Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Pink Cloud

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Many people like to criticize a person who is in early recovery and flying high on their ‘pink cloud.’ This is a word used to describe that possessive positive feeling when your in the first months of  recovery. I know a lot of people say I am sitting on a pink cloud. They like to remind me that relapse is possible— as though they don’t think I know that! I absolutely hate when I am in a meeting, smiling wide and so excited about my bright future in sobriety and someone glares me down, rolling their eyes at my optimism. I understand they’ve most likely ‘been there and done that’ but whats wrong with being happy for me and encouraging more excitement?  Is too much positivity a bad thing?” -Robyn

pink cloud The Joy of Recovery

Getting free of drugs or alcohol is something to celebrate. Addiction destroys lives and escaping this hell is certainly a wonderful achievement. Enjoying the freedom and newness of early recovery is to be encouraged. It is a time for waking up to the possibilities of life and benefiting from improved relationships with friends and family. The nightmare is over so there is plenty to smile about. Sometimes though, the newly sober person can feel so good that it becomes dangerous.

People may feel exceptionally good for weeks, or even months, in early sobriety. This pink cloud period is undoubtedly enjoyable, but it can also be risky. Some will come back down to reality with a bang, and that can be painful. It can also lead to overconfidence which could put people at increased risk of relapse. The individual is feeling so good that they fail to do the things they need to do to stay on track.

The Pink Cloud Defined

Early recovery is often referred to as a rollercoaster ride because it involves a mixture of great highs and great lows. Emotions that have been anesthetized with alcohol and drugs suddenly awaken, and feelings can be particularly intense. As the body and mind adjusts to this new life, there can be rapid changes in mood. There will usually come a time though, when the individual hits a smooth patch. Life will feel wonderful and the future exceptionally bright. Staying free of addiction now feels effortless and the individual may wonder what all the fuss was about.

The term pink cloud tends to be used negatively to describe people who are too high on life. They are individuals who have lost touch with reality and are now living in a fantasy land. The emotions that this person is experiencing do not properly reflect their actual situation. The pink cloud syndrome in addiction recovery was first described by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Dangers of the Pink Cloud

It might seem odd to claim that there would be any disadvantages to feeling good. The addict may have spent decades battling their problem so it seems reasonable that they should get to feel great now. While it is true that life in recovery should be about enjoying life, there can be problems if people become too confident and complacent. They may conclude that their problems are over, and that there is no need to do anything more to maintain their sobriety. There is also the risk that when the pink cloud period ends, it will lead to huge disappointment.

Relapse is most likely to occur during the first few years of recovery. It is particularly likely to happen during the first few months after leaving rehab. The most usual reason why it occurs is that the individual stops putting enough effort into staying free of addiction. They start ignoring their problems and stop asking for help. The relapse process describes how people begin the road back to addiction as soon as they hit a point in recovery that they fail to get beyond. The risk then is that those who are on a pink cloud may feel so confident that they become stuck.

If an individual experiences a particularly pleasant period in recovery, then it can be disappointing when it ends. Life is full of ups and downs, and nobody can stay up forever. Emotions eventually settle down as the body adjusts to recovery, and the highs and lows become less intense. The individual can respond to the end of the pink cloud by assuming that they have done something wrong. They can begin to lose faith in those tools that have been keeping them away from alcohol and drugs. They may even start to question if recovery is that worthwhile after all. People can feel cheated when the super highs of early recovery are replaced by more modest emotions.

Criticisms of Pink Cloud Syndrome

There is no denying that people in early recovery do tend to experience periods when they are emotionally high. There are undoubtedly risks associated with feeling overly confident, and the comedown can be harsh. The main criticism against pink cloud syndrome is that it can be used negatively to describe people in much the same way as dry drunk is used. This could mean that the individual feels guilty about experiencing positive emotional states. The problem is not feeling good in recovery, but with staying on track.

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Gotta Cheer Up by Cotton Jones

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We know that we create our reality and can chose to be happy within every moment of our lives. Of course, that can be an incredibly hard emotion to maintain but if we can just think to “cheer up now” in the times we feel ourselves getting down, maybe we can create a more positive outlook for the rest of our day!

Lyrics:

All the colors of your heart
All the whistle in the park
Children swimming through the spark
I was hooding around, in a sea of sound

All the trumpets play whoa whoa

I got to cheer up now
Gotta cheer up now (repeats)
All night I want morning light (repeats)

How to Change Your Playground

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“Everyone in the recovery rooms suggest that you don’t make any major life decisions/changes within the first year of recovery however, they do tell you to also change your playground. That means; people, places and things. These guidelines are made for a good reason but I found in order to do one thing, I had to discount the other. I moved to Florida for a fresh start. I changed everything. Here, I know only family members that support my recovery and other than that, this place is like a foreign land. I have found that, despite the major change, changing my playground has been the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. It keeps me on track; no distractions, no temptations. Here are some tips of how you can make the change without going miles away!” -Love, Robyn

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One of the most crucial components of a successful addiction recovery is changing your lifestyle. This most often includes distancing yourself from old drinking friends and haunts, such as a favorite bar. Addiction recovery usually entails making new friends. This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s something we all do throughout our lives. Healthy friends are important to our emotional and physical well-being, and they can impact someone’s recovery by decreasing the risk of relapse.

