Recovery from alcoholism
and drug addiction
Author John Joseph,. Addiction and multi-disorder expert/consultant
“In this book, using straight talk, I will show you how to begin and maintain your recovery from your compulsive addiction to alcohol and drugs” John Joseph
Testimonial email feedback from clients who have received addiction consulting from John Joseph.
“I have never met someone so in touch with himself. The way you can talk about your strengths with such conviction and honesty without sounding the least bit cocky is amazing… what usually gets to me is when I see goodness, when I see someone else give freely of themselves without expecting anything in return…In real life, in touching emails, even in the poem that you sent. That’s when I tend to fall apart, and allow myself to feel. Thank you for making me cry“. Sharon P.
“Your emails have really given me hope and I thank you. I was feeling very inadequate as far as this whole situation, but you helped me see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I think my boyfriend is feeling more hopeful than he has in a while. You have given me hope and in turn I have given him hope“. Laura N.
“John came out of no-where to start helping me with my crack addiction 16 years ago when I was not looking for any help. He even told me he would mentor my children. Playing father to them was more like it. I put this man through living hell and he never abandoned me. Many times he came looking for me in the local smoke houses. He has a drive and a heart that won’t quit. I realize now how lucky I really am to have been found by him“. H.T.
About the author and why he can help you quit your addiction to drugs and alcohol.
In writing “Treating Addiction” I wanted it to be a road map to help alcoholics and drug addicts everywhere. I have spent the last 25 years reading in excess of well over 300 books dealing with the subjects of alcoholism and drug addiction recovery, psychological disorders and their influence on addiction, family crisis and relationship counseling. I too am a recovering alcoholic for the last 25 years. I have counseled many hardcore street addicts and also counseled those suffering from addiction and multi-associated disorders. I also watched alcoholism take the mind and life of my beautiful and strong willed mother whom I rarely ever saw, and I’ve watched drugs take the life of some beautiful people very close and dear to my heart. I too, during my worst days of alcoholism spent many years homeless, sleeping in my car many winters and often not bathing or changing my clothes for weeks, especially before the downward spiral that finally motivated me to get well and quit drinking. So my motivations run deep with alcohol and drug addiction recovery assistance being my livelihood. I have empathetic qualities so money was by no means a motivator for me to enter this field. It’s my compassion helping others to get well from the awful suffering they and their families face because of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Quite the contrary, during my long run helping others, I often spent my last dollars buying addicts and their families food and have had many of my valuables stolen along the way. Nothing will ever deter me from bringing the message of recovery to those in need, regardless of their financial situation. I feel strongly that “Treating Addiction” is a cutting edge road map for the addict to follow in order to find recovery and a new life. Just by knowing what you have to do to quit drugs and alcohol does not mean it is an easy task. But once you understand the reasons for your addiction in the first place, which are the biological, psychological and environmental events that have caused your mind chemistry to become unbalanced and unquiet, then you will have the arsenal you need to learn to re-balance your unquiet mind and thus manage a daily recovery program which leads to your life long recovery. You are addicted not because you are weak willed, you are addicted because you are not fully well nor properly balanced. Your addiction to drugs or alcohol is merely a symptom of your underlying disorders or trauma. “Treating Addiction” will show you how to identify your traumas and treat them so that you will be able to greatly reduce the compulsive pull which causes you to self medicate through drugs and alcohol. I have seen some pretty hopeless people find the hope and get well. Entering recovery long term means a lot of changes in your life and to your lifestyle. You will need to adopt a new and humble mindset. Once you have humility about your situation, and you are no longer in denial, then you will have the motivation to want to get well. Then you are in the proper mindset to change your life and quit the ravages of your addiction. You need to learn to eliminate all denial and be completely honest with yourself. Enabling and enablers will have to cease. “Treating Addiction” will inform you on the latest medical advances to help you cut down your cravings while guiding you through the steps you need to navigate into your new recovery and will set the pace for the new mindset you will need to adapt to. Staying in recovery will mean managing your new life everyday. A management that will become easier and automatic as the days pass with you maintaining sobriety. Sure there are some who can quit and then not look back or work much of a recovery program, but these ex-addicts are very few indeed, these people are those with few underlying conditions. There are different degrees of severity and diversity of addictions. I kept this book as simple as I possibly could while also keeping in it all that is necessary for you to get clean and sober. With my knowledge I could have analyzed one subject and turn that in itself into a whole book, but I wrote “Treating Addiction” by keeping it simple but yet complete. I did not come up with my own special methods of finding recovery, I searched for and feel that I am supplying you with the truthful methods. One book alone or even one particular counselor alone can never ever be the sole “guru” to make you quit alcohol and drug addiction. But we all will play a big part in the puzzle that allows you to find a new life. There will be many motivating factors and many motivating people, counselors, sponsors, facilities and books you will need along the way as you educate yourself on sustaining your new world of recovery. I will have continuing books, blogs, websites and videos to help you in the future and I hope you take advantage of all the knowledge, deep love, empathy, tough love and understanding I have to offer your life as you remake your world, a world you so desperately deserve, free from the ravages and suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction.
with sincere guidance and love,
I’m John Joseph, author and ex-addict who is now maintaining my sobriety through quieting my unquiet mind by using the principal’s I share with you in this book.
When personal experiences led me to work with others in the self help field of alcohol and drug addiction, I’ve learned that you must put yourself in another’s shoes and hold no bias in understanding why a person is the way they are. They are reactions to actions brought on them in life. Learn the reasons for a person’s reaction to actions brought on them in life, and you will know and understand the person. To those who are homeless, illiterate, cast outs of society who were put here on earth through abuse, abandonment and extremely harsh circumstances, such as those suffering the streets lost in severe mental illness, alcohol and drug addicted, living cold, lonely and empty days, this book was written with you in mind. May all mankind learn to embrace you, and learn to help the more weaker and vulnerable. Understand too, truly you are loved.
(“treating addiction” anthem)
To those who are weak
Be their strength
To those lonely and friendless
Be their friend
To those lost in confusion
Be their guidance
To those who are hurting
Be their comfort ease their pain
To those mentally incapable
Help them decide
be their decision maker
To those who are illiterate
Help them understand
To those crying in torment
Dry their eyes with comfort
To those whose balance is unstable
Show them stability
Don’t take what hasn’t been given
Give what clearly they need
Sew the seeds in humanity
Through words actions and deeds
John Joseph 04
Here are the fundamentals of addiction
Addiction is rooted in the same causes weather you are a smoker, gambler, drinker, overeater, heroin addict, alcoholic or any more severe compulsive regular user of a substance or behavior. You have an unquiet mind if you are an addict. The best example I can give of an unquiet mind is that of a heavy smoker. They get trapped in a meeting for a few hours without a cigarette and when they emerge from the meeting and go outside to smoke you see them rattled, nervous and shaking as they hold their cigarette box and they hurriedly fumble as they pull out their first cigarette to get their fix. They light the cigarette and take a big giant drag of it as they light it with their lighter. Then they hold the smoke in for five or ten seconds and let the big cloud out as they exhale. You see some relief and calm in their facial expression and they quickly take a second big puff of the cigarette. In a couple minutes they are relieved and more capable of having a conversation. What I just described is what all substance addicts go through in one form or another as the cycle in their addiction reaches a low and they need to "fill up" again with the addiction of their choice. This is what you, the addict needs to control in order to quit your addiction to drugs or alcohol. The focus of "Treating Addiction" will be on alcoholism and drug addiction. But bear in mind other types of addictions will be taking the place of the main addiction you suffer from, when you begin to withdraw from your severe addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Understanding what you face, and knowing what you need to do after you quit your addiction will be very important in making your journey into sobriety permanent. There are sure to be many bumps along the way as you venture into a life without addiction to drugs and alcohol. Please know that just because you quit your main severe addiction, this most likely does not mean that you are going to be addiction free, even if you never go back to using drugs or alcohol again. You need to understand that as an addict, or even as an ex-addict your mind will never be totally "quiet" and free from addiction for as long as you live. You will learn to manage your day so you can keep your mind quiet enough to be able to get through each day without the need to self medicate in order to find that calm you once had been seeking when you were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Your problem while you were addicted wasnt that you used drugs or alcohol regularly in excess. Your main problem was the underlying factors that made your mind so unbalanced and unquiet that you somehow found that drugs and alcohol was a refrain from all the noise going on in your mind in the first place.
If your mind wasn’t unquiet, you would have never became an addict in the first place. 1 in three are addicted to some substance or behavior. Also, 1 in 5 has a diagnosable psychological disorder. And with a severe addiction to drugs or alcohol, the chances are nearly certain that you suffer from one or more psychological disorders. So be open minded as you make the journey from addict to ex-addict. Rule nothing out. "Treating Addiction" will be here to help you understand what diverse symptoms are causing you to feel a compulsive pull toward needing to use drugs or alcohol in a cycle which has brought you to physical addiction, which has disrupted your thoughts, emotions and relationships with those you love.
As you wonder and worry if you will ever find recovery, and as you read this book know that I have labored over it to help you get clean and sober. I will be explaining the important things you need to know to get clean. I have read over 350 books on the subject of alcohol and drug addiction recovery. My hope is that this will help you. My gut tells me that you will walk away from this book understanding why you are an addict, and that you will be able to look at your life and apply the facts that I have now placed before you in this book.
