Category Archives: Lifestyle

When you were an addict your lifestyle included an unbalanced diet, little exercise and negative coping mechanisms. Now that you admit that you are powerless over your addiction it is time to lead a different lifestyle where using isn’t the number one priority. Now its time for you to change your habits for the good. We are no longer trying to slowly commit suicide, but rather prolong our life through healthy lifestyle choices.

Dear Methylenedioxymethamphetamine…

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rave

Dear Methylenedioxymethamphetamine,

You lips were bitter like a gourd but your kisses left me speechless on countless occasions.  You made my heart beat faster, my eyes widen in awe and my jaws clench in excitement. You made me impulsive, you made me deceptive and you made me provocative.

From the start I could tell you were a sinister man. You would always show up to the party early, manipulating yourself through the crowd, never passing me up to say hello. The first night we met, you introduced me to one of your friends. You pressured me to stay the night with him and even though I really didn’t want to, you convinced me that I should. You were so pleased when you saw us together, you seemed proud of your work—a brilliant self-proclaimed matchmaker but you would never admit it. You would joke how it was inevitable and claim that it wasn’t your doing. I knew that it was but I still tried to shove down my immediate feelings of regret to embrace my new life of love and drugs. I reluctantly welcomed your charm whenever I saw you, forcing a smile and saving you a dance. We eventually got closer as my ignorance dissolved any apprehensions.

I was still with your friend after sometime but that didn’t stop you from expressing your fondness of me. I even think that he noticed you making moves but decided not to do anything or even care. It’s like he didn’t mind sharing me with the man who arranged a young, pretty, foreign girl to play house with him. I tried to look past this, accepting the reputation I had built for myself: American slut. I took a week off to travel and escape you both. After several days I became bored so you came out to visit me without my lovers knowledge.

We spent some time with other travelers on the vast onyx beach one night and one thing led to another. Before I knew it, I had just cheated on the man I had been living with for a month with two people (not including you). While I should have been ashamed of myself, instead I felt exhilarated. I had a sense of pride for my promiscuity. You encouraged me to stay with you again and I told you that, “if it will be, then it will be.” And so it was. For days I kept my mouth sealed as we snuck around together every chance we got. Together, we stayed up for days, starved and drove ourselves mad.

Eventually I had to go back to the home. You told me you would come to see me and you did. We acted out the same scene we left on that dark night on the beach. Only now we were surrounded by ravers in a massive stadium covered in flashing lights and melting colours. We walked through the crowd together and danced around the beautiful people. When we sat down you welcomed a stranger by my side and told him to kiss me behind my ear. You lead his hand up my thigh and lay me on the grass surrounded by hundreds of on-lookers. You had done it again. You had me put out again.

Your presence slackened my body and made my mind weak, I lost sight of right and wrong. My moral standards were clouded by the sudden urge to lose complete control. You’re malicious and manipulative— you’re the definition of a psychopath. Don’t you see how sick it is to find such pleasure from someone in such a state of senselessness and vulnerability?

I don’t have any regrets for what I’ve done. I know that it was all because of your influence. I would never repeat what I have done with you but I am not ashamed of it anymore. I know that if we ever saw each other again, you’d try and bring me down to that level of pure, passionate idiocy and I dare you to try because this time it’s different. I have respect for myself now and I know that I deserve so much better. I deserve real love. Not these temporary fixes that were set up on a high.

I won’t miss you.

Goodbye M.D.M.A.

No regrets,

Robyn

 

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Dear Lysergic Acid Diethylamide…

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Acid

Dear Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,

I sit here in the shadow of the night, watching the darkness play tricks on my eyes and it reminds me of you. Only you never played it off as a joke. It’s as if you enjoyed watching me grow increasingly more puzzled, dazed, and confused with every embrace. The world around me became blurred as you dizzied me with admiration. Everything I saw, everything I heard, and everything I felt transformed into a sensation of profound heightened clarity. I had never felt this way before. I was amused by your presence but I was not convinced that all this newfound beauty was the influence of only your love. I know you must have had some resentments towards me because I spoke so poorly of you, telling everyone that you were worthless and useless. But that only lead you to pursue me even harder, as if you had something to prove. You tried and tried, again and again but I insisted that you were never enough for me. You began to taunt me, somehow persuading me to try my luck with you. And I did— admittedly, so willingly. After a week of timid romance, I finally surrendered all self-respect as I gave myself to you completely. I will never forget that night and when you defiled my soul. I was already so weak, growing increasingly more dependent and entirely delusional about you. I would wonder when I would see you again and fantasize about what we would do. I wanted to feel your embrace and push the limits of our love. I wanted to see more than just the earth dance. I wanted to feel more than just the vibrations of every sound. I wanted to understand more than just the ease of every silence. I wanted to trip out… bad.

