10 Things I Wish I Knew About Recovery 10 Years Ago
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

After almost 10 full years of continuous clean time in recovery, I have learned a great deal.

If I could turn back time and start over again fresh at day one in recovery, here are the critical lessons I would most hope to take with me.

This is the juicy stuff I have learned on my journey:

1. That there is no secret to recovery. Only hard work, action, and commitment produces real results.

So many people in recovery believe that they have found the one and only secret that will allow them to stay clean and sober successfully. For the vast majority of addicts and alcoholics, this is the 12 step program.

Many people believe that the 12 steps have mystical power, that they were the ultimate secret to beating addiction that we were just lucky enough to uncover thanks to Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. This is a ridiculous way to think, even though I can see why many people cling to this mindset out of fear.

I am not knocking 12 step recovery. It is valuable for some people. But, you must realize that it is not a magic recovery method. There is no magic in it. There is no secret power in the 12 steps that produces great success rates. In fact, the success rate is quite poor. But aside from that, the program can work for some people. It is just not the magic bullet that they believe it to be.

Now, given that, what is the secret to recovery? Only hard work. If you want great results in recovery, you have to put in massive effort. What you do only matters a little, so long as it is positive action and you keep pushing yourself to learn and to grow. The rest is just details.

2. The drama in your life is your own. Nobody cares. Find a way to deal with it, or relapse.

From what I saw in early recovery, everyone who is trying to get clean and sober is, in some way, a bit of a drama queen. They all have some degree of self centeredness, they are all either wrapped up in anger, self pity, or resentment of some sort. And in traditional recovery circles, everyone is going to meetings and basically unloading all of their crap like it is group therapy.

You have to find a way to deal with this stuff. You have to find a way to make recovery work for you. It is your responsibility to do so. No one else can step in and figure out how to manage your recovery for you.

For example, I noticed in early recovery that I was addicted to self pity. I took resentment and turned it inward. This was what I loved to do, and it was also how I used to justify my drug use. Self pity was sort of like the big character flaw that kept me sick.

So I had to realize this, and then I had to decide to overcome it. It took serious effort. I had to learn about gratitude and how to practice it. I had to realize that some other principles were not as important to my recovery, but that getting over this particular hurdle (for me) would be crucial.

We all have our own personal Mt. Everest in recovery. Maybe you suffered abuse as a child, and still resent it. Whatever it is, you need to pin it down, and destroy it. It takes what it takes. You may need to seek help, therapy, professional help, etc. Do whatever it takes, because the responsibility is entirely on your shoulders.

3. That the most powerful spiritual principle in recovery is gratitude.

Gratitude is so powerful that it can overcome almost anything, it can prevent any form of relapse. How does it do this?

Because someone who is truly grateful will not have a need to self medicate. They will not have a need to alter their state of mind with drugs or alcohol. They will appreciate their whole life, their whole existence, and they will appreciate that very moment that they are experiencing….and this is enough. They do not need more than this. They do not need to add anything to their life, they do not need to change their experience with a buzz.

Every single addict and alcoholic who has relapsed had a moment that was like the flipping of a switch in their brain. At that moment, they said to themselves: “Screw it.” That is the point of no return. That is the point when the relapse has been decided. They will drink or use drugs. It is over. No more clean time. No more recovery. That moment comes when they say “screw it.”

Gratitude is the opposite of saying “screw it.” Gratitude is about hope, about being grateful for existence itself, and grateful for what the future may hold for you.

And it takes practice. You don’t just choose to be grateful one day. Instead, you have to practice cultivating gratitude in your life. You have to remind yourself, train yourself how to appreciate things. You have to work at it.

But of course, the payoff is definitely worth it. People who are truly grateful do not relapse.

4. That the cockiest people at the AA meetings were going to relapse anyway.

When I first got clean and sober, I was going to 12 step meetings every day, because I was living in a long term treatment center. I continued to go to 12 step meetings for about the first 18 months of my recovery. After that I largely quit going to them, and found other ways to actively engage with recovery.

I noticed right away that there were some cocky people in the meetings. I went to various meetings too, there are several in my town, both AA and NA, and I noticed that there was always certain people in the meetings that just rubbed me the wrong way. Some of them were cocky. But it was not quite that really. It was more that they were fear mongering. They would threaten the whole meeting with the idea of relapse, and how most of us would not make it to a year sober, and blah blah blah. They preached fear as a means of convincing themselves that they would stick to the program.

I am so glad that I did not buy into this fear, and that I left “the program” and found my own path in recovery. Almost 10 years later and I am still using my own brain to seek positive action in recovery.