When you first decide to start the curiosity stage of contemplating quitting your addiction you will begin by planting the first seeds of your recovery. Quitting a severe addiction usually takes many events before the addict realizes they must finally act. Understanding why your mind is un-quiet will be the key to unlocking the door to your lifelong sobriety and serenity. There are two main factors that influence your mind to become unquiet. One is hereditary and the other is environmental. I will explain what I mean here and I will make it simple. Hereditary means that you inherited a psychological disorder. Now some disorders are acquired because of non hereditary factors but they are more remote and those happen through early childhood abuse and neglect. Psychological factors cause anxiety, depression, anger, panic and other kinds of emotional stress which make your mind un-quiet. Environmental factors which cause your mind to become un-quiet include stress from not being socially accepted, a serious illness of a loved one or being homeless or unable to eat enough food due to poverty as just a few examples. The list is great and many. Mental and physical abuse is another severe psychological factor. So any factors pretty much beyond your control can cause your mind to become un-quiet and unbalanced. This makes you a ripe candidate for addiction to mind altering drugs and alcohol.
You have heard that expression never to start. “Don’t ever try drugs or alcohol” my dad and grandma and aunt used to tell us. They said we would get addicted and die of an overdose. When They said that to me I thought for sure they must think I’m crazy because at that young age I was convinced in my my that surely I was not ever going to use drugs or touch them…… My God how times changed and within 10 years of them saying that warning to me suddenly I found myself hanging with great friends who got me to try drugs. Here is what happens when you have an unquiet mind and you dabble in or try drugs and alcohol for the first few times. The first thing you tell yourself is your not going to get addicted and you can take it or leave it. Well over months and a few years you find yourself using more regularly. What you don’t understand early on is addiction happens for a reason. You don’t choose to become an addict, your physiology, genetics and environment all come together to choose addiction for you. You just become caught up in it because you didnt know you had possessed all the factors needed to become an addict.
The hope and answers are right here for you.
You are beginning a new journey forward into a better life, one free from alcohol or drugs. You need to start out by not feeling overwhelmed. Your recovery will be a process of small steps. These steps will lead you to a life that you so desperately crave. In “Treating Addiction” we will get right to the point in all matters involving your recovery. The important key factors surrounding your recovery will be this:
Guilt is normal, learn to let it go.
Do not dwell on all the guilt and regrets you may feel because of things you may have said or done while you were caught up in your addiction to drugs or alcohol. Actually, any guilt you may feel is a healthy sign that you are aware a change is needed in your life. It is good recognizing you want to get well! These guiltful feelings are what motivated you to seek recovery in the first place. Be grateful that something has brought you here.
New people and places are your key to recovery.
You must concentrate on changing your environment to one that is free from the influences of the people and places you associated with when you used alcohol or drugs. They are triggers your mind is programmed to react to which internally influence and tempt you to slip or relapse. I will assure you that you will find new and cleaner friends in recovery. These new friends are concerned about your well being and continued recovery. “Treating Addiction” will show you where and how to find these wonderful new friends. Hint: they are everywhere once you get involved in your recovery.
Learn to plan and fill your day properly.
You will learn how to simply alter your daily schedule so you can avoid open and free time. Free time leaves you highly vulnerable to your addiction. When you are sleeping you’re not caught up in your addiction. This happens because your mind is relaxed and preoccupied with sleep. You will learn to sleep a little longer or even go to sleep a little bit earlier at night. Your schedule and how you plan it is a critical key to your continued recovery. In “treating Addiction” you will learn how to keep fully engaged with a productive life so that you have no time for your addiction.
Be aware of your emotions
Any emotional strains you feel needs to be recognized and dealt with honestly. You will keep an eye on how your mind feels once you have purged all alcohol and drugs from it. If you notice any strains, anxiety or depressive states the you must find a trusted and knowledgeable psychiatrist. You should also go and find a support group to share your problems with so that this will help you receive good advice and feedback. AA/NA is a wonderful place to start.
Recovery gets easier with each new day.
Please know that everyday you are in recovery the process of staying clean and sober will get easier. As your mind adapts and re-focuses it’s thinking, your recovery will become a more accepted and commonplace thing. Yes, recovery does get easier with each day.
Learn to kick back and observe.
Be humble as you go about your days and kick it back a few notches to observe those around you who are themselves in recovery, because they have a great deal to teach you. Choose an easier road to most situations and be slow to stress, anger and anxiety. Go out of your way to be more mild, just take it all in for a while and do not try to repair your past or yourself overnight. Don’t worry, it will all happen for the better now. Time will heal things, just be patient, you will know when it’s right to work on repairing aspects of your past life.
You will now live life anew.
What you once avoided you will now slowly face, and things you so badly wanted to do with your loved ones and family you will now begin to do. Take it a step at a time as you re-acquaint yourself with your loved ones. They want you to be there with them in mind and in body so they too must learn to have patience as you make your transformation back into their daily lives.
Start setting goals for yourself.
You will have a clearer mind every day you are in recovery and this will allow you to gradually get back to setting and reaching short term and long term goals for yourself. Goals that include better handling of your finances and also learning to find more time to do the things you want and need to do with those who matter most in your life. Simply put, your social life will now greatly improve.
Know too that as you are in recovery, due to your newer clearer thinking, you will notice that good things will just happen. There will now be more good days than bad.
*You will learn how to find more peace and calmness in your life
*You will learn how to tame your unquiet mind.
*There are wonderful incentives for you to stay in recovery, your well being and your family’s mental tranquility are but one of the main incentives to motivate you into recovery from your addiction to drugs and alcohol.
As you are in recovery you will notice that most others in recovery tend to want to help and advise each other on how to stay clean and sober. As you advance a bit in your recovery it is great for your own sobriety if you too help other addicts looking to get clean. The world of recovery is filled with people helping people.
“whenever anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA to always be there. And for that I am responsible” Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA
“Treating Addiction” is here to show you why you became addicted to drugs or alcohol and what to do about finding long term recovery.
When you know the reasons for your addiction you can move forward and make the necessary changes to quit that addiction. Through this book you will get an education and an open mind on finding recovery. So please read this book, and re-read it in order to get educated and get well. Just be humble and take a few steps back while absorbing everything. XXXGERMAN STOPPED HERE
“amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see,
Twas grace that taught….
My heart to fear,
And grace, my fears relieved ,
How precious did that grace appear….
The hour I first believed….
A lasting recovery!
When you stop drinking or drugging you will need to..
Keep occupied so night time will come quickly.
Extra curricular activities before and after work are important to keep you socializing so you can avoid isolation or getting bored. Visit the library, go roller skating or out to a cheap diner, the movies or make crafts, go to an AA /NA meeting or do what I often do when I feel I need help spiritually which is to go to a church or place of worship and after the service visit the kitchen and socialize by having coffee and nice homemade cookies and pies. They treat you wonderfully at church. Keep your schedule filled and your mind active. Become tired at the end of the day so that you sleep well at night. Your job is to make it through your day and get to night time. Night time is calm time. When you are sleeping you are not an active addict.
Time changes everything.
Everything fades with time. New habits will become automatic and old habits when not practiced will fade from your memory. The influence of triggers over time will lose their strength when you no longer are around them. Slips happen when old habits and mind triggers of places and people you used with are still influencing you. Leave old triggers behind and don’t go back there, Visit all new places and all new people.
Quitting is different for everyone.
Not everyone can just quit drinking or drugging cold turkey. Every addict has different and diverse underlying mental and environmental traumas. Some people will struggle more than others when trying to manage a clean recovery. So don’t use others as a comparison to you. Learn from other people’s recovery experiences but get to know yourself and your own issues too.
Addiction is progressive, therefore it is a disease!
Addiction is rooted in an unquiet brain chemistry. It’s unquiet due to genetic and environmental influences. Learn what you need to do to overcome the addictive pull of these influences and the management of your recovery will be much smoother.
You will never be 100% well, but with daily management your life will be much, much better.
When you are in recovery everyday will get easier and easier to maintain. You are guaranteed ups and downs but your inner mind and your physical body will heal and be more balanced and clear when you manage your daily recovery.
Damage to your body from continued addiction shows up later in life, always!
When addiction is ongoing and long term it always produces damage to the organs and mind. This damage is mostly visible by the ages of 40 to 55. If you make it to that age. Emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, cancer etc. are just a few of the problems your guaranteed with long term non-stop addiction. Only through recovery can your body repair itself from the ravages. Early recovery is the key to your amazing human body reversing the damage from addiction.
Management is the only cure! No daily management, then no cure.
Only through getting to know your up and down mental traumas and reducing their effects can you halt your addiction and its harmful effects. Genetics alone are not the only cause for mental traumas. Environment and its stressors ad to a genetically unquiet mind.
Take the less stressful road always!
Eliminating and or diminishing your stress is a major key to having a more quiet mind. The less quiet your mind the more chances you have of a relapse. There are many roads you can take when deciding situations, so take the less stressful road always.
You have nothing to be embarrassed about.
