How Do You Celebrate 32 Years of Sobriety? By Sharing 32 Lessons Learned, Release a New Book as a New Author, and Share it With Us. That is Who My Friend Marilyn Davis is & Much More.

You will never convince me that recovery is not possible for anyone nor that recovery doesn’t work. You will never convince me that woman can’t be a Recovery Warrior either. Because that is who my mentor and dear friend Marilyn Davis is to many who have reached out for help from addictions. She has always been there when I needed sound recovery advice or to pick up the phone and call her to say hello; either way, I can never thank her enough for that. 

Marilyn has released a new book titled Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, available on Amazon online. She shares self-help from drug addiction through her memoirs. As her book description says, “New in recovery, a chance encounter with Gray Hawk, a 74-year old Native American, showed her that healing would include looking within, taking Steps, and creating a house of healing for other women.

Today, Marilyn is a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, recently celebrating thirty-two years of abstinence-based recovery. From 1990-2011, she opened and managed North House, an award-winning residential facility for women. Before reaching this milestone, she was a desperate woman on drugs, managing rock bands at night, pretending to be okay, but ultimately giving up on herself, losing her husband, children, family, and friends due to her addiction.

Her new book is that journey. 

Written By Marilyn Davis


~ Courtesy of Beth Burgess

Life Coach London ¦ Recovery Coach ¦ NLP London ¦ Therapy London ¦ Sort My Life Solutions (Smyls) ¦ Addiction ¦ Anxiety ¦ Stress ¦ Employee Workshops


Author, Marilyn Davis


After celebrating 32 years of 12-step abstinence-based recovery, Marilyn Davis, Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist and author, shares 32 lessons that helped her heal, change, and grow.

When I got out of treatment on November 8, 1988, I wondered if I could make it in recovery. I’d been a desperate woman on drugs for a long time. My addiction was so chaotic, I ended up losing my husband and children.

Although I’d been cooperative in my six weeks of treatment, now I’d be out of a secure, locked environment. Could I resist calling my dealer? Could I muster the courage to walk into a 12-Step meeting where I didn’t know anyone? How was I going to adjust to living with my parents again? After all, I was forty years old, and they gave me a curfew!

All of those questions made me apprehensive and anxious, but I resolved to go to a meeting, get some phone numbers, and find a home group.

Learning Recovery Lessons

Through 12-step meetings, I met a 74-year old Native American named Gray Hawk, who had 34 years of recovery when I met him. He showed me that healing from addiction would include meetings, taking Steps, and creating a house of healing for other women.

Every year, I try to focus on my Lesson of the Year, something my mentor suggested. Each of these lessons has come from working the Steps, as well as asking for, and following through, with the suggestions.

Unfortunately, I had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way – by not listening to old-timers, believing I was different, or just being stubborn. But I sincerely hope you can avoid that by reading the lessons I learned.

My Top 32 Recovery Lessons

  1. I’m choosing to say no to drugs and alcohol.
  2. I can do this with help. 
  3. These people know what they’re talking about when they offer their experience, strength, and hope. 
  4. Not everyone is open to amends, but I need to clean up my side of the street.
  5. I would choose to throw everything I’ve worked for if I pick up again. 
  6. Pain can motivate me or take me back out. I’ll choose motivation. 
  7. I demonstrate strength when I show my vulnerability. 
  8. Working towards a goal with incremental sub-goals means I can feel a sense of accomplishment. 
  9. I can do this.
  10. My feelings were numb for many years and won’t come back appropriately to the situation sometimes. That’s okay. 

  11. Not everyone will be supportive – that’s on them if I’m doing what I need to do. 
  12. I will work towards emotional, physical, and mental balance. 
  13. I’ll use the 17 Spiritual Principles and get better outcomes. 
  14. My actions defined me in my use and my recovery. 
  15. At some point, picking back up is a choice. 
  16. I have a choice today in how I process my feelings. 
  17. Do I rise and shine, or do I rise and whine? 
  18. Being uncomfortable is not going to kill me. 
  19. The Steps were written in a specific order; take them as they’re written. 
  20. Sponsoring someone is a gift.

  21. Life has meaning and purpose; now that I’m clean, I can pursue both. 
  22. I can not buy self-esteem, but recovery restores mine. 
  23. I can have fun with other recovering people – we can all laugh at the bowling shoes. 
  24. I can repair the damage to relationships that my addiction caused. 
  25. I am now resilient in my recovery, not helpless as I was in my addiction.
  26. When I share what’s worked for me with a newcomer, it reinforces that choice and gives them hope. 
  27. In all things, I must practice honesty. 

  28. I can never know what someone is experiencing, and if they appear grumpy, angry, withdrawn, or not friendly, it probably has nothing to do with me. 
  29. I will start and end my day with prayer. 
  30. Be present in this moment; it’s all you’ve got. 
  31. No one can read my mind; I must either ask for what I need or explain myself. 
  32. I can’t change anyone but myself.

What Recovery Is

Recovery from addiction is much more than mere abstinence from a substance or a behavior.

While abstinence is a fundamental component of my recovery, I think the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration definition fits my belief. “Recovery is a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”

These lessons are all things that helped me to not only stay clean and sober, but reach my full potential as a person in recovery.

About Marilyn L. Davis

Marilyn Davis operated the award-winning residential facility for women, North House, for over 20 years. Read Marilyn’s journey through addiction, recovery, healing, and helping others in her new memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate. She resides in the Atlanta, GA., area.

“A passionate advocate, in recovery since 9/30/1988”

As The Corona Pandemic Across The Nation is Turning From Bad to Worse. So is Problem Online Gambling While Exploding! Guest Post By The Dawn Rehab…


Risky Business: The Rise in Online Gambling During the COVID-19 Pandemic ~ By Dawn Rehab ~ https://thedawnrehab.com/

Courtesy of The Dawn Rehab


141,310 Gambling Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime


As most people were literally left to their own devices during COVID-19 related lockdowns, many began engaging with technology in different new ways. Recent reports show that online gambling services have exploded in popularity, which could lead to a subsequent increase in gambling addiction.


The implementation of COVID-19 related lockdowns worldwide corresponded with a dramatic increase in many people’s screen time. While swiping the long hours away can help alleviate some of the restlessness and anxiety that comes from being stuck at home, it also increases exposure to heavily marketed goods and services, including online gambling.

Some countries have noted that bookmakers increased advertising on websites and social media to lure in potential customers, which can be problematic for those struggling with a gambling addiction, or those simply suffering from boredom and looking for a way to kill time. 

Approximately 1 percent of the adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem. The most recent research estimates that 6 to 9 percent of young people and young adults experience problems related to gambling — a higher rate than among adults.

Though a few countries such as Belgium, Spain and Latvia have imposed some restrictions on online gambling in order to try and curb addiction during the lockdowns, the majority of these services remain easily accessible and highly tempting. This poses a serious risk for an uptick in gambling addictions during the pandemic.   

How the Pandemic Has Fueled Online Gambling


In a few short months, our daily lives and regular habits have changed dramatically. Both the physical and mental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak have contributed to an increased use of online gambling services.

These impacts include: 

Boredom, Depression and Anxiety

Few of us are used to spending so many hours, day after day, in our own homes. Cut off from our regular outdoor activities, classes, and even workspaces, many people began feeling bored, anxious, and even depressed.

The pandemic itself lent to stress not only about our health, but also about our work and relationships. These feelings, plus the shift of most interactions to an online forum, created a perfect storm for susceptibility to clicking onto an online gambling site.

Ban on Live Sports, Closure of Casinos

The crowds found in casinos and sports arenas around the world were quickly recognised as hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus, and were shuttered in many countries. For the first time, major sports seasons and events, including the upcoming Olympics, have been suspended, leaving avid sports fans and casual gamblers at a loss. Dramatic increases in visitors to online gambling sites suggest that people are filling the gap through online gambling. 

Is Online Gambling More Addictive?

A recent study by the UK’s Gambling Commission found that 1.2% of all people who gamble have developed an addiction, but this figure increases to 2.5% when only online sports betting is considered, and a staggering 9.2% when the focus shifts to online gaming like casino games and roulette. 

Part of this is due to the speed of online gambling – gamblers don’t have to wait for specific matches or tournaments, but can place bets in quick succession, chasing wins (or losses) one after the other. Because it is possible to gamble using credit cards instead of cash in hand, debts can be run up extremely quickly before people even really wrap their heads around how much is at stake. The fact that this type of gambling is available 24/7 via a simple click on our phones or computers, also factors into the heightened addiction rates. 

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Additionally, online gambling is more easily hidden. It’s far more obvious if you are spending hours at the casino or at a racetrack than if you are simply sitting in the corner scrolling and clicking. This lack of visibility can mean that others may not see you need help until the problem has become very serious.

Do You Have a Gambling Addiction?

There are many people who do enjoy casual or occasional gambling that does not result in any negative consequences to financial or mental health. These are gamblers who can accept a loss and walk away from a further bet.

However, if you are noticing that you’re clicking into sites more often, and placing larger and larger bets, you may be developing a dependency. Gambling addiction impacts both men and women, and can have serious effects. 

Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

  • Constantly thinking about or reliving gambling-related experiences
  • Increasing amounts of time during the day spent gambling
  • Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop gambling
  • Using gambling as a “go-to” activity to relax or feel better
  • Having to make increasingly larger or riskier bets to feel satisfied or excited
  • Trying to win back money lost through gambling by engaging in further gambling
  • Attempting to downplay or cover up gambling habits
  • Experiencing financial strain as a result of gambling

Impacts of a Gambling Addiction

When people think of gambling addiction, it is immediately assumed that most of the impacts are financial. While those who struggle with gambling do face financial difficulties as a result of their dependency, the impacts of gambling go far beyond bank accounts, and often have serious negative effects on relationships, work and even legal issues.

Gambling has been proven to impact mental health, and has been linked to conditions like depression, and anxiety disorders. People struggling with gambling addiction are at greater risk for suicide – one study found that gamblers are six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or attempts. The stress of living with a gambling disorder often manifests in physical ailments as well, such as digestive issues and migraines.

If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, seeking professional help from an addiction specialist is a necessity. Speaking with someone who understands the science of addiction and can help address and treat the root causes of dependency will lead to the best possible outcomes for recovery. . .


The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand offers residential treatment that specialises in behavioural addictions such as gambling. With a maximum intake of 25 clients at a time, our highly experienced professional team offers personalised attention and customised treatment plans for each and every client.

The fundamental objective of our programme is for clients to achieve and maintain long-term recovery by equipping each individual with a personalised set of coping tools to use when dealing with stress and triggers. The Dawn utilises a unique “Twin Pillars” approach for treatment, seamlessly blending Western psychotherapeutic techniques with proven Eastern wellness practices to holistically address the addiction, and allow the development of a full, healthy lifestyle.

Gambling Addiction Treatment On-site or Online with The Dawn

We understand that current COVID-19 related travel restrictions may make it difficult for you to access the benefits of a residential treatment programme at this time. At The Dawn, our therapists have years of experience providing online therapy to our clients post treatment in online aftercare groups as well as individual counselling.  

To support individuals in need of help but unable to travel, we have been offering a special Virtual Treatment Programme with the option of transitioning to in-person residential treatment when clients are ready. 

To best accommodate our clients, we structure our fees so that whatever you have already paid towards your online therapy goes towards your overall residential treatment fee. This allows you to continue your care with a trusted therapist in an environment totally removed from the triggers and stress of everyday life, and to focus completely on your recovery. 

If you’re looking for a way out of a gambling addiction, we can help you. Call us today To learn more about The Dawn USA Call – US/CANADA: +1 678 619 3975











Special Guest Recovery Article By Sober Recovery Magazine …5 Key Components to Long-Term Recovery Success.

I welcome Sober Recovery back again with I feel is an important article share about moving into long-term recovery success and what it takes to achieve it. Written by By Toshia Humphries … I agree with Toshia and some of what I had to accomplish in order to reach my 13+years maintaining long-term recovery from gambling addiction and living with mental health challenges. But when you feel that freedom and peace?

It is worth the work you put into the journeyCatherine Lyon, Advocate

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Short-term success in recovery is rather straightforward.

It requires getting and staying sober for a short amount of time. Truthfully, this is something many active addicts are able to do. In fact, it’s one reason many refuse to refer to themselves as addicts; because they believe they can quit at any time, and they’ve usually successfully tested that hypothesis.

However, being able to quit for short periods of time doesn’t determine whether a person is or is not an addict any more than temporarily not having chest pains determines whether or not heart disease is present. Quitting isn’t the hard part—it’s staying sober and getting what is called real recovery that takes effort.

In other words, staying sober is just the tip of the iceberg. Real recovery is about dealing with the physical, spiritual, emotional, and/or psychological disconnect within the whole person, rather than just the resulting disease of addiction. As such, there are necessary components to employ and maintain in an effort to last in your new path.

Here are the 5 key components to help you achieve long-term success in recovery.

1. Accountability

Taking responsibility for your own actions and lack thereof is key to a successful recovery. It’s not just about making amends for obvious grievances. It is a realization of the responsibility we have to others, ourselves, and the Universe. Additionally, it is the opposite of living in ego; the ruler of active addiction.

2. Integrity

Having integrity is an integral part of recovery. With active addiction, lying, manipulation, and rationalizing negative behavior or thought-processes is rampant. To employ honesty, sincerity, and ethics (with others and yourself) is to align with recovery rather than relapse.

3. Life Skills

Acquiring life skills is essential for a successful recovery. A vast majority (if not all) life skills are inherently void during active addiction. Therefore, it is necessary to know how to be fully self-sufficient in recovery. Moreover, it is necessary to learn more than mere living skills but gain life skills; tools that assist you in thriving rather than merely surviving. So, learning healthy coping, communication, boundaries, etc. is key.

4. Personal Growth/Healing

Seeking personal growth and healing is most vital with regard to long-term success in recovery. Staying sober and avoiding relapse is much easier when you begin to deal with the underlying issues and triggers. Healing yourself holistically is the difference between simple sobriety and real recovery.

Because there is often a defensive response to the latter statement, consider this analogy: when a Type 2 diabetic gets their sugars under control by way of insulin but continues to eat poorly and fails to exercise, health issues will continue to arise and manifest in other diseases. So, even though the symptoms of the disease (diabetes) appear to be under control, the lifestyle isn’t. And, even more, the dysfunctional reasoning behind the lack of self-care is still very active and detrimental.

Addiction works the same way, as it too is a disease. And, if the underlying issues and holistic lifestyle changes are not made, real recovery is not achieved. Overall health issues will continue to pop up and manifest in other forms of dysfunction; something real recovery prevents.

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5. Spirituality

Because we are not merely human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human one, we must incorporate spirituality as a daily practice to keep ourselves holistically well. We cannot leave out any part of our being when addressing any disconnectedness that fed or damage incurred in active addiction. As such, seeking and maintaining a spiritual practice is necessary to avoid relapse and experience not only success in recovery but a sense of awakening and evolving to a new you.

Applying these five keys to success in recovery not only works to prevent relapse but aids in building a strong sense of character and being while evolving your soul and moving you onto the next part of your life’s journey.

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We’re With You from Start to Recovery

SoberRecovery is the leading online referral source for those seeking the best rehab facility centers. SoberRecovery is an unbiased resource not owned or operated by any treatment facility.

Why We’re Different:

  • We’re not subscribed to any one way of recovery.
  • We’re home to the largest online community that’s seeking addiction treatment resources.
  • We DO NOT engage in “Patient Brokering”: i.e. selling patient information to treatment facilities.
  • We’re a part of every stage of addiction recovery.

We’re with you from the start of your journey and through your recovery.

Featuring a directory of rehab centers across the globe, celebrity interviews, current news topics, advice from addiction experts, and a thriving online forum community of 175,000+ members, we’re encompassing every aspect of the recovery journey for our subscribers. VISIT Sober Recovery Today!

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Recovery Requires Overcoming our Past Pain …Identifying Underlying Issues and Roots to Your Addiction to Gain Recovery.

Recovery Requires Overcoming our Past Pain …Identifying Underlying Issues and Roots to Your Addiction to Gain Recovery.

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I have recently been introduced to a new recovery friend who I may be helping him with a writing project of his memoirs. His story and testimony, like mine, are filled with many roots, underlying issues and old pain as to why he turned to addiction. 

Actually, what this man had endured and now causes him much haunting pain and nightmares today that had been suppressed in his memory for many years, it amazes me he is still alive to tell his story.

Why? Because the stats are alarming on how many people are sexually assaulted every year in America, and on average, there are 433,648 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assaults each year.  Every 73 seconds, a sexual assault occurs.

Just boys and men alone, 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual abuse or assault, whether in childhood or as adults. This leaves many lives traumatically changed forever, constant pain and haunting memories as I had for years myself and those feelings of the shame, lost innocence, and feeling dirty as though it was my fault this happened to me. 

All those years of asking GOD?

 WHY ME? 


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I won’t lie, even though I now have learned the tools to process what happened to me, talking with my new friend, it has brought up some of those feelings back. As we spoke, I felt his pain. I can hear the anxiety and anger.

I have told him he needs to let go of the anger and resentment I was hearing in his voice as he shared his story and events with me, and privileged he is, it needs to be validated for him instead of others just shutting him down or think he’s just crazy. He is a human being with feelings. I know just how much “words” can hurt and hurt more so than physical pain. Because I too have been ridiculed in the same manner by my own family members, I am estranged from today.