And over the years, I noticed something about the fear mongers in 12 step meetings: they all relapsed. I have to admit that I felt a twinge of pride at that because those people are damaging, in my opinion. They used to preach at me that I would relapse and die if I ever quit going to 12 step meetings. So I am glad that I had the strength to walk away from that negative, fear-based message.

5. That self pity really is a big waste of time and mental energy.

I noticed in very early recovery that I was holding myself back, in a way. I was creating my own problems, through the use of self pity. Why was I doing this?

Looking back at my years of addiction and alcohol abuse, I saw that I had a clear pattern of using self pity as a way to justify my drinking. I secretly enjoyed when bad things would happen in my life, because it gave me the excuse that I need to really get hammered.

Self pity was how I fueled my addiction.

Now, other people with addiction do not necessarily have this problem. Some of them might be more prone to resentment (towards others). If this is the case, then they need to find their own path in overcoming that particular problem.

But for me, it was self pity. That was how I justified my using. And I noticed that when I got clean and sober, I was still using self pity as an automatic defense mechanism.

Of course, I could quickly see that it was not going to keep working for me (unless I relapsed). Having the self pity around was not doing me any good, because I was no longer using drugs and alcohol. So I had to get rid of it, and stop letting myself “go there.”

How did I do that? Basically I shut it down in the same way that I had stopped using drugs, and gave myself a zero tolerance policy for it. I became more aware of when my brain was engaging in self pity, and I shut it down immediately. Then, I forced myself to practice gratitude in order to compensate for this tendency.

Gratitude is the cure for self pity. They cannot coexist. So if you have problems with self pity, shut it down, and then practice gratitude.

6. That self esteem is something you create; something you build….not something you wish for.

Some people out there might disagree with this idea. But it was important, for me at least, to come to terms with the fact that I could not make magical wishes and somehow feel better about my life and my situation. I had to put in real work, real effort, real action….and only then did my self esteem start to improve.

I think every person who is successful in recovery can look back at their journey and agree that, “yes, I had to fight like a dog to build up my own self esteem.” We each have to claw our way to victory. In terms of overcoming an addiction, that means a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears in learning how to live without self medicating every day.

You can’t just wish that things where different in recovery, and magically see the changes occur. You have to put in the work. Taking action is the real key to this. If you want to feel better about yourself, then it all starts with what you are going to do today. Do. As in, verb. As in, you, taking action.

Sitting around and thinking does not cut it. And even though there is some great recovery literature out there, sitting around reading about recovery is not necessarily going to change your life, either. You have to dive in with both feet and get busy. Maybe that means you will need to go to 12 step meetings every day. Maybe that means you will start working with other addicts and alcoholics. All just details. What is key is that you take consistent, positive action.

Recovery is about doing. Recovery is about living. It all comes back to action. Those who do not take positive action in recovery end up relapsing.

7. That exercise would turn out to be a huge breakthrough for me.

Never would have foreseen this during my first two years of recovery. In fact, I had a therapist during my first year who tried to get me into exercise and working out. I sort of half tried it for a while but none of it really clicked for me. I am not sure why it did not click at the time, but it just didn’t. I said, “this is nice, and I am sure fitness helps some people in recovery, but it is clearly not for me.” Boy was I wrong.

So fast forward to a few years into my recovery, and suddenly I decide to take up running, on a whim.

It is not easy and is actually quite miserable for a few months, then suddenly, everything clicks like magic. Running is easy, enjoyable, and spiritual. It is a moving meditation and I could never dream of going without it. Five years later and I am still going strong.

Apparently I just had to get over that hump. But now that I am in shape, I would say that exercise is one of the main pillars of my recovery. Really, it is that strong.

Those who dismiss physical exercise as being unimportant to their recovery are just missing out. Their life could be so much easier, if they could get past this hump, and commit to doing regular, vigorous exercise.

8. That it is pointless to invest time and energy into someone who is not ready to quit yet.

I have worked in the treatment industry for about 5 years now, trying to help sick addicts and alcoholics to get clean and sober and turn their life around.

In addition to that, I am in recovery myself, and most of my friends are in recovery as well. Some of them have, on occasion, “slipped back over to the dark side.”

So I have had some experience with trying to help others to get clean and sober. And here is what I have learned:

Recovery is hard, no matter what program is being used, and no matter what the circumstances are. Period. Recovery is tough, and the odds are not great.