The miraculous thing is that I was already tripped out but I hadn’t fully realized it. I had tripped out after meeting you on the first night. You managed to steal more of of my time and I was curious to get to know you, only feeling disappointed by the end of the night— unaware of what you had done to me. That disappointment was irrational, I had made the mistake of unknowingly falling for you. You had me under your spell. I only just figured that out. For weeks I had tried to get a perfect trip, thinking all along that I had never actually had one (as though everything I experienced was real). I had left the confines of reality and I didn’t even think of looking back. I was losing it and eventually I lost it.

For days I was coming down from your high only to have you swing me up again in your charm as I would ignorantly insist that “we weren’t working.” You were so adamant to convince me and I was so naive to taunt you like I did. I had no idea what you were doing and what you were capable of. If I would’ve known that your seduction would have destroyed my mind for years to come, I would’ve never provoked it.

But thats a lie… I still would have made love to you.

And that’s why I am writing:

I never had the chance to tell you the truth: I am an addict. I was before I ever met you but I didn’t want you to know. I had already been with countless of other drugs but I never thought you would all be the same. Its true though, your all just as cunning, untrustworthy and frightening. You were the most devious of them all. The way you manipulated me is unparalleled and I will never forgive you for that. Even after months of our separation you were still harassing me. Using men to lure me back to you. Hypnotizing me with ideas of false admiration and recreational sex. Luckily, I didn’t fall for it so easily that time. Sure, I spoke of surrender but I never sought out any action.

I had a feeling you would come back for me and I know we might run into each other in the future. Thats why I want you to know that as much as I hate leaving you on a sour note, its for the better. We would never work. We would always be at each others throat. You would never be enough for me and I could never make you happy without going mad. I mean, I am still picking up the pieces from my last high… I thought torrent of insanity I experienced for months after we had last met would never end. While I eventually managed to collect my mind and find a sense of stability, I still experience some side-effects of our heated past. You are still with me in my mind. From time to time I see these vivid colours and flashing lights and I know that that’s remnants of your binding spell. I can’t believe that you have threatened me with these flashbacks, saying that I will have them for years to come. You blame it all on the length and progression of our relationship at the time, telling me that it was all my fault; “if you hadn’t doubted me, if you hadn’t belittled me…” All I can say is that I am sorry. It was I who instigated the relationship. My curiosity was convincing and my ego was big. I went in with greedy intentions but after all you have put me through, I think its safe to say that we are even now. You have hurt me enough, striping me of sanity and making me feel so helpless and vulnerable. You can chose show me mercy or remain cold and bitter. But I know that you have a heart somewhere to forgive me and I look forward to the day when you finally release me from your grip. For now, I wish you nothing but peace and solitude.

 

Goodbye L.S.D.

Your old valentine,

Robyn

Boost Your Self Esteem

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“As the holidays come and go, so do the cookies, sweets and feasts. Leftovers fill the fridge and your stomach is full of fatty food. A lot of people gain weight during this time of year because of the celebrations. Its hard not to overeat when your around family that won’t judge you and food that tastes all to good. And just like most of the population in the U.S., we struggle body image issues. While with the new year comes our promises to stay fit and clean in 2014, we can make it a goal to feel better about ourselves in our own body. Working the steps help us cope with the low self-esteem that our addiction may have left us with as we reflect on
our past, but we can also apply these suggestions when letting go of our negative body image.  This is an article from the Healthy Weight Network about how to conquer your self esteem and body image issues.” -Shanti, Robyn

Low Self EsteemIt’s about you

You’re okay just as you are. You are a unique person, capable and loveable, with special talents and strengths, with inner wisdom and creativity – a human being of value. So accept and respect yourself now.Get comfortable with the real you, inside and out. Accept your size and shape, your feelings, yourself, unconditionally. Honor your character, talents and achievements.