No need to feel embarrassed at a group recovery meeting. They do not look down on you nor will they ever judge you. They are glad you made it there. They are your new best friends. Love them and embrace them. They are not perfect but they support you!
This is all you need to recover!
You will need humility, desire to get well and no denial of your present situation. With these in mind you will find lasting recovery. You are now prepared. It will take effort, an effort that gets easier each day.
Trust those who are trying to help you.
As an addict you will naturally only listen to those who you trust and who don’t pressure and force you into recovery. When you meet other recovering addicts through group meetings and the recovery process, these people are your bond! Look to those who are longer term, say 5 or 10 years into their recovery. For they will show you how to do it long term.
Quitting an addiction to alcohol and drugs has several journeys to make:
Treatment medicines such as for psychological disorders
long-term management, ie daily management of your condition
Treating the causes for your unquiet mind, mental imbalance which includes environmental changes and elimination of triggers on the mind.
Where should you begin your recovery?
There are many hospitals and programs available to help you quit your addiction and find recovery. Do not let it all confuse you. The best way to start your recovery is through an AA/NA meeting. Through a meeting you will get much needed support from others already in recovery. If you have a severe physical addiction then you must go to a hospital or detox program that has a medically supervised accommodations. Those suffering from a physical addiction to alcohol or depressants like opioids, valium, heroin or alcohol are in great danger of dying during detox so they must be monitored and medicated to prevent a fatal shock to their body from cold turkey withdrawal. 25% of late stage alcoholics who detox without medical supervision will die. After you have detoxed from a physical addiction you can then start regular meetings and a program of abstaining and learning to reintegrating into society. But meetings with other recovering addicts/alcoholics are essential to having a good support network to see you through to lifelong abstaining. You will need to dump your addicted friends and at a meeting you find instant friends the first night. Good clean friends who share what you want and that’s recovery. Support is the first thing you need along with admitting you are powerless to your addiction. Then as you progress through your recovery you can adjust your program to include what best helps you stay clean and sober. In this book I will point out what you need and how you can get it. You need fellowship. You are nothing without it! I have found that there are many addiction recovery programs, and tons of authors who write books about “their way” to quit drugs or alcohol. Many of them do not know what they are talking about, and many have found niches to help themselves get sober so they have written about it. Maybe their niche has worked for them, but everyone is different and what these niches do is just give them something to focus their mind on instead of drugs or alcohol. There is no “nitch way” to quit a severe addiction to drugs or alcohol. I am not going to name names here, but if I could have a one on one with most of these authors It would make them doubt their methods for sure. I am not going to berate anyone who claims to have the “best method” for addiction cures. I will only say that most of the methods out there do not work or were written just as a way to make money. There are recovery groups which have built up into national organizations and these groups thrive by putting down the competition. I love what AA/NA has to offer the recovering addict, but by the same token I feel that these organizations are way outdated and have very old methods that were before cutting edge research which has shed new dramatic light on the field of alcoholism and drug addiction. But by the same token I think AA/NA has a lot of wonderful things to offer an addict desperately seeking to get help and get clean. These organizations have the best fellowship support groups in the world. Take what is great about any recovery group and use it for your benefit, and what it lacks or is not good at, then ignore that part. It will not be one group, or one person, or one doctor or one program that will help you. It will be a variety of them as you travel down your path toward recovery. One counselor may give you insight you never thought about, another recovering friend will be a great ear for you to talk and console to, another group may help house you for a little while or a doctor may give you free medications when you were broke which turn out to help you balance out your mind and get you through a few rough months. Recovery is a combination of factors along your new path. Learn to use what’s good and be on the lookout for what your mind and body needs to feel better and stay clean for just one more day. And many of these days will carry you through a lifetime of long lasting recovery.
You will never do it alone. Thank God you don’t have to either!
Humility and support from others. Others in recovery will be there to give you much needed advice and support. You will not be alone once you enter the beautiful system associated with finding recovery. Without support from others I too would have never made it.
“Accept that you have a problem and that you need help and support from others in recovery. No-one in recovery is going to laugh at you. The wonderful people who are in recovery love you, bond with you instantly and want to help you!”
Management, management, management! The key to your new life.
There are simple principals for you to understand in order to quit your addiction to drugs and alcohol. You will always have to deal with the fact that you have addictive tendencies or as I like to call it an (unquiet mind). Especially when your not using. Your mind is un-quiet. Management of your daily life to keep your mind quieter and balanced will be the keys to your recovery. There are those with severe psychological disorders who will really struggle mightily to maintain a more balanced life. Whatever your underlying issues are they must be dealt with. If you are living in a home environment which includes child abuse, neglect or is unsafe, then you must move out of those conditions regardless or you will never get better. I am sure you love your family, but your well being is number one in the whole equation for you to get well. When you are better you can then make calculated steps to show your family you love them. You can always stay in contact by writing letters, but if your home environment is unhealthy, you must leave it. Find solace in a church and get in contact with the state in order to get the help you need. Help is out there for you even if you are broke. Fellowship from others (new friends) will also be necessary. You need to get your mind healthy again. Changes are hard, but they are needed.
“Only through proper diet, which includes no caffeine nor heavy starches or too many carbohydrates etc., stress management and management of your environment can you have a quieter state of mind to manage. Finding the right medications to tame your anxieties or depression, eliminating stressful people and other using addicts from your life and then start making decisions which bring you the least amount of stress, these are ways to get control of your lasting recovery.”
Understanding why you have chosen to enter into a life changing recovery.
You have chosen to enter into recovery for many different reasons, and there is never just one reason. But there is always that one major event where you decide that enough is enough. For example, I quit my drinking because it along with depression and high anxiety was responsible for my major financial collapse. Sure I also quit because of my isolationism and the toll it was taking on my family and social life. But it was my financial collapse that broke the camel’s back and let me know that my drinking had to end or I would have lived in the gutter. I was also very unstable and mostly living in my office or sleeping in my car even though I had an apartment or one available to me. There are many people who find recovery because of a car accident or tragedy that occurs because of their addiction. As a practicing addict you undoubtedly have periods throughout your day or week where you feel motivated to cut down or quit your addiction all together. It is when these periods of mood swings occur that you need to take some action towards finding recovery. And if you’re trying to get an addict into recovery, these low periods of theirs are the best time to approach your addicted loved one about finding a detox center and counselor to assist them. You will know when your loved one is having one of these periods of consideration by the somber, mellow or depressed look on their face. Strike when the iron is hot, always. Most times the addict will have to experience a major low point in their life in order to be motivated to find recovery. The main reason above all reasons for the addict to get clean should be to end their major suffering and stop the the hell you’re putting your family through. There are many good reasons to quit your addiction to alcohol and drugs, but once you are in recovery you will feel all the joys of leading an addiction free life. Recovery is a natural high all its own, it really is. I love my sobriety and shudder at the thought of feeling under the influence.
In recovery your mind will transform.
Your mind will slowly but steadily transform to it’s new clean way of thinking and living. Until this transformation of thought is complete (new habits gained, old habits faded from your mind), your mind will be susceptible to the triggers (old using friends and places where you used to use) of addiction.
Re-balance is needed for you to recover.
Your chemical imbalance (which causes your unquiet mind) cannot always be re-balanced perfectly. External factors and stressors intensify these imbalances. Managed stress free living is needed to help calm your imbalance. While in recovery, get to know yourself and identify the stressors that cause the ups and downs to intensify your compulsions that led to your addiction. These stressors are from your genetics and your environment. There are many new medications available for you which help aid in less cravings while you are newly recovering and also medications for psychological disorders which too will help you re-balance your mind.
Overcoming the stigmas.
The stigma of addiction overshadows the facts that at least 1 in 3 have an addiction to something (drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food etc.). 1 in 5 has a diagnosable psychological disorder. Whether people admit it or not, most every family is affected by addiction or a psychological disorder of one or more of its members.
All addictions are rooted in compulsion
Behavioral and substance addictions all have a compulsion element to them. Finding the reason for that compulsive element is the key to unwinding the addictive pull of addiction. The unquiet unbalanced mind of the addict needs to be quieted and balanced through medication, change of environment and cognitive therapy. Every addiction is unique and needs to be addressed in very different ways.
An addicts/ex-addicts Preamble
“As I enter into recovery please give me strength and help me to learn from my mistakes, and harbor no ill will toward others whether they are right or wrong. Help give me the power and fortitude to get through these trying times. Help me to make a solid decision to stay clean, move my new life forward and not look back at all the pain and suffering I caused myself and others. The guilt from all that pain and suffering is what has brought me into recovery in the first place, so I thank God for these guilty feelings. Please help me make everyday from this day forward, new and refreshed. Let me adhere to a lifetime of management and treatment, for I know I am never cured, just better, for every day that passes with me clean and sober I’ll chart a course with a new foundation built with a clean head, a humble heart, no more denials and think out everything I do with sound judgment and a stress free, less hectic and addiction free life. I will learn from others who have walked the shoes that I now wear and have patience through my new journey”. jjc
Treating addiction with accompanying disorders.