Here are some tips from PsychCentral.com on how to find new friends while in addiction recovery:

  1. Making friends is not just for the young. Most friendships don’t span a lifetime, so many people are continually looking to replenish their group of friends. Remember that looking for friends at any age is normal.
  2. Pursue your passions to find friends who share similar interests. If you’re just starting to realize your passions during your new life in recovery, pick a hobby or try out a few. Look for local and online communities that are involved in the same activities.
  3. Put yourself in situations where you see the same people routinely. For example, the gym, a class, club, political group or volunteer organization. It’s often casual acquaintances that set the ground for new friendships. Start conversations and follow-up with people. Show you’re interested in others’ lives.
  4. Don’t shy away from online communities or websites, such as www.girlfriencircles.com orwww.meetup.com. Athletics, book clubs, films, gardening, or pets. Find people who are interested in the same things you are and there is potential for developing a new friendship. Enjoy friendships online and/or offline. Join neighborhood or apartment building listservs to try and meet those around you.
  5. Be prepared that not every person you try to befriend will turn into a friendship. This is a healthy and expected part of life.

Be patient. Friendships don’t just happen over night. Give it time and don’t give up if at first it feels awkward or intimidating. There are many rewards to growing new friendships while building your new life in addiction recovery.

Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine

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If your ready for a real recovery song, than this is it. Not only does Florence and the Machine have an incredibly strong vocalist but they have an incredibly strong message with this song. Seriously, just read the lyrics while giving the song a listen and you’ll know what I mean. My favourite line is, “And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope. It’s a shot in the dark aimed right up my throat Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me.” I interpret this as the struggle we face when we first try putting down that drink or drug. Then coming to the realization that it’ll never get better if we don’t give ourselves a chance. There will be downs but we must look for hope because looking for something as good as that first high only brought these tears, these fears, into our lives.

Lyrics:

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
All of his questions, such a mournful sound
But tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah!
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, ooh woah!

And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, ooh woah!
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back

And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but its left me so undone
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Oh woah, oh woah!

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark aimed right up my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me, ohh

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, ooh woah!

x2

 

Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

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“Having only drank for one year of my life, I hardly consider myself an alcoholic. But I know how important it is for me to see it as any other drug so I am welcomed to AA as NA/CA just the same. I wanted to understand holistic approaches to alcoholism just as I understand the addiction. Turns out their not really much different. This blog can help not only a drunky but a junky too.” -Love, Robyn

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Alcohol addiction is a multifaceted brain disorder which is one of the reasons it is so difficult to treat and why a holistic approach to alcoholism is the prescription needed for craving-free and long-term sobriety

The roots of alcoholism lie in an imbalance or depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain that is caused by the alcohol itself, nutritional deficiencies, low blood sugar, allergy, poor diet, hypothyroidism, toxins in the environment, childhood abuse,chronic stress or many of the other things that disrupt neurotransmitters.

However, these biochemical roots affect every aspect of an individual’s life. It alters personality, cognitive functioning and spiritual connections. It impacts the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual levels deeply.

We’ll call these other issues, secondary contributors to alcoholism. Although they are not the core root, if they are not addressed they have the power to sabotage recovery.

The physical, emotional and spiritual elements are deeply intertwined. The biochemical/physical impacts the spiritual and the psychological and the spiritual affects the biochemical and psychological and vice versa.

When an individual addresses the true biochemical roots of their addiction with a holistic approach to alcoholism, physical healing begins and biochemical repair is essential to success in long-term sobriety. Deep spiritual and emotional healing can’t be complete without it. However, if one only addresses the biochemical and neglects the spiritual and emotional then they are still at risk of relapse or relapse.

The damage that is done on the physical level has a great impact on the psychological and the spiritual. When your brain and body systems aren’t functioning properly, it has a profound impact on emotional and spiritual health which is often exhibited in a variety of negative psychological symptoms.

Incorporating a holistic approach to alcoholism into your recovery plan helps the individual to heal on all these levels and therefore increases the success rates of long-term sobriety quite drastically.

Unique Aspects of a Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

Alcoholism is unique from other diseases in that it often destroys marriages or relationships or alienates family and friends. Family members and friends must often distance themselves from the alcoholic in order to save their own sanity and in some cases protect themselves emotionally and/or physically. When this occurs, the alcoholic is left in a position without much support. For those who stick around, there is usually a great deal of damage done to the relationship and healing is required.

Another unique component to alcoholism, is that after one engages in the alcoholic lifestyle for an extended period of time, it then becomes a learned behavior to some degree. They learn to respond to stress, pain, sadness, anger etc. by taking a drink or a drug. It becomes a habitual response without thought. These types of behaviors must be unlearned and replaced with healthier behaviors. Habits and routines must be broken. A new lifestyle needs to be embraced.