No need to work on perfecting yourself. In fact, it can be self-defeating, and a big waste of time. Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist in the real world and it certainly doesn’t exist in human appearance. Many women who struggle with eating, weight and body image spend inordinate amounts of energy trying to change their appearance. They make their bodies their life’s work; they put their lives on hold “waiting to be thin.”

Instead of trying to meet society’s impossible standards of female beauty, give yourself affirmations on how special you really are. Find the peace and serenity of your life, buried though it may be under many layers. Accept this place where you are on your life’s journey and live with joy and relish.

  • Recognize that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes. Real beauty encompasses what’s inside, your zest for life, your fun-loving spirit, a smile that lights up your face, your compassion for others, says Carol Johnson, author of Self-Esteem Comes in all Sizes.It’s being friendly, generous and loving, having strength and courage, and respecting yourself just as you are — goals that we all can achieve.
  • Your body is okay. Your size is okay. The good news is that you can change how you feel about your body by changing your self-talk. If you are especially concerned over weight, understand that your body has an opinion of what it should weigh at this time in your life. It regulates weight around a setpoint that may be nearly impossible to change. Recognize how destructive the obsession to be thin is and how it harms the people you love, especially children. Your weight is not a measure of your self-worth. Accepting this can give you new freedom.Cat as Lion
  • Be size positive. Set an example of respect for size diversity. People naturally come in different sizes and builds, and that’s okay. If you are a large woman it’s especially important in our size-focused society to be a role model who radiates confidence, self-respect and friendliness for other adults and children who, sadly, may fear going out in public. Or, if you are a thin person, keeping thin through semi-starvation, remember this means an anorexic personality (anxiety, irritability, depression, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, isolation from friends and family, preoccupation with food, loneliness, lack of compassion and generosity, self-centeredness), weak and brittle bones, and other serious health issues. Our society is currently obsessed with thinness, which hurts us all. When will this nation come to its senses, reject size prejudice, accept a wider range of shapes and sizes, and focus on health rather than weight? We each can do our part to bring about this healthful change.
  • Dress for successDress in ways that make you feel good, that make your own statement and, most of all, that fit now. Clean out your closet of clothes that don’t fit; clothes you can wear only during dieting bouts. Give away or store too-small clothing. This makes room for clothes you will enjoy wearing.
  • Want what you have – contentment. T he secret to happiness is not to get what you want, but to want what you have . Though much underrated today, contentment has long been valued in world religions and philosophy. Realizing the full measure of our abundance can bring true happiness.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Have you inventoried the richness of your life assets? Try it. Add to that inventory and each day write down three things you are grateful for in your gratitude journal. It can be humbling to realize the abundance of riches we have, and how much we take it for granted. The everyday joys of family, friends, home, community, country, health, work and the wonder of nature are all around us. Contemplating this can bring you deep serenity.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation relieves stress and enhances our lives. Stress overload is linked to many health problems, such as exhaustion, insomnia, headache, diarrhea, anxiety, restlessness, depression, abuse of alcohol, increased risk of heart attack and weakened immune system. Relaxing is like re-booting a stressed-out computer. Everything works better afterward.
  • Choose self-care. Set aside time every day for yourself. T ake time for self-care and healing. Invest in small things that enrich your life: listening to music, reading a novel, napping after lunch, laughing with your spouse or best friend, eating a nourishing meal, telephoning a friend, taking a stretch break at your desk, enjoying a sunset.
  • Live assertively. Assertiveness allows people to express their honest feelings and opinions comfortably, to be open and direct, without anxiety or guilt, and to obtain their personal rights without denying the rights of others. Assertive persons respect themselves, speak calmly and clearly, maintain eye contact, project their voices, and smile sincerely when they mean it. By contrast, responding to others in passive or aggressive ways involves manipulation that respects neither yourself nor them. (By the way, in lists like this, and of course, this one, read, consider and take what seems best for you at this time in your life – and leave the rest. That’s being assertive!)
  •  Strengthen your social support . Include pleasant and stimulating interaction with others in your day, every day. Maintain nourishing relationships with family and friends. Promote communication and sharing of feelings in appropriate ways. Encourage positive self-talk, praise and support for each other. Getting involved in volunteer work is an excellent way to increase your social network as you lend a helping hand and a helping heart.
  • Shape a healthy balance. You’ll feel better and have more energy when you develop healthy living habits that come so naturally and feel so normal you hardly think about them. Normalize your life by being regularly active and keeping yourself well nourished without dieting. Take care of your health, but don’t obsess over it or struggle for perfection. Find a satisfying balance of wellness and wholeness that works for you at this time in your life and helps you live the way you want.