When you first give up using drugs or alcohol it will take several weeks or even a few months to completely purge your body from most of the chemicals and traces of these substances. You have to wait until your body is free from all these chemicals before you can properly assess the health of your mind to see if you have any issues with depression or anxiety. A good psychiatrist should know they must wait before trying to diagnose any disorders you might have. When your body still has drugs in it you can’t fully know if any issues you may be experiencing are due to the effects of the drugs or chemical imbalances in your mind. When your body is fully purged of street drugs/alcohol you can now begin to understand if you need to treat any psychological disorders along with your addiction treatment. Often times a psychiatrist may disagree with the drug counselor as to what should be treated first, the addiction or the underlying disorder. The proper way to treat an addiction with an accompanying disorder is to first clean the body of drugs and then to treat the addiction and disorder at the very same time. This usually means the addict needs to have a drug counselor and a psychiatrist working in conjunction with each other. A good drug counselor will be on the lookout for any signs of a psychological disorder in their patient. So an experienced and serious addiction counselor will also be educated in spotting a variety of disorders. I can write 500 pages just dealing with one psychological disorder, but the intent and focus of this book is to help you fully understand what is important for you to do in order to enter into and maintain recovery. It is very important that you not be biased about accepting that you have a 1 in 5 chance of having a diagnosable disorder. If you have been suffering from a severe drug or alcohol addiction then your chances of having to treat an accompanying disorder are about 60% or higher. Just do not be ashamed to be honest with yourself. None of us with a severe addiction are ever going to be completely normal, but we do get well and maintain an awesome new clean life. When you are getting close to a diagnosis of a particular disorder it’s important to be honest with your psychiatrist and educate yourself as much as you can about your diagnosis one you pinpoint it. Life gets good I promise you. No denial about your true situation. Learn to be humble and do what you must.
A word about medications for a psychological disorder
Uninformed people think if a person has a psychological disorder that all they need to do is take medication for it and they will be well again. Not true. That is just magical thinking. Medications for psychological disorders take around 2 months to absorb properly into the body before they begin working. There are several classes of medications and also dozens of types of medications in each class. With the help of a knowledgeable psychiatrist you can begin to understand which medication is right for your particular disorder. There are several medications for treating each disorder and it is a trial and error approach to find the proper medication for a person’s diverse symptoms and physiology. So if you are prescribed a certain type of medication, you have to have patience for 2 months until it begins to work, then if that particular medication does not work properly you will have to stop taking it and wait at least 30 days for that medication to leave your system before you can begin trying another type of medication. So it is a time consuming challenge to find the medication that’s right for your psychological disorder. When you do find the right medication that works for you, there is the risk that medication may stop working later in the future. Then there are also side effects with each different medication. The bottom line is that when you have to get medication for your disorder, have patience. There is a long trial and error process before you begin to get well. So be prepared.
Stigmas regarding ignorance about psychological disorders.
There is a large segment of the population that believes “strong will” can overcome a psychological disorder. What a lot of people ignorantly think is that the brain always functions properly and when it isn’t, it can be fixed. The truth is, the brain is an organ just like the heart or kidney is an organ. If a kidney can get diseased and malfunction permanently then why can’t a brain malfunction also? The brain is a very complex organ which controls the whole body to a large degree. It controls your thoughts, memory, sound and sight intake and hearing just to name a few. So when the brain is chemically imbalanced and not working properly, neither are that person’s emotions, thoughts etc. People need to comprehend that damage to the brain through stress and genetic disorders make the brain not function properly and that no degree of ‘strong will” can correct that. People with disorders are looked at like they are weak. Just not so. There are meds to correct over and under balanced chemicals in the brain, but these meds do not and will not ever work perfect. Through cognitive therapy and medication you can batter balance the brain and aid the individual in more normal functioning, but you can never perfectly tune the imbalanced brain back to perfect normalcy. Done right, you can get damn close. But stress management is the most important way to get you mind in tune with treating both a psychological disorder and an accompanying addiction to drugs or alcoholism. Daily management is your only “cure” to recovering from your addiction permanently.
No Silver Bullet Treatments for alcoholism or drug addiction but there are medicines to help with your recovery.
Naltrexone (Vivitrol) for Alcoholism and drug addiction.
Naltrexone helps you in your recovery by blocking the receptors in your brain which alcohol and drugs plug into which make your high. By doing this it will reduce your cravings and thus help to provide you with a less “edgier” time when you are new to recovery. Naltrexone is used for the first couple of months of your first entering into sobriety. It works somewhat similar to Methadone. Naltrexone is reported to greatly assist with newly recovering alcoholics/addicts by having a near 40% success rate in the first year or so of recovery.
Methadone for heroin addiction.
Methadone is prescribed as a treatment for newly recovering heroin addicts. Methadone actually takes the place of heroin in that it blocks and satisfies the receptors that heroin plugs into. Ex-addicts can take methadone for long extended periods of time. The purpose for Methadone is to use it right after abstaining from heroin, then over a period of the goal is to slowly reduce the amount of Methadone being taken until the addict is weaned off of it. There are many addicts who just continue to take the methadone for long periods of years. This was not the intention for the use of methadone. If the methadone addict’s underlying factors are treated properly, the heroin addict should be able to quit heroin and then quit methadone 6 months to a year later. As I will continue to say throughout this book, once the addict quits using and if their underlying disorders, and triggers are identified and treated with laser focus, the desire for the addiction to redevelop will be relatively minute. You must treat the reason for the addiction, not just quit the use of the addictive substance.
6 Stages of Change
How to easily chart your progress through the recovery.
The following 6 stages will be a simplified guide to charting exactly where your mind set is in your recovery process. I highly recommend you get to know these 6 stages and always be honest with yourself as you chart your movements through them toward your maintained recovery. How quickly or slowly you change as you navigate through these stages will be decided by several factors. The only way to navigate through these stages will be by treating the influences of your addiction. The 6 stages of change were discovered after extensive behavior research by Prochaska and DiClementi back in the early 1990’s. These stages are used as the national model in assessing addicts as they move through their recovery process.
Stage 1: PRECONTEMPLATION.
This is the stage where you are fully into your addiction. You continue to use drugs or alcohol and get offended whenever anyone tells you that you have a problem. You are in full denial that you even have a problem and have no plans whatsoever about quitting. Your life centers around feeding your addiction even at the cost of neglect to your job and family.
Stage 2: CONTEMPLATION.
In this stage you recognize you are having problems functioning, you have done things you wish you hadn’t like make a fool of yourself or may have gotten arrested while high on drugs and alcohol. You start telling yourself that you must try to find a way to quit using. You feel tired and down but you just don’t know how to quit drinking or drug use. You start fearing that your wife is going to leave you and your world is falling apart. You tell yourself that you need to find a way to change.
Stage 3: PREPARATION.
In this stage you realize that you must quit because your addiction is destroying your life. You may have quit drinking or drugging for 1 or 2 days only to have gone back to using. You have tried cutting down several times now and you know that you have to finally quit now. You are a nervous wreck all the time and you can’t stand being sick and unstable anymore. Your trying to find a way to finally quit drugs or alcohol.
Stage 4: ACTION.
You now have decided that you are going to quit using drugs or alcohol. You just quit using and are now going to AA/NA meetings every single day and you read all the literature you can get your hands on that deals with addiction recovery. You stopped hanging around with old friends who are addicts and you do not go around your old haunts anymore. You are now leading a life being clean and sober.
Stage 5: MAINTENANCE.
You have been following through on your recovery program now for several months and your life is coasting into a new and stable direction. You are repairing a lot of damage you caused to your family relationships and you are a very good example of what getting clean and sober is all about. You continue to stay away from old addict friends and you are faithfully going to your group meetings. You have plenty of new clean recovering friends and you go out to eat with them and your life is going well.
Stage 6: RELAPSE.
This is where you lost touch with why you needed to stay clean. Environmental stressors along with genetic ones have been vulnerable to addiction and you failed to get in contact with your new recovering friends. You could not handle the pressures which built up in your unquiet mind and you started using drugs or alcohol again. You succumbed to the influences of your old addict friends and hangouts. You now feel tremendous guilt over relapsing and for the time being you don’t care anymore because you’re caught up in the physical addiction cycle again.
(Please note that when you do relapse it’s very important to find your way back to the influences of staying clean. Relapse usually occurs more readily when you have not fully discarded old stressors and triggers, so your mind is still vulnerable to addiction. Get back in touch with your new recovering friends at this point as quick as you can and get into the new areas which are not triggers on your addicted mind. When relapse happens and you blow off your new recovering friends they become very worried and concerned about you. They want you back into recovery).
It is very simple to understand these 6 stages of change and when you see where your mind set is in these 6 stages you can better understand why you are or aren’t in recovery and what may be the reason why you are where you are. As long as you continue to be honest with yourself in looking for the true causes and influences surrounding your addiction, coupled with understanding the 6 stages your mindset will go through as you contemplate and maintain your recovery from alcohol and drugs, you will then understand the proper map to follow in order to get and stay clean.
When you’re in recovery you become admirable.