But here is the thing: after working in a drug and alcohol rehab for 5 years, I have watched thousands of people try to get clean and sober, and we can divide all of those addicts into 2 groups:

* People who genuinely want to get clean and sober.
* People who only sort of want to be there, and might be doing it for a friend, family member, to try to save a marriage, or a job, and so on.

So you have 2 groups of people. Those who really want it for themselves, and those who do not. And here is the thing: most of these people don’t make it in recovery. Period!

That includes all of both groups. Even those who really want to get sober, a large percentage of those people will relapse.

So can you imagine how pointless it is to try and help someone from the other group, the folks who really don’t care much to begin with?

If someone wants to get clean and sober–then by all means, help them. But if they do not even want sobriety for themselves yet, then you are wasting your energy.

This idea may seem obvious right now, but the whole game changes when it is our friend, family member, or loved one that is out of control. But these ideas still apply all the same, unfortunately…

9. That success in recovery breeds more success. Take massive action and break through to a better life.

An addict who is just getting clean and sober is not someone on a winning streak. They say that all the time in 12 step meetings: “You did not come into this program because you were on a winning streak.” Of course that is true. No one gets clean and sober when everything is going real good in their life. It would be stupid to do so, actually. Why change when things are going well? It would not make sense.

In early recovery, you might be depressed. You may feel like getting sober is just another low point in your life after being “on a losing streak” for so long. So it can be hard to turn that around and make it into something positive.

But this is exactly what you must do. And then, once you convince yourself that being clean and sober is a win, you have to follow it up with another win. What will that be? It might vary from person to person.  You overcome addiction when you start to pursue real growth in your life.

For me, I moved into long term rehab, and felt like I was at a low point for doing so. But then good things started to happen. I took some suggestions and went back to college. Soon I had my degree. I took another suggestion and started running. Now I run about 30 miles per week and get huge benefits from doing so. I also took some of this discipline that I learned and applied it to starting a business, which is now thriving.

And so on. If you do it right, then you will build on your successes in recovery. Each “win” in your life should motivate you to achieve the next goal. You should develop a bit of momentum. Life should keep getting better and better.

If you’re not quite there yet, then don’t worry. Just relax, and focus on one thing. At first, it is enough to get through one day sober. But you have to push yourself at some point, to learn and to grow in some way.

Don’t try to take on the whole world at once. Like I said, focus on one goal at a time. For example, I spent several months where my only goal was to quit smoking cigarettes. It was time well spent and I eventually succeeded. Then I moved on to work on my fitness goals. And so on.

10. That even though it can be tough, recovery is SO worth it.

Recovery can start out hard. It is difficult at first, no doubt about it. But of course, the rewards are SO worth it in the end.

If you are actually learning and growing in your recovery, and building on each success that you have, then live just keeps getting better and better as you go along. Really what you are doing is refining what it means to be an effective person in your life. You learn new things, try different stuff, and stick with whatever works for you. In meetings they say “take what you need and leave the rest.” Do this on a broad scale and apply it to your entire life. Recovery is personal growth. Push yourself to learn, to grow as a person, and to love others.

At that point, your sobriety will take care of itself.

Information About Nasal Spray Addiction
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Included in the long list of possible addictions is a nasal spray addiction. When you get a cold or suffer from allergies, it is easy to purchase one of the over-the-counter nasal sprays that promise to give you instant relief from congestion. These sprays really work. They usually last for at least 12 hours. Unfortunately, when the allergies are disappearing and the cold is gone, you will still use the nasal spray because you think that you still need it. The instructions on the sprays say that you shouldn’t use it for more than 3 days. The problem is that you may still be suffering from total congestion for more than 3 days. So, you will still continue to use the spray. It all seems very harmless. However, the more you use the nasal spray, the less chance your congestion will clear up on its own. This is when the addiction comes into play. Some people will continue to use the spray for weeks and even months before they decide that they should stop.

337/365 - sick. blaaaaaah

 photo credit: B Rosen

If you stop using the spray, eventually the nasal passages will go back to normal, and you won’t depend on the spray anymore. If you really give your willpower a chance, you will start to ignore minor congestion and let it go away by itself or by taking an over-the-counter decongestant or a prescription from your doctor. Many times the congestion may actually get worse after stopping the use of the nasal spray. This is called the rebound effect.

Becoming addicted to nasal spray is a very innocent substance abuse. However, it is still an abuse. No one uses nasal sprays for the purpose of getting high or increasing energy. They use it to simply clear the nose. It’s uncomfortable to be so stuffed up that you can’t breathe. If you feel that you will only depend on the spray for just a few days, it is a wonderful product for quick relief. But there are other ways to help clear the congestion without becoming dependent on the nasal spray.