The Problem with Christmas

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All the meetings I have been going lately have shown to prove that this time of year is incredibly stressful. Thoughts of past Christmas’, struggles with expenses and family can really trigger us to want to use. This is the time to be thankful, to be selfless and to spread love, not scream ‘fuck it’ and get wasted. We need to be there for our families, for each other and for ourselves.” -Happy Christmas Eve, Robyn

Presents

Most people know the holidays can be a period of emotional highs and lows. Loneliness,
anxiety, happiness and sadness are common feelings, sometimes experienced in startling succession. The bad news is the holiday blues can trigger relapse for people recovering from alcoholism and other drug addiction. The good news is the blues can be remedied by planning ahead.

Why do the blues hit during this otherwise festive season? Doing too much or too little and being separated from loved ones at this special time can lead to sadness during the holiday season. Many recovering people associate the holidays with memories of overindulgence, perhaps of big benders that resulted in relationship problems or great personal losses.

People experience feelings of melancholy, sadness and grief tied to holiday recollections. Unlike clinical depression, which is more severe and can last for months or years, those feelings are temporary.   Anyone experiencing major symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, guilt or helplessness; changes in sleep patterns; and a reduction in energy and libido, should seek help from a mental health professional.

Whether you’re in recovery or not, developing a holiday plan to help prevent the blues, one that will confront unpleasant memories before they threaten your holiday experience. Your plan should include improved self-care, enhanced support from others, and healthy ways to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions to achieve a happy, sober holiday season:

Good self-care is vital. Remember to slow down. Take some quiet time each day and work on an attitude of gratitude. Plan relaxation and meditation into your day, even for a few minutes, no matter how busy you are. Relax your standards and reduce overwhelming demands and responsibilities.

Don’t overindulge. Go easy on the holiday sweets and follow a balanced diet. Monitor your intake of caffeine, nicotine and sugar. Exercise regularly to help maintain your energy level amid a busier schedule. Don’t try to do too much. Get plenty of sleep. Fatigue is a stressor. Maintain some kind of schedule and plan ahead; don’t wait until the last minute to purchase gifts or prepare to entertain.

Enhance your support system. Holidays are a good time to reach out more frequently to your therapist, sponsor, spiritual advisor, or support group. If you’re in recovery, spend time with fellow recovering people. Let others help you realize your personal limits. Learn to say “no” in a way that is comfortable for you.

Find new ways to celebrate. Create some new symbols and rituals that will help redefine a joyful holiday season. You might host a holiday gathering for special recovering friends and/or attend celebrations of your Twelve Step group. Avoid isolation and spend time with people you like who are not substance users. Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary temptations, such as gatherings where alcohol is the center of entertainment. If there are people who have a negative influence on you, avoid them.

Focus on your recovery program. Holidays are also an important time to focus on your recovery program. For example, ask, “What am I working on in my program now?” Discuss this with your sponsor.

Release your resentments. Resentment has been described as allowing a person you dislike to live in your head, rent-free. Resentments that gain steam during the holidays can be disastrous for anyone, especially recovering people. The Big Book of “Alcoholics Anonymous” refers to resentment as the No. 1 offender, or the most common factor in failed sobriety.

Holidays may also be a time to evaluate your spirituality and find a personal way to draw support from the spirit of the season. Return the holidays to a spiritual base, and stress the power of unselfish giving.