Being molested and experienced trauma of this kind is challenging to find the proper words to describe your loss of innocence and your identity stripped away, leaving you confused, empty, broken, and feeling worthless and ashamed. I carried that into my adulthood. I learned I could use a mask of humor to appear I was just as happy and healthy like everyone else while my pain and rage began building through the years. Many other issues came into play as I was growing up. Feeling significant sensitivity when my parents physically disciplined me, as I got older, the verbal abuse.

Of course, all the while, the anger was building a perfect storm, as it continued brewing into my adult life, and turning to addiction to try and cope, numb out and not feel the haunting pain and nightmares that came back around age 30.  By 33, I was almost into full-blown gambling addiction.  Right before my first suicide attempt and treatment and was not my last, I began to abuse alcohol toward my second suicide attempt as addicted gambling stopped working as my escape and hide from the pain.

I began gaining a few years of recovery time, is when I started writing in a journal.  Those journals helped in releasing my book/memoir. I started my research for my book learning dark secrets that had me looking at my parents much; differently, it is an uncomfortable feeling to see your parents in a whole new light. And not a positive one either.

I share these feelings as it seems, even after fifteen years of estrangement from my father and the rest of my dysfunctional side of the family, they still feel the need to add salt to the old wounds even today by leaving “ugly” comments of my book as reviews anywhere they think they can hurt me. I’m OK today, so I ignore it.

WHY?

Because I set those boundaries long ago and learned the tools not to let any of that as blame to make me relapse nor relapse from any of my roots and underlying issues that used to make me run to escape with a few hours of gambling, and ALL THE TIME.  You can learn the full-back story as I wrote a recent recovery post about this topic here on my recovery blog  https://betfreerecoverynow.wordpress.com/2020/01/06/family-may-not-understand-about-addiction-nor-support-you-as-you-change-maintaining-recovery-the-2nd-chance-syndrome-some-dont-get-it/


See, one of my new years “fear busting resolutions” is to share more
about this side of my life and embrace the fact it happened, and I made it out the other side of my sexual trauma and abuse. Not as a victim any longer, and I know it wasn’t me or anything I did to invite sexual molestation to happen to me.

Again, I want to be clear that I am a recovery warrior and no longer a victim.  NO, I don’t blame my parents either, but we don’t get to pick and choose who our family is.  But I won’t continue to be treated poorly, seek their approval, or be verbally abused by them any longer.  I don’t have to keep and use my moms’ old poor behaviors as they have used for years and enabled my mom.

So, sadly,  I needed to distance myself to keep my own sanity and recovery intact later in my life and did so many year’s ago.

My main point to my ramblings? 

Learning the roots and underlying issues of why we turned addiction, and these were some of the fuel to mine, we have to process them healthily, know it is OK to seek professional help, and no shame in doing so.  This will aide you from relapse.  I learned that the hard way.  When you do, you can begin to forgive, let go and “Let God” and begin to heal, find true peace and happiness, and start a successful long-term recovery road.

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Today, I have the comfort of knowing that GOD and those who have passed on like my mother, my brother-in-law, just a couple of dear friends who are the only ones who know my real truth of what I went through.

This is the only validation I need that keeps me in peace and serenity.

As I know GOD will always love me unconditionally . . .  ✝💞👼🙏🙏

 

College Students …Don’t Get Drawn Into Online Gambling as Student Debt is Bad Enough. Tips-How to Delete Student Debt.

College Students …Don’t Get Drawn Into Online Gambling as Student Debt is Bad Enough. Tips-How to Delete Student Debt.

 

I am keenly aware how much of a “Game Changer” the laws passing in many states in America “Legalizing Online Sports Betting” IS …Let’s face it, college students love supporting their school’s teams in any form of sports and with “March Madness” in full swing, students may be more willing to give it a try. BUT? Many can be more leaning to, and it can become a problem for them. Hence,
MARCH is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Now, I am not saying students WILL become addicted to online sports betting, but the possibility is always there. That would be devastating to these students as many already when leaving college are swimming in Student Debt!

If you are a student, and you feel the need to gamble or bet on sports? Please do it responsibly, and my Guest Article is here to help share some tips and advice on helping YOU get of Student/College Debt.

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Helping College Student Get Out of Debt 


You’ve made it. You’ve passed all your final exams, lined up a few potential job opportunities, and are ready to get that degree in your hands. Maybe you had hopes that all those
anxieties you felt before you started your first semester of college would be gone after four years of schooling. But graduating brings on a whole new set of challenges. Finding a job in your field of study, finding affordable housing, and of course, paying off the loans that have been building up over time.


More than 40 million Americans have some form of student loan debt, with almost 6 million of those borrows owing more than $50,000. These numbers aren’t meant to scare you, but more to show you that you’re not alone in this. This kind of debt can take a mental toll as much as a financial toll. Maybe you have a plan in place to keep your student loan payments in check, but what about those that don’t? After all, it’s difficult enough to get through a grueling college experience, let alone prepare a foolproof plan to pay back your loans in a timely manner.

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What’s the First Step?


There are a few rather simple ways to help manage your student loans, and you may even find a few tips out there on how to stop paying your student loans altogether. However you decide to pay off your debt, whether you choose to enroll in income-driven repayments, pursue a career in public service, or receive loan forgiveness; the first step to managing debt is understanding it.


Understanding what type of loans you currently have to pay back will give you a better idea of how to pick the right repayment options. There are two types of student loans:

  • Federal Loans
  • Private Loans

Federal loans have protections from lenders, where private loans do not. It’s likely that you filed for federal student loans at some point during your time in college. Since private loans are not backed by the federal government, they are far more risky and expensive than federal loans. For that reason, they’re not nearly as popular.


Regardless of which type of loan you have, make sure to check out the National Student Loan Data System to view a complete listing of all your federal loans. If you’re not seeing some of them on there, they’re likely private loans. Begin by viewing your current credit reports, and make note of both the lender contact information and balances of each private loan. Both of these things will be necessary for the future.

Pick a Repayment Method


Repayments can be both daunting and downright confusing. Take the time to fully understand the pros and cons of each method of repayment. There will be trade-offs between each option, but here is a general overview of each:

  1. Standard Repayment

For loans that aren’t consolidated, you can choose to repay in a standard method. All this means is that your payments will be the same over a ten year period. Depending on your balance, these monthly payments may be high, but the quicker you pay off your loan the less you’ll be paying in interest.

  1. Income-Driven Repayment

If your debt is relatively higher than your current income, you may want to take advantage of the income-driven repayment plan. Your monthly payments will be established by the percentage of your current income. This means if you don’t earn a lot at the moment, your loan payments will be significantly lower.

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Although there are clear advantages to this type of repayment plan, there are a few significant drawbacks. You’ll be required to verify your income annually, and because the payments are lower, interest charges will be considerably higher.

Get Your Loans Forgiven

There is a federal program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness that forgives student debt remaining after 10 years of qualifying payments for those in nonprofit, government, or public service jobs. There are even more loan forgiveness programs and options for those working in the military, those in teaching positions, or those in medicine.

Most Importantly

Don’t ignore the debt! Ignoring your debt can lead to some serious consequences. Not making payments at all can lead to your loan defaulting. If that happens, the loan balance as a total will become due, wrecking your credit score. You may even have your wages and tax refunds garnished by the government. If you know you’re in danger of defaulting, talk honestly with your lenders. There may be a way to keep this from happening.

Don’t panic! So many people before you have had trouble making payments on their loans due to unemployment, health issues, or those general unexpected financial challenges. Remember, options for managing your loans exist. There are legal and legitimate ways to postpone your payments for a short period of time.

If you’re experiencing a temporary hardship, try deferment or forbearance. Some or all of the loan’s interest may still accumulate even if your payments are postponed. If it’s at all possible, make interest-only payments. Begin today with using these tips and wipe out your student debt!

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Big Jim Downs Visits Austin, Texas State Capitol Today and The News Is AMAZING.

Big Jim Downs Visits Austin, Texas State Capitol Today and The News Is AMAZING.

Welcome Recovery Friends!

It is no secret that I am “being of recovery service” as media manager to a couple who is fighting this Addictions Crisis in America with all that they have! Literally. We have been friends, Big Jim and Marisol Downs for almost three 1/2 years.  I met Jim while he was accomplishing his first event of “Walking Across America 4 Addiction Awareness.” He had just finished his own 16-month treatment and recovery program while living in a faith-based rescue mission. He had finally had enough of drugging and drinking after 34 years of it! He was at the bottom after an anger rage he couldn’t remember after it happened.

He decided it was time for him to get help, for him and GOD to have a long conversation about his life and what was it he was missing? It was FAITH. He walked to be able to hear and get closer to GOD. He was redeemed from addictions, but without GOD in his life? He surely knew he would relapse and that to JIM was not going to happen. So he went for a walk from Panama City FL. to Canada! When Jim finished the “walk,” he founded and began “Big Jim’s Walk Inc.”

Now, with a new mission from God and years maintaining recovery, Big Jim is now “Biking Around America 4 Addiction Awareness and with powerful recovery support and treatment team behind him. He has already in just 2 and half months saved 41 lives from addictions who reached out to him while biking around America!

And? Well, I think I will let you read the rest of the “Ride” story courtesy of “The Eagle” newspaper located outside Houston, Texas as that is WHERE Big Jim has made it to and will be speaking on the State Capitol Steps in Austin, Texas today!! I would like to invite all who are my supporters of this blog go Donate and support Big Jim Downs as he riding for MY Addiction I am recovering from as MARCH is Problem Gambling Awareness Month! Jim and Marisol are doing this ride on the kindness of people who know this addiction crisis in America is reaching everyone’s communities and claiming too many precious LIVES.

So I invite you to contribute and I THANK YOU in advance and donate here on Big Jim’s Fundraiser on the Official Website of Big Jim’s Walk Foundation. 

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PEDALING FOR HOPE

Addiction-recovery advocate makes unexpected Bryan-College Station, Texas stop…

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“Now five years clean, 50-year-old Jim Downs is hiking and cycling across the country to share his heart and testimony of hope with other addicts, and he has a mission to visit the steps of every state capitol in the continental United States this year.”

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Jim Downs battled the long road of drug and alcohol addiction for more than 30 years before finding rescue in a faith-based recovery program.


Now five years clean, the 50-year-old Florida
man is hiking and cycling across the country to share his heart and testimony of hope with other addicts, and he has a mission to visit the steps of every state capitol in the continental United States this year.

On the way to Austin on Thursday, Downs’ bright yellow-green Performer JC26X recumbent trike blew a tire just outside Bryan-College Station. His wife, Marisol, who was driving the couple’s car, met up with her husband in Bryan so he could strap the trike to the vehicle roof and take it for repairs.

Marisol often has to stay back in Florida to work while Jim makes his long journey, but she tries hard to follow her partner in the car when she can, hoping to help him if he runs into trouble. Sometimes she’s able to travel ahead of him and let recovery centers and news outlets in the local area know Jim will be pedaling into town.

The couple runs the charity organization known as Big Jim’s Walk and is in the paperwork process of having the group designated formally as a 501(c) nonprofit, Marisol said. The program started just two years ago when the couple decided to embark on a charity walk together from Florida to the Canadian border, talking to drug and alcohol addicts they met on the way and connecting them to recovery programs.

Now the organization is staffed by several people who have access to a catalog of addiction recovery programs throughout the country. When they meet an addict on a trip, they connect the addict to a long-term recovery program that will care for that person free of charge.

So far, they have helped 42 people since 2017 and have spoken with both small-town politicians and high-ranking state elected officials about funding for sober living and addiction programs.

Jim said that while he took a quick stop in Bryan to deal with the broken trike, he wanted to share his story with the people of the area via media outlets, hoping his testimony could help anyone in the Brazos Valley battling some kind of addiction and needing hope.

Jim was raised in California by what he described as a stable middle-class family and had never witnessed drug or alcohol abuse. But, he says, family issues led him to turn to drugs at school to deal with emotional problems. Having first tried illicit substances at 12, he eventually spiraled out of control and was an addict for 34 years.

He attempted suicide five times, was fired from jobs, was homeless at times and was repeatedly arrested, he said. He said he eventually let down his children and takes responsibility for leading one of his kids into methamphetamine addiction.

After enduring a psychotic blackout just over four years ago, he decided to reach out to Panama City Rescue Mission in Florida, a faith-based recovery program.

“I went in with a chip on my shoulder about recovery and an attitude of ‘I’m only doing this once,’ especially since I’d had heard people say they did it four or five times,” he said. “… Getting a relationship with God and working the 12-step addiction program through that relationship, I was digging deep and dealing with the root cause of all of it — a sense of abandonment.”

Recovery was not a simple process. Jim explained that recovery takes work and dedication, and lots of support from friends and family members who are not addicts. Jim said he would like to see more opportunities for those battling addiction to enter a recovery program that looks at the long-term healing process beyond the initial days of detoxification.

His mission as a sober man riding his bike cross-country is to connect the people he meets with the services that will help them in the same way he was helped. If those services aren’t available to a person in their immediate area, Jim stressed his organization will pay for that person to be bused to a town where they can receive treatment.

“The objective is to let everyone out there know that I get it,” he said. “I’ve been homeless, eaten out of garbage cans, done dope most of my life. I encourage people through my testimony and let them know they don’t have to live that way and there is hope. Then I offer them free recovery.”

The couple planned to drive on Thursday night to Austin, where Jim could have his trike wheel repaired. Next stop after speaking in Austin: Phoenix, where he plans to keep passing on the message of hope.

To reach out to Jim and Marisol Downs and learn more about their charity, visit bigjimswalk.com.

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Stark WARNING and Words From Gambling Recovery Experts Now That Super Bowl Is Just Around The Corner and About Sports Betting …

Stark WARNING and Words From Gambling Recovery Experts Now That Super Bowl Is Just Around The Corner and About Sports Betting …

With another Super Bowl and the Biggest Gambling month before and after this event is now upon us …

What does this mean?

Well, for those who may have a gambling problem and now bills passed in some states that legally OK’D online Sports Betting? It could mean they may cross the line into full-blown addicted gambling as Sports Betting has been growing!

Now with recent laws passing for and against sports betting online, but a stark warning from a dear friend of mine and fellow author, Mr. Arnie Wexler. Arnie is one of the foremost experts on compulsive gambling in this country still today and has been helping compulsive gamblers and their families for over 30 years along with his wife Sheila.

Arnie is a certified compulsive gambling counselor (CCGC) and is the former “Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey” for eight years. His wife, Sheila, was a consultant and presenter on the subject of compulsive gambling addiction when they ran Arnie, and Sheila Wexler Associates and now both are retired, except for their advocacy work.

Arnie still owns and runs a National Gambling Hot Line 1-888-LAST-BET, and he can find you help from problem gambling. Heres an essential interview and quotes by Arnie Wexler he wanted me to share about:

The Super Bowl, Gambling, and Sports Betting
“Football’s biggest game offers the greatest temptation to sports gamblers.
And now people can place a bet legally in some states which is more detrimental to compulsive gamblers.” Arnie Wexler explains.

“The Super Bowl is to the compulsive gambler what New Year’s Eve is to the alcoholic,” this from a leading expert on the subject of compulsive gambling and a recovering compulsive gambler himself. According to the National Gambling Study Commission, there are 5 million compulsive gamblers and 16+ million at risk in just the United States alone.

“I have spoken to more compulsive gamblers than anyone else in America and have gotten hundreds of phone calls after playoff games and the Super Bowl from compulsive gamblers,” Wexler says. “Some have spoken about embezzlements, white-collar crimes and destroying themselves and their families. Others were so desperate that they were contemplating suicide. ”

“Over the years, I have also spoken to college and professional athletes who had a gambling problem,” Wexler says. ” Even two players who have played in the super bowl … An NCAA study a few years ago noted that there is a disturbing trend of gambling among athletes in colleges now today. Do you think that these people will get into the pros and then stop gambling? ”

“Compulsive gamblers are very vulnerable during the NFL postseason because they are looking for the ‘lock bet to get even.’ Wexler says. “The media hype juices the gambler and — as this is an impulse disorder — many compulsive gamblers will be in action. And I wonder if any players might have a bet on the games already.”

“With all the games and the media hype about odds and betting lines, there is an explosion of betting on these games,” Wexler continues. “I can’t believe that newspapers carry ads from these so-called handicappers, who are really ‘scamicappers.’ It’s also interesting to note how often the information is incorrect. ”

“Why do you think the NFL gives out an injury list every week?”

“I remember when Skip Ballis, then of the Dallas Morning News, had a gorilla in the Dallas Zoo make football picks for them,” Wexler says. “The gorilla’s picks were doing better than the sports writers. I think the responsible thing to do would be for newspapers, radio and TV shows to carry a public service message about Responsible Betting. ”

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Here is a little more about my friend Arnie and Sheila Wexler:

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He is a recovering compulsive gambler who placed his last bet on April 10, 1968. He has been fighting the injustice of how sports, society and the judicial system deal with compulsive gamblers for 50-years. Sheila is the expert of what the spouse goes through when you live and are married to a Compulsive Gambler. The family perspective so to say.