One way to break away from this addiction is to try some of those paper strips that can adhere to the bridge of your nose. This involves no drugs, no side effects, no fuss and no mess. Many people seem to be satisfied with the results of these strips. If this method is not good enough, you can try using a saline nasal spray. These are not habit-forming and can be very effective. If you have a humidifier, use it in the bedroom while you sleep. Nasal congestion seems to be worse at night when you are in a horizontal position. Dry air will only worsen the congestion. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can always boil water and breathe in the steam. Since you’re boiling the water anyway, you might as well make a cup of decaffeinated tea or soup. Just by drinking these beverages you can still get the steam effect to help clear the nasal passages.

Another simple solution is to use a warm washcloth and apply it around the nose. The heat and moisture can loosen the mucus that causes the congestion. You can also use a vapor rub on your chest. By breathing in these vapors you will feel some relief all the way up through the nasal passages.

Before trying any of these other solutions, you need to throw away the nasal sprays that you may still have hidden in your home. By not having these sprays around you are forced to try one or more of the other ways to control your congestion without becoming addicted again.

Help for Meth Addiction – Treatment Options for Recovery
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What is the best way to get help for meth addiction?  What are the best treatment options for recovery in this case?

Well like with any drug, your best bet is going to start out with going to inpatient rehab.  This is almost always the best choice for nearly any addict who is trying to get clean and sober.  The reason for this is because an inpatient drug rehab has the most resources available to help you with your drug addiction.  For example, they usually have 12 step meetings, but also counseling, therapists, group therapy, and so on.  They might also be able to refer you to outpatient treatment or to long term rehab if that is deemed necessary.  So going to an inpatient treatment center can be much more than just having a few weeks locked up without any drugs.  You can have real opportunities there to make real progress with your recovery and set yourself up for success when you leave.

Not Even Once

 photo credit: Nathan Jongewaard

Meth addiction in particular can be a bit tricky because you do not necessarily have to detox someone for meth.  Most rehab centers will actually not put you in the detox ward when you get to rehab, but instead just have you start attending groups right away.  Why is  this?  Because there are only very minimal physical withdrawal symptoms from a meth user, whereas other drugs can have much more intense withdrawal symptoms.  In fact, many drugs can actually be dangerous to come off of but Meth is one that is completely safe to stop using cold turkey, even with no medical supervision.

Why does this make it tricky?  Well in part, quitting meth is extremely easy, because there is no withdrawal from it.  So any meth user can just put it down with no major problems.  This is a good thing, right?

Wrong.  The fact that meth is easy to put down makes it that much easier to pick it back up again.  Meth addicts know that there is no real penalty when they quit cold turkey, so it is much easier to justify a relapse than it is with other drugs.

For example, take a heroin addict who is on the brink of relapse.  They know that if they shoot up again, that eventually, they will have to go through the withdrawal process from heroin, and they know how incredibly uncomfortable that will make them feel.  So the heroin addict has real incentive to stay clean and sober, because they know how miserable the detox process is.

The meth user has no such incentive.  Even alcoholics have a bit of built in insurance when it comes to this, because alcohol withdrawal is no walk in the park either, and can be quite miserable.  In fact, alcohol withdrawal is generally one of the most dangerous detoxes out there, and can be fatal if it is not properly supervised.

So give meth the proper respect it deserves in being a very difficult drug addiction to overcome.  Just because the withdrawal is quite minimal does not mean that you should not take the treatment for this drug seriously.  Residential treatment is still probably the best idea in most cases and some meth addicts will even opt for long term rehab.  Long term treatment makes a lot of sense actually, because meth is more of a lifestyle drug, and it can take quite a bit of structure and disruption to overcome those old habits.  Many meth addicts are more addicted to the lifestyle that meth use brings along with it than they are to the drug itself.  The late nights, the week long binges, the partying….it is all part of the total package that the drug addict tends to glorify in their minds.  Overcoming this lifestyle element is best done with long term rehab.

Addiction Treatment for a Crack Cocaine Addict
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What is the best type of treatment for a crack cocaine addict who continues to struggle with addiction?  What is the best treatment available for struggling addicts in general?  Are certain recovery strategies more effective than others?

Well there are actually a whole bunch of different addiction treatment services that are available to struggling drug addicts.  For example, they might start an addict out with some basic addiction counseling, where the addict would meet with a therapist a few times per month.  Or they might refer an addict to outpatient treatment, where the person would attend groups all day and then go home each night.