Alcoholism recovery is also unique in that there is likely to be a great deal of shame, guilt and remorse for actions and behaviors that the alcoholic engaged in while intoxicated, which must be dealt with in a healthy manner to keep them from interfering in sobriety.

Depending on factors such as each individuals background and how long one has been living with alcoholism, there can be a variety of other secondary factors that need to be taken into consideration and addressed, such as relationship issues, childhood sexual or physical abuse, impact on marriage, parenting issues and interpersonal skills. Many people who’ve lived with alcoholism for a long time may be lacking in a variety of social skills that are necessary to get through life. These factors will not apply to everyone, but for those who it does, this is where traditional counseling is called for.

And yet another exclusive aspect of alcoholism is that sometimes the individual goes through a grieving period when they begin recovery. Giving up alcohol is like losing a very good friend or a loved one. Emotional support is a crucial for those who have this experience.

With all these different factors weighing in the alcoholism recovery equation, to address only one aspect will not lead to successful long-term sobriety. All issues must be addressed simultaneously or they become possible triggers for relapse and undermine recovery.

A holistic approach to alcoholism may include the following:

1. Biochemical repairs that addresses the physical as well as the psychological:

  • Identify neurotransmitter imbalances and metabolic disorders
  • Nutritional support during detox and later
  • Changes in diet and nutrition
  • Recognizing environmental factors
  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies
  • Individualized diet plans
  • Dietary and nutritional counseling
  • Exercise

2. Counseling, groups or seminars for social and emotional issues:

  • Childhood physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect
  • Dealing with loss and grief of alcoholism
  • Coping skills
  • Parenting skills
  • Lifestyle adjustment
  • Communication skills
  • Assertiveness training
  • What to do with loneliness, boredom, too much time on your hands
  • Repair relationships

3. Discovering spiritual connections:

  • Developing a relationship with yourself
  • Connecting more deeply with yourself
  • Healing relationships
  • Engaging in spiritually fulfilling activities
  • Forgiveness of self
  • Activities that make you feel whole, complete and connected
  • Deep and meaningful activities
  • Mindfulness based meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Communing with nature

Another very important component in the holistic approach to alcoholism is that treatment is individualized and personalized according to each persons needs and issues.

One person may have many secondary issues while another individual may have none or only one. Treatment approaches will vary to some degree in the biochemical aspect as well as the emotional and spiritual aspects.

Someone who has been drinking for 20 years may have a lot more complex biochemical and social issues than someone who become an alcoholic two years ago after their husband died.

An individual who lived with childhood sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect may have more challenges to face than someone who had a loving childhood. Their alcoholism recovery plan would likely include a lot more focus on the counseling aspect.

One person may need a great deal of counseling and training in areas such as communication and assertiveness while others may be quite competent in these areas. Some people may adjust easier to a new lifestyle while another may struggle a great deal. All these details need to be taken into account and adjusted for specifically for the individual.

Character Defect Meditation

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“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

When thinking about step six, even if your not there yet, it can be troubling. Who wants to name all of their character defects? Its not nice to point out other peoples flaws and its certainly not fun pointing out your own. Thats why I went looking for another way we can handle working through this step. Something that will give us courage but most importantly: serenity. Below you will find some adjectives that you might use to describe any number of your faults. I suggest picking a few of the most dominant traits to start with. Then there is a step-by-step guided meditation practice. Give it a look over and try it out loud first. Then, when your ready , you can really dig deep and spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Relax and observe yourself. There is no fear, there is no tension. It’s just you and complete, utter, honesty.” -Best of luck, Robyn

List of Possible Character Defects:

  • anger, hatred
  • anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things I cannot change.
  • arrogance – Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
  • closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • dependency, over dependency, co dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • depression, pessimism – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • controlling attitude toward people, places and things – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • fear
  • gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.
  • gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  When I find myself talking about someone, I must pause and check out why I am mentioning their name.
  • humility, a lack of humility – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • intolerance – Not accepting people or things for who or what they are.
  • inventory taking, being judgmental – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance, their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • perfectionism – Expecting or demanding too much from ourselves or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.
  • prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness.
  • rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing I had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that I did bad things for good reasons, or that what I did really wasn’t that bad.
  • resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • rigidity and fear of change
  • self centeredness, selfishness – Spending excessive time thinking about myself. Considering myself first in situations. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what I can get out of situations and people, what’s in it for me? Spending too much time considering my appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • self pity

From a blog by Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

Meditation

Step Six Meditation:Uncover and detach from our defects

1. Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power

  • Let’s begin our meditation as before by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
  • I relax and I let go. Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing and feel the tension release from your body, your emotions and your mind.
  • I let go and I let God ( or use the word – Love).  Continue your path towards relaxation by using this mantra as you breath. Concentrate on the words and imagine all of the day-to-day stuff that you can let go of and turn over to your Higher Power. Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love. Remember that this heart center is your connection to Higher Power and to the Universe and all of the good is available to you.
  • “I offer myself to my Higher Power.” Become aware of how this surrender affirmation feels and what images you can use to support this affirmation.