When you make the decision and follow up with quitting your addiction to drugs or alcohol you will soon find out that when people see that you are serious about recovery they will give you a renewed respect. Suddenly you will find that you have a cheering section rooting you on. People will admire that you were able to overcome a severe addiction. No matter how low in life you have fallen, people will remark and pat you on the back. Here’s a secret you need to keep in mind: When you are in the gutter, I mean all the way down, you can go nowhere but up. So when you enter recovery you will make tremendous gains. Put your foot down on the ground, now try to put your foot lower than the ground. You can’t. When you are all the way down, up is the only movement you can make. Before I quit drinking alcohol I was nearly a gutter drunk. Homeless, sleeping in my car, my office, not eating well, not bathing or cleaning my clothes for weeks. My work performance was 5% of what it could have been. I stunk. People that found out about the severity of my condition would usually not have anything to do with me. I was in an office sales job at my lowest point before my finding recovery and there was this one high scale lawyer in my profession who knew about my condition and did not look at me nor ever talk to me. This lawyer it just so happened that he himself was a severe alcoholic too. But he had a job with the local city hall and he was very high profile, and he functioned much better than I did. When he found out I had quit drinking he remarked to an associate of mine that he “admired me” because I was able to quit drinking and he can’t. This lawyer actually began talking to me and having me join them out for dinner. So when you think you’re a real loser, just keep in mind that when you find recovery, you will also find plenty of admiration from people you may have never expected it from.
You can’t make amends to everyone.
When you are in recovery you will begin to see people you may have hurt in some way. Either by stealing money from them or injuring them in some way. You should naturally feel bad about what you did and want to make things up to them. Most of the people you hurt will forgive you and be happy to see your getting well. But anyone who holds a grudge and makes a big deal about what you did, forget them. Trying to keep them in your life will only make your recovery harder. Now if it is a very close loved one who holds a grudge against you it is best to just keep a far distance away from them and if they are important to your life well then just take it vary very slow. Do not let anyone upset your recovery. You must accept that some things are just not meant to be.
How to easily plan your new addiction free life
As you begin your new journey into a drug and alcohol free life you will find that your clear thinking will be coming back. With this clear thinking comes the task of properly looking at your life and arranging your daily routine. In order to stay in recovery you must make proper use of your day. Now if you were a hardcore street addict and are unemployed you still must keep busy and at the very least go to several AA/NA meetings a day. Talk to the people there, read the books and pamphlets and just immerse yourself into the atmosphere of other recovering addicts.
A side note about free state and local help:
Contact your states human services agency and ask tell them you are new in recovery or that you want to enter recovery and get all the info about free state sponsored help. You can also call the Catholic charities in your city or state and explain to them that you need all the help they can offer you. Also call the Salvation Army because they specialize in helping addicts and alcoholics recover. Another big charity that has plenty of services to help you is Lutheran Social Services. But be very careful what you say to Lutheran Social Services because they contract with the states DCFS. I have been a victim of racial and vindictive discrimination at the hands of them concerning a God child of mine. I will not detail my issues here because “Treating Addiction” is about your recovery, but be cautious when dealing with this charity. If any representatives at Lutheran want to dispute my sincere and truthful allegations, then I am happy to explain my past run in with their uncaring workers, even under oath. So, there is help for you if you are low income or in poverty. Good help at that!
With the rearrangement of your schedule you will begin allowing for the necessary time to grow again emotionally with your family or loved ones. If you have no family you should take your beginning days of recovery by making new friends and building solid friendships that you can hold onto. There are a lot of people out there looking for a good friend. Alcohol and drug addiction had suspended your emotional growth. Now let that growth prosper. Your daily scheduling must include a simple list of what your daily routine should be. Plan from waking to sleeping. Keep active physically and mentally. Keeping mentally active is the key. If you find it harder to fulfill your day adequately then try going to sleep sooner or even staying in bed longer or both. Just don’t dwell or absorb your mind with nothing to do. Help at a shelter or food pantry. Do anything, just keep busy. Of course if you are an employed person you must eliminate from your schedule all the people who use drugs and alcohol. If all your friends at work are heavy drinkers or druggies then you have to either avoid them completely or get a new job. Just know your day as you awake and keep busy. This is a total must if you want to retain your recovery.
Postponement, thought shifting and “Just for Today”.
These 3 important factors go hand in hand with each other. Postponement is a good way to stop the addictive thinking for the moment, and in order to stop for the moment you must shift your thoughts away from your addiction by thinking other thoughts or occupying yourself in some other way so that you can stave off your craving for drugs or alcohol. It’s at these compulsive addictive moments that you need to indulge in your newer addictions like exercising, eating, running etc. You also need to immerse yourself into your new fellowship with other recovering friends who support you and allow you to lean on them. Also at these tense trying moments get your thoughts away from your past troubles or future expectations. “Just for Today’! That’s all you need to think about. “just for the moment”! Live for the now. Shift your attention to your work, wax your car, take a long walk or run, say a few prayers of guidance to yourself and just get your thoughts calm. Quiet your mind. Go relax in the backyard and sit on a lawn chair while listening to nature. Move your thoughts along. Do not promote heavy anxiety or wallow into a somber depression. Or better yet, when these addictive compulsions hit go and eat a nice tasty ice cream sundae with lots of whipped cream, or even a juicy cheeseburger. Do anything pleasurable to get these cravings off your mind. I would always look forward to ending my day and drinking a nice calming herbal tea with cookies and watching television. But in the very new days of my recovery it was the talks and reassurance with my new clean friends that got me through many trying and tense times. And of course we would all go for dinner afterwards. Before I knew it, my day would end and I would tire and go to sleep. It was always a beautiful feeling after having gotten through another day clean and sober. I felt accomplished, refreshed, and you will too.
Harm reduction has a few meanings. It can be a governmental needle exchange program to prevent Aids. It can be providing free services and housing to addicts to prevent them from committing crimes in order to pay for shelter and food. I heard about a local government in England proposing to supply heroin to addicts so they won’t commit crimes for their fix. But harm reduction is also an addict switching from a devastating hardcore addiction to one or two less harmful ones. Becoming an alcoholic instead of a heroin addict is harm reduction. But as I pointed out in this book, a person does not choose the type of drug they would like to become addicted to. They’re body chemistry chooses for them. But when an addict seriously chooses to quit, they should pick up another addiction like smoking, coffee, binge eating or candy eating. Another addiction will take over from where the old one left off. Just be aware of this when you enter recovery and get ready to balance your unquiet mind another way.
Helping a loved one find recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction.
Having a close friend or loved one who is an addict can be very traumatizing. They can be hard to understand most times and also seem untrustworthy. The person they truly are deep inside is the one you dearly love. That person is still there, you just have to have patience and persistence because it will pay off. Do not ever try to force an addict into recovery because if you do they will only rebel and not trust you. No “in your face” approaches nor trying to jam religion down their throat. Always be gentle, compassionate, caring, concerned and a good listener. You will need to build a trust with your loved one and hold no bias in dealing with them. You are getting through to them when they begin telling you things that may shock you about them. Just listen attentively and do not judge them. Do not be throwing up things from their past that they have done to you. Only say at times that this has been painful for you too, and let them know that you love them and you will be there when they work to get well. Do not overwhelm the addict with future or past events. Talk only of the “now” with them. They will be having days filled with major ups and downs. There will hours when they need to use their drugs and alcohol so they won’t want you around them. There will also be many times when they are thinking about quitting and it’s at these times that you need to be a steady voice of reason and support to them. They will be most vulnerable and gravitate toward being open to quitting their addiction when they’re body is drained from a major binge and during it’s tiring comedown.
When they are down and feeling blue, that’s the time for you to approach them and be easy but firm about them finding recovery and getting well. Strike always when the iron is hot and their mood is right. It will help by taking them for a trip out of their regular area as often as you can get them to leave it. New surroundings are important. Because when they enter into recovery they must never go back to their old areas of hangouts. It’s one of the biggest relapse triggers on their mind. To find out more about what you need to do when they finally reach out for help, I suggest you start going to several Al Anon meetings. These meetings are for family and friends of addicts. At these meetings you will learn from other family members how they handle they’re loved ones addiction issues. There will be several people there who because of their experience, can give you advice on what to do, how to do it and also be a steady stream of support for you. Also you will find a new bunch of friends I am sure. Also go see a good drug addiction counselor and explain your loved ones whole situation to them, so this way they can be ready when your loved one is looking for help. But do not seem to close to the counselor because it is important for them to build up a trust with the addict once their counseling sessions begin. You don’t want your loved one thinking that everything they tell the counselor will be relayed back to you. They need privacy. And don’t expect the counselor to tell you everything your loved one tells them either. The counselor can summarize things for you but they cannot clue you in on everything. No matter how close a family member gets to know their addicted loved, they will always have secrets that they will never tell them. Personal things that really may not be any of their business. That’s why there are counselors and friends they will also need as part of their recovery process. As you confide to your addicted loved one, casually but confidently let them know that you have found a good addiction counselor for them when they are ready to make a change. Stress to them that you have found someone they can trust. Also, I highly recommend that the counselor you find is themselves a recovering addict. It helps them bond better with the patient. They also understand the feelings of an addict better because they have lived it themselves. Now in order for the addicted one to quit using, they will need a change of environment where there are no recognizable triggers that can cause them to begin using again. So get them to an unfamiliar area. xx
When you are dealing with the traumas and headaches of trying to help a loved one quit an addiction to drugs or alcohol it can become very trying. As you fight to control your patience you MUST always keep in mind that your loved one is not well, and that he/she is under the control of a strong compulsive cycle of addiction that has gripped their mind in a powerful way. They are suffering and they too wish they could end it and be well. The person you love is still there deep inside. They just suffer from an addiction rooted deeply in psychological and physiological factors beyond their immediate control. They often times lie, cheat and steal just to satisfy their urge to continue their addiction. To get frustrated with them is understandable, but keep in mind that to ever lose your patience with them is to defeat your purpose of helping them. It’s very hard for you both, but persistence, patience, love and trust is the only way you can succeed in getting your loved one to cooperate in entering recovery long term. Getting them into recovery is the hard part, but also getting them to remain in recovery will be just as difficult. But if you truly understand why they are addicted, then you can get them to understand why they are, and you can begin to move forward much more quickly with the right shared vision. Getting them to stay in recovery will only happen if they get involved in the recovery system which is made up of new clean friends, counselors and all those involved in the recovery field. It’s those little and confidential talks your loved one will have with those in this field, and this will be the key to them starting a new way of life. Accept the fact that you cannot be the one to do everything for them. Your support and trust is the best thing you can contribute to their chances of getting well again.