'Clochard' Rue Victor Hugo Lyon

 photo credit: FaceMePLS

Then you move up to the more intense treatment methods, such as inpatient drug rehab and detox.  This is where the addict would actually check in and stay for a while at a rehab setting.  There they would get the benefit of counseling, therapy, and peer interaction, as well as medical staff support.

It gets even more intense if you move up to long term rehab, where the addict would actually live in  sober recovery house environment.  There they would have random drug screens, meetings, group therapy, and so on.

Ideally, if an addict has tried one type of treatment and failed at it, they should consider moving up to more intense forms of treatment.  This is a general rule but it makes a lot of sense for people who are struggling and nothing has worked for them yet.

My own personal experience was that I was drinking every day, using marijuana every day, and I was starting to experiment more and more with crack cocaine and smoking the stuff.  I had gone to counseling in the past and at some point the counselor told me that he did not think we should see each other any more.  This is because I had no intention of stopping my drug use at the time and the therapist knew it.  So it was just a big waste of time for both of us.

After many more years of trying to use drugs (and being largely unsuccessful at it, because I am an addict), I finally came to a point where I was willing to go to rehab.  I checked into a place and stated there for about two weeks or so.  When I left, I had decided that alcohol was my problem and that I was going to quit drinking but continue to use marijuana.  As you can guess, this did not work so well, and I ended up going back to my drinking within only a few short weeks.

The next time when I really was willing to get clean, I was more willing to do whatever it takes.  So when they suggested long term rehab, I was willing to go.  In the past, I had never been willing to attend rehab, but now I was more than willing.  So I lived in a long term rehab for 20 months and this was the big turning point for me.

Long term rehab did for me what other treatment strategies could not.  It gave me the structure that I needed in order to stay clean and sober for good.  But it also did something else that was really important: it gave me a new set of friends.  All of my old friends were people who used drugs and alcohol.  So without this new set of clean and sober friends, I am not sure that I could have found a way to stay clean and sober at all.

So the bottom line is that you should seek professional help fro your addiction.  If it fails, then seek more intensive help the next time.  Repeat this process until you stay clean and sober for good.

Detox and Residential Treatment for Oxycontin Addiction
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Should a person seek out detox and residential treatment for oxycontin addiction?  Is this the best path for someone who is hooked on prescription opiates and wants to get help for their addiction?

My opinion is that yes, this is the best course of action for oxycontin addicts who want to get help.  There are several reasons for this.

First of all, detox at home cold turkey from opiates is not fun at all, and your chances of success in doing this are very low.  Most people simply cannot make it through the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which resemble a bad case of the flu.

Sweet relief.

 photo credit: analytik

How does detox and treatment help with this?  What they do in rehab is to give you medication to help with your withdrawal symptoms.  Different rehabs may use different medicines for this, but most of them will normally use Suboxone and Subutex to help get patients detoxed from opiates.  These medicines do a good job of eliminating withdrawal symptoms for the most part.  You may still experience some slight amount of discomfort, but in the end this is a much better route than trying to detox on your own.

The second reason that inpatient treatment is good for opiate addiction is because of the support that you will get from the groups and the lectures at the residential facility.  It will not do you any good to get clean and sober, only to wander out of treatment and walk right into a relapse.  You have to learn some things about how to actually live clean and that is what they will attempt to teach you in rehab.

They might also expose you to 12 step meetings in a rehab setting.  For many addicts, this becomes the lifeblood of their recovery, and they go on to attend many 12 step meetings that become the cornerstone of their recovery.  Without treatment, they may never be exposed to these meetings or to this self help community.

Some addicts meet a therapist in treatment that goes on to help them for a long term basis.  They might continue to see and work with a counselor that they might really connect with in rehab.  Without attending rehab, they may never get the opportunity to meet with and work with this therapist.

Some addicts end up leaving short term residential treatment and attend a long term rehab facility or live in a halfway house.  This can be a huge factor in their ongoing success in recovery and again, without attending that first drug rehab, they would never have been introduced to a long term facility that eventually saved their life.

So basically, even though simply staying at a short term rehab for 10 days or 28 days might not make a huge impact, it can lead to things that might be the answer to your problem and can help you in the long run.   Short term rehab can be the opportunity that you need to find that next step in your recovery.  If you do not attend then you will not have the opportunity to find a solution.

Many people who attend rehab end up relapsing.  That is a fact.  But the truth is, it is still an excellent opportunity for anyone who really wants to get clean and sober.