2. Dis-identification exercise

  • “I have a body, but I am not my body.  My body may find it self in different conditions of health or sickness; it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my SpiritSelf, my real ‘I.’ My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good physical condition, but it is not myself. I have a bodybut I am not my body.
  • I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.  These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my SpiritSelf, in times of hope or despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe, understand, and judge my emotions, and then increasingly dominate, direct, and utilize them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
  • “I have desires, but I am not my desires, aroused by drives, physical and emotional, and by outer influences. Desires too are changeable and contradictory, with alterations of attractions and repulsions. I have desires but they are not myself.
  • “I have a mind, but I am not my mind. It is more or less developed and active; it is undisciplined but teachable; it is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not my SpiritSelf. Ihave a mind, but I am not my mind.

3. Let’s begin our work with one of our defects. I suggest that you select 1 defect to reflect on in each meditation. You may need to work for a number of meditations on one specific defect to help detach from it. Hold in your mind the defect that you wish to share with your Higher Power in the Sunlight of the Spirit.

  • have (this defect), but I am not (this defect.)  Visualize this defect as separate and detached from you. Repeat this affirmation adding any visualizations or emotions that will help to support this for you.
  • Next let’s work to replace this defective quality with a higher, positive spiritual quality.   You may substitute any word for the spiritual quality or virtue that expresses the opposite of the defect into this affirmation.
    • “I am the “(insert spiritual quality)” of my Higher Power in action.”  Repeat it over and over with in rhythm with your breathing in your meditation. You may wish to add a visualization to accompany the affirmation that reinforces and imprints the energy of the quality within you.  In this way we begin to weed out the defects within our Spiritual Garden and replace them with the fruits and flowers of our virtues.

4. I am a Spiritual Being. Imagine being free of all that is weighing you down emotionally, mentally and physically. I am one with my Higher Power, connected in my heart center, I now rest in this conscious contact and oneness with my Higher Power.

5. End your meditation slowly. Open your eyes and look around the room. Sit quietly for several minutes.

Please do not get discouraged and give up. This is practice. You will think that you are not being very productive, that you are distracted and not doing it right. Persist through this. Be consistent. You will discover the fruits of your meditation over time. The first goal achieved will be emotional balance, , emotional sobriety, a calm within the storm of our thoughts and emotions. Stick with it.

From 11th Step Mediation, The Sixth Step

Flaws by Bastille

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We are reminded of our character defects everyday as we catch ourselves falling into the same habits of self-centeredness, jealousy and procrastination. This song lets us know that these flaws may be apart of us, but we can let them go. We can finish what we’ve started and leave no stone unturned as we work our way through the steps. 

Lyrics:
When all of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
A wonderful part of the mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
They lie there hand in hand
Ones we’ve inherited, ones that we learned
They pass from man to man

There’s a hole in my soul
I can’t fill it I can’t fill it
There’s a hole in my soul
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started
Dig them up, so nothing’s left unturned

All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed

x2

Take Ten

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What if she woke up one morning and actually listened to that little voice inside her head? The one that tells her go outside and practice yoga, to read instead of waste time online, to eat smaller portions, to go to the gym, to paint, to journal, to pray, to live? Sometimes she’ll just lay there, listening to the voice as it goes on and on. Later, she says. She begins to make excuses.

She’s been in Florida about a month now. Doing not much else but sleeping, eating, driving from doctor to doctor and playing the day by ear. Some days are good; she reads, she writes, she works out a couple hours and makes it to a meeting. But now, ever sense she broke down at the gym a week back, she hasn’t visited since. It was terribly embarrassing. One second she was doing crunches and the next she is balling into tears. Likely PTSD caused.. She sees her time now here as doomed. When she thought all insanity was forgotten, she was suddenly hit by an episode of uncontrollable guilt and remorse. If she would’ve known that the music of Indian trance would set her off in a crying fit of hysterics, she may have not played it in the first place. Then again, there was that voice, in the back of her mind, that did warn her. She’s been ignoring that voice ever since. “Why ignore the voice that tried to help you?” the voice says. She doesn’t reply.. “Your in denial.”

Maybe she is in denial. Its been harder and harder to be the girl she was before her world came tumbling down but she thought this fresh start could really help her.  She thought she could spend this time to search for that girl she thought she was. It has been meaningful, there is no denying that. She’s written countless journals, poems, and spoken to many friends to find some reminisces of serenity. She sees the clouded skies and rainy days as an excuse to stay in. An excuse to withdraw from the world. Now she just waits for Sunday. The day she suspects her mom will arrive with all the furniture they packed. Then she will be busied with moving in, finding a new healthcare plan, applying to college and getting a part-time job.

Yet today is only Thursday. She still has time. She still has seven more days to finish her ’90 in 90’ and one more day until she’s been clean for 90 days. That’s all good. That’s something to be proud of. For the meantime though, she should listen to that voice.