They both have done and have been on many national news stations like CNN, 60 Minutes, and ABC Nightline. You must give Arnie’s newest book a read as well and is titled “All Bets Are Off: Losers, Liars, and Recovery from Gambling Addiction.” It garnishes over 60+ 5-stars on Amazon and is a fantastic read and insights about this addiction.

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Stop Predatory Gambling

Another Friend of Mine has been to battle many times and continues today with what is being done through legislation and “Predatory Gambling.” That is Mr. Les Bernal  National Director … Les has been National Director since 2008 when the national network grew into the organization of the now  Stop Predatory Gambling . Org

Here is what Les has to say a little about the Finacial Drain on Americans due to Sports and all betting:

How Online Gambling Drains Millennial Finances:

Gambling has been normalized among young people and is an unconscious drain on their cash. The constant temptation of having a gambling app in your pocket leads to a stream of spending that’s hard to control. Phones are distracting enough as it is, whether it is the unanswered WhatsApp messages in your pocket or 200 Instagram pictures you’ve yet to like. Now betting companies are exploiting the iPhone generation’s obsession with our phones to hook us into betting more, and more frequently.

According to Financial Times, more than one-fifth of 18 to 24-year-old’s confessed to gambling in 2017 …

Please go read this full article and learn more: View Original Article 

Les recently spoke to legislators and this link you can watch a quick video of Les speaking about the current stats and the financial drain ALL Gambling is putting on Americans including now legal online sports betting options. It is very powerful and makes your jaw drop when we are looking at now: “The American people are on course to lose $1 trillion over the next 8 years” A Must Watch!

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https://www.stoppredatorygambling.org/the-american-people-on-a-collision-course-to-lose-more-than-1-trillion-over-the-next-eight-years-testimony-of-les-bernal-before-congress/

Christmas Day Recovery Ramblin’s, Reflections, and Advocacy … Be That One, But Carefully …

Christmas Day Recovery Ramblin’s, Reflections, and Advocacy … Be That One, But Carefully …

Welcome Everyone Who Finds Me and My Recovery Blog Today ~ Merry Christmas!

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So I happen to do a Facebook Post yesterday that gave me some things I’d been pondering for a while as I was reading in many of my recovery groups how relapse and struggles have been shared about and by trying to help others looking for help. And like addicts, we can have roadblocks during the holiday season. But one area that hit home for me was swirling in my head from my own past early recovery days … “Being Of Service To Others” and Advocacy. So I thought I’d share and elaborate a little more from my post. 

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Facebook Asks? What’s On Your Mind This Christmas Day?


Hear It Is … A Recovery Message We At Times Need 2 HEAR …

 

NEXT Month on Jan. 29th, 2019 I will have maintained my recovery 12-years.  No “Ego” nor Bragging about this at all.

Why Am I Sharing This?

Because I chose that date as my actual recovery date as it was my “Sentencing Date” by a Judge in So. Oregon who Gave ME A Blessing of a 2ND CHANCE from a crime I had committed and so it would not follow me the rest of my life once I completed all of the punishment given was satisfied …

I Had Never Committed a Crime before, nor after this crime, but I wanted this “Recovery Date” even though I had some time already, BUT? I didn’t want to Never Forget the Poor Choices I had made through all the years within my gambling addiction and abuse of alcohol …

We all have wreckage and baggage from #Addiction.

But when I began Advocating and Raising Awareness about Addicted and Problem Gambling, I too right away wanted to “Be of Service” and help reach out to those suffering as I had.

YOU CAN’T DO IT if your not solid in your OWN Recovery as it CAN be stressful and a Quik source of #Relapse as most who are reaching out are in CRISIS MODE …

I am sharing this because RELAPSE CAN and DOES HAPPEN.  Especially around the holidays. But those with under a YEAR or TWO of Firm, Solid Recovery Time, has done Inner Work, and underlying issues addressed? That has to come first.

There are many ways and phases to be of recovery service. IF YOUR Not 100%? But, how can YOU BE 100% for someone needing or reaching out for help and maybe in crisis?

YES, I Know, It’s in our nature to want to help …you can refer them to someone who can. You can share treatment resources, even connect them to someone that has longer-term recovery or is a Certified Advocate, Recovery Coach, or Interventionist who can make some calls for an open bed, or you can even take them to a recovery meeting.

I do Advocate, and I had a couple mishaps that made me relapse a time or two when only 90 days to 6 months into my journey. But today I chose to do it through sponsoring others, through my book,  through my recovery blog, by email, phone, and of course, through social media and lend my skills as a marketer and promoter of recovery events.

Would I love to be out speaking more, going to conferences, Keynote speaking, or meeting those who need or are reaching out for help?
OF Course! But my mental health disorders don’t give the option or pleasure in doing so. Well,  PLAN B …

I Always Say; 

“Someone needs to be there to answer the emails, answer the phone, or be ready when people reach out through social media or even through my blog.”

DON’T LET anyone discount how you choose to Advocate with and for others when you’ve maintained long-term recovery … Just make sure you are solid and have some long-term recovery or it can be a source of relapse …

Doing Advocacy Work Is Not About a Popularity Contest or Who Has The Most Facebook Likes or Followers … NOT When People Are Dying Out Here From Addictions 

GOD Knows My Heart and It’s In The Right Place  🙏👏🙏😉

PSSST – Stop by my other “Passion” … Books and my Fine Authors I promote if you love reading!  “Cat Lyon’s Reading and Writing Den”

 

Catherine Townsend-Lyon – Recovery Advocate/Author 

 

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Giving Thanks and Having Gratitude as Another Holiday Recovery Season Begins

Giving Thanks and Having Gratitude as Another Holiday Recovery Season Begins

Happy Thanksgiving Week and Kick Off to Another Recovery Holiday Season!

Well, another holiday season is upon us already. It seems just yesterday it was summer. Time sure does fly. As you begin holiday shopping, the smells of turkey roasting, decorating, baking those yummy Christmas cookies, I hope for those maintaining recovery from gambling and all addictions take some time to reflect on how you have gotten to your beautiful recovery life today. Be “Thankful” and have a heart of “gratitude.”

You need to be mindful of where we came from and how far you have come and have worked to positively move forward in life. It is essential to do so, especially at Holiday time, as you walk farther away from your past within addiction. I thought I’d share a little of my “Holiday” article I wrote for my gambling recovery column QUIT 2 WIN over at “Keys To Recovery” newspaper.

So why do we need to reflect as we move farther away from our past “wreckage and damages” from our addictions?

It gives us a sense of accomplishment and gratitude as we become thankful for all the work and “change” we have put forth to get where we are today maintaining our recovery path. We also need to be mindful of those who “don’t have what we have” when it comes to recovery.

Many do still have struggles around the holidays and why I will be recovery blogging and being close to my phone and email through the holidays for my 6th year now. I do this to be of recovery service to those who are new to recovery and may have a tougher time through the holiday season. I started this recovery tradition right after my book, ‘Addicted to Dimes’ released in late November of 2012, and decided I would do it every year.

I knew how hard it was around the holidays when I was still deep within my gambling addiction, and when I first started recovery. We have feelings of desperation due to no money for gift giving, decorating the home and even holiday meals. I still remember walking up and down the store isles wishing I could buy this or buy that and feeling sad and mad at myself because it was all my fault, my gambling was why I couldn’t.

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Anger, stress, and holiday chaos can be triggers, so as I’d leave the store and gamble a few hours to help me feel better hopefully. But it didn’t because I was desperate! Even in recovery, the holiday season can be filled with many opportunities to gamble with the people around them, which may threaten their gambling addiction recovery.  So be mindful through the holiday season.

Know Yourself – Remember what caused you to gamble before, and make sure your behaviors and habits do not change during the holiday season and trigger gambling impulses. You may also need to monitor your alcohol intake, turning down vacation day trips to casinos with friends, and making sure no extra vacation time causes you any feelings of boredom or loneliness. Use the tools and skills learned! Have a wonderful sober, clean, and bet free Recovery Holiday Season …

 

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I am also sharing below a little “Faith” from Harvest Church of Pastor, Greg Laurie. Because as we enter the Holiday Season,  it is many times with stress and worries. I work my own recovery through faith as I would not be on this earth otherwise. I’m just not too loud about it! Lol.

When your life is pulled back from “A Power Greater Than Ourselves” from suicide not once, but twice? You know that IS a miracle of GOD. So turn those worries and the stress of the holidays into PRAYERS.

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Turn Your Worries into Prayers

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

—Philippians 4:6

There are so many things today that can cause us to worry. There are the worries of
the world. There are the worries in our own country, including the threat of terrorism and the threat of North Korea. Then there are personal worries, such as health worries and family worries.

It seems as though worries are always there, always closing in on us. But worry isn’t productive. In fact, it’s a failure to trust God. The word worry comes from an Old English term that means “strangle” or “choke.” That is what worry does. It chokes us. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Modern medical research has proven that worry breaks down our resistance to disease. It actually diseases the nervous system and, more specifically, the digestive organs and the heart. In fact, 79 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related.

Philippians tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (4:6–7).

We need to turn our worries into prayer. That requires developing a conditioned reflex. We all have natural reflexes, like when we touch something hot and immediately pull back. Then there’s a conditioned reflex, something that becomes natural after we’ve done it so many times. For instance, standing during the national anthem or placing your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance is a conditioned reflex.

We can’t control our universe, as hard as we may try, but we certainly can pray about it. The next time you’re tempted to worry, pray instead. Turn your worries into prayers.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING and Celebrate Recovery Through The Christmas Season and Beyond Recovery Friends!  ~Advocate/Author, Catherine Lyon 

Dig Deeper:

Today’s Radio Program
“Hurried, Worried, Buried (How to Overcome Fear, Worry & Anxiety)–1”

This Week’s TV Program
“The Danger of the Compromised Life”

 

 

An Important Message and Op-Ed Letter and Submission – Our Nation needs Treatment. By My Friend and Advocate Ken Abraham.

Ken Abraham, CEO at “Get A Pardon” & Founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE. He resides in Dover, Delaware.

Ken Abraham

Ken currently advocates and educating for much-needed change to fix our criminal justice system, former trial lawyer Ken Abraham is a veteran of over 500 jury trials and more than 200 non-jury trials. He lost 2. Highlights of his legal career include trying the first case in the state under the new death penalty law (1976); and representing the first defendant in the state to be tried under a mandatory minimum sentencing law. He is unusually well prepared to do what he does!

After 10 years practicing law, Ken moved to Florida and went into business. He now heads CCJ and says, The dysfunction of the system affects everyone. People are being harmed by our “criminal justice system” every day. Apathy? It’s inexcusable. Get INVOLVED!”

Our Nation needs Treatment 

 

 

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Our nation is plagued by several unsolved major systemic problems. Some are in the spotlight, like the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. But three recent front-page stories, about the slayings of Molly Tibbett and the rape and murder of Celia Barquin Arozamena, the female golfer slain in broad daylight.

Who cannot the remember of the Las Vegas mass shooting by Stephen Craig Paddock (we still do not know the motive of this deranged mind) …I assume a problem gambler that just reminds me of the huge problem we do not talk about: America’s neglect of addictions and our mentally ill. We now know that the mass shooter in the Rite-Aid distribution center had been diagnosed with a mental illness, and all of the aforementioned murderers were mentally ill.


We need federal and state governments to step up and acknowledge this huge plague, and DO something about it. The primary purpose of government is to protect its citizens, yet people are dying every day due to government in-actions. There are dozens of articles on my website full of facts about this problem. Some are: depending on which study you read (nobody knows the actual number).

But between 35% and 55% of all violent crimes – rapes and murders – are committed by people with one or more diagnosed mental illness. Mental Health “treatment” in our prisons is a total joke and shameful, virtually nonexistent. At least 45%, and perhaps 60% of all inmates have one or more mental illness (again, the exact number is unknown).

And … our neglect of the mentally ill is costing us more than $444 Billion annually! That is an astonishing amount of money, but far worse are the societal and personal costs of our inattention to mental illness: the pain and suffering, the anguish, the loss now reaching our youth!

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Accurate statistics regarding our homeless Americans are even more elusive than the data on inmates. Best estimates are that about 3 million to 3.5 million homeless people inhabit America. I can find NO reliable study on how many may have or suffer mental illness, but based on my extensive experience with such people, at DIMH and on the streets, I would say that at least 30 % have one or more serious mental illnesses.

How many of them could become possibly working, tax-paying citizens, if they had adequate health and mental care? A million, I can safely say. Many addicts have mental illness, most often depression, by far the most widespread undiagnosed mental health illness in America. Many politicians and others finally now see that they need treatment, not prison, yet we lack the resources they need. We must call upon everyone involved – legislators, social workers, police, prison officials, victims, prosecutors, and public defenders – to “raise a ruckus” and get governments’ attention on this issue.

We need proper training for police and for prison workers, effective non-custodial treatment programs, aftercare, and more. Until they do “raise a ruckus”, more people will die from the inaction, just as surely as people are dying in the streets every day due to our failed “war on drugs”.

 

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Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, founder of “Citizens for Criminal Justice, Dover, DE

 

    Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE

               MAKE it a great day!  ~  Ken Abraham

 

                   www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net

              Founder, Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, (CCJ)

 

           430 Kings Hwy., Suite 414, Dover, DE 19901

      Founder, “Adopt a Prisoner” Church Reentry Program,

          And founder of no more organizations this decade! 

                               1-302-423-4067

                                 

 

 

 

 

A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

A Very Special Recovery Guest and Now a New Published Author and Advocate. Meet Jason Hyland.

“Those of us maintaining long-term sobriety know that addictions don’t care if you are rich, famous, a sports pro, have status, …ADDICTION has no boundaries on who it “Touches.”  ~Author/Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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Through the years within my recovery and writing journey, I have met many amazingly talented people who have become friends and like me, they feel writing is a necessary part of maintaining our recovery and a part of the advocacy work we do. While writing two years for a popular recovery magazine, I have met and interviewed many high profile people turned friends like my buddies, former NFL pros Vance Johnson, Randy Grimes, and also tattoo artist Kat Von D! …No, I don’t get “star struck” at all, as my friend Jason Hyland is no different.

He was well on his way to go from the minors into the Major League of Baseball family until addictions derailed those dreams. Coming from a home with an alcoholic father passed to Jason, now clean and sober, he has a unique gift of inspiring and motivating others to enjoy your life even when maintaining recovery.

As Jason shares of himself; “I am a former minor professional baseball player. Boston bred, thick & thru. And I’m Living the Dream!” Not surprising as I find him humorous and to be an exceptional writer and author of his first published book that was released just this past June 2018 titled; Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What.”

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Jason’s book is now available in both paperback and e-book formats on Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart Online.  I am about to read it myself and will definitely come back when done reading it and add my ‘Book Review’ here on my Recovery Blog, Amazon, which he has all 5-star reviews, and GoodReads. Here is more about the new release and it shares a wee bit more of what Jason does to “pay it forward” to those who still suffer from addiction.

About Jason’s Book

Hyland’s charismatic, witty, and candid writing style brings you onto the couch with him as he takes you through the wallows of addiction and alcoholism at its greatest depths, to a rejuvenated, motivated, inspirational rebirth. He is an example that addiction does not discriminate and puts to rest the stigmas attached. He was a man who seamlessly had it all with a bright future ahead, but the power behind drugs and alcohol took a stranglehold on him, halting any progression. Stop Thinking Like That is not your typical addiction story leaving you sad and depressed, rather you end each chapter inspired and uplifted.


After a nearly two-decades-long run in and out of the bowels of the diseases, he finally surrendered and found the courage to ask for help. His journey in recovery gives hope to anyone facing great challenges in life, that no matter how far down you have dropped, you can pick yourself up, and be even better than you ever imagined. During his first couple months sober, a newfound passion and burning rush filled him within. This passion has brought to light what is now Stop Thinking Like That.


All the while living in a sober-home with upwards of eighteen other addicts and alcoholics, he relentlessly pursued his passion of spreading the message of hope. His tireless efforts ooze through the pages in his quest to find the greatest version of himself that exists. He leaves you wanting to jump out of your chair and attack life, with constant motivation and reminders of what we are capable of despite how lost we may feel we are.

Hold on tight, because this journey is one exhilarating roller coaster ride that will leave you inspired to be a better person and with the drive to help others. No matter the adversities you face in life, you can overcome them and live out the life you always dreamed of.

Hyland is living proof that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. 
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Now, Jason and I met on Twitter and he is my “Re-Tweet King!” When we see each other on Twitter, we have a chat through DMing each other as I learned pretty quick how amazing he was and how he truly cares about those suffering from addiction! As a matter of fact, he was so generous that the very firstRecoveryfest Music Concert” put on by ” Above The Noise Recovery Foundation” – Jason gave away 20 Free Tickets to it as Macklemore performed and many others!


He inspires and will motivate you to not just “Live Life Within Recovery,” he “Inspires” you to “Live Your Life 2 The Fullest” while maintaining recovery! I do believe the photo above Proves my point! Lol. As he shares on his ‘Tweet Profile,’ he describes himself like THIS:  
“Bestselling Author of Stop Thinking Like That. Former minor leaguer turned addict turned Recovery Coach, I live to Inspire, Motivate & Spread HOPE thru Sobriety 7/24/17!”