It is not so much that rehab is a magic bullet or a sure fix….rather, it is that rehab gives you a chance at life again, if you want it.  Most people do not really want to be clean, even when they attend rehab, most people are still in a state of ambivalence, where they might not fully want to be clean.  A part of them wishes that things were different, but they do not really want to be fully clean and sober yet.

It takes what it takes.  For many people, they have to struggle for a few years before they “get it.”

Helping a Marijuana Addict Get the Treatment They Need
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What is the best way for helping a marijuana addict get the treatment that they need?  I had a comment the other day and the person was very angry and defensive about smoking marijuana, and they stated that my advice about addiction was useless and “obsolete” because the world is in the process of legalizing marijuana.  It is becoming more and more legal as time goes on in more and more places, and eventually it will probably be at least as legal as alcohol is.

What this person fails to realize is that the legality of marijuana has almost no bearing on the addictive properties of the drug.  Just because the government makes a substance legal does not mean that this particular substance is not addictive or cannot harm you in any way.  Cigarettes are legal, and they are much more addictive than marijuana is.  Alcohol is legal, and it is more addictive than marijuana (by most measures I have seen).

When in Amsterdam...

 photo credit: miss.libertine

But none of this matters.  Marijuana can be addictive and some people do get hooked on it and suffer real consequences in their lives.  Are these consequences as profound as someone who is shooting heroin every day?  No.  Are these consequences as bad as someone who is drinking a fifth of whiskey every night?  No.  But there are still consequences to marijuana addiction, period.  People try to compare marijuana to other drugs and rationalize that it is not nearly as bad.  They are right, marijuana addiction is not nearly as bad as most other addictions.  However, it is still an addiction!  And, there can still be negative consequences, even if the drug is perfectly legal.

So the first step in many cases might be to convince an addict of marijuana that they are actually experiencing negative consequences in their life.  What is the most common way that this happens?  Many smokers of pot will tend to be lazy and not actually pursue anything meaningful in their lives.  This happens slowly over time in a very subtle but real way.  For example, things that people used to do before their addiction will slowly fall by the wayside as they do them less and less, such as hiking or exercise or sports.  If someone does not really realize that they have given up these things in favor of sitting around and getting stoned all day, then they are less likely to see incentive to change their life.

Ask the person to set the legality of it aside.  They probably have a card and can smoke it legally, or maybe they will soon be in that position anyway.  The legality does not matter.  If they are wasting their life away because all they do is get high, then something needs to change.

Marijuana is a crutch.  Most people do consider it to be a real hard core drug, because it has so few consequences.  But consider this: getting stoned medicates your emotions and your mood in a profound way.  You can be having a terrible day, and be really upset about something in your life, and you can get completely stoned in 3 minutes flat, and everything changes.  Your upset emotional state is a distant memory now.  And this happens even faster than with alcohol, you can become stoned literally in less than 3 minutes.  This is a powerful escape and anyone who uses this on a daily basis is medicating their negative emotions.  If they are bored, they get high.  If they are frustrated, they get high.  If they are angry with others, they get high.  Because they are always getting high anyway, all of their negative emotions get medicated away.  This creates a very unhealthy pattern of living.

Managing Your Soda Addiction to a Reasonable Level
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

How can you manage your soda addiction and get it down to a reasonable level?

I propose at least two ways, and both of them have worked for me.  Now that might sound funny, because why would you need a second strategy for quitting soda if the first strategy worked well?

The reason for that is because I treat pop and soda as a “soft” addiction.  Sorry, but it is just not as serious to me as smoking crack cocaine and drinking half gallons of vodka (see my other addiction for more details on that).

upsidedown pepsi

 photo credit: akeg

So I tend to experiment a bit with pop, and with caffeine.  Caffeine is sort of a wild card with this type of addiction, because some people are certainly addicted to the caffeine in the soda, more than to the soda itself.  They can quit the soda easily as long as they continue to take caffeine in some form, such as through coffee or caffeine pills.

So one thing you have to think about is: what do you really want to do here, quit soda entirely, or just cut down on it?

The second thing you need to consider is: should you eliminate the caffeine as well, or is that not really an issue here?  Maybe you can keep drinking coffee, have no problems associated with caffeine addiction, but still want to quit drinking soda for other reasons.

There are at least a few major reasons that anyone might want to overcome an addiction to soda.  They include:

1) Too much soda, too many calories, too much weight gain.

2) Too much soda, too much caffeine, and an addiction to caffeine that is causing problems of its own.

3) Too much diet soda, and too much artificial sweeteners, which can cause certain problems as well.

4) Too much soda leading to too much money spent on the stuff, period.  Water is free for most people.