Today she woke up early, watched the sunrise and had a lunch wrap. She sits here writing this thinking about how the rest of her day might pan out. Her grandma wants to get her nails done, thats something. She has to blog, thats obvious. If the sun comes out she could go to the gym, maybe read/bike for an hour then do the usual drill. She hopes she won’t run into that guy she went on a date with. That was a bad idea. He claimed she was looking at him and he caught her doing so several times. The only thing is, she could’ve sworn she’d never seen him before. They had nothing in common but they still talked for hours. More like he talked for hours… She knows all but his last name. He loves to workout (used to be fat) has a kid but has been separated from the baby-mama for a few months. He was wearing camo shorts and a tee shirt— so not her type. He had a messy apartment and ADHD.. just boring southern fellow really. Not an ounce of creativity and not an ounce of wisdom, from what she gathered. She ignored most of his texts trying to give him a hint, it worked eventually. She has to admit that it was nice to finally talk to a local enough to share even a glimpse of her story. But that glimpse, while it may be interesting, is very strange. She has decided to remain a mystery to anyone else she meets. They don’t need to know her past, she’s not there anymore…

Where she is now is a place of comfort. A place that doesn’t remind her of her past. Well, not the one she is ashamed of. She recalls the first time she snorted cocaine in her house. It was all fine until she took it a little too far. She snorted a little too much. Just after dinner, just before bed, she was ready to feel that surge of energy. She wanting to make art—she hadn’t in so long. That night she did stay up but instead of drawing she worked on making a schedule for work and homework and other meaningless stuff. She doesn’t quite remember. What she does remember was the look on her face when she looked in the mirror and saw the whites of her eyes gradually being sunken in red blood. She opened her laptop, searching for an answer on the web, she found that her blood vessels had popped due to the pressure of her amateur inhale. She freaked out but by the time morning came her shift was about to start— she took another line. When she came home her eyes were completely red, nothing but her blue iris’ left, bright with the contrast.

Blue Eye Blood Vessels PoppedShe looked like a vampire.

She made up some story about sneezing in the night after eating too much cayenne pepper (which, according to online sources, stimulates blood cells). People just shrugged it off.

She had to deal with that embarrassment for a week before she quit her job at the local coffee shop and began her new one at Starbucks. What a great first impression… From then on she was afraid to to take another hit. So she developed a new way to get her high. This way was a much lighter way, a more hidden way. She would ration out enough powder for a day in a small baggie. Stealing her moms cigarettes (for first few times), she would lick the edges, roll them in cocaine and light up when she could get away from work or school. She would smoke on her breaks occasionally, before she went to the gym, on her way to school, and before she went back home. She’d stay up late into the night and crash in the afternoon. It worked for her. She got a lot done.

She was very meticulous about how much she used a week, knowing she had a limited supply, she would never waste any on a lazy weekend. She was pleased with this drug, it was nothing like the opiates she had used in High School. The rush, the fire, it’d burn inside her but she was able to still be in control. It kept her out of the dumps. It actually brought her quickly into mania. She was shopping like crazy and inhumanly productive. She began to stop eating and people would praise her for her good looks. She’d smile and offer some grandiose advise; lying through her teeth about how it all had to do with her vegan diet and exercise. It wasn’t until she began to run out that things started to fall apart. She had tried cutting it down little by little but she couldn’t stop herself from using more and more. Until one day, poof, it was gone. She went into work a complete disaster. She was unbelievably tired, completely depressed and horrendously lost. Her mind was going a mile a minute, wondering how on Earth she would find her next fix. She thought about everything; asking strangers, going to a strip club, prostituting, ect. She knew she couldn’t do any of that, at least in that moment, all she wanted to do was fight. She was hanging onto the moments before she started using. They were never as great as when she was but they were livable.

Eventually people were starting to notice. At school she would shy away, this time not with her head in her books or hovering over her laptop; she was sleeping. She would drag her feet on the floor and plop down in the hallways, sometimes dozing off so long she would miss class. She hid herself in her room during these dark times. Her insides crumbled as she woke in the morning to another cold autumn day. Going to work became a pain, customers would ask her what was wrong. When she was behind the counter she just shrugged them off. Until one day when she was sweeping the cafe and taking out the garbage, one of the regulars threw the question at her one more time. She looked up, tears began to fill her eyes. In a low voice she let it all out. She didn’t know where it was coming from or how she was able to trust this guy (maybe it was because he looked a bit like a druggy, perhaps more likely a dealer given his oddly formal yet rugged attire). As he stirred the sugar in his coffee, she looked up at him to say something, anything. He paused returning the glance and said, “I’ll be right back.” He left his coffee cup steaming as he took large steps out into the parking lot. The next thing she knew he came back with a bottle of pills.

“It’s Adderall,” he said. “I’m prescribed but I don’t really use them, I use other stuff. Try it, it’ll help you come down. You look too young, you can’t get into that stuff.”