So, he was willing and gracious enough to answer some interview question about his talented writing style as the book reviews for his new book are exceptional, so he had to have done a pretty good job writing his first book … Here are my interview questions I asked him from more of a “writers perspective” and how he answered.

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1) What inspired you to write a book?

I entered detox on July 24, 2017, and with me, I brought an empty notebook. I figured I would have a lot of alone time on my hands and thought journaling would help take up as much as possible. I journaled every night about basic things, from what I ate that day, any people I may have conversated with, like those who liked me, who doesn’t like me, etc, etc, just stuff like that.

Nothing major, just used for time consumption. Then one day I wrote a story about what my mornings were like during the heart of my addictions to alcohol and opiates. To this day, every time I read that piece I’d get goosebumps and it brings me immediately back to that environment. I was shocked at how great this piece came out so I brought it to a counselor at the 6-month program I was now living at, whom I trusted and she was amazed, as well. She said she felt all 5 senses through my writing of the imagery, and I said I might be onto something.

I had shared in my early weeks of recovery, and during one of the group sessions that I was going to write a book, and of course, everyone thought I was crazy.  But after this piece, I knew it was going to happen. I went out and bought a 5-star notebook with plans to use each section for a particular characteristic needed to succeed in not just recovery, but life itself. On the first page I wrote down the chapters names, and at the point, each chapter would be about one of the characteristics and I’d include a personal story relevant to the trait.

This, of course, isn’t how the book turned out to be, but the journey had begun. At one point I was writing in three different notebooks while reading a book a week on personal development and inspirational stories. My mind was being consumed with nothing but positivity and it oozed out of me into my writing. Something within me kept telling me to keep writing, this feeling was so real, burning in my belly, to continue no matter what. Naysayers, critics, haters, family, friends, no one believed in me, but that was okay because all that matters was that I believed in myself.

 

2) Tell us about your writing process

The program I admitted myself in we could not have a cell phone, internet access, or a car, so I had to utilize the 2-hour gaps we were allowed to leave the house as best I could. I would write in my notebooks at night and then walk to the library to type it up the following day. I did this nonstop literally until I graduated that program on February 23, 2018.

It is great to look back on all the notebooks, print-outs, mini notebooks with certain words I liked from a book a read and wanted to put into my book, and so forth. I did the math and estimate I spent around a 1,000 hours between writing ‘Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What’ and then editing and publishing. The most tedious and time-consuming part was uploading my book onto Createspace, Amazon’s publishing platform. Writing came easy to me, and while doing so you’re not thinking about things such as fonts, formatting, page #s, etc., so I researched the best fonts for a self-help genre and taught myself everything on the fly.

Literally, from the first page to the last, and front cover to back, I did it. I hired someone from Morocco from the Fiverr to put the book cover together based on a design I drew in, you guessed it, a notebook. I have the pictures to show the drawing to the actual cover, and it is a beautiful sight.

3) What advice would you give other addiction-recovery writers?

Do NOT listen to the noise. There will be a lot of people trying to make you go about your recovery their way, try to slow you down, or to tell you that you can’t, it is all BULLSH*T!

Don’t listen to anyone, just follow your gut instincts. The further along you get the more people will try and hold you back. Those are the ones you do not need around. Toxicity is not allowed. AND just as importantly, be HONEST! People want to know you’re authentic and real, so don’t fear to be as raw and candid as you must.

Remember, writing is your therapy first, others second, so do whatever it takes to keep you on the right path. You will notice more people joining your side and rooting you on the more honest you are, as well as people reaching out to you because they realize they aren’t alone in this battle. Your truth speaks wonders.

 

4) How did you decide how to publish your book?

A family friend has published multiple bestselling books, so I reached out to him for advice.  His only advice was “to keep writing,” stating many people ask him for help, but then never follow through.  I followed through, and he continued guiding me on the process.  He suggested self-publishing my first book for two reasons; build an audience for future works, and to save/make maximum money.

I wasn’t working obviously while in rehab, so I didn’t have the funds to work with a publishing company, nor utilize an editor but was fortunate that my much-smarter-than-me girlfriend offered to edit the endless amounts of work I continuously sent her.” The closer I neared the finish line the more motivated I got. I knew the end result before I even got there. I sent my mother an email back in November which I saved, stating simply,  “I will become a bestselling author!”

Within 2 weeks of  ‘Stop Thinking Like that;’ and the help of pre-orders, made it became at release a #1 national bestseller in multiple categories in both paperback and Kindle, at the same time! It was such a proud moment, I had tears streaming from my eyes because I did it.

Not only to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to as mom always stated, but to show all those who are struggling and feel hopeless that they too can achieve anything they want.  I am nobody special, I was at the bottom stealing from family, going through rubbish for cans, and stealing toilet paper from Burger King bathrooms. Today, I can now call myself a bestselling sober author. I set out on a mission to show anyone and everyone that “The sky truly is the Limit.”



5) Why a recovery book?

Funny thing is, it isn’t really a recovery book, but more so self-help and personal development book. And it is NOT a memoir by any means, although it does include some personal stories about where drugs and alcohol took me, the power they had over me, and hitting bottom.

It is about finding yourself at your bottom, then crawling, digging, scratching, and kicking your way out behind discipline, perseverance, good ‘ole fashion’ hard work, and most importantly faith in yourself. It is about realizing you can still achieve all your goals in life, live out the life you’ve always dreamed of and then some. It doesn’t matter how far down you may be today, your new life can start at the snap of a finger.

I have been blessed to have this second chance, and it didn’t take long to realize I had a purpose. That was to use and share my story to help others as ‘Stop Thinking Like That’ has opened up those many doors for me.

6) What do you think about the future of book publishing for addiction/recovery books?

I know you will start seeing more addiction/recovery books being published for two reasons:

1) – Self-publishing has given the average writer the chance to show their work to the world. I am not alone in saying many do write to help their recovery, as people like myself can take all those journals, notes, and stories, and put them into a book with our name on the cover.

2)With addiction being an American crisis and epidemic, everyone knows someone that is affected by addiction, no one is immune. The general public is now aware that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, where you live, what color you are, or what job you may have, ADDICTION DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE. You are seeing more individuals building up the courage to come out and tell their story.

It is not about being anonymous anymore, people realize they are not alone and that it is okay to be vulnerable, which I believe is a sign of strength. It takes courage and vulnerability to allow yourself open up to the world. It is how we can not only heal ourselves but help others at the same time.  Admitting you need help is VERY difficult, anyone will tell you that. So when we do find that courage to do so, we realize we don’t have all the answers, and that takes guts.

7) What types of genres you write or would like to write?

I have read upwards of 30 books in the first 6 months of my recovery all about personal development and helping me become a better human being. From; ‘Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People’ to Chris Herren’s ‘Basketball Junkie,’  to Tony Robbins and John Maxwell. Everything I read helped me in one way or the other, and I quoted around a dozen of the books I read in my book. I am a very positive person because I have witnessed firsthand the power of a positive mind.

The human brain is extremely powerful, and a determined mind is the most powerful thing known to man. I love reading about success stories, industry titans, everyday people overcoming massive odds, and building up my “knowledge brigade” aka my brain. I like to learn, and there is an infinite amount of knowledge to discover within the pages of any book.

8)  Will, you write another book and why?

YES! Because I want to help as many people as I possibly can and for whatever reason, my Higher Power whom I choose to call God has given me the platform to do so with writing.  And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I really enjoy writing, too

 

9) Lastly, what is one funny thing NO ONE Knows about you?
When I was young my mother would put me to sleep by playing jazz music, in particular, Kenny G…and I still do that to this day. 🙂

Readers, you will enjoy seeing Jason on this “Catching Up with Katy, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives video! – I welcome a very special guest Author, Jason Hyland.” 
An amazing in-depth interview with Jason worth a watch!

http://haverhillcommunitytv.org/video/april-2018-jason-hyland

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I want to thank Jason for allowing me to share some his story and about his amazing writing style with all my recovery friends and visitors. Please take a listen to Jason’s full story above and below at an outdoor Recovery Speaking event! They both are heartfelt and uplifting and a true example of how we can make it through the other side!

 

 

You can connect with Jason on social media and visit his  Website ~JasonHyland.   –  Twitter –  Instagram –  Facebook –  Amazon Profile and Book Purchase!

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Important Guest Article Reshare By Amy Dresner, Author of ‘My Fair Junkie,’ A Memoir. This Post Is About Recovery & Depression…

Welcome Recovery Friends, Warrior Advocates, and New Visitors,

I am so happy and blessed that Amy agreed to let me reshare her article which comes by way of The Fix Magazine. She is an amazing “in your face –let it hang out” writer and blogger for them. The Fix share news about addiction and recovery from drugs and alcohol and is one of the top resource magazines around!

I happen to have signed up for there newsletter a while back and seen Amy’s article. Being dual-diagnosed myself and still have bouts of depression at times, I felt this article of hers really needed to be shared with all my friends here.

It is very informative and I just love Amy’s views on a variety of issues and her writing style! I hope you enjoy reading it and learn some from it as I did! Don’t forget to grab of copy of her book (link listed in her bio) if you have not read it.

It is truly a great read and her life memoirs are “one of kind!”  ~Cat 

Depression in Recovery: Do You Have Low Dopamine Tone?

By Amy Dresner 09/10/18 ~ Courtesy of The Fix Magazine
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Mature Woman Depression Looking Away
((The Fix does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship.  If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.)

 

I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments. I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care.

I just came out of a six-week depression. That might not sound very long, but when you’re in hell it feels like forever. Good news: I didn’t bone any 25-year-old strangers; I didn’t cut myself; I didn’t get loaded; I didn’t smoke or vape although I really, really wanted to. I didn’t even eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s while binge-watching I Am A Killer. I just felt like shit and slept as much as I could. I showed up to work. I kept my commitments.

I spoke when asked to, but I felt more than unhappy. I felt like I just didn’t care. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t wash my hair. Suicidal thoughts bounced around my head, but I ignored them like I do those annoying dudes with clipboards outside Whole Foods.

I’ve suffered from symptoms of depression since I was 19, so it’s an old, old friend. What really annoys me was that some (dare I say many?) people think at five and a half years of sobriety, you shouldn’t feel depressed. What I kept hearing from AA fundamentalists was:

“It’s your untreated alcoholism.”

“Listen to these tapes about prayer and meditation.”

“You’re not connected enough to your Higher Power.”

“You’re not going to enough meetings.”

“You need to do more service.”

Thankfully my sponsor, who has a foot in the medical world, did not say something along those lines.  One of my big problems with AA is that it looks at every mental problem through the paradigm of your “alcoholism.” If you’re suffering, you should look to the program for relief.

Nobody would tell you to “drive around newcomers!” more if you had diabetes or kidney failure, but if you’re feeling down, that’s what you’re told to do. As it turns out, AA is not completely off the mark: “Addiction is a not a spiritually caused malady but a chemically based malady with spiritual symptoms,” addictionologist and psychiatrist Dr. Howard Wetsman told me.

“When some people start working a 12-step program, they perceive a spiritual event but their midbrain is experiencing an anatomical event. When they’re working a program, they’re no longer isolated and they no longer feel ‘less than,’ so their dopamine receptor density goes back up [and they experience contentment],” he explained. But what if your program hasn’t changed or feels sufficient and you still feel depressed?

What if you’re working your ass off in your steps and helping others and you still feel like shit?
“Well, low dopamine tone experienced as low mood can be brought on by fear and low self-esteem (the untreated spiritual malady part of alcoholism/addiction) but it can also be brought on by biochemical issues,” Wetsman added.

Huh?

So was I experiencing the chemical part of my “addiction” or was I having a depressive episode? Perhaps my whole life I’d been confusing the two. Of course, all I wanted, like a typical addict, was a pill to fix it. But as I’ve done the medication merry-go-round (and around and around) with mild to moderate success, I was hesitant to start messing with meds again. I didn’t have a terrific psychiatrist, and SSRI’s can really screw with my epilepsy. And Wetsman was talking about dopamine here, not serotonin. Hmmm…

Dr. Wetsman has some interesting stuff about brain chemistry and addiction on his vlog. He mentions something called “dopamine tone” which is a combination of how much dopamine your VTA (Ventral Tegmental Area) releases, how many dopamine receptors you have on your NA (Nucleus Accumbens), and how long your dopamine is there and available to those receptors.

Stress can cause you to have fewer dopamine receptors and fewer receptors equal lower dopamine tone. He’d explained to me in previous conversations how almost all of the people with addiction he’d treated had what he described as “low dopamine tone.”

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When you have low dopamine tone, you don’t care about anything, have no motivation, can’t feel pleasure, can’t connect to others. In addition, low dopamine tone can affect how much serotonin is being released in the cortex. Low midbrain dopamine tone can lead to low serotonin which means, in addition to not giving a shit about anything, you also have no sense of well-being. Well, that certainly sounded familiar.

Dr. Wetsman has a very convincing but still somewhat controversial theory that addiction is completely a brain disease and that using drugs is the result, not the cause. I really suggest you get his book, Questions and Answers on Addiction.

It’s 90 pages — you could read half of it on the john and half of it while waiting at the carwash. It explains in detail why most of us addicts felt weird and off before we picked up and why we finally felt normal when we used. Again, it’s all about dopamine, and it’s fucking fascinating. No joke.

In his vlog, he explains that dopamine production requires folic acid which you can get from green leafy veggies (which I admittedly don’t eat enough of) but it also requires an enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) to convert folate into l-methyl folate. Certain people have a mutation in the gene that makes MTHFR, so they can’t turn folate into l-methyl folate as effectively, and those people are kind of fucked no matter how many kale smoothies they drink.

But it’s not hopeless. If people with this genetic mutation take a supplement of l-methyl folate, their brain can make enough dopamine naturally. Of course, once you have enough dopamine, you’ve got to make sure you release enough (but there’s medication for that) and that you have enough receptors and that it sits in the receptors long enough (and there are meds for that too).

So this all got me wondering if maybe my MTHFR enzyme was wonky or completely AWOL. Dr. Wetsman urged me to find a good psychiatrist (since I’m on Prozac and two epileptic medications) or a local addictionologist in addition to taking a genetic test for this mutation. In his experience, patients who had a strong reaction to taking the l-methyl folate supplement were frequently also on SSRIs. They either felt much better right away or really really shitty. But if they felt even shittier (because the higher serotonin levels work on a receptor on the VTA which then lowers dopamine), he would just lower their SSRI or sometimes even titrate them off it completely. And voila. Success.

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It’s all very complicated, and this whole brain reward system is a feedback loop and interconnected with all kinds of stuff like Gaba and Enkephalins (the brain’s opioids) and Glutamate. But you guys don’t need me for a neuroscience lesson so I’m trying to keep it simple. The basics: how do you know if you have too little dopamine?

You have urges to use whatever you can to spike your dopamine: sex, food, gambling, drugs, smoking, and so on. What about too much dopamine? OCD, tics, stuttering, mental obsession and eventually psychosis. Too little serotonin? Anxiety and the symptoms of too high dopamine tone. Too much serotonin? The same thing as too little dopamine tone. Everything is intricately connected, not to mention confusing as all hell.

Being broke and lazy and having had decades of shitty psychiatrists, I decided to go rogue on this whole mission (not recommended). I mean I used to shoot stuff into my arm that some stranger would hand me through the window of their 87 Honda Accord so why be uber careful now? This l-methyl folate supplement didn’t require a prescription anymore anyway. What did I have to lose? I did, however, run it by my sponsor whose response was: “I’m no doctor, honey, but it sounds benign. Go ahead.”

I ordered a bottle. A few days later I heard the UPS guy drop the packet into my mail slot. I got out of bed, tore open the envelope and popped one of these bad boys. A few hours later I started to feel that dark cloud lift a little. Gotta be a placebo effect, right? The next day I felt even better. And the next day better still. I didn’t feel high or manic. I just felt “normal.” Whoa. It’s been weeks now and the change has been noticeable to friends and family.

Normal. That’s all I ever really wanted to feel. And the first time I felt normal was when I tried methamphetamine at 24. It did what I wanted all those anti-depressants to do. It made me feel like I knew other people felt: not starting every day already 20 feet underwater. I found out later that my mother and uncle were also addicted to amphetamines which further corroborates my belief that there is some genetic anomaly in my inherited reward system.

When I emailed Dr. Wetsman to tell him how miraculously better I felt, his first response was “Great. I’m glad. The key thing is to take the energy and put it into recovery. People go two ways when they feel amazingly better. One: ‘Oh, this is all I ever needed. I can stop all this recovery stuff.’ Or two: ‘Wow, I feel better. Who can I help?’ Helping others in recovery will actually increase your dopamine receptors and make this last. Not helping people will lead to shame, lowered dopamine receptors and it stops being so great.”

So no, I’m not going to stop going to meetings or doing my steps or working with my sponsor and sponsees. Being part of a group, feeling included and accepted, even those things can create more dopamine receptors. But sadly I’m still an addict at heart and I want all the dopamine and dopamine receptors I can get. However, I also know that enough dopamine alone isn’t going to keep me from being a selfish asshole…

But maybe, just maybe, having sufficient dopamine tone and working a program will.

 

 

Amy Dresner

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Amy Dresner is a recovering drug addict and all around fuck up.

She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012. When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, Addiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books.  Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.