5) Too much soda (non diet) and this negatively affects the teeth.  So the dentist urges you to quit, etc.

So you can see that various people might want to quit drinking soda for various reasons.

Here is how I have dealt with this, in two different ways:

1) I quit caffeine, twice, by simply weening myself down from it over a 3 day period.  You do get a slight headache but it is not bad and anyone can get through it without much fuss.  If you are quitting caffeine I would recommend that you eat a piece of fruit in the morning for breakfast.  This will give you a surprisingly good little boost of energy that does not have a crash.

2) I quit drinking “real” soda (non diet) in order to save my teeth.  If you hate the taste of diet then you can do one of 2 things: find an alternative (such as tea, juice, etc.) or force yourself to drink until you like it.  Anyone can do the second option even though they think that they cannot.  Anyone can acquire a taste for diet pop, no matter how badly they think that they hate it.

Now if you want to cut down on your soda intake, I would recommend that you start with the first soda of the day, and replace that.  You can either have water, juice, tea, or some other beverage, but not soda.  Force yourself to do this until it becomes a habit.  Then, later on, if you want to further improve your habits, you might switch out the second soda of the day.  Thus, you can gain confidence in your new healthy approach by gradually changing over time.

Find Help and Get Oxycontin Addiction Treatment Before it is Too Late
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Where can you find help and get Oxycontin addiction treatment for a struggling drug addict?  Is it possible to just quit on your own, cold turkey, or will you need help in order to get off of this medication once you are addicted to it?

Most people who get hooked on opiates such as Oxycontin or Vicodin need help in order to break from them.  This is because the pain and discomfort level during withdrawal from these medications can be quite high.  In fact, it is probably the worst withdrawal that you can have–the only worse you can get in terms of how you feel would be opiate medications that have an even longer half life, such as Methadone.

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 photo credit: The Consumerist

So given that opiate withdrawal is so incredibly miserable, most addicts who are actually dependent on drugs such as Oxycontin are not going to be able to stop without some sort of help.

Where can they get help?

My number one recommendation is to get help from a drug rehab facility.  They are not a magic cure and there is no sure fire way to stay clean no matter what, but you still can not get a better start to your recovery, in most cases.  For example, some people just start attending NA meetings and they never get any professional help at all.  This can be a mistake in many cases, though it could still work for some (and surely it does).  But when you attend a drug rehab you give yourself a couple of huge advantages over someone who does not:

1) You get clean in a safe environment where it is tightly controlled, so there is no temptation to use drugs or alcohol, and you do not have to worry about being exposed to your drug of choice while you are there.

2) You get medical supervision that will help keep you more comfortable during the Oxycontin detox process.  This is huge.  Most facilities use a synthetic opiate called Suboxone that helps to relieve the withdrawal symptoms, and this medicine actually works without getting you high.  Those who have been through cold turkey withdrawal usually refer to Suboxone as a “miracle drug” because it helps so much in how they feel during detox.

3) You get support from peers who are also trying to quit using drugs and overcome addiction.  Again, this is potentially huge.  Going it alone on the outside will be really tough if you do not have any accountability or support systems to help you along.

4) Professional therapists and counselors can help you in ways that simple group therapy or 12 step meetings might miss.  For example, they may help steer you to solutions for mental illness that may be complicating your chances for recovery.

Now most people get put off at the first suggestion of rehab, probably because they assume that it is too expensive.  Anyone who does not have insurance may just be assuming that they cannot get professional help for their addiction.  This is a mistake because in most cases, people who are not insured can usually qualify for some sort of funding.  This will vary depending on where you live and what your exact situation is, so your best course of action is to get on the phone and call up a few treatment centers.

This may be a process.  Call one up and ask questions and get whatever information you can.  Ask for how you might get funded and ask if they know of any agencies who might fund you for rehab.  You may have to call a bunch of different people but if you are persistent then you can probably get the help that you need.  Good luck.

Key Principles for Meth Addiction Help in Recovery
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

What are some of the key principles for meth addiction help in recovery?

Like with any addiction, there are a few things that will allow an addict to successfully recover if they put forth the effort.  These things are outlined as follows:

* Surrender – the meth addict must come to grips with the fact that they cannot beat their addiction on their own and that they need help.  This has to be proven to the person after they have genuinely decided that they would like to be free from their addiction.  At that point they need to really try on their own in order to stop using drugs.  When they fail to be able to do so, they need to admit to the fact that they really tried.  If they fail to admit that they were really trying to quit, then this is denial.  Many people stay stuck here for years or even decades.  ”I could quit if I really wanted to, I just don’t want to.”  This is pure denial.