Adderall 20mgWas this guy serious? She felt a little piece of him was looking out for her. She didn’t bother wondering what that ‘other’ things was, she was just pleased to have a solution. After cautiously taking the bottle she whispered, “But I don’t have any money on me now and I just can’t pay for something like this.” The truth was that she had spent all her money on clothes but she desperately needed this.

“Don’t worry, consider it a gift, its cheap…ish. Just throw in a free biscotti for me when I come in.” She smiled, he winked and shouted “take care,” as he exited the shop.

She ran into the bathroom and immediately downed two pills of 20mg. Having no idea if that was enough, she raced into the back storage room and threw the bottle in her bag. Within 30min she began to feel it. Her teeth clenched, she couldn’t stop moving—she was back.

 Chicago at Night

Reminiscing of the days before her rock bottom are very strange. Its almost as if she wasn’t there. Like it was a different person and she is watching it all play out from afar. It’s a movie of some girl she used to know but hasn’t talked to in a long time. She left her at home. She didn’t even say goodbye.

Mayan Calender She also never said goodbye to the city. Sometimes she wonders if she should have wandered the streets of Chicago once more before she took off for Florida. The last time she went she was in psychosis: She walked for hours in flash delirium as pictures of the the people bounced off the reflection of the nameless buildings, staring them down believing fully that she could feel their energy and read their minds. The concrete was hard against her feet as she pounded her way through the crowd as though she had a purpose. And when she reached the river she stopped and caught her breath. It was so surreal. Everything had changed. Well, not the city— she had changed. Symbols and sounds were mocking her now. Her thoughts spun an intricate web of destruction, telling her she was the saviour. A Mayan princess. The last one standing. The only one who knows
the secrets of the elements and the power of air.

 

Now she closes her eyes and imagines she’s there again. She imagines how she would’ve felt if she had gone; she’d probably have been overwhelmed, sick to her stomach, her mind would’ve gone crazy with flashbacks of not only her life pre-India but of all the delusions she had post-India— she’d probably break down and cry.

She was grateful she was no longer in that stuffy suburb, just a train ride away from those memories. She had soiled everything by walking around for miles thinking too much, pushing her mind through the endless brinks of insanity. When she was home she was trapped by those thoughts. Everything reminded her of everything she was trying so hard to escape. The only reason she agreed to go to the psych ward in the first place was because she knew she had to get away. That month that was spent jumping from one facility to the next kept her mind from unfolding. It was all almost heaven-sent. But when she returned it was waiting for her. She can see herself crying and crying throughout the day, just wanting out of her head. Questioning why she couldn’t just be someone else, if only for a day. Death looked inviting. But death was not the answer.

She was lucky to have a family that loved her. She was lucky to be so young. She had another chance at life. She had wasted too much time drowning in her sorrow, disappointing herself, disappointing everyone. She was ready for a change. She wanted to change. Now this is the only thing she has left. This journal keeps her going. Her words like vomit; cleansing her spirit, detoxing her soul. She imagines a day when she will run out of things to say. Right now that seems impossible, but maybe someday. Maybe someday she will look back on all her journals (private and public), all her poems, all her letters and nicknacks she collected on her crazy journey through the wormhole and out. She will spend time reading for hours, laughing at her past. And thats all it will mean to her, nothing but the past. She won’t dwell on it, she won’t worry about it, she won’t find herself in the depths of despair. Instead, she may take it, throw it in a box and hide it away. Or maybe she’ll show it, share it with people who have gone through similar things. Consoling them, giving them strength and courage, letting them know that there’s hope. Letting them know that someday, they too can come down from their cloud. They can still follow their dreams. They can overcome their mind. After all, our minds are a powerful thing… And no one knows that better than someone whose experienced insanity.

Must Read: Junky by William Burroughs

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“This is an incredible book, no matter how ‘outdated’ it may be. Written about a man, Burroughs, in the 1950’s who is struggling with a growing addiction to junk (aka heroin). Its fascinating to read about how addiction was in an era way past our own; to see the differences, the similarities and the history of the never endearing struggle with substance abuse. The review below from TheDailyBeast.com sums it all rather well, enjoy!” -Robyn

Junky by William S Burroughs

In 1953, while Joseph McCarthy was hunting for communists in the highest ranks of the federal government, an Arkansan congressman named Ezekiel C. Gathings was conducting his own witch hunt. His target was the paperback-book industry. He argued that pulp fiction had “largely degenerated into media for the dissemination of appeals to sensuality, immorality, filth, perversion, and degeneracy.” Of particular interest to Gathings were novels about drug abusers, a class of American society nearly as reviled as communists. At the time, as Allen Ginsberg later wrote, there was a sense “that if you talked about ‘tea’ (much less Junk) on the bus or subway, you might be arrested—even if you were only discussing a change in the law.” The publication of a pulp novel named Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict, by the pseudonymous William Lee, was therefore a welcome surprise. It sold 100,000 copies in its first six months. American readers wanted what “Lee” was pushing.