 

 

Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

Long Time Recovery Advocate and Author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford Passes at 63. A Huge Loss to Our Recovery Community. My Tribute and Memories.

I was utterly heartbroken and shocked when I heard the news early Wednesday morning of the passing of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. We lost a huge addiction and recovery champion and tireless advocate of alcoholism as well as other addictions.

It hit me pretty hard as I was honored and privileged to have interviewed him by phone and have him as my featured article in the May/June 2017 issue of InRecovery Magazine where I was a former writer and columnist of  “The Author’s Cafe Column.”
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You can still visit the cafe’ column online and read the full article and my past interviews.  I also was an Addictionland Gambling Recovery expert blogger the same month as Christopher was in October 2014 blogging about alcoholism on Addictionland. When I interviewed him for my article for In Recovery, he was kind, not shy to be open about his past, and very gracious. He truly knew about real living while maintaining long-term recovery. Just some of what I learned about him.

Although, when I looked online to see how he passed, I could not believe how the “media” was reporting his death. He was being attached to the “Kennedy” name all over the news. I know he would not have wanted that at all as he was not close with many of the Kennedy family members as he told me in our interview. It was due to many of them still being heavy drinkers and recreational drug users except for John Jr. before his passing, and a couple cousins he spent time with.

And Christopher spoke about that in many interviews and articles in the media he said after we spoke. We all know even with family, we need to set boundaries around unhealthy relationships when we maintain recovery. And that was what Chris had done and was not shy about sharing this fact.

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And as news and media history goes, we know the many stories about The Kennedy families of drug and alcohol use and even cheating on their wives and husbands. Addiction does not discriminate on who it “touches.”

And when you are a famous or high profile figure, it can be more difficult for it playing out publically in today’s world of sound bites, media, and technology advances. He shares some of this in his many books he has written, but much in his book ‘Moments of Clarity.’ Sadly his passing has come on the heels of his new book release just some months back titled; ‘When Your Partner Has An Addiction.”

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Here is more about Christopher of what The Associated Press reports are reporting of his passing late Tuesday evening.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — “Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.

Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.

Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it “must have been too much for him at that point,” Kennedy said.”

Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.” (Below Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Actor-husband Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Actor Tony Curtis.)

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“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.

He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing “The Twist” from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.

He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.

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Christopher Kennedy and his cousin John F Kennedy Jr, in Hyannisport MA

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“You can’t get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male,” Lawford wrote. (Above Chris and John Jr.)

His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce in 1966.

With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leaped into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.

In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.

“There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately,” Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. “But all of that got me here. I can’t ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today.”

Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin “did something very difficult,” airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.

“He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn’t going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative,” Kennedy said.

Lawford was “tormented by the fact” that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said.  “Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him,” Kennedy said.

His life’s work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
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“He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife,” Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). “He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period.”

After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015′s “What Addicts Know.”

He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003′s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” made appearances on TV shows including “Frazier” and “The O.C.” and had recurring roles on the soaps “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” playing a senator in the latter.

He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.

“The names give you an entree, absolutely, but it’s a kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it.”

He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah, and Matt.

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In closing, here is a little more about his writing and activism per Wikipedia: 

In September 2005, Harper-Collins published Lawford’s memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (William Morrow 2005, ISBN 0-06-073248-2), which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. In 2009, he released Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery, a series of essays by public figures, athletes and entertainers who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Almost every interviewee sought help from a twelve-step program such as Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous or another spiritually based means of support for recovery. In his own life, Lawford battled a drug and alcohol addiction for much of his early life. Lawford worked extensively in politics, government and the non-profit sector holding executive staff positions with The Democratic National Committee, The Community Action for Legal Services Agency and in the Washington office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

He has held staff positions on numerous national, state and local political campaigns, as well as with The Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. FoundationSpecial Olympics and The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. He was later a Public Advocacy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers and was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the California Department of Public Health Advisory Board.

Yes, we have lost an addiction and recovery warrior, champion, and an outspoken advocate within September 2018 National Recovery Month. Even though I know he is in a much better place and is “Now Home.” It still hurts those who are left behind and especially when it happens suddenly. My thoughts, love, and prayers to his wife and children for this sudden loss, and to all his extended family and friends.

The Recovery world has a little less “Sparkle” without Christopher in it.

~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon~

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National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

National Recovery Month. There Is a Rise In Those Recovering From Addiction and Being Dual Diagnosed With Mental Illness.

“I am a woman maintaining recovery from addictions and I am dually diagnosed with mental and emotional health challenges. My gambling addiction is what finally brought out my mental health symptoms to the point of trying suicide…TWICE.”

And I have not talked about it much. That comes from stigma. I don’t really want a label attached to me even though stigma is still prevalent among those recovering from addiction, but mental illness still has a long way to go. Of course, we have to have a name for the many forms of mental illnesses, but many times those who suffer become targets and ridiculed. That comes from NO Understanding and Lack of Empathy.

Just my own feelings. It is why I advocate, I try to help educate and inform the public that we who have mental illness are no different from others. We may just have a few more challenges than those who don’t have mental health issues. There has been an alarming rise of those recovering from addictions being diagnosed with some form of mental and emotional problem.

According to this article by my helpful friends of The National Alliance on Mental Illness and The Recovery Village. I treat my mental health just as my medical health. I am well managed, take my meds properly, and don’t use alcohol. I always keep my appointments and live life. I don’t let my challenges hold me back from what I enjoy doing! I do however need to be open and comfortable doing so. Here is a new attempt…Lol. I do hope all who visit find this article informative.  ~Catherine

Mental Illness and Addiction: America’s Struggle to Accept the Connection
Article By Staff at The Recovery Village.

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The United States is knee deep in a polarizing discussion on mental health and the best ways to help people struggling. Another topic Americans continue to wrestle with is how to address drug and alcohol addiction. But is there a relationship between the two issues?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million) in the United States suffer from mental illness each year. Additionally, 20.2 million people in the United States suffer from a substance use disorder and a little more than half of them also have a mental health disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder.

Despite the prevalence of both mental illness and substance use disorder, a cause-and-effect relationship between the two is not universally accepted by many people in the United States.

The Recovery Village, a leader in substance use disorder treatment and mental health, recently conducted a survey that uncovered an overlap between mental health and addiction among the respondents’ answers. This information could help more people accept that there is a link between the two, and acknowledge them as equally important illnesses, helping create a culture that promotes healing and treatment instead of criticism and blame.

What Is Mental Illness?

First, it’s important to define mental illness. Medical experts summarize the disease as any disorder or disorders that cause a person to experience an altered mood, thinking pattern or behavior. According to Medline Plus, mental health disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders or personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia

From the survey conducted by The Recovery Village, approximately 62 percent of people said they either currently suffer or have suffered from a mental illness in the past. The most common mental health disorder that survey respondents said they suffered from was depression (78.46 percent), with anxiety disorders (70.73 percent) a close second. Mood disorders (37 percent) followed, and multiple respondents included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a write-in answer.

Respondents were allowed to submit multiple answers, as many people suffer from more than one mental illness. The number of respondents who suffer from a mental illness is not the only evidence of the issue’s significance. Nearly 63 percent of survey respondents said they know at least one family member who suffers from a mental health disorder and 54.25 percent said they know a friend who suffers from this disease. Few people surveyed — only 57 out of 400 — said they don’t know anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder, a reason to believe that this issue either directly or indirectly affects a large majority of Americans.

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Connecting Mental Illness and Addiction

Many people suffering from a mental health disorder resort to drugs or alcohol as a dangerous form of self-medication. Additionally, many doctors prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications to patients with a mental illness, and these drugs can be addictive. While some people misuse substances as a response to mental illness, others developmental health concerns after prolonged drug or alcohol addiction. For example, people who misuse cocaine or other stimulant drugs might experience long-term behavioral changes, including depression or anxiety, as the body functions alter permanently due to the substance’s effects.

How many people suffer from co-occurring disorders? A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 7.9 million adults in 2016 suffered from substance use disorders and mental illnesses. Rates were highest among adults between the ages of 26 and 49. The Journal of the American Medical Association found information that links the two diseases:

  • Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental health disorders are also affected by substance misuse
  • Around 37 percent of people addicted to alcohol and 53 percent of people addicted to drugs suffer from at least one mental illness

America Still Behind on Accepting the Connection

The survey conducted by The Recovery Village shows an even stronger connection between co-occurring disorders. There is a large overlap between the number of people who have been affected by each disease. Of the 343 people who said they know someone who suffers from a mental health disorder, 303 people (88 percent) said they know at least one person who also has an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. However, since some people could know multiple people, one with each illness, this information might be open to interpretation.

The survey respondents’ first-hand knowledge and experiences with these two illnesses provide even better evidence of the relationship between mental health disorders and addictions. Around 39 percent of the people surveyed said they have struggled or currently struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction, and nearly 35 percent said that they have struggled with both an addiction and mental health disorder.

Out of the 156 people who admitted to struggling with addiction, around 89 percent said they also suffered from, or still struggle with, a mental illness. Yet not as many drew a definitive connection between the two. Only 59 percent of respondents said they believe there is a relationship between mental health disorders and addiction. While that is a majority, the respondents’ beliefs about the potential connection are not reflective of their personal experiences.

Destigmatizing Mental Illness and Addiction

As the United States continues to discuss ways to make mental health treatment more accessible, the conversation of removing the negative stigma remains on the frontlines of discourse. However, a similar negative view of addiction continues to fester in the country, creating a more difficult landscape for people to accept and find treatment for their disorders.

Claire Rudy Foster, a contributor to Huffington Post who is in recovery from addiction, summarized the public’s perception toward substance use disorder: “Never mind that I’ve been sober and in recovery for more than 10 years. That doesn’t matter to the people who don’t know how this disease really works. They expect me to be ashamed of myself. To them, addiction is code for Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, grunge, needles, misery. They assume that I shot up. I must have stolen and lied to pay for my habit. I must be a criminal.

Maybe I am morally infirm as well.” The negative perception about addiction that exists in the United States can often become a roadblock toward lifelong recovery. If people suffering from substance use disorder do not have support from their peers, the healing process becomes more challenging.

Many medical professionals stress that a link exists between mental illness and substance use disorder. Additionally, the survey responses show that a majority of people who have suffered or are suffering from one of these disorders have also experienced the other. Yet only a little more than half of Americans are certain that a connection exists, potentially allowing the negative stigma surrounding addiction to fester within the country.

Increasing awareness and understanding can help create a more positive environment for people seeking recovery from substance use disorders. For those who have an addiction to a harmful substance and also suffer from a mental illness, there are many resources and hotlines available.

Seeking and receiving help from medical experts can make a big difference toward finding peace and living with either or both illnesses.
~The Recovery Village

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September Is National Recovery Month

Mental illness is a growing epidemic in the United States. The disease has affected the mood, thinking, and behavior of millions of people across the country. However, many Americans remain unaware of the widespread existence of mental health problems, and some of those with psychological issues avoid lifesaving treatment.

To reduce mental illness, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created National Recovery Month. Every September, the organization helps people host events designed to educate the masses about mental illness… So Please Visit and be Educated addiction.

 

Tips for Building a Support System During Recovery By Christine H. My Recovery Guest.

Tips for Building a Support System During Recovery By Christine H. My Recovery Guest.

“Addiction has an interesting effect on our interpersonal relationships. Even after we’ve gone through the process of becoming sober and repairing our lives after addiction, the scars of addiction can continue to impact the most important relationships in our lives.”

This is especially problematic considering how essential relationships are for ongoing recovery. In fact, some researchers have gone so far as to claim that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, but connection. Sociologically, addiction can have a powerful impact on isolation, and feel “cast out.”

Addiction can make it hard to integrate back into normal life: getting a job, going on dates, making new friends, and being yourself with close friends and family. However, it is possible, and the benefits of building up your support network of friends and family are absolutely worth the investment that you put into it.

A support network doesn’t just empower your recovery after addiction, it also brings you moments and experiences that help you know that recovery (and life itself!) is worthwhile. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

1: Friends who have also experienced addiction are invaluable… as long as they’re as dedicated to recovery as you are.


Often, the new friends that we make during recovery are individuals who have been through something similar to us. They might be friends that you make in group therapy, a support group, or in residential rehab. They might even be people that you just happen to connect with spontaneously when you learn about your commonalities.

However, it’s important to remember to protect your sobriety carefully. Maintaining friendships with people who are currently involved in addiction, without any attempts to change, can be damaging to your own wellbeing. Tread carefully, and trust the advice of professionals and sober friends who have helped you in your own recovery process.

2: Do what you can to build family relationships wherever possible.

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Family relationships are complicated. However, they’re also the best resources when you really need help. The family knows you best, and they’ve taken care of you in the past, and vice versa. That being said, sometimes those of us who have experienced addiction in our lives are more likely to have some family relationships that contribute to underlying causes of addiction, instead of healing them.
It’s important to utilize professional resources, in this case, to repair family systems when possible. Having an experienced third party looking at your family dynamics can help you to identify harmful patterns and communicate effectively, instead of falling into familiar, unfruitful arguments.


Besides utilizing professional help to repair family relationships, there are two things that you can do whenever possible in order to further support family connections. First, recognize when you’re responsible for something being difficult or hard for another person to bear, and apologize appropriately.

Second, express gratitude more often for the things that family members do for you. Many of these things will be small, and others will be large. No matter the size, show appreciation for those people closest to you that you’re otherwise likely to take for granted.

3: Some things need professional help.

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If you’re leaning on your friends for weekly intensive, introspective discussions to support your ongoing recovery, it can be a lot for them to handle. First of all, your friend might not have the experience and education they need to really be helpful.

Second of all, a little help from a friend might turn into a lot very quickly. Make sure that you utilize professional resources where appropriate, including group and individual therapy, sobriety coaches, and sponsors (which aren’t professional, per say, but are still specialized.)

4: Make new friends too.

It’s important to recognize that during this period, you might be rather needy. Don’t rely on just one person to provide all that you need, or you could burn them out fast. After addiction, it’s easy to withdraw and only rely on a few trusted individuals who understand the whole story and have shown themselves to be supportive of you. And you don’t need to get into codependent relationships.

However, being active supports a sober lifestyle, and you will probably need different friends for different purposes. Go out and meet new people. They don’t all need to know your whole life story; some will simply be acquaintances. But acquaintances who encourage you to go out, be active, and do things that you love are also invaluable.

5: Give as much as you get.

I mentioned gratitude towards family members above; it’s important to infuse gratitude in all of your interactions with other people. When we recognize all the ways that others help us, it motivates us to help them, too. No friendship is a one-way street, and you’re never the only person out there who needs a helping hand. Acknowledge that most of the people around you are also going through something hard, although their challenges might look different from yours.

Find opportunities to be a true friend to them, just as they are to you.

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Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

I have been busy buzzing around some of my recovery sites and online mags I enjoy reading, including the ones I receive news by email. TWO interesting articles I read this past week were “Note Worthy” of re-shares by SoberRecovery as the articles are not only interesting but very informative about two topics that many of my recovery friends and parents who visit me want to know more about.

FIRST: Why do some people become an addict and others don’t?

SECOND: Do we ever give up on helping an addict?

So, here are two articles I found that share some insights and answers to these questions with some amazing advice. Even those of us maintaining recovery always need to learn more and read all that we can to be able to be aware and gain knowledge about all addictions. Learning can powerful and helpful tools for maintaining recovery …
Catherine 🙂

 

Why Do Some People Become Addicts and Others Don’t?

Courtesy of SoberRecovery  Mag, Staff

 

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There are many factors that can point towards a future addiction problem, but all in all, the nature of addiction is a mystery. Science may have a set of markers indicating future addictive patterns, but there is really no formula. Nor is there a set way to avoid addiction if these markers appear in a person.

Some people are born into families with long histories of addiction, but they will not use drugs or alcohol until much later in life. However, the behavior patterns of an addict may be present and noticeable from an early age.

Even more, not all addicts will drink alcohol or use drugs, further adding to the mystery of addiction.

Spotting Addictive Traits

Genetic traits may point to addictive behaviors in the future, but not everyone in an “addictive” gene pool will become an addict, and some addicts may have no family history of the disease. Those predisposed may work to control addiction by not participating in drinking or drug behaviors. They may show other personality traits similar to an addict’s, just not the use of addictive substances. They are also likely to become emotionally attached to the personality traits of an addict.

Some science focuses on early childhood patterns of behavior that may indicate addictive traits. These are most often characterized as risk-taking behaviors, a need for attention that goes beyond a normal level and sometimes early childhood trauma.

 

  • Risk-taking behaviors: These traits may be recognized in young children who are more active than their peers. They tend to repeatedly do things that place them in danger of being harmed. Very seldom do they know why they take these risks or why they are punished for behaviors that are not the norm.
  • Need for attention: This pattern may combine with risky behaviors. Some children will do things primarily because their need for attention is so great that they look at negative attention (punishment) as better than no attention. Many of them may develop this chronic need as a result of early childhood abandonment or abuse.
  • Early childhood trauma: A pattern of seeking safety can be developed around trauma. When children are exposed to a traumatic event(s), they may begin to seek a safe place. If none is available, they will learn to protect themselves in inappropriate ways. This can become addictive if food, gambling, drugs or sex become their tools for feeling safe. They can use these tools to dull their emotional pain. Since these tools offer only short-term relief and no resolution to the situation, addiction may ensue. 