So you’re tired, lost, anguished, upset, confused and addicted. What next?
The first thing you need to do is contact someone you know who has recovered from alcoholism or drug addiction themselves. The plan of action they may suggest or philosophy on life they hold may not be the same as yours right now but that should not matter. They are someone who has been there and have suffered just like you. But they have gotten well and they can show you how they did it and they also will be great moral support for you to succeed by entering recovery. You cannot go near the people you hung with or the places that you hung out at. That environment is guaranteed to get you using drugs or alcohol again. There are issues you are going to need to deal with but right now your immediate thing to do will be to stop using and find new friends who are clean. A place you can go to anytime and find support is at your local AA. You can look up their schedule of nearby meetings by going to the internet or just calling information and asking for your main AA or NA office. You can usually find an office open 24 hours a day. AA will even get someone to pick you up and drive you to a meeting. If you dread the thought of a meeting or if you are not religious then no need to worry because AA/NA does not hold gospel hours and their meetings are closed to past sufferers only. You will be in the company of people like yourself. They do not judge you either, they are only there to help you and be a new friend to you. You must open your mind and let these wonderful people show you a whole new world and a new calm. There are other different kinds of meetings besides AA and NA but don’t get confused by it all. Just stick with AA/NA because they are the best organized group around. You can find their instant support and fellowship in any city on any given days. And they are everywhere in the suburbs too.
Carol O’Conner had a lot to say about beating addiction, and he had a good reason to say it.
Carrol O’Conner aka Archie Bunker carried a heartfelt and tough love message back in the 1990’s, that message was an anti-drug addiction message too. He had good reason to go on his crusade against drugs. His adopted grown son had just committed suicide after battling a long illness of depression and cocaine addiction. His son had threatened suicide several times, but the day he finally did it was horrific on Carol. His son got a gun, locked himself in his home and called his father and told him he was about to kill himself. Carol knew this time sounded for real so he called the local police and told them to meet him at the house because his son was threatening suicide. But before Carol could get there, the police reported hearing a single shot coming from his son’s home. The police went in and found his son succumbed of a gunshot wound to the head. This tragedy had so moved and motivated Carol to go on a mission to help other addicts and especially their families deal with a loved ones addiction. He went on talk shows and did public service commercial carrying a tough message. His message to parents of addicts was simple, “do whatever you have to do to stop them from using drugs”. He advocated parents to go into their children’s bedrooms when they were not home and search everywhere for any drugs. He said to bug their telephones, bug their rooms, do whatever you have to do was his strong message. Carol is right, but be careful with being too strong in their face because it will cause them to rebel. You want to get your addicted family member attention and do it with concern and love. Carol O’Conner suffered mightily trying to help his son beat his addiction to cocaine, and when he lost his son, it for sure took a deep toll on him. So when addiction strikes an individual, it also strikes the family just as hard.
Attitude can also be a hurdle.
Overcoming genetic and environmental factors are the main root toward tackling an addiction and steadying a severely unquiet mind, but attitude is often another issue which needs to be addressed. As is always pointed out in this book, environmental influences are one of the chief root causes of addiction and its effects on unbalancing the addict’s mind. But past environmental factors which may have included humiliation, guilt, torment or varying types of sexual or mental abuse also harden the soul and create a character which becomes flawed and biased. Attitude adjustment often needs to be worked on and corrected. The problem is this does not happen overnight. Sure, the main problem the addict needs to address is the elimination of the addictive substance, but that in itself does not cure the addicted mind. The underlying factors that caused the pre-addict to become addicted in the first place all needs to be fully addressed in therapy and with the help of new clean friends in a support system. When the addict quits cold turkey and begins hanging around a new influence of clean and sober friends, these friends will set examples of the humbler way that life needs to be lived. Close friends in recovery will point out bad attitudes and so will the ex-addicts therapist or doctor. Seeing the world differently is very important towards living life anew, free from alcohol and drugs. Now if the problems that caused the bad attitude in the addict are still existing, such as sexual, physical or mental abuse at home, the newly recovering addict needs to leave this environment and find a more serene, loving and caring atmosphere. A person’s mental health is not just negatively influenced by the damage from past environmental stressors, but also by today’s environment and present disorders. And the newly recovering addict needs to live a life free from the influences which have caused the unquiet mind to seek an addictive substance in order to re-balance itself. When all the factors that have caused the unquiet mind have been addressed, it is only then that long term addiction recovery will be possible.
Finding balance is the way to sustained recovery
Addiction is something an addict/ex-addict will deal with the rest of their lives. More so a severe addict than a borderline addict. I have witnessed time and time again a hardcore heroin, crack or alcohol addict entering recovery and then turning to another food, behavior or substance to make up for the substance addiction they had given up. With most recovering severe ex-addicts it’s either a food, coffee or cigarette addiction to replace the addiction they once had. I have yet to not see this happen. I remember a married couple who were heavy smokers and then gave up smoking only to take up a hard alcohol addiction together to make up for the cigarettes they once smoked in excess. I remember the hard gin drinking single middle age man who would go into recovery every few months only to relapse again and again as he struggled to find his lasting recovery. Every time he would enter recovery he binge ate. I remember the 40 year old single woman who gave up her long term heroin addiction only to gain about 50 pounds and become a heavy smoker and eater. When I gave up my addiction to drinking a half bottle of whiskey everyday, I began taking 4 or 5 over the counter sleeping pills every night for 1 ½ years until I replaced that with exercise, food and herbal teas containing valerian or cava cava. Then there is Mike, the divorced single father who gave up his heavy cocaine addiction only to need at least 2 double shots of cappucinno every morning just to get his mind and body started. Then I have seen the 20 year old young college girl who never did drugs or alcohol but when she came home after work she paced around her house frantically until she started her daily 6 mile run. What all these addicts have in common is they all have an unquiet mind which caused them to seek a substance or activity to help quiet their unease. Show me a heavy drug, alcohol or behavior addict and I will show you how they will always have to have something to bring calm to a mind that will always need a calming fix of some kind. What is important for the hardcore addict to know is that when they quit a severe addiction they should look for and guide themselves to their next less harmful addiction. If a severe addict is not aware that switching addictions is an automatic response when they quit their compulsion, they will automatically take up another substance or behavior regardless and if not, then they will relapse back to their original addiction. There are people who are borderline addicts, and by this I mean they may or may not ever develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol but have within them the possibility of that occurring because of a sudden longer term stressful event such as a family sickness, death or tragic situation. The borderline addict can be a non drinking elderly lady who suddenly loses her husband, the breadwinner and caretaker of their household and then she turns to alcohol because she does not have the ability to pay her bills or save her home from foreclosure. I could fill this whole book with stories of ex-addicts who switch addictions after giving up their main compulsive one. I will be including a few short dissected stories of addicts and how they switched from addiction to addiction, my story included.
Rush Limbaugh and addictive personalities.