Recovery is serious work, but it is also important to have fun. Laugh a little and a little more. Start seeing the humor in those things that annoy you. Take from the holiday season what is important for you and leave the rest.

The Power of Imagination

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“At times, our dreams may seem out of reach. The reality is that we are far from them— but only presently. Imaging is simply using your imagination to lift your mood and enhance your motivation for long-term sobriety. This is part of an article from Addiction-Recovery-Blog.com. You will find that imaging can do even more than I mentioned above, plus advise on how to start your own practice.” -Enjoy, Robyn

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Imaging, in the purest sense, is a way of focusing your mind on positive alternatives. Whether you practice self-imaging through yoga or meditation or participate in a program of therapeutic imaging, the technique can be very effective.

Basically, imaging is a type of perception therapy that embraces the connection between your mind, body, spirit, and environment. It’s a psychotherapeutic approach that helps you replace faulty perceptions about who you are and who you want to be with new and more beneficial perceptions.

Issues Imaging Can Address

Depression and addiction are common co-occurring conditions. In fact, even without addiction, depression is a very common condition. It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans suffer from some form of depression. After treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse, depression can wreak havoc on the recovering addict’s life and any future plans. The heart of depression is hopelessness, a feeling or perception that nothing good will ever happen. Imaging helps transform hopelessness into hope. And hope brings the promise of a brighter future.

Low self-esteem and low self-worth often plague recovering addicts in varying degrees. Sometimes the feelings are tucked away into the back of the mind, while at other times they completely take over the individual’s thoughts, sabotaging any attempts to plan a better life. The old ways of trying to bump up self-esteem by hanging out with others and doing things so other people will like us – even though those were undesirable friends and activities – no longer work, or we’ve been responsible enough to reject them, wisely realizing as a result of treatment that we can’t associate with those triggers. Imaging helps improve feelings of self-worth and self-esteem by treating the whole person. As the underlying faulty thinking is exposed, new perceptions are created that lead to more positive behaviors.

Intolerance and prejudice are seldom talked about as issues affecting recovering addicts, but think about the kinds of beliefs we’ve been brought up with or acquired over the years. Every time we rejected someone who didn’t share our need to binge or use, or laughed at the spiritual person who seemed so happy with their life, or lashed out at loved ones and friends who tried to encourage us to change – those were all forms of intolerance and prejudice. If not dealt with, they’ll resurface in other forms during recovery and put a serious strain on our future plans. Imaging can help people to be more accepting of others, to embrace the fact that we’re all equal, that we need each other, that we’re connected, and that we can help each other grow. This leads to better self-awareness, inner peace, and the ability to plan for the future.


After chronic abuse of alcohol or drugs, those in recovery often still bear some of the effects: poor physical condition, not eating properly, disturbed sleep patterns, or other self-destructive acts. Some replace one addiction with another. They may start smoking cigarettes when they never smoked before, eat compulsively, or engage in other addictive behaviors. Imaging helps you avoid this by devoting attention to improving fitness, practicing meditation, focusing on better breathing techniques, and learning better eating habits. With a healthier body, the mind and body connection is stronger, and planning for the future becomes a more viable possibility.

Many recovering addicts are beaten in spirit, even though they’ve completed treatment and are abstaining from drugs and alcohol. They don’t feel worthy of a good future. Their spirit is weighed down with the accumulation of guilt, shame, remorse, and the injustices they have done to others, real or imagined. Imaging realigns the spirit, helping the recovering addict gain an increased awareness that we all deserve to be happy, to be productive members of society, to go after our goals, and to be at peace. In short, imaging helps you to reaffirm your goodness of spirit, which fosters the ability to make plans for your brighter future.

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How to Start Imaging

You can begin by meditating for a few minutes every day, morning and evening. While
many people may think meditation is some mystical process and shrug it off as nonsense, the truth is that it’s really as simple as closing your eyes and blocking out all thoughts, breathing in and out deeply, and concentrating every ounce of your being on the sound and rhythm of your breath. Do this for a period of five minutes. It’s also helpful to engage in this practice when you become overstressed or feel you can’t deal with a potential trigger or craving to drink or use.