Lee was William S. Burroughs, Harvard graduate and heir to the Burroughs Adding Machine fortune. Burroughs’s inheritance left the young scion free to pursue education and drugs at his leisure. He first took up anthropology, at both Harvard and later Mexico City College; then medicine, in Vienna; and finally heroin. Heroin stuck. Junky—as his novel is now known—combines all these interests. Unlike Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (also published in 1953), Junky eschews allegory for scrupulous realism. The approach is journalistic, pedagogical, often clinical, bearing little resemblance to novels for which Burroughs is now better remembered, like Naked Lunch and Nova Express. Although Bill, Junky’s narrator, mentions reading Oscar Wilde, Anatole France, Baudelaire, and Gide as a young boy, the tone owes more to Franz Boas and Margaret Mead. Junky is Bill’s life story, but only in a sense, for he discusses only the parts of his life that relate to junk. The story follows the development of his addiction, his attempts to quit, and his travels in search of cheaper, better drugs. Along the way we meet a largely interchangeable cast of dealers, users, thieves, and con artists. More than anything else, Junky reads like a field guide to the American underworld.

“Junk,” we learn, refers to opium and its derivatives: morphine, heroin, pantopon, Dilaudid, codeine. But it is much more than that. Junk, he says, “is a way of life.” And it’s an expensive one at that. A heroin addiction in 1953 cost about $15 a day, or the equivalent of $125 in today’s dollars. Junkies have their own look (emaciated, haunted, sallow) and their own junk names: Doolie, Cash, and Dupré. Junk has its own dialect. A user who robs drunks on the subway to support his habit is a “lush-worker”; a junkie’s eyedropper, spoon, and hypodermic needle constitute his “works”; doctors are “croakers.” The easiest way to convince a croaker to write a “script” for morphine is to fake gallstones or kidney stones. If those excuses fail, try facial neuralgia.

Heroin addiction takes patience and dedication. Burroughs estimates that you need a year and several hundred injections to develop a habit. An addict does not use heroin to get a thrill—never does Bill experience joy from heroin. A junkie uses only to avoid junk sickness, otherwise known as withdrawal. Junk sickness is like a hangover mixed with burning alive and a parasitic infestation: “I felt a cold burn over the whole surface of my body as though the skin was one solid hive. It seemed like ants were crawling under the skin.” There is also vomiting, diarrhea, violent sneezing fits, loss of breath, lowering of blood pressure, and extreme weakness. Bill feels a sensation like “subsiding into a pile of bones.” This condition might conceivably be manageable were it to last for 12 or 24 hours. But junk sickness tends to last 8 days.

There are cures for addiction, but they tend not to last. Not because the cures are ineffective; they are effective, particularly the incremental “Chinese cure,” which Bill uses, a gradual weaning that involves replacing the drug with increasing doses of Wampole’s Tonic. Bill stays sober for many months at a time. But he always returns to the junk—out of boredom.

Here lies the novel’s core perversity. The main reason the junkie does heroin, despite its horrors and despair, is because it’s better than the alternative: not doing heroin. It is better to be a junkie than to end up what Burroughs might have been, had he followed in his family’s line. The life of an “American business man,” he writes, “is a one-way process. When his organism reaches maturity it can only start dying.”

A junkie, on the other hand, exists in a state of constant physical emergency. With every hit, a junkie dies; as the drug’s effects dissipate, he is reborn. “Junk,” writes Burroughs at last, in the cleanest expression of the novel’s thesis, “is an inoculation of death.” It is total negation. “Perhaps the intense discomfort of withdrawal is the transition … from a painless, sexless, timeless state back to sex and pain and time, from death back to life.” The junkie knows life because he has an intimate knowledge of death. That is another way of saying that the junkie, unlike our “American business man,” knows himself.

But Burroughs is after something more than self-realization. Junky is not, after all, a memoir, a fact underscored by his cursory treatment of even the most basic biographical information. Bill’s wife, oddly, is introduced for the first time—and even then only in passing, by another character—more than halfway through the novel. His children are mentioned once, 50 pages later, in a single mysterious sentence: “My wife was in Acapulco with the children.” Junk leaves no room for family, jobs, or relationships other than those organized around the procurement and enjoyment of junk.

Near the end of the novel Bill moves to Mexico. He has plans to flee even farther away, deep into South America. The expat junkies he meets during his travels confirm his worst fears about his native country. McCarthy’s paranoia has infected America, which has entered “a state of complete chaos where you never know who is who or where you stand.” The junkie is grateful for his junk. At least he will always know exactly where he stands—even if he doesn’t know where he’ll end up.