When Rush Limbaugh had to disclose his addiction to the pain medication Oxycontin, it came as a huge surprise to many. Actually a few months before his admission, the National Enquirer was running headline stories about Rush’s drug addiction which had started as a treatment for his severe back pain. Many people were surprised to find out about Rush’s drug addiction, I was not. Although I was saddened I was not surprised because I always knew rush exhibited traits of having an addictive personality. On air he is always talking about his “formerly nicotine stained fingers” which is a reference to his smoking days and he has always battled his up again down again weight problems. When Rush went into rehab for his Oxycontin addiction it was reported that he had temporarily taken up smoking again. After he came out of rehab within a year his weight had ballooned up again. But I do recall that according to Rush, his Oxycontin addiction lasted about ten years and that during this addiction he had lost a lot of weight and kept it off. So to summarize, Rush got very heavy after he quit smoking and a dozen years ago until he lost a lot of his weight about the time he became addicted to Oxycontin, when the Oxycontin ended he briefly smoked cigarettes in rehab then became overweight again. So rush exhibit’s the perfect pattern seen in a person with an addictive personality, moving from one addiction to another in a constant search to tame his un-calm and unquiet mind. I have not studied actress Kristy Alley (Cheers) much but she came to many peoples attention a few years ago when her beautiful thin body had become 120 pounds over weight. I heard she battled a cocaine addiction early in her career. And it seems plausible that after she quit coke, she gravitated to a food addiction in order to try to tame an unquiet mind. And of course the cycle of switching addictions continues. An addict needs to be aware of this “switching of addictions”, because I strongly believe that if an addict can guide themselves toward a less harmful addiction, they can find great ease in defeating a more harmful one. A chemical imbalance that triggers an addiction can occur in those more susceptible because of their chemical makeup and environmental stressors. In “Treating Addiction” the fundamental underlying causes of addiction are pinpointed for you so that you can understand your own triggers in order to make the necessary changes in your daily life to overcome these compulsive forces. My auntie Connie used to smoke pretty heavily, and I remember seeing her on holidays and when she went without a cigarette for and hour or two she would be a bundle of pent up stressed out nerves. The only sure to her unsteadiness was a smoke. And her having that cigarette worked at calming her nerves. Addiction does work, but only temporarily. Addiction is a constant cycle of use. It never ends until the addict learns about life management through stress management, diet and learning to calm the unquiet mind. When I quit my drinking alcohol, I needed to take a triple dose of over the counter sleeping pills in order to stay calmer, and taking these pills lasted a year and a half. They definitely helped keep me away from guzzling booze, but they too were causing me harm so I learned to switch to herbal sleeping pills like valerian root or melatonin, and by drinking herbal calming teas like cava cava. Then to get off the sleeping pills all together I began walking 4 miles a day, exercising and binge eating food. Then I soon learned how to binge eat on foods that had little calories like air popped popcorn, pickles, lettuce, beets etc. I learned to switch addictions to keep my unquiet mind calmer. Stress reduction by making the right decisions had also became a way for me to learn to stay calmer.
There are two classes of addiction triggers
You need to understand the two different classes of triggers which cause and enable your addiction.
Cause: There are triggers which cause your mind to become unquiet which makes you able to become an addict in the first place. These causes are your genetic makeup and you’re environmental situation. You could have a psychological disorder which would make your mind chemically imbalanced and you could also be in a very dysfunctional and unstable environment which also causes this imbalance too.
Enable: There are also triggers which enable you to continue your addiction to drugs and alcohol. These are your friends who also use drugs and alcohol in excess, the places where you use in excess like a familiar bar, street corner, favorite room or influential music. The Beatles and John Lennon were a big influence to my drug use in my lost days of alcoholism and certain songs especially by Pete Townshend enabled me to want to get really drunk and drugged up. But the feelings that aided my alcohol/drug fueled rages were evoked and channeled through this music and were not just triggered specifically by this music or artists.
So it’s important you learn what triggers you to be an addict and also what triggers you to continue this addictive behavior. There are many different individual triggers within each addiction class and the following 5 influences on your addiction will better help you understand what your triggers may be.
The 5 types of influences to your addiction:
Psychological influences on your addiction could be genetic such as a psychological disorder that is inherited or some outside stress that affects your psychological stability.
Physiological factors that influence or cause you to become addicted are specifically your body chemistry that makes you attracted to a particular drug or even alcohol. A person does not one day decide they are going to be an alcoholic or cocaine addict. They try different drugs for various reasons (usually just experimentation) and then their body chemistry becomes attracted to one or the other. Example of this how some people can drink 5 or 8 cups of coffee a day and other people cannot even handle half a cup without getting all nervous and jittery. The chances of the heavy coffee drinker being more likely to become addicted to cocaine than the lite coffee drinker are very likely. I know plenty of ex-cocaine/ex-crack addicts who just love a thick triple shot of highly caffeinated coffee. Just like an alcoholic is almost certain to be able to become addicted to prescription downers too. It’s a persons physiology/body chemistry that determines this.
Physical addiction is when you are hooked or caught in a compulsive cycle of using drugs or alcohol. By your being hooked you cannot quit because you suffer withdrawal symptoms and get sick if you do. So the addiction cycle continues to prevent this sickness.
Environmental factors are many and they include friends or co-workers who use a lot of drugs or alcohol and they influence or pressure you to use, also living in a dysfunctional environment at home is also a strong environmental influence on your addiction. You could live in despair such as in a low income housing project filled with poverty and violence. All types of environmental factors that can weigh you down, abuse or neglect your mental well being are strong influences on your self esteem and stability. Many environmental factors can also cause psychological stressors and even apply as a Psychological influence.
Economical influences on your addiction are many, but center around not being able to have the necessities in life such as enough food to properly feed or clothe your family or even yourself. The stressors of not being able to keep up with the Jones family too. But being in poverty and despair can make a person lose their self esteem and stress out the mind in ways to cause heavy stress humiliation, not to mention hurt and pain at seeing loved ones who you are unable to aid in their basic needs.
Yes sometimes the addict will also use because of attitude. They may even just have a kink in their personality where they just say “Fuc# it!”. If attitude plays into your addiction or a loved ones, then you have to address that too. Getting to the root of a bad attitude can take plenty of work, especially along with treating a psychological disorder and other factors causing the addiction. But don’t always think that the problem is just in the 5 P’s outlined above. When dealing with an addict they can sure throw a lot of curveballs in trying to understand the underlying factors. I had a woman I worked with trying to get her off hard drugs, and we went years with ups and downs. And then after 16 years of her sobriety and slips, she just went on a several month bender and her life was more stabilized than it had ever been. That’s when I discovered she just made up her mind that she wanted to get high and get lost. It was her way of taking a “vacation”. Be alert, always.
Look through these 5 influences and determine what is causing your mind to compulsively crave alcohol or drugs. This book is setting before you the keys to unlocking your addiction secrets. They should not be hard to unlock, but they do take patience, honesty and humility in understanding and changing these influences to your continued addiction. Remember with help and free support and friendship from other recovering addicts, you will never be going it alone. It’s a loving community, a very understanding and nonjudgmental community, the recovering community.
You will never get a loved one clean and sober if you yell at them or harshly judge them
Dr. Silkwood was a highly respected doctor and confidant of AA co-founder Bill Wilson. During the beginning days of AA back in 1935, Dr. Silkwood stressed to Bill W. “don’t get too preachy” or in other words, no in your face when working with alcoholics and drug addicts who are trying to recover. You sure don’t want to listen to family members when they scream and yell at you about quitting your addiction. I know I didn’t like my family yelling at me and telling me what to do. When you enter recovery you need to let your family know that they need your support and not their negative critique. When an addict first enters recovery their family will not believe them at first, so the addict needs to have patience until their family sees for sure that they are in recovery finally. You can’t blame them for being a skeptic. But once the family understand that their loved one really did quit drugs or alcohol (usually take several months) then they will be much more encouraging and admiring.
Turn a relapse into a short lived slip
A relapse and a slip begin as one in the same thing. When your thoughts have drifted away from your recovery and emotions run high, you could find yourself falling back into the same addiction routines. This can easily happen when addictions triggers (people, places hangouts etc.) are still highly influential on your mind. When you have not fully washed these influences out of your mind, you are always highly vulnerable to them. When you feel stresses causing your mind to intensify it’s un-quietness, you must get in touch with new friends from your recovery and talk with them. Let them know what’s going on. It is at this time you need their support in order to prevent a slip or relapse. A full blown relapse does not have to occur. A slip turns into a relapse when you put up a wall and blank out the new recovery routines you have been learning. When this happens you need to get a grip on your situation by quickly leaving your old stomping grounds and jump back to your recovery friends and ask for support. Dump on them, cry on them, plead to them that you are still weakened by your past addiction’s call. They will be there to help you understand better. As you are in recovery longer and longer, the habits of being in recovery will take priority over the habits, compulsions and influences of your addictive ways of thinking.
Important to know this……
When you first enter into recovery it will take time for your thinking to fully change from one of addiction(unquiet mind) to one of non-addiction (much quieter mind). Think of your thoughts in this way. Getting your compulsive addictive thinking to leave your mind will be a process. It’s like passing a huge California mountain in your car. You see the mountain when your 35 miles away and it seems like you can never drive to it. But as you drive toward it, the mountain slowly gets bigger and bigger. That is how your mind will gradually accept and ingrain the habits of clean recovered thinking. It will take time, but as you learn the routines and habits of recovery (these habits you will learn in this book) the stronger and stronger these become a way of life for you to practice always. In fact, with time these non-addiction habits become automatic. Like riding a bicycle.
Now think about that same mountain as you are driving away from it. It is so huge it seems like it will always appear in your rear view mirror. It’s like you can’t get away from it. But gradually more and more as you leave the mountain and drive away it is getting smaller and smaller. It is fading from your view. This is how the influence of addiction will leave your mind once you stay away from these people, places and hangouts (triggers) you once used drugs around. When I drank and used various drugs, I would always think of the word “bag” as a small container with drugs in it. Now that I am 17 years clean, when I go to the supermarket and am asked if I would like a bag, I no longer think about it meaning drugs. When I first quit drinking I went out of my way to stay out of bars and supermarkets with booze in them. The site of a bottle of booze used to get my mouth watering. Not anymore. Those influences are faded from my mind and no longer trigger me to drink. I can walk in a bar and order a plain diet soda and stay in there for 4 hours without feeling the need to drink again. I just keep remembering the trouble my drinking caused me and I know I do not and will not go down that path again. But also as time went by as I stayed in sobriety and changed my influences, the triggers on my mind reduced to the point that they just disappeared.