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Some of these tendencies may be learned when children are raised in an environment that focuses on escape from all emotional development. This means that the family is not emotionally present for one another. There is no process for feelings that come up in the course of day-to-day living. No one is speaking about their feelings of pain, anger, sadness or grief.

This is a socially-imposed condition that has existed for many years. When parents do not teach children to talk about their feelings, there is no structure for healthy emotional venting. As we learn more about the importance of expressing feelings, this can change.

In a home where mom and dad are not emotionally connected to feelings, children learn to avoid those feelings that are termed “negative”.  These feelings become problems as they go unexpressed. As time goes on, pain becomes trauma, anger becomes rage and sadness or grief becomes depression.

Finding relief for these emotions can become addictive. If alcohol or drugs bring a feeling of relief, the addict will return again and again to this solution, which then becomes a problem.

Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events in later life can also bring a person into addictive patterns. A person may have genetic traits that are channeled in positive ways, such as careers, education and attaining financial success, but a single event or crisis may tip the scales and patterns that were controlled in the past can start to become a problem.

  • Example 1: This may look like a young man who comes from a high-risk environment, but gets an education, develops a successful career, has a family and looks like a normal, healthy citizen. During this period, he may drink socially, even heavily at times, but is able to function and maintain a relatively good picture of success. Relationships are strained, but the family keeps up a good face, despite functional breaks such as poor health and other symptoms of addiction. At a later age in life, the children may leave home or another big change occurs; or the man may retire and find that what kept him going is removed. The fabric of the structure is under stress. One or more of the family may begin to practice addiction.
  • Example 2: A young man or woman may have relatively normal upbringing and behaviors when young. They may be involved in a traumatic event, such as a terrible accident or military combat. This can then leave them without coping skills to overcome the emotional impact of the event. They may turn for relief to drugs and alcohol. If this becomes a pattern, an addiction may become manifest for this person. Tendencies may have been present for many years that suddenly expose themselves to the person and those around them.

Seeing the Signs

Recognizing traits and patterns of behavior is the first step out of denial. Getting help at this point can look like this:

  • Learning new coping skills for stress, anger, and emotional regulation
  • Learning healthy relationship tools
  • Beginning a conversation with loved ones who are showing signs of addictive personality traits
  • Opening your mind to new options for dealing with life
  • Becoming willing to change what isn’t working for you

There are therapies and treatment available for everyone involved in addiction. When a family system has been impacted by addiction and behaviors leading to addiction, everyone needs to learn how to be supportive of changes needed to break the patterns. Everyone may need to learn new skills and how to communicate and support each other in healthier ways.

Opening the door to recognizing a problem is only the first step. Change must occur to break the patterns of behavior and poor thinking that create and support an addiction.

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When to Stop Trying to Save an Addict


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If you have a loved one suffering from gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, you’ve likely experienced one or more of the following heartbreaking scenarios:

  • Staying up late worrying about whether or not they’ll get home safely tonight
  • Waiting anxiously in the hospital waiting room for the doctor to break the good news that they’re going to pull through an overdose
  • Hearing the guilt-inducing demands for more money or variations of the “if you love me, you’ll let me be” comment?
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There are countless other painful day-to-day experiences one encounters when living with or loving a drug addict. Most of the time, you’re scared for them, you want to help them and you want them to change their ways but you don’t know how to get them to do so. And because you love them, you don’t want to increase the already-growing distance between the two of you—so you end up covering their tracks. Time and time again.

You give them the five more dollars that they’re begging for; you clean up the vomit in the bathroom from the night before; you tuck them into bed to sleep off an episode; you sign them out of the hospital early because they’re miserable and begging you to let them out. When does it ever stop?

 

The Conundrum

First of all, it is important to know that nobody is blaming you. Addiction is complicated and painful and we often believe that we can love those around us into sobriety. However, sadly, that is never the case. As difficult as it is to hear, behaviors, like giving your friend that measly five dollars or signing your son out of the hospital for early release, are actually enabling your loved one to continue down his or her self-destructive path. The addicted part of their brain remembers that they can always get money from Mom with guilt-tripping tactics or that they can always rely on their best friend to pick them up no matter what hour of the night.

As part of the disease, an addict will go to any means to get what they crave—even at the emotional expense of those they love. Although they often will exhibit guilt and sorrow for their behaviors the next morning, once the cravings kick in, they’ll be doing everything all over again. Addiction is a vicious cycle and drugs will continue to fuel that one-track thinking pattern of doing whatever is necessary to get that next high.
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It may be one of the toughest things you’ll ever have to do, but friends and families of addicts need to let go of the notion that they can save their loved one in order for there to be any chance at real change. By doing so, you can begin to explore your personal limits and define your boundaries.

Time to Pull Away

As much as it hurts, sometimes pulling away from the addict’s vicious cycle may call for ultimatums. This can include ending a romantic relationship, cutting off the addict financially, forcing him or her to move out of the house, or taking away their child custody rights, just to name a few.

By simply telling the individual to “stop doing drugs” or that “things need to change soon,” you’re just giving the addict either too broad an obstacle to conquer or too much wiggle room in which they can find ways to manipulate the situation (which they’re very good at doing). Therefore, the key is to be specific and unclenching with your boundaries. By implementing exact, time-sensitive consequences for their repeated bad behavior, the addict will then be forced to make a choice.
It is also important to keep in made that this choice is for your loved one to make alone and, as frustrating as it to watch, they may not want to choose recovery—even with all your inflicted consequences. He or she may need more time for the reality of the consequences to sink in before they take any action towards sobriety and, ultimately, it is only he or she who can decide to get out of the dark pit that has swallowed him or her up.

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Finally, in the midst of caring for your loved one, remember that you are also responsible for taking care of yourself. You can’t allow your loved one to fuel their addiction at the expense of depriving you of all your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Your health is of equal importance and by doing what is best for you—even if that includes walking away from the toxic situation—you are coincidentally also doing the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one.

 

If you or someone you know is seeking professional support, please visit SoberRecovery and their directory of counseling and therapy centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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Guest Article Share by SoberRecovery That Addresses – Is Addiction a Choice, a Disease, or Both? By Caitlin Thiede

Guest Article Share by SoberRecovery That Addresses – Is Addiction a Choice, a Disease, or Both? By Caitlin Thiede

Welcome Recovery Friends and New Visitors,

This topic has been a question and debate that has been around a long time. Do addicts make the choice to destroy their lives? Or is addiction really an illness and disease? Or is both? When I visit other addiction/recovery websites and online magazines to be informed, educated, and learn more about recovery, I seem to find some engaging articles.

Since my own addiction I maintain recovery from, this question always seems to get a lot of comments because gambling addiction is still so underground. The action of gambling is still seen in the light of “just a few hours of fun and entertaining,” so how could an activity like this produce addicts? Part of that comes from Stigma. I can tell you I have read a lot of negative comments from people I assume have never been touched by a gambling problem or know someone with one. So you won’t seem to receive empathy or understanding from someone like this.

It is why I write, blog, and advocate. I want to change the landscape around and the conversation that needs to begin about addicted gambling. Addicted compulsive gambling doesn’t happen over night. Just like many other addictions. But it is time to bring it into the light and out of the shadows. So let’s read this article and learn if addiction is a choice, a disease, or both …Catherine

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Addiction is claiming the lives of people at an alarming rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 33,091 deaths from opioids in 2015. This number is largely reflected by an increasing use of synthetic opioids and heroin.

The Clean Slate

After going through 12 Step Processes and other recovery treatments to eventually overcome addiction firsthand, Steven Slate, who authored an addiction site named “The Clean Slate,” is starting new conversations on how we approach addiction. Slate is most famous for his TED Talk speech on “Addiction Is A Choice.” Through the TED Talk and his organization “The Clean Slate,” he is advocating a deeper look beyond the age old debate of addiction as a disease vs. addiction as a choice.

Slate’s website states regarding the addiction as a disease theory:

“On the issue of ‘addiction,’ you will change it when you cease to believe that heavy drug and alcohol use is your best option for finding happiness. Work on changing that belief if you want to change your habit.

Believing in the ‘underlying causes of addiction’ (and/or ‘self-medication’) model creates a more complicated problem. If you invest in this idea, then every time life sends a problem your way, or when you feel the very normal emotions of sadness, depression, stress, or anxiety – then you will feel as if you must use drugs and alcohol. If you cease to believe that heavy drug or alcohol use is your best option for happiness then you will cease the heavy use of drugs and alcohol – regardless of whether you continue to face depression, stress, anxiety, etc.”

His site continues with the answer to a challenge his “choice” theory often faces:

“You say addiction is a choice, so what do you suggest people do, use willpower to quit?
‘Addicts’ have no less or no more ‘willpower’ than anyone else. Every behavior that every person makes at any given time is, in a sense, an expression of willpower. … Essentially, if you choose to think differently about drugs and alcohol, and about how they fit into your life and competing goals, then your desire for them will change.”

Although this may sound outrageously optimistic to some, Slate’s perspective on the issue is relevant to every psychiatrist, doctor, clinician and addict who may be in treatment. His site poses (and answers) the most important question of all—is our approach towards diagnosing addicts making them feel empowered or leaving them feeling powerless?

Pros & Cons of Each Viewpoint

When researching articles of addiction as a disease, it accurately argues the brain’s physical changes in response to a drug. Addiction is the malfunctioning of brain and nerve endings due to excessive dopamine levels. A normal brain would respond “happily” to pleasurable things such as good food, healthy relationships, and rewarding experiences. However, an addicted brain sends signals to nerve endings that there is something wrong. What would trigger “happy” feelings for a normal brain is no longer enough for the addicted brain.

The pros of the “addiction as a disease” argument is that it circumvents the demonization of the drug user. On the other hand, this judgment can also lead to addicts indulging in self-destructive behavior because they feel there is something innately wrong with them. This viewpoint also sends messages that addicts are at the mercy of something bigger than them, and it may leave them feeling like a helpless victim stuck in a never-ending cycle.

Alternatively, the “addiction as a choice” viewpoint rightfully defends the addict as a person of will. This attitude translates into empowerment, and can boost the user’s confidence and self-esteem as they conquer the most unfavorable circumstances, symptoms, and mindsets. On the down side, this outlook can encourage a lack of compassion for addicts because they “could have done better.”

The Verdict

All arguments aside, this ongoing debate concerning addiction highlights a significant flaw in our system; rallying for a label may be prioritized above rallying for the success of an individual. Instead of focusing on why someone becomes an addict, we need to redirect the conversation to how an addict can heal. No matter why or how someone gets to this point in their lives, our only job as professionals, friends and family is to love them unconditionally. Of course, not to judge their choices or debate the root of their addiction. If you or someone you love is an addict, remind them that they aren’t alone.

PLEASE Browse There directory of treatment centers to find one that may be a good fit, or call 800-772-8219 to speak to a treatment specialist today. You can also subcribe by visiting here at SoberRecovery!

What to Expect from Your First Few Days of Rehab by Alek Sabin. My Weekend Recovery Guest.

What to Expect from Your First Few Days of Rehab by Alek Sabin. My Weekend Recovery Guest.

Fighting against addiction is not an easy process, as it is a behavioral disease that can take over every aspect of your life and actions. However, every recovery begins with a simple step: getting help. For many addicts, this means going to inpatient rehab.

If you’ve never been to an inpatient rehab facility, then one can seem very intimidating. The images in your mind may flip between something resembling a prison or a judgement panel of doom doctors. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. To help one get comfortable with the idea of inpatient rehab, here’s an honest take on what to expect from your first few days of inpatient rehab…

Intake process

First of all, every patient goes through an intake process, where there is a full examination of the addict that includes a comprehensive medical exam, as well as an interview about their personal history and past of substance abuse.

Before this happens, you’ll have already packed everything that you’ll need for rehab, and are ready to spend anywhere from 30 to 90 days in this new home. These examinations will determine if you need to go through a detox process, which is absolutely necessary for people who have developed a dependency to alcohol, heroin, or other extremely addictive substances.

First Days Rehab 3

Detoxification

If you’re in inpatient rehab, then you likely will need to undergo the detoxification process, where harmful drugs are eased out of your system in a safe medical environment. This may include treatment with naloxone or other types of medically administered drugs that gradually wean the body off of a substance.

Trying to quit cold turkey on a drug like heroin can be incredibly dangerous, as vital organs may need it to keep going, and the mind is unable to produce certain chemicals on its own. This process typically lasts 2-3 days under constant medical supervision.

First group meetings are always awkward

After your body is clean of a certain substance, next comes the healing of the mind, which is a significantly more complicated process that takes time and effort. One of the scariest aspects of this new experience is the first group meeting that you go to. Even though other participants in the group will be used to each other, you will pretty much feel terribly awkward, and that’s a guarantee.

Sharing deep emotional feelings that are difficult to bring up with total strangers isn’t something that you can just do on your first go, but it’s something that you’ll get used to and come to love and appreciate, as it is necessary to create a lasting recovery. Make sure that you look for a good peer to get help and advice from, during this time.

Get ready to be searched

When you first come to a treatment facility, you probably aren’t that removed from the last time you used an illicit substance (or you wouldn’t be there in the first place). For this reason, the facility you are at will need to routinely search you and your belongings to make sure that there are no harmful substances in their place of recovery. This is in the interest of the addict, as well as everyone in the facility, who is there to avoid temptation and make personal progress.

Time away from loved ones is rough

Eventually, your friends and family will be able to come and visit you during the treatment process, but the first few days you will probably be on your own. This is to help an addict transition into the inpatient rehab lifestyle, and allowing friends and family to visit too early can make it difficult for a person to dedicate themselves completely to their treatment. Your loved ones will understand this, as they want to support you and your recovery.

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The rewards are great

If these events and steps seem awkward and scary, it’s because they are, at least at first. However, the honest truth is that inpatient rehab presents the best possible environment to reclaim control of your life and make a lasting recovery. When leaving, make sure you have aftercare and support waiting upon your leaving so you have the best chance at making your recovery journey an open door to Living a Balanced Happy Life You are Worthy Of!   ~Alek Sabin

Recovery Book Review~A Book All Need To Read By Brittany L. Shelton. We Can Overcome Trauma …

Recovery Book Review~A Book All Need To Read By Brittany L. Shelton. We Can Overcome Trauma …

 

My book review for an amazing read I just finished by my dear friend and now I can call her a New Fellow!, Author, Brittany L. Shelton. It is titled; Discovering Beautiful: Finding Freedom from Childhood Trauma and Self-Destruction.

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About The Book: 

Stories bring us together and remind us that we aren’t alone. Discovering Beautiful is a series of personal stories that illustrate what it’s really like to grow up in a dysfunctional home, as a child lost in the shadows of the chaos. It demonstrates how one little girl internalized societal stigma and turned inward to cope with the shame of her reality. This story paints a picture of a family savagely torn apart, destroyed, by toxicity and disconnection. This is a story of desperation, exhaustion, fear, and finally restoration and hope.


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Discovering Beautiful: Finding Freedom from Childhood Trauma and Self-Destruction

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REVIEW: Sharing One’s Story Can Be Powerful To Help Others


That is exactly what this book and the author will do very clearly, brutally honest, and open.
It can be a bit scary sharing the “not so nice” when we are not raised in an “angelic family dynamic.” When we are told as children over and over, “don’t speak outside this house” od what goes on behind closed doors, this includes the deep hurtful pain some children endure that their parents may never know happened …
UNTIL OUR VOICE and STORY IS TOLD.

This book by Author, Brittany Shelton is exactly that. Not only is her story of pain and heartbreaking accounts of trauma and abuse, she tells it with hardly any resentment nor excuses when it comes to addiction in her life. No, it shows the seeds of power and truth that lie within us as we learn with faith to overcome, forgive, let it go, and rise up to triumph in life. The sharing much of the chaos but importance of showing family dysfunction can be generational sadly.

This is some of what you learn from this brave woman’s testimony. I too am a childhood trauma and abuse survivor and shared with the author all the many similarities we have. I always thought I was alone and no other child into an adult could have possibly gone through what I had. I was wrong! Reading her book, perfect writing style, was as if we were having coffee together and talking about each other’s life.

The book itself is easy to read and well laid out. My favorite areas that touched me deeply and musings too like, “People with mental illness scared me.” Funny, as I felt the same! First, the author defines trauma and how the effects us. I laughed when she shares how our moms teach us the “most useless shit” that seeps into our brains … and some of where we get those “I’m worthless” thoughts when told year after year. But Chapters 11 & 12 were intriguing to self-image and the way we look at ourselves until addiction beats up down so much, we don’t look anymore …

I highly suggest this book for everyone! It gives an exceptional in-depth look into so many topics and issues happening today, just as much as the child we were. How addictions can devastate families and so much more. I commend the author for sharing her story so others can learn there’s much help available and Hope. You are not alone anymore and YOU do have a VOICE!

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Brittany L. Shelton

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About The Author:

I am in long-term recovery from shame and perpetual escape. I kicked my inner-victim out on its ass and have been healing from the damaging effects of childhood trauma and self-destruction ever since. I’m a believer in the kind of Truth that can set a person free, but only because I have experienced it for myself.

I live with my husband and three young boys and am simply enjoying this season in my life. My goal is to help shift how things work in my family, and I believe that change happens one memory and one new tradition at a time.