There are books you can borrow at the library or buy at a bookstore on meditation. You can also listen to CDs or DVDs that help calm your spirit and your random thoughts. Or you can participate in therapeutic imaging, a psychotherapeutic approach that is offered in some parts of the country. Ask your aftercare counselor or therapist for recommendations for such treatment or investigate holistic therapy or alternative therapy groups in your area.

Imaging Techniques

Imaging techniques vary but should consist of the following:

• Be open to new concepts
• Recognize that people are different and be accepting of everyone
• Be willing to change your perceptions about your future
• Explore ways to help change your perceptions
• Learn to investigate facts, rather than blindly accept things as true
• Admit that you can have a better future and that you deserve it
• Repeat positive imaging practices, such as daily reminders of self-worth, meditation, and other relaxation techniques
• Create new ways of handling your daily situations, especially stressful ones
• Recognize that what works for another may not work for you – you are an individual with unique needs
• Be open to lifting and awakening your spirit, your inner being, your true self

Whether you participate in a group, structured counseling, or do it by yourself, imaging in any of the above forms can help you to create a future that you desire. The best thing about the future is that it is always available before us. We can be the architect of tomorrow – by laying the groundwork today through imaging.

Solving a Co-Addiction Relationship

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Being single and sober, especially in early recovery, is suggested by most healthcare professionals and members of Anonymous groups. But sometimes people have been with their significant other for a long time, its hard to let them go, even if its for their own good. When co-addiction is present in a relationship you may find yourself in a mental prison, not knowing what to do. Here is an article from AddictionBlog.com on what you can do.” -Love, Robyn

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Do You Have The Courage?

Most people want out of an abusive situation but somehow cannot muster up the courage. They do not believe they have the self-efficacy to do it. But recovery from co-addiction starts with the first step.

I woke up one morning with a urinary tract infection and my lower back was in excruciating pain. I was sick—physically. I went to look for my doctor’s number on my husband’s phone because mine was dead. I found a text from a guy I knew dealt drugs. My daughter woke up with a stomach ache. The walls were closing in.

  • How could I take care of everyone if I couldn’t take care of myself?
  • Why was this happening to me?
  • What did I do to deserve this?
  • I was trying so hard to help my husband stay clean, and everything that could go wrong, did?

This was my old thought process.

Negative behavior patterns seem harmless. Some people attribute the negativity in their lives to circumstance. They believe their lives are not what they want because of the situation they are in, the person they are in a relationship with, or the job they cannot leave. I used to look at people I admired and thought, “How did they get to where they are?” I felt like a log, drifting down a river just bumping into things along the way. I had no control over my life. I noticed myself complaining to my friends and family about how life was unfair and asking them why I had to go through this when all I ever did was try to help everyone.

This is where co-addiction may take on characteristics martyrdom. A martyr helps everyone else but suffers for it.

Disaster Mode

I have a friend who cannot get out of her own way. When I look at her, I see a person who has two beautiful children, a loving husband, secure finances, lots of help from wonderful parents. When I speak with her, she is always trying a “new diet” to lose weight, she is buying a new product to fill a void, she is stressed, overweight, and complaining about her child. There is always some disaster happening in her life.

Sometimes, I get caught in it. I notice myself feeling negative. I can easily get sucked into the “poor me” role when I talk with her. I noticed the times when I am most happy and successful are when I am “doing” and taking positive steps in the direction of my goals and not talking about them. It is the times between complaining that things start to happen.

Opportunity Is Knocking

If you really want something, you can have it. If you really want out of a situation that is hopeless, if you want it enough, you can find a way out. You will be amazed how opportunities open up when you are open to them. When you set your mind to a goal you can turn complacency into action, by suppressing the thought of why things are not going your way.

No person can have a hold over you, only you can hold yourself back. You can turn your role in co-addiction into role model. When an addict realizes that they no longer have power over you, they will move on and so will you. When you can turn sorrow into joy, pain into gratitude, misery into appreciation for life, and fear into self-confidence, you can make great strides.

You can read hundreds of self-help books and wait for them to give you the recipe for change. The truth of it is, most of us do not take action. We wait for things to change. Nothing gets done unless there is ACTION. The most important thing in stepping out of an ugly situation is the first step. Every situation is unique and inside all of us, we know things we could do to change our lives, we just have to have the guts to do them. Your role model is no different than you. The only difference is they took action. Remember one action can change your whole life.