Buddha’s answer to relapse prevention.
Buddha was not some imaginary kook who lived on a mountain and made believe he knew everything. Buddha was a real live man who one day abandoned his wife and children in search of a quest for inner peace. His logic is good. Buddha learned that in order to find an inner peace, man had to escape the craving response. He found that to eliminate craving we must eliminate our desire for things. Of course we can’t just have anything or anyone we want. We must draw a balance between what we want and what is realistic to achieve. Buddha taught us to live our lives fighting the craving response when it occurs. He advises us to work to prevent the craving response in the first place. Sure we crave food, sex, enjoyment, sports and all things material. But we should keep our perspective and just focus on having those things we really need to survive and thrive. Buddha’s lessons about human nature and craving are very important and can be compared to the craving for drugs and alcohol. So when Buddha tells us to prevent the craving for alcohol instead of trying to fight it he is telling us to find calm and keep away from triggers and desires related to addictive substances. We do this by avoiding triggers such as environments where these substances are used and abused. We also work to prevent the craving response by treating our unquiet mind for any and all disorders by practicing stress control and finding the proper prescription medication when needed to treat anxiety, depression or psychosis (non-drug induced hallucinations). Alcoholics Anonymous/group therapy helps us prevent the craving response by surrounding us with the fellowship of others who can console us and be our friend when we abandon our old addicted friends and move on to recovery. So when we first find recovery we must be very conscious of working to prevent the craving response instead of white knuckling it by always having pent up anxiety and stress. Buddha also tells us to fill our minds with the right thoughts, right things and to act right (in search of the unquiet mind) so that the stimulation of the craving response will not occur. Now there are environmental situations in addicts lives such as coming from a dysfunctional family. As hard as it may be, we must bring calm to our world in order to prevent the craving response even if that means we must move out away from our family if it is in fact a trigger to our addictions. I am not saying to just abandon your family and forget about them. But if you cannot get well then you are of no positive use to them anyway. Get yourself well first and then you can consider the right approaches to helping those you love. Buddha went on to tell us that life is about the journey and not just the destination. What this means is each day should be made happy and productive regardless if you are not where you would like to be in life. Buddha wanted us to go out of our way to look for the good in all things. So here Buddha rightly tells us to have a high level of humility.
Buddha tells us to live in the moment because the moment is truly all we ever got. We are to avoid thoughts of past disappointments and fears of the future. WHEN OUR MIND IS FILLED WITH THE RIGHT THINGS, IT WILL PERSUADE AWAY WRONG THOUGHTS. Trauma and emotional issues affect different people in different ways. Some people’s brains are wired to be more tolerant to tough situations than others. Some people’s environments may have also prepared them better for certain situations. And some people may have tougher environments to have to try to navigate and find ways of coping with. Environments that may include abuse, neglect and physical violence. This is why one addict’s journey to find recovery may be more severe than another. So genes alone are not responsible for addictive tendencies. Environment along with genes are usually combined with some form of trauma to be the influential factors to fueling the unquiet mind which leads to addiction.
Combining Buddha’s, AA and modern psychology’s solutions to calming the compulsive addictive unquiet mind.
Buddha’s response to craving and addiction is very similar this saying made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous: “one day at a time” Not becoming overwhelmed with everything about your life past present and future is the main objective to controlling and preventing the addictive cycle from reoccurring. As Buddha tells us we must prevent the craving from entering the mind. We do this by stress control and taking things easier. By learning to better cope through finding peace and calm in our lives.
What AA tells us about preventing addictive thoughts is this:
Alcoholic Anonymous’ principals tell us that we must live our lives “one day at a time” and that we can’t have any “stinkin thinkin”. They teach us that when thoughts of drinking enter our minds we should think of something else, stay busy and call another AA member to get support so we can clear our minds of our compulsion. AA also tells us that when that addictive craving hits we must go to a meeting. AA tells us to stay away from the people and places we used to frequent when we drank. We need to find new friends through AA meetings and fellowship. We should not worry what has happened in our past or what will happen in our future. The important thing we must concern our mind with is to “live for today” and think only in the now. We must avoid getting overwhelmed. We have to keep busy and occupied daily with productive activities such as work, education or even volunteer work. When we first enter recovery AA demands we go to 90 meetings in 90 days. This keeps us tight with fellow recovering addicts.
Comparing Buddhas’ and AA principles to avoiding the compulsive addictive cycle.
There are many close similarities in Buddha’s and AA’s principal’s to staying clean and sober by preventing the craving response. There is a lot to be learned in understanding these simple proven methods to quiet the mind from compulsive addictive activity. Buddha rightly tells us that the best way to conquer addictive “craving” thoughts is by not allowing these thoughts into the mind in the first place. We are to do this by staying away from triggers that our mind reacts to. AA tells us to avoid “stinking thinking”. Stinkin thinkin are the triggers our minds are programmed to such as old places and addict friends. So the cause of slips and relapse is clear. And to stay clean and sober when we enter recovery we must re-program our minds to a new way of thinking. Remember Buddha telling us that life is about the journey and not the destination. That each day should be made to be happy, serene, positive and productive. Buddha has told us to live life for the moment and to disregard past troubles and to not dwell on our future fears Also we must learn to empty our mind when these craving responses begin to enter our mind. We do this by meditation, exercising, psychotropic medication, taking up other less harmful addictions etc.
When you quit your addiction you directly address your main problem which is physical addiction to a substance which helps temporarily calm your unquiet mind. After you no longer use drugs or alcohol you can try to stay clean by one of two ways:
1. White knuckle your way through continued sobriety by not addressing your unquiet mind and just feeling anxious and jittery all the time which no doubt will leave you heavily gravitating toward excessive smoking, coffee drinking, eating or some other addictive substance or behavior. I will discuss ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY IN MORE DETAIL IN CHAPTER .
2.Treating your addictive unquiet mind properly by finding out what is causing it to be unquiet in the first place. Know to that after you quit your main addictive substance you can learn to guide your addictive tendencies toward a less harmful addiction in a controlled manner. Again, In CHAPTER I will discuss quieting the unquiet mind in more detail. Also by treating the most likely cause of an underlying psychological disorder such as depression or anxiety with medication and cognitive therapy.
Modern psychology’s answer to treating disorders.
Relapse is not a defeat.
The chances of you, the addict, relapsing is pretty high. Relapse will expose your weaknesses and are a way to strengthen these areas. AA is wrong when they have you start your sobriety counting days at zero after a relapse. Addicts who relapse more may be struggling with properly recognizing and treating a psychological disorder. Relapse is also more common in drug addicts than alcoholics according to statistics.
Signs of an impending relapse/slip.
1. Withdraws from sober activities, not seeing new recovering friends, stops seeing sponsor, not going to meetings, has time periods unaccounted for.
2. Stops taking prescribed psychotropic medications and is not seeing counselor/psychiatrist.
3. Not seeing family as much and starts seeing old friends they once used drugs or alcohol with.
4. They get moody, irritable, anxiety ridden or depressed.
6. They start visiting old haunts and neighborhoods they once used drugs/alcohol in.
7. They get jumpy about answering any questions asked of them.
8. They are anxiety ridden and can’t stay still or even depressed and just not themselves.
Preventing slips and relapses when stresses occur.
1. Get back and keep in touch with new recovering friends.
2. Talk with your counselor or therapist when you feel things not being right. Unload your problems and feelings to these people including your sponsor.
3. Do not isolate. Go to meetings regularly, swim, walk in the park but stay away from old friends and old haunts!
4. Work out, eat big meals, sleep longer or go to bed earlier if you feel the stresses calling you back.
5. Keep taking any psychotropic meds or maybe your meds needs adjusting or aren’t working properly.
6. Work on keeping your mind quiet. Find calm and peace by treating your unquiet mind.
7. Go to a place of worship and ask for solitude.
8. Relapse will actually begin before the addict starts using again. It’s called a “dry drunk”. Recognize its feelings and ask for help from one of your new confidants in recovery!
9. Read a book, bible or alcoholics anonymous book.
Alcoholism, drug addiction and its effects on you as you age
The active addict will notice that as they age into their 40’s and especially their 50’s, that it takes smaller amounts of drugs and alcohol to get high. The alcoholic as they age usually only need a glass of beer or wine to get fully drunk. Alcoholism without a doubt is a disease. When compulsively consumed regularly it’s effects on the body bring about a continuing deterioration on the health of the drinker. Alcoholism is even tracked by it’s 3 different stages of progression. Although it has rarely been charted, drug addiction and other addictions all have a steady progression of deteriorating stages that severely damage the mind and body.
An important word about relapses.
When you relapse it is important to get back in touch with your program and the recovery sy