Come connect with Brittany on Social Media!

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ InstaGram ~ and on GoodReads! ~ Come and visit Brittany on her website at “Discovering Beautiful Dot Com”

A Living Master Shares Recovery Wisdom. The Road to Recovery From Addiction ~ The Zen Approach.

The Zen Approach To Recovery ~ By Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi

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From the point of view of Eastern Asian medicine, the problem of addiction is the game played by water and fire. In a state of health, these two elements (of the five phases of transformation i.e. wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) ensure that people are deeply grounded and can grow spiritually when in harmony with one another.

However, if the two phases are out of harmony, one of them becomes overly dominant thanks to various ego processes. If water dominates, the person is pulled downwards, and the energy is channeled in the person’s lower chakras. The result is an addiction, an overemphasis on sex or the compulsive urge to fulfill seemingly essential “needs” (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, gambling etc.), which are actually the needs of the ego.

The standpoint of Zen is completely different from the principles of the East, primarily Traditional Chinese Medicine, as described above. It also takes a different viewpoint from Western medicine, which sees addiction as a kind of illness, from the brain via various organs of the body.

In Zen, the crucial step is in line with the longstanding Zen teaching, “First free your mind, and then do what you want!” If you do not free your mind, you will remain imprisoned and enchained. You will sacrifice your happiness, health, and contentment to satisfy your ego’s needs and accept the burdens it imposes on you, the roller coaster ride of feelings, the arguments about your being victimized, lowly, unworthy, unfulfilled or whatever else it convincingly throws at you to justify or coerce you into addiction.

Healing only by focusing on the roots of the problem

You can try to gradually reduce the effects of the plant or weed (= addiction) in your inner garden using various methods or even attempt to eradicate the weed. Think of substitute drugs, psychotherapy and the broad spectrum of therapeutic approaches. However, it is only possible to eradicate this plant if one severs the roots, the causes of this “evil” instead of just pulling off the leaves of this shrub. Therapy may have a soothing or beneficial effect but does not penetrate to the heart of the matter.

In Zen, freeing your mind is based on the experience of realization and enlightenment, and is the pre-requisite for the healing or salvation of a human being. As long as the mind is blurred, blinded and afflicted by a deep depression or you believe you have to abide in other painful physical and mental states, an addiction such as alcohol abuse, smoking cigarettes or drugs may seem to be the most obvious and natural way out and way forward.

 

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Achieving a breakthrough

Suffering is a very human trait. Buddha said that “all life is suffering.” Awareness, realization, awakening – that is the Zen approach. With the mindful, watchful observing and centered inner eye, you will make moderate use of the resources and opportunities at your disposal. In Zen, there is absolutely no problem in enjoying a glass of wine to spark the imagination or an inspiring drink with a good dinner, but the key is to adhere to the “Middle Way”, the measure of all things, which rejects extremes and does not go overboard or strive to do, have or consume too much.

For this reason, the one-sided approaches to addiction on the part of Western or Eastern medicine ultimately do not provide the permanent solution which is needed. These approaches may provide some relief or alleviation of the problem. But the real breakthrough to a new life, healing, and salvation, to love and bliss, is through clearing the mind by means of meditation or trusting a Master or another person standing in the truth. Meditation unfolds in us what we really are and have always been, namely unconditional, Absolute Being, the One Self which is infinite, timeless and unchanging.

Empowerment to overcome addiction

On the pathless path which we share, as described in our book “Find the Seeker”, and which all of us are on whether we know it or not, awareness, the inner guru, will lovingly but effectively cut the supposed cord of addiction. It will empower us to be Self-reliant without our depending on anything and anyone and enable us to embody the fact that we are whole and complete fro the start. In this way, we are transformed and free ourselves from the suffering and can contribute to helping all sentient beings to free themselves from suffering and experience a life of bliss.

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About Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi (Laoshi = “Spiritual Master”)

Gert Beirer, one of the few living Zen Masters was born in Austria in 1945, studied Zen, meditation, Kung-Fu, Qi Gong, and acupuncture in Asia. He was given the name Genro (“Origin of Joy”) Xuan Lou, Laoshi (Laoshi = “Spiritual Master”) by Zen Master Tetsuo Kiichi Nagaya Roshi.

Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi was named Zen (Chan) Master by the Abbot and Grand Master Kun Kong at the Lingyin Temple (Shakyamuni Buddhism) in Hangzhou, with whom he studied 11 years, by Abbot and Zen Master Shi Chan Ming in Wuhan, Province Hubei, China, and was also named Shifu or “Spiritual Teacher” in 2009 by Shi Xue Feng, Abbot of the Ding Shan Temple in Germany.

After returning to Europe, Genro spent decades as a therapist and business consultant and has been heading the Qi Gong Master School in Austria for many years, practicing in accordance with the Wuhan-Yangsheng style. Genro Laoshi has lectured at universities, appeared on TV, held seminars on a variety of spiritual and self-help topics, taught Qi Gong courses and published articles and books on meditation, Zen, motivation and communication, storytelling, body-reading, sexual Kung-Fu, autohypnosis and many more topics.

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I thank Master Genro for this special recovery post written just for all of my recovery friends and visitors. Please visit his website and blog as he and co-author Clifford Stevens present “Weekly Wisdom” that is inspiring and informational here at Find The Seeker!
Genro is also co-author of the recently published highly-acclaimed spiritual self-help book Find the Seeker (Amazon link: http://bit.ly/find-seeker).

 

My Recovery Guest Today – Meet Aaron Emerson…”Hope From DOPE”

My Recovery Guest Today – Meet Aaron Emerson…”Hope From DOPE”

Most all know just how difficult maintaining recovery can be. Especially when we come out of rehab or treatment and in early recovery. No one knows this better than my dear friend and advocate, Aaron Emerson. I have been a supporter and friends with Aaron for a couple years now. I can tell you this guy “Never Gives Up.” 

Yes, we all may have relapsed before, but Aaron is very adamant in sharing what he learns if and when we all at times have a slip. The most important fact is, Aaron is Honest, Real, and Transparent about the ups and downs of maintaining recovery.

So, that is what is my point is with this post and having Aaron share some of his story with all of us today, courtesy of his latest newsletter … “Hope From Dope” is a newsletter written by Aaron Emerson, a recovering addict, and alcoholic. It contains his writings from his Hope From Dope blog, updates on his recovery and more. 

“HE IS A FIGHTER” and he never gives up with “God In His Corner!”

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Treatment Works; My Story ~ By Aaron Emerson.

 

 

“I have been to rehab 7 times” …

Yes, seven times I have checked myself into rehab. Many of those times I did it to simply get my family off my back and a couple more times because I was homeless and didn’t have anywhere else to go. 

But this last time, well, I entered rehab totally broken, ashamed, hopeless and humiliated. At the same time, though, I was finally ready to do everything they asked me to do and willing to give recovery a try again.

It was a rehab in Memphis, Michigan called Sacred Heart. Based on the 12 Steps, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and family support, it is a treatment center that mainly serves low-income individuals from Michigan. It is a terrific place that employs therapists and workers who are recovering addicts themselves. And, well, it saved my life.

The day I checked myself into Sacred Heart, I had two warrants out for my arrest for stealing a credit card. I was a broken person, my relationships were all shattered and nobody trusted me.

Years prior, I had been living a life of recovery after several years of heroin addiction and it was the happiest I’d ever been. However, after I let up on how many meetings I went to and distancing myself from my recovery program, I drank some beers at a wedding, triggering a downward spiral of a couple more years of on and off drinking and drug use.


So, walking into Sacred Heart on December 8, I was humiliated that after building a life of recovery, I was now back in active addiction, facing some criminal charges. I had shared my story at area high schools and been featured in news stories about recovery. But here I was, strung out and hopeless once again.

About the only thing I had going for me that day was that for the last week, I hadn’t used drugs or drank. After the cops were called on me for acting violently after a night of drinking, an Ingham County Sheriff’s Sergeant helped convince me to check into treatment and get my life together for my daughter.

I actually listened to him. The way he treated me like someone who needed help and not as a crazy criminal really gave me hope. I was used to cops doing everything they could to stick me with charges and lock me away, so when an officer who was high up on the chain in law enforcement showed me compassion and seemed to really care about me and my daughter, it triggered me to try to get sober and go back to rehab.

And since that night when Sgt. Harrison helped me instead of locking me up, I haven’t used drugs. Rehab went very well and Sacred Heart helped me get some stability in my life. When I left a few weeks later, I was sober and motivated to get to a meeting as soon as I got out.

I did and two days later I turned myself in to handle the warrants. I got a personal bond and a month later was sentenced to Drug Court in East Lansing, which provides treatment and therapy instead of jail or prison. Drug Court has introduced me to a very good support system and given me a strict, balanced life to build around.

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I now have a job working 30 hours a week, go to meetings and therapy each day and am trying to be the best father I can be to my seven-year-old daughter. My life is extremely busy with work and all the meetings and therapy, but it is helping me. I feel like I have a very sustainable foundation in my recovery. I have a sponsor and a recovery coach that I call every day and another recovery coach that helps me and my family piece back together our relationships.

Out of all the sponsors, recovery coaches, therapists and probation officers I have in my life, I genuinely feel like each one of them cares deeply for me and plays very important but different pieces of the puzzle. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Sgt. Harrison motivating me to go to Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart truly helped me develop a foundation to get my life back together and I will forever be grateful for that.

It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen, it is never impossible to stand back up and fight! It doesn’t matter if you have never been to rehab or if you’ve been to treatment ten times, never give up! While in active addiction, it seems impossible to ever get sober and be happy without drugs and alcohol. That is a lie the disease of addiction tells you. The memories and hope I am experiencing today is something to cherish.

Never give up. Don’t ever be ashamed or embarrassed to admit you have a problem and need help. It takes a lot of strength and courage to check yourself into treatment or ask for help, but it is the first step to building a happy life of sobriety.

Treatment works!

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THANK YOU, Aaron, for being my Guest Today!

You can follow Aaron’s journey and share your support by visiting his website “Hope From DOPE”  and by connecting with him here on Facebook too!
Please check out his book as well now available and e-book now only $3.99 here on Amazon Kindle… 

To Hell And Back: Heroin And Recovery: My Life Of Addiction And Recovery Told Through Past Journals by [Emerson, Aaron]

An Important Article Share and Topic Recovery Friends from “The Fix.” Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Relapse?

An Important Article Share and Topic Recovery Friends from “The Fix.” Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Relapse?


This is a very informative article
as many of us maintaining recovery are always looking for more “openness and enlightening” ways to keep us from not only ‘Relapse’ but looking to stay moving forward in recovery and a deeper meaning of happiness and fulfillment to true serenity in our lives from addiction.

I myself have started a new book that just may help you get it! It was written by one of the few living Zen Masters, Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi of today and his pupil and Author, Clifford Stevens so at the end of this post I will share this new book release with you titled; Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness and Highly Suggest it!

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The Fix – Guest Article By Elizabeth Brico 02/21/18

“Mindfulness meditation teaches people how to accept suffering as a normal, cohesive experience, and then move on from it.”


Relapse has always been a harsh reality of addiction, but as the opioid black market fills with powerful synthetics, relapse on heroin and similar drugs grows increasingly dangerous. Fatal overdoses nearly doubled between 2015 and 2016—the majority of which are attributed to opioid-based drugs.

We are bombarded daily with news headlines—some factual, some fictitious—announcing the newest therapy, or the latest hysteria-provoking scare (does death by fentanyl dust at the grocery store sound familiar?) as we scramble to unearth an affordable and effective way to curb the tragic rise in overdose deaths. Advocates wage vicious wars using news stories and social media, trying to figure out what treatment works best; what will finally fix it?

What if one of the most promising treatments to help prevent relapse has not only already existed for thousands of years, but is free and available to anyone?

Although research is still young, several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation may prevent relapse by helping people in recovery acclimate to the idea of stress as a normal experience that can be handled without the aid of substances. Opioid addiction is especially problematic because these powerful drugs actually change the way the human brain functions. Prolonged opioid use damages the pleasure-reward system and alters the way we experience both pleasure and pain.

Opioid agonist medicines like methadone and buprenorphine are often used to help mitigate these brain changes, either for the short or long-term, but Derek Alan Crain, the Executive Director for Mindful Therapy Group based out of Seattle, Washington, thinks that mindfulness meditation can be an incredibly useful tool in concert with other evidence-based treatments.

“With mindfulness, you’re teaching patients how to tune into their feelings; you’re teaching them how to suffer,” says Crain.

The idea of teaching people in recovery from addiction how to suffer may sound counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t addiction pretty much just a ton of suffering? But when a mindfulness practitioner like Crain talks about teaching people “how to suffer,” he means providing the tools and space that will allow us to accept personal suffering as a normal, cohesive experience and then move on from it. It’s true that people with substance use disorders suffer a lot. Addiction is a vicious, complicated cycle that often reinforces itself by generating more suffering which we try to escape by using or drinking. Viewed in that light, teaching someone in recovery how to suffer makes a lot of sense.

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Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves accepting experiences without judgment, including negative experiences. Rather than aiming to empty the mind or think nothing, as in other types of meditation, mindfulness asks only that the practitioner resists valuing certain thoughts and feelings over others. So, if a person is engaging in mindfulness meditation and finds herself worrying about that fight she just had with her spouse, instead of pushing that anxiety away, she would honor it.

Mindfulness asks that she recognize that the thought is there and that it’s uncomfortable, but she doesn’t quantify the experience—she doesn’t try to fix it. She can ask it to pass but she doesn’t force it away. Eventually, if someone practices this enough, she starts to understand the inherent transience of emotional states. This is very useful for people in recovery from addictions because it allows them to understand their suffering as something with an end. It also helps them to develop patience and perspective, two qualities that are often overridden by an addiction.

Ashley and Jaime are both in outpatient treatment for opioid addiction. Ashley had been using prescription opiate painkillers to mask childhood trauma for a number of years, and Jaime was addicted to heroin and pills for nearly three decades. Now, they both use medication-assisted treatment (buprenorphine), peer support, and individual counseling, but each expressed that the addition of mindfulness meditation helped prevent them from relapsing.

Jaime tells The Fix that he meditates for about 10-20 minutes each morning, using his breath as the anchor of his focus. Ashley reports that she engages in mindfulness meditation three times a week for about an hour each session—though she admits it took six months to work up from a few minutes at a time.

“I don’t think about using drugs nearly as much as I used to,” Ashley admits. “I’m more patient and more positive,” she says with a wry chuckle. “A lot of my addiction was unresolved issues I didn’t want to feel or think about. Now I’ve learned how to process them instead of getting high.”


Ashley is well-dressed, with clear skin and a posture relaxed almost to the point of ambivalence. The only visible cue to the traumatic history she discloses to The Fix is her flat affect and a slight unmeasurable distance in her eyes. Beyond that, she looks like any other middle-class young white woman. She admits that before she integrated regular meditation into her recovery, she struggled with frequent relapses. Although buprenorphine reduces the drug cravings and blocks the euphoric effects of opioids, people with trauma histories—like both Ashley and Jaime—may still have problems with frequent relapses when triggered.

Bessel van der Kolk, a Boston-based psychiatrist who has devoted his career to the study and treatment of trauma, says that “[trauma] lies in your body, so when you start taking drugs, you feel calmer. When you stop taking drugs, you have a dual issue: one is the withdrawal from the drug, the second is that you’re dealing with pain and trauma that’s still in the body.”

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While medication-assisted treatments like methadone and buprenorphine have been proven effective at reducing cravings and correcting some brain changes likely attributed to drug use, they don’t target traumatic responses. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

Van der Kolk says that current addiction programs in the United States tend to ignore the curative effects of becoming re-connected with one’s body. He says we need more “programs where people become familiar with their bodies. Self-regulating their bodies should be the focus of treatment because it’s bodies [that] are stuck.”

Jaime, who could easily blend in with any group of average middle-aged men, echoes Ashley. “Meditation minimizes my [drug] use thoughts. It helps me realize when I’m trying to justify doing a shot of heroin or something.” He speaks with the plain, unapologetic candor of someone who has long accepted his identity as someone with an addiction, a quality often mirrored in followers of the 12-steps; a group to which Jaime proudly belongs.

He adds, “It helps with my anxiety too—I’m not as fidgety. I’m more in tune with myself and the world around me.”

Finding something relatively simple and freely accessible that can deter relapse is no laughing matter. While it’s impossible to know for certain how many of the 42,000 opioid overdose deaths reported in 2016 can be attributed to a relapse, it is well established that using opioids after a period of abstinence can be fatal. For people on opioid agonist medications, like Ashley and Jaime, attempting to overcome the blocking effects of the treatments can also lead to a fatal overdose.

Even without the risk of death, relapse can be an emotionally debilitating experience that leads some users to discontinue treatment altogether. Most of our current treatments focus on detoxification or acute stabilization, but relapse prevention is just as important—and a recovery practice that can function as well 10 weeks into recovery as it does after 10 years could be a vital piece of the puzzle.

Crain believes that another reason meditation helps with relapse prevention—in addition to its role in repairing maladaptive stress responses—is that it encourages an intimacy with the self.