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 photo credit: anarchosyn

The key principle for getting started with addiction recovery is in breaking through this denial and admitting that they have really tried to stop on their own, but could not.

* Action – Just because a meth addicted person surrenders and admits that they need help does not mean that their life is going to be instantly transformed.  They still have to follow through with action.  And the whole key to this is that it needs to be massive action.

Why massive action?  Because they had a massive addiction, that’s why!  Our addiction is not like this tiny little problem that just needs a tiny correction.  Instead, it is like a huge part of our life, something that consumes almost our every thought and all of our actions, to the point where we now have to reprogram our entire lives.

You cannot expect to spend an hour each day on your recovery and get anything out of it.  If you budget that much time and energy you will relapse for sure.  It takes massive action in order to recover.  Now granted, after you have been clean and sober for a while, you will no longer have to take deliberate massive action like you did in early recovery, but this is because you will already have established more healthy patterns of living.  In other words, you will be in the habit of taking positive action every day.

But in early recovery, you need to take massive action, or you will surely relapse.

* Holistic health – anyone who uses meth for a period of time does quite a bit of damage to themselves.  This damage occurs physically but it also affects a person spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and socially.  In recovery you have to work on all of these things in order to restore yourself to full health.

Many recovering addicts in traditional recovery programs do not believe this.  They think that the solution is spiritual.  This is a short-sighted view that will get you into trouble if you are not careful.  Holistic just means that you are seeking growth in many different areas of your life, not just in the spiritual realm.  To limit your growth to spirituality is a big mistake that too many people make.

One good example of this is with smoking cigarettes.  An holistic approach addresses this and the addict sees quitting as being very important to their recovery effort.  Pretty smart, considering that the number one killer of recovery addicts and alcoholics is lung cancer.  An holistic approach is not only about staying clean and sober, but also about improving the quality of your life in recovery.

The Best Advice on How to Live with an Addict and Convince them To Seek Recovery from Addiction
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

If you live with an addict, what is the best advice on how to convince them to seek recovery from addiction?

Is it even possible to force an addict to get the help that they desperately need, but may not realize that they should pursue?

What can you say to them that will help to make your argument and state your case?

Let’s take a closer look.

First of all, if you live with the addict that you are trying to help, then you are probably enabling them in some fashion, even if you do think that you are.  In some cases, simply by staying in the situation with the addict you are allowing them to continue to use drugs, whereas you might be able to force a change by simply removing your support altogether.  This can be difficult to do, especially if you love the person and want to support them and help them.  But sometimes when we think we are helping someone, we are only keeping them stuck in their addiction.

Serious Conversation

 photo credit: mikecogh

Look at the way that an addict is motivated.  They are motivated only by pain.  This is not an intuitive conclusion, because all of us know that we can be motivated by positive things as well.

But addiction changes all that.  Once the addict is caught up in a cycle of addiction, they are no longer motivated by seeking the pleasure of their drug of choice.  This is the illusion that they tell themselves, this is part of their denial.  No, once they are trapped in addiction, the only motivation they really have is pain.  They take their drug of choice in order to avoid more pain, either emotional, physical, or both.

The addict is suffering in pain, and they medicate this with drugs and alcohol.  They are driven by fear and their lives are full of pain.

The addict is also terrified of sobriety.  They are afraid to get clean and sober and face the unknown.  It is a huge, massive fear in their heart.  They will probably not admit to this, so don’t try to argue with them about it.  But make no mistake: they are scared to get clean.

Now here is the key:

The addict will choose to get clean only when the pain they experience in addiction becomes greater than their fear of sobriety.

Think about that for a moment.  The addict is scared to get clean.  At the same time, they are experiencing pain due to their addiction.  But they cannot make that move and ask for help until the pain becomes great enough.

Their fear will remain constant.  They were born with that certain amount of fear; it is hard-wired into them.  Their level of fear about recovery is not going to change.

Therefore, the only thing that can really motivate the addict to get clean and sober is more pain in their life.

If you are helping them in any way that lessens their pain, then you are actually hurting their chances at recovery.

That does not mean you have to try to deliberately hurt them or make their life more miserable.  They can do that themselves.  You just need to stop rescuing them in ways that alleviate their pain.  This takes them further away from the moment of surrender when they might choose to finally recover.

Convincing an addict to take action does not happen when you “get lucky and say just the right thing.”  That is not how it works at all.  It happens when the addict has finally had enough pain in their life, and they realize that drugs can not really make it better anymore (even though they once did).

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