have a passion for anger and I’m here to collect.”
Here is a man on the edge. I think of all the actors and entertainers that have lost their lives to addiction and I can only hope that this is not the fate of Charlie Sheen. And no, I am not here to judge him. My own experiences with alcohol addiction afford me to know better than to stand too tall. I understand the perspective as I too used to feel sorry for the normal and boring folk and vow I would never be like them. Although I wish I had thought of being a rock star.
The world can only wait and watch to see who will come out the winner. Will it be the Real Identity or the Addiction Identity?  Usually the gory details of addiction are left off centre stage. Although TV and movies depict winos sitting in dark alleys with bony fingers sticking out of fingerless gloves holding bottles wrapped in paper bags, this is what addiction looks like folks–gory details included.  We would rather think that Charlie Sheen is bi-polar or has psychiatric problems rather than face that this is what addiction looks like in real life. It is messy, it is heart breaking, it is dangerous, and it will take you down, losing everything you’ve worked for and if left untreated it will kill you.
Charlie’s hatred of AA, leaves him with few treatment options while the  Addiction Identity is running the show.  This identity will not allow any options except to keep the addiction going even if it kills it’s host.  If and when the “moment of clarity” comes for Charlie Sheen, there is another option open for him with Debbie the Coach. I invite him to take it.

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The material on our website is for informational purposes only, and is intended as a supplement, not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health-care provider. Read more...