Results from some rat studies imply that social isolation plays a role in addiction. Rats who were isolated and kept in cages demonstrated more addictive behaviors than those that were housed in a social environment. The phenomenon was also observed in Vietnam vets; a large number of soldiers became addicted to heroin while overseas, but a disproportionately high number of them discontinued use when they returned home to their communities. These studies have led specialists to speculate a social component to addiction.

Crain thinks that meditation helps people in recovery fall in love with themselves, sometimes for the first time in their lives. This self-intimacy, and the concurrent production of oxytocin, colloquially called the “love hormone,” helps people integrate and bond with their social communities, which is an important aspect of addiction recovery.

Meditation is not a magical cure for addiction. Although a mindfulness meditation practice can help reform and strengthen opioid-damaged neuropathways so that they are better able to respond to stress, mindfulness alone can’t treat acute addiction or prevent someone from experiencing withdrawal. It can, however, be a powerful tool against relapse.

And lastly, as Crain says, “An addict has been hiding from suffering his whole life. With meditation, you’re embracing that suffering. You’re normalizing it.”


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SO as I close, I highly suggest this new book; Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness that I am finishing for my recovery as being in long-term sobriety means continuing to learn and grow to a healthy and happy full life. We all are “works in progress” from addiction, being armed new education on the many ways to live a well-balanced and happy life is the way to go!
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About The Book:

Find the Seeker! by Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi and his pupil, Zen teacher Clifford Stevens, takes us on an inner pilgrimage, compassionately picking us up where we are, whether beginners or longstanding seekers. Based on the wisdom and profound, first-hand experience of a modern-day Master as well as the teachings of enlightened ones throughout the ages, the book reboots our spiritual search in order to renew our limiting, thought-driven, and ego-dominated lives. Focusing on the spiritual dimension underlying Existence which all of us share, the book addresses people of all faiths who suffer, are unhappy and seek to lead more fulfilling lives.

“Find the Seeker!” is not a wishy-washy, feel-good book offering a quick fix or esoteric porridge or pandering to those who want a spiritual baby rattle to rely on. Instead, it serves as a traveling companion and guide, enticing readers with the vision of what we really are – Absolute, eternal and unconditional Being, whole and divine – which can only be directly experienced and embodied. It serves as a powerful wake-up call for those who mistakenly believe in their being separate from the Oneness and living in a state of duality, reminding us that the Kingdom of God is really within us.

Although written by one of the few living Zen Masters and using some Zen stories, the focus is not on explaining Zen, its tenets or history. The book is in stark contrast to the majority of books which indulge in superficial descriptions or sayings and provide seemingly “precise” instructions, lists of goals or steps to take which trap us into continuing our dependency on intermediaries and religious institutions or our self-delusion of being less than we really are. Instead, accompanying the authors along the age-old pathless path we have always been on, we are called upon to empty ourselves and “drop” all our preconceptions and expectations and the limited “self” which thinks it has a life of its own, as well as the heavy backpack with all our experiences and learnings.

The book holds up a mirror to our worldly existence, suffering and the intricate workings of the ego, which entraps us in the never-ending soap opera and roller coaster of life’s ups and downs. We are led to live mindfully in the here-now, delve more deeply into ourselves and to be Self-reliant – enabling our inner guru to unfold our true nature so that we can abide in the one Self. In this way seekers become finders, and we can become the Oneness we already are, enjoying the vibrant bliss and lightness of Being that is inherently ours.

The book not only appeals to people interested in Zen but spiritual seekers and people of all faiths and confessions, especially those who suffer, are unhappy, and still have unanswered questions about spirituality, God, and life. As a result, it targets readers searching for books on personal development, body, mind, and spirit, self-help, spirituality and religion, Buddhism, Zen or finding happiness, especially those recovering from addictions. Please visit their website and blog for helpful information and “Weekly Wisdom” at “Find The Seeker – Weekly Wisdom.”

 

 

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

“Fear Traps Me Into Being WHO I Am Not Many Times”…Guest Article by “World Of Psychology” Shares It Well.

I told myself at midnight new years’ eve, I was going to write, share, and be more open and transparent about my mental health issues this year. So when I came upon this article and gave it a read, I knew I had to share it today as many of us who maintain recovery from addictions are dually diagnosed with mental health challenges like myself. And those who don’t understand what it is like to battle agoraphobia along with depression and a few other disorders I have been working through, many seem to cling to “The Stigma” around all of the ABOVE.

Now, yes, I do understand that those who have not been touched by mental or emotional problems or disorders or know or have a family or friend who does, not all people are sorry to ‘ignorant’ about these topics. However, there some who don’t think mental health problems, like Tom Cruise, even exist. HA!

I’m here to say they do and about 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffers from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and more.

That is 1 in every 5 people suffer in just the United States alone. So, sorry Tom Cruise and L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology, YOUR WRONG. Here is an article that helps us have insights on how paralyzing “FEAR” can make us feel TRAPPED…By 

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How Fear Traps You into Being Someone You Are Not…

“The fear response is triggered when facing danger.”

The “danger” could be not measuring up to a desired or imposed standard, not getting done what you set out to do, not fulfilling expectations (your own or someone else’s), being seen as less than perfect or failing at something. There is also the “danger” of not fitting in and being noticeably different from the norm. All these fears and anxieties stem from questioning your ability to cope with life’s challenges and people’s responses to your actions.

External messages from the media and authorities are also powerful triggers of anxiety and fear. Believing the world to be a dangerous place creates a pervading sense of powerlessness that undermines your personal power and inner strength in many different ways. 

  • Fear manipulates you into forgetting how strong and competent you really are.

  • Fear negates your resilience. Feelings of helplessness trick you into believing that you do not have what it takes to tolerate hardship and bounce back from adversity.

  • Fear narrows your focus to mainly notice problems, damage, hurt or harm.

  • Fear impairs realistic thinking so the scale and likelihood of potential danger are often overestimated. Unless you live in a war zone, a dangerous neighborhood, an abusive relationship or have just experienced a significant natural disaster, most commonly assumed dangers are less prevalent or disastrous than imagined.

  • Avoidance is one of the responses to fear. Self-imposed restrictions on where you go or what you do limit your options and shrink your world.

  • Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.

  • Fear prevents you from living in the here and now. Worrying what might happen and anticipating dangers and calamities in the future removes your attention from the present, the only place where you can function to the best of your ability. Dwelling on past events instead of focusing on the present also clouds your perception to the realities and opportunities of the now.

  • Survival emotions such as anger (fight); worry, panic and anxiety (flight); depression and hopelessness (freeze) limit your emotional expression and narrow your emotional range. Negative feelings drag you down and deplete vital life force while positive emotions such as trust in yourself, courage and hope strengthen and nurture you.

  • Fear cuts you off from the flow of life and universal benevolence you could tap into.

  • Destabilized by fear you lose your firm grounding in your own power. This diminishes your ability to recognize potential agendas by external sources of fear. As a consequence, you become an easier target for manipulation and abuse.

Fear is the result of a physical mechanism involving the adrenals and various other body systems. In cases of real and acute danger, this is useful as it alerts you to the need for action.

However, the same kind of responses are also triggered by imagined danger. With the lines between real and imagined danger often blurred in modern life, fear in all its forms can become chronic. Like with ‘Agoraphobia’ or other panic type disorders.

“Tricking you into believing that you are weak and without inner resources or that a catastrophe is imminent, fear and its allies are some of the most damaging emotions to allow into your life. You have a choice what you do with your fear: stay in its thrall or make the decision not to be pulled into it and question it is associated — and usually automatic — thoughts.”

 
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There are many different ways to defuse fears. All of them involve feeling it without trying to suppress the feeling or run away from it. Like other emotions, fear follows a bell curve where it rises, peaks and eventually subsides if you stay with it as a witness rather than disappearing into it. When you have weathered the emotional storm and feel calmer, take a good look at your thoughts and the reality of the situation.

Examine your triggers and the beliefs associated with them. What is their origin, do they reflect the truth? What is your fear about? How you see yourself, how other people might think of you, what you are told about the world? What keeps you in a state of fear?

Depending on your situation, devise your own path to freedom. You may decide on “gradual exposure”, i.e. approaching a feared situation not at once but in several small increments over a number of days or weeks.

You could also draw a “fear ladder” with your “little” fears at the bottom rungs and the “big” ones on top. Begin addressing the less difficult ones and gradually work your way up. It will show you that you do not have to give in to fear and let it define your life and how you see yourself.

Enlist help and support if you need it, but ultimately no one can do this work for you. Remember, you are much stronger and more resilient than fear will allow you to know.

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About Christiana Star

Christiana is a counseling psychologist and writer with a strong focus on self-help, personal growth, and empowerment. Combining professional experience with a spiritual outlook on life, her work offers new perspectives, insights, practical tips and easy strategies that can be applied straightaway. When she is not writing, Christiana can be found in nature: tending her fruit and vegetable garden with various degrees of success or exploring Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches with her very quirky little dog.

Download the free ebook “10 Keys for Moving Forward when Life Has Changed”, receive the monthly newsletter or access her weekly blog at www.christianastar.com.


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This part of her article HIT ME, “Fear can sabotage creative self-expression. Instead of aiming for your aspirations and dreams you may censor yourself and remain within the safety of your comfort zone.”

That is me! I feel safe in my places within my “Comfort Zone.” It truly is debilitating and then I get depressed as it feels like looking out a window as LIFE is passing by WITHOUT ME In It…

So, what role does fear play in your life? What have you found useful in overcoming fears? If you are struggling, what is your difficulty?  Please share your feelings and comments with me.  Maybe together we can help one another…


Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon 

How Does a Family Deal With Having A Member of The Family As An Addict At Holiday Time?

“Let’s face it. The holidays can be a stressful time for families – especially if you have a loved one with an ADDICTION. Ask for
outside help.”

What to Do When a Loved One Struggles with Addiction pic 3

We all know that holiday time can be stressful with all the drama happening just from the season, but then add into the mic dealing with a family member as an addict can be even more stressful for everyone. So how can families deal this it? Here to help is a featured article is from the community and website of  Drug Free.Org …

They help families get answers and resources to deal with this dilemma and much more all year long. When I was still deep within my gambling addiction, I can tell you I had no idea what impact this made on my family around the holidays. All I knew as I would gamble even more in desperation to get MONEY I had lost most likely to buy gifts for family. We all know how that turned out! YOU WILL never win enough for anything, let alone for holiday gifts to make everything look NORMAL for the holidays. So let’s get some advice on how do deal with the addict at holiday time…

guy with santa hat looking out of a window

First, there’s the frenzy in the air and what seems like a million things to do.  Second, our feelings are often magnified around this time. We may feel exhausted, over-committed and extra sensitive. We often expect everything to be perfect, aspiring to some idealized version of how things should be. But the truth is that life, especially with an addicted family member, can be messy and chaotic.

This can leave us feeling disappointed, frustrated or wistful.

You may feel alone – like you’re the only family in the whole world dealing with an addict and abuse issue. Please know that you are not alone. And, while it may seem impossible to enjoy yourself when a loved one’s life is out of control, there are things you can do to make yourself feel better. So why not ask for outside help from other PARENTS?

“In this season of giving, we invite you to take inspiration from these parents to take action and help make a difference for families in need.”

1. Jacqueline is volunteering as a parent coach. Jacqueline lost her son to an accidental overdose. Now she is a volunteer Parent Coach, helping other parents find healing. You can support families who are in need of one-on-one support by becoming a volunteer Parent Coach like Jacqueline or by making a gift of just $25. Your gift will allow Jacqueline and others continue to coach families and offer them hope and help for their child.

2. Cyndi is hosting a grassroots fundraiser. When Cyndi Glass lost her son Jeremy, she was determined to help ensure other families struggling with their child’s substance use find the support they need. Cyndi created Jeremy’s Run, raising money on behalf of the Partnership. You can support Cyndi’s fundraiser and others in our nationwide community of grassroots fundraisers — or you can host your own event. Whether you decided to run, walk, bike or bake, your fundraiser will provide valuable resources to families who are struggling.

3. Andrea is shopping at IGA where her purchases give back. Andrea is doing her part to end substance use simply by shopping. You can turn your holiday groceries into hope for families by shopping at your local IGA grocery store and purchasing specially marked IGA-branded products. A percentage of the products you buy goes back to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

When you shop through smile.amazon.com — and indicate the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids as your charitable organization — we receive 0.5% of your total purchases at no extra cost to you.

4. Richard is shopping through Amazon Smile where his purchases give back. Like Richard, when you shop through smile.amazon.com — and indicate the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids as your charitable organization — we receive 0.5% of your total purchases at no extra cost to you. Need a holiday gift idea? Purchase a book from our Amazon bookstore to give to a family member or friend.

5. Bill is advocating for change. Bill and his wife Margot suffered a tragic loss when their son passed away after being denied insurance benefits. Now Bill is fighting for other families to receive benefits that the law already promises to protect, and is gathering signatures for further legal action.

6. Patty is teaching her community to carry life-saving Naloxone. Patty, who lost her son Sal to an overdose, made it her mission to ensure that every police department in her county carries Naloxone to assist them in reversing opioid overdoses and saving lives.

7. Michelle is telling her late daughter’s story. Michelle’s daughter Casey said that if something were ever to happen to her, she’d want her to write an honest obituary about her struggles with addiction. When Casey died of an accidental heroin overdose, Michelle has told her story everywhere she can to help break down the stigma that prevents so many from getting help.

Continuing Care eBook

8. Jane is sharing Partnership’s resources with other parents. Jane’s son Adam is now on the road to recovery thanks to the resources she found on drugfree.org — like our Treatment eBookMedication-Assisted Treatment eBook and Continuing Care eBook. Jane called our Helpline at 1-855-378-4373 and talked with a trained and caring masters-level specialist who helped her develop a personalized action plan to help Adam. Please share our online resources and Helpline with anyone you know who is struggling with a loved one’s substance use.

PSR_12days_recovery_2017

These are all amazing ways parents are reaching out and helping other parents with a loved one with an addiction. Helping others is a way to help shatter Stigma and support others in from the addiction epidemic and makes an impact on the families and our Communities! Reading is an informative way to become educated about addictions of any kind. So if you have a neighbor who has a loved one as an addict? Reach out to them this Holiday Season and see how you can help make the Season a little “Brighter.”  Download eBooks, PDF guides and more to help a loved one >>

“Author and Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon”

 

Happy Sober, Clean, Bet Free Holiday Article Share Series. Were Getting Through Holidays Together!

Hello, And Welcome Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

enjoy-Holidays-recovery

Since this year for me has a been a bit cray – cray with co-writing a memoir with another, also book promoting for authors, advocating and recovery article writing, and guest blogging much more, I decided to do a little something different this year on my recovery blog. Most know I am passionate and adamant about being around through the Christmas and New Year holiday for those who may be struggling, need more support or feel tempted to stray maintaining recovery.

It can be a “risky” and tricky time for holiday parties, booze, desperate gambling due to lack of money for gifts, and party time means more recreational drugs around. Sad, but it is true. So I thought, why not share many Holiday articles with a mix of a few of my own this year and we help one another as a collective!

I have had some awesome guest recovery authors and articles this year and decided to share a few of them, along with some new ones I have permission to share as we all need support from as many people and places as we can get. So I will begin with an article I just read that will help with ideas of staying safe over the holidays on Sober Recovery!

*Three Reasons To Connect With A Recovery Community Through Holiday Time by  Toshia Humphries *

Image result for copyright free images of celebrating recovery holidays

The holiday season is upon us. Many are traveling to be with family while countless others gather with friends and significant others to celebrate the festive time of year. However, not everyone has a picturesque holiday experience.

The forces that could pull you into relapse tend to get stronger around the end of the year when you’re likely to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and reconvened with people who likely saw you during your addicted past. Now more than ever, it’s important to build up a support network to ensure you stick to your commitment.

Here are three reasons why you need to connect with a recovery community during the holidays.

1. Prevents isolation.

Staying connected to the recovery community can prevent isolation which is typically a precursor to relapse. Isolation can also worsen symptoms of any dual diagnosis such as depression, anxiety, and other mood or personality disorders. All of these can escalate to relapse, accidental overdose or even suicide.

2. Provides a sense of family.

Staying in touch with the recovery community allows for a substitute family experience if family holidays are not possible due to either death, distance, or estranged. And, if the family is an option, the family dynamics make relapse more probably, the recovery community can act as a chosen family; one that is ideally far more supportive and less dysfunctional.

The recovery community is also equally as necessary for those who have families and enjoy being around them. In fact, possibly more so, as it is easy for those individuals to forget they need the recovery community or recovery itself. Often, these individuals begin to think that sobriety alone is enough—it’s not.

Image result for copyright free images of recovery at christmas

3. Keeps you active in recovery during the holidays.

Staying connected to the recovery community keeps you active in your recovery throughout the holiday season. It provides consistency and gentle reminders that relapse has nothing to do with having a dysfunctional family. It has to do with you. And, if you were an active addict with a picturesque family, then you could easily be in relapse with the same.

The key to getting through the holiday season is not to lose sight of your recovery. Staying connected to your recovery community keeps you plugged into that recovery process, keeps you accountable and allows you to do the same for others. Most importantly, it serves as prevention against relapse and provides everyone with a sense of family, even if they don’t have one of their own.

For these reasons and more, staying connected to the recovery community throughout the holidays is a life-saving choice for everyone. Wishing you all a happy and safe recovery throughout the holiday season!

~ Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~