Just Be Happy

Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” It took me a long time to truly appreciate what that meant. I found I could not change those around me but I could change myself.

I woke up one day; and day after day, after day, made one small change that would take me in the direction I wanted to go. I let go of my role as the wife of a person with a rainbow of addictions. I could no longer attempt to change him so I started to change myself instead.

I made a startling observation. The people around me who were happy and comfortable in their own skin weren’t asking other people why their life was not what they hoped. They were not complaining all of the time. They were successful in their own right. Even more startling, was that they were not always talking about it! Although they faced obstacles like everyone else, they were not focused on what was wrong or looking for empathy.

A short time ago, I sat in a place where my life seemed hopeless. I did not wake up one day and change it, but I did wake up one day and change something, and in time, something in me changed.

Positive Thinking

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“While too much positive thinking— as in sitting on a pink cloud—  can turn toxic, it is crucial in recovery from addiction. This article outlines everything from unlimited benefits to cautions. You can follow the links to other articles on hippyhealing.wordpress.com to find more information on certain topics as well as one of my favourite positive thinking tools; gravitation journaling.” -Enjoy, Robyn

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The Importance of Positive Thinking in Addiction Recovery

The way that people think impacts the way they will experience the world. Those who are prone to negativity not only experience life through a grey cloud, but they are potentially setting themselves up for further misery in the future. There is strong evidence to suggest that positive thinking can improve people’s mental and physical well-being. This mode may not be the answer to every problem in life, but it can be a great help. Positive thinking can be particularly beneficial to those who are trying to build a new life in recovery from addiction.

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

There are plenty of good motivations for positive thinking including:

  • People who focus on the positive are far less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression
  • Some research indicates that positive thinking can boost the immune system. This means that people will not get sick easily as their body is better at fighting off infections.
  • Those who think positively may be less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. This is because positive thinking has been shown to reduce levels of stress and inflammation in the body.
  • Thinking this way can help people live longer.
  • People who think positively are able to handle problems and stress a lot better.
  • It improves quality of life as the individual will feel more at ease.
  • Positive people have a lot more energy to do the things they want to do in life. Negativity sucks energy away.
  • If the individual feels positive they will be more likely to achieve their goals.
  • Positive people are just nicer to be around.

Positive Thinking and Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to the belief the individual has in their ability to achieve a goal. The higher their self-efficacy the more likely they will be of achieving something. This is closely related to positive thinking. Self-efficacy can be increased by:

  • If people are able to accomplish something once, their self-efficacy towards that particular task will be higher the next time.
  • If a peer manages to accomplish the task, this can raise self-efficacy. This is because of the tendency to think if they can do it then so can I.
  • The individual can have their sense of self-efficacy increased by a convincing argument provided by other people. In therapy this is referred to as motivational interviewing.

The Dangers of Stinking Thinking

Stinking thinking occurs when people are overly negative. They may feel anger and resentment about their life. They may tend to be pessimistic about the future. This mode of thought is particular dangerous for people in recovery because:

  • It increases the risk of relapse back to addiction.
  • It prevents the individual from finding happiness in sobriety.
  • People around them will suffer because of all this negativity.
  • When people are locked into negativity they experience the bumps in life to be more painful and stressful.
  • Negative thinking can prevent people from seeing the real cause of their suffering.

Negative Thinking as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

A set-fulfilling is where just predicting something helps cause it to occur. This is because people will change their behavior in light of the prediction. They may unconsciously create the conditions that allow the event to happen. For example, if the individual predicts that something they need to do is going to be too difficult, they may worry excessively about it. This worry alone may be enough to make the task more difficult. If they had a more positive attitude then perhaps the task would have been easier.