Massage and Recovery from Addiction

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“This article was written in 2005 and since then there have been hundred of other studies that have shown the same results: massage helps people. You don’t have to be at a resort or use the excuse of you Birthday to get a massage. The simple excuse of being human is enough. Everyone can benefit from the holistic treatment of massage therapy. And I’m not just saying this because I am a certifiedcpractitioner, I’m saying it because its true. Massage has not only physical but mental benefits as well. In this article you’ll find how massage therapy can help promote a greater sense of well being while in recovery from active addiction. The informat of is backed up by facts that are hard to ignore. You may want to consider taking the money that used to be spent on drugs and alcohol to put towards a weekly treatment. Look for a local massage therapist and ask them about possible discounts that can be given if you schedule a regular session. Let them know your condition and work with them to start your healing process.” -With endless love, Robyn

Massage

Substance abuse is a major public health problem. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs our nation more than $484 billion per year. This includes costs related to crime, medical care, treatment, social welfare programs, and time lost from work.

Comprehensive treatment for the addicted individual is the key to turning this health crisis around. In the October 2003 edition of Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, Joni Kosakoski, BSN, RN, CARN gives us the fuel to propel massage therapists into the realm of drug and alcohol treatment. In her article “Massage: Hands Down, a Treatment for Addiction”, Kosakoski gives us a clear and concise analysis of massage’s benefits for this population and its place in addiction treatment.

Incorporating massage into a substance abuse program is advantageous in all of the stages of quitting an addiction: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. The physical, emotional and spiritual components of recovery all can be directly benefited by the healing power of therapeutic touch. The nurturing contact of massage utilizes skin as the translator of the therapist’s intent. Skin, the largest sensory organ in our body, is our primary sense for connecting information from our external surroundings to our internal environment.

The Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida has performed scientific research documenting the physiological effects of massage on the body. Kosakoski reminds us of some of their findings on massage such as decreased pain, diminished autoimmune response, enhanced immune response, and increased alertness and performance. These effects appear to be related to massage’s ability to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, as reported by the Touch Research Institute in 2003. Several of the Touch Research Institute’s studies positively document the ability of massage to decrease anxiety, depression, agitation, and cravings.

In order to understand the connection between massage therapy and its benefit in addiction treatment, Kosakoski explains the neurological biochemistry of addiction: “Much attention has been directed to the mesolimbic reward system, the so-called ‘pleasure pathway’ of the brain. The area is activated in part by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the chemical messenger responsible for making us feel good when we engage in any pleasurable activity. It is well known that dopamine is significantly involved in addiction and that dopamine levels are lower than average during the withdrawal process and into early recovery until brain chemistry normalizes.”

In 1998, the Touch Research Institute published the findings that a regular massage regimen produced long-term results of increasing dopamine levels. The fact that massage naturally increases dopamine levels, and decreases cortisol levels makes it a perfect addition to a standard detoxification program.

The neurochemistry of an addict takes time to get back into balance, so massage treatments after the initial detoxification phase is crucial. When a person uses a substance to feel good, his/her body stops manufacturing its own “feel good” chemicals, (endorphins), and the substance takes over that task. Therefore, when a person quits using an abused substance, they lose their source of feeling good. Since it takes time for the body to start manufacturing its own endorphins again, this is a challenging interim to endure. This interim is the recovering addict’s most vulnerable time to relapse.

In the 1989 edition of General Pharmacology, Kaada and Torsteinbo of Norway reported on study results that massage therapy increased the amount of beta-endorphins in the blood by 16 percent. The release of endorphins during a massage allows the recipient to feel normal, even fantastic, without the aid of a drug. This can be a powerful, even life-changing experience for the client.

On a physical level, the circulation that occurs with massage is also a desired occurrence during the detoxification process. Therapeutic massage’s invigoration of blood and lymphatic fluid allows for a more efficient exchange of oxygen rich nutrition into the body’s tissues, and the delivery of toxic waste products out of the body’s tissues. Kosakoski adds that “All systems of the body function more efficiently with improved circulation and a reduction in tension of the soft tissues and musculature…”

On an emotional level, part of an addict’s recovery process is learning to identify and manage the triggers that cause them to desire escape. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of his or her own body, including where and when tension exists. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing one’s own resistance, which can lead to healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings and stress. In addition Kosakoski says that “Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, which provides a safe, non-threatening opportunity to begin the process of recovering long-buried emotions and memories.”

On a spiritual level, the deep relaxation of a massage can provide a still inner place for the recipient to connect with themselves. Being grounded, centered and fully present can be experienced when receiving therapeutic touch from a grounded, centered and fully present practitioner. A recovering addict has a whole new world opened to them when they acknowledge that they can simultaneously be anchored, present, feel good and be substance-free. As Kosakoski explains, “To allow oneself to surrender to the practitioner’s hands — to breathe fully and easily, to acknowledge and receive the gifts of nurturing, surrender and relaxation ….is an invaluable addition to the newly recovering person’s repertoire of relapse-prevention skills.”

Massage has the unique ability to affect all of our layers of being — from the spiritual plane all the way up to and including our body’s chemical composition. In the process of abandoning an addiction, these many parts of ourselves become fragmented. It is merely a matter of time before all addiction and recovery treatment programs recognize massage’s ability to mend the mind-body connection. When that happens, therapeutic massage will be integrated into addiction treatment, and clients will be optimally prepared to succeed in their recovery.

From IntergrativeHealthcare.org