The Limitations of Positive Thinking in Addiction Recovery

While there is little doubt that positive thinking can improve life it is probably dangerous to see it as the panacea to cure all life’s ills. Positive thinking combined with unrealistically high expectations can lead to suffering, particularly if the only real action the individual takes to achieve a goal is to think positively. Positive thinking can even be dangerous for people in recovery when:

  • When it causes them to become overconfident. This is particularly likely to happen in early recovery. The individual is on a high because they believe that they are now cured of their problems. They can develop pink cloud syndrome and are full of optimism about the future. When reality catches up with them it can be painful.
  • Some people develop a type of magical thinking in regard to positivity. For instance, the individual may become convinced that if they think positively about winning the lottery, this will cause it to happen. When their numbers do not come up they feel disappointed. They may even blame themselves for not being positive enough. This type of magical thinking can be particularly harmful when people choose positivity over medicine to cure disease or injury.
  • The individual may use positive thinking as a replacement for action. This would be like somebody becoming convinced that they are going to win the lottery but not even buying a ticket. Positivity without action is useless.
  • There are many reasons for why things do not work out in life. To blame everything on lack of positivity is unreasonable and unhelpful. Just because something goes wrong in the life of the individual does not always mean that they are doing something wrong.

How to Develop a Positive Outlook

It is possible to think of positivity as being like a seed; the more people water this seed the more it will grow. Here are just a few of the ways that the individual can develop a more positive outlook in life:

  • Keeping a gratitude journal can be highly beneficial if people wish to develop a more positive outlook. This is where they will write down all the good things that are happening in their life. This will help encourage a good frame of mind that will stay with people throughout the day.
  • Make an effort to regularly spend time with inspirational books, audio, and video. What people put into their minds can be just as important as what they put into their mouths. Inspirational material can motivate people and greatly increase positivity.

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.

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

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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

Taoism and Addiction

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“As I am going to study philosophy next year, I often think of how religions and other theories of life might view addiction and recovery. Is it acceptable? Is there a reason? Is there a cure? To start my regime on educating myself with the various opinions I took a look at some articles. This one is written by Elizabeth Reninger from About.com and it gives some insight on addiction using the practice of Taoism. If your interested in “The Way” (as tao the ching is translated), or are even struggling finding your Higher Power, this article may shed some light on the matter. Keep in mind, Taoism is not a religion, its a philosophy, a “way” of life.” -Love and light, Robyn

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Any kind of addictive behavior makes it really difficult to conserve our “qi” — to garner a beneficial surplus of life-force energy — for the simple reason that addictive behaviors, with their corresponding mental/emotional patterns, almost universally drain our qi.

Can Taoist practice help us unwind addictions?

I would say: yes! I’ve touched on this in my essay, Addiction, Habit & Ritual — making a distinction between, on the one hand, flowing with the (seemingly repeating) patterns of the Tao, in a way that is awake and responsive; and, on the other hand, becoming a slave to the unconscious impulsive dictates of an addiction.

On a very practical level, there are ear-acupuncture protocols (NADA and ACACD) which have been hugely beneficial — in conjunction with counseling, education and group support — in resolving addictions.

Here a recovering alcoholic, in expressing how, as an atheist, he was able to make 12-step programs work for him, articulates quite beautifully the process of realigning with the rhythms of the natural world, a quintessentially Taoist approach to sanity:

“But, you might ask, if there’s nothing there, no sentient god, how do you get restored to sanity? Again, simple. A tide lifts a boat without being asked and without being sentient. Meet the conditions: place a boat on a tidal body of water. Wait. Then it happens. Be open to understanding the principles that govern your world and do your best to act in harmony with them, do your best not to waste your energy in trying to change the things you cannot change, turn your efforts to identifying and changing the things that can be changed, and the tide will lift your boat. Simple, no?”

Aligning with the elemental wisdom and rhythms of the natural world can be hugely supportive in transforming addictive behavior and perception. In doing so, we establish a perspective or view that’s in alignment with reality, and supports spontaneously “right” — healthy and harmonious — action.

In Buddhist practice, a similar notion is spoken of in terms of Samma Ditthi or Right View. The Pali word Samma was, as I understand it, originally a musical term, and points to a kind of “right” that means “attuned” — in tune with the contexts unfolding in the present moment. It’s about becoming sensitive to our surroundings, and our relationship to them, in a way that allows us then to act skillfully — rather than out of unconscious (e.g. addictive) preconceptions.

Written by Elizabeth Reninger from About.com