Tag Archives: advise

How to Scare Your Nightmares

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“When I was in rehab I was cursed with using dreams. I went to one of my conselours and told her how it effect me; I felt helpless, I felt guilty and worst of all, I felt scared. She began to explain to me the working of lucid dreaming.

“Lucidity means ‘moment of clarity.’ When paired with ‘dream,’ it defines how one is aware that they are sleeping thereby realizing that they are not experiencing physical reality. This alters the dynamics of dreaming by enhancing the perception of control. Once they are conscious within this state they will be able to change outcomes, people, places, things and heighten senses.

“With practice, I have been able to dream lucidly. I can get out of nightmares by flying away or manifesting someone to help. I can even request to be on a beach in Goa or see an old friend before I fall asleep and immediately have that desire fulfilled. Grant it, sometimes I am not so lucky, I may get there or see them and things go array but the beauty of knowing that it isn’t real allows me to at least attempt a quick fix. I do warn you that the excitement of the awareness may cause you to wake up— sometimes within the dream itself. Thats when things get confusing.

“I am also guilty of requesting types of using dreams in hopes that I will remember whats its like. The first attempt at this scared me so much because it all seemed too real. Where I experienced this high was in my own home, it all was so vivid that I literally could not tell that I was dreaming. That dream frightened me so much that before I go to bed I pray that I do not feel that ever again.” – I hope you find this useful. Please give it a try, you will be amazed at what you can do! Love, Robyn

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Benefits of Lucid Dreaming to People in Recovery from Addiction

Those individuals who manage to break away from addiction face many challenges in recovery. If they fail to overcome these obstacles it will prevent them from finding real happiness; it will also increase their risk of relapse. Any technique that can help strengthen their sobriety is always going to be welcome. Lucid dreaming may be able to do this in a number of ways including:

  • It gives them a safe environment where they can face their inner demons. If people become lucid in the middle of a nightmare they can make a decision to confront their fear. Those dreamers who do this usually report that their nightmare turns into a far more pleasant experience afterwards. When they wake up they will tend to feel like some inner conflict had been resolved. Such a cathartic effect is highly beneficial to people in recovery.
  • People in the first few years of recovery can feel uncertain about the future; they may have no real idea about what to do with their life. Lucid dreaming allows them to come in contact with their unconscious desires and hidden aspirations. The individual can use this information to chart a new course in life.
  • It makes it possible for the individual to use their sleep time productively. They can practice using their new coping strategies or other recovery skills.

Lucid Dream Dangers for Addicts

Lucid dreaming can be highly beneficial but there are potential dangers such as:

  • Some people may be tempted to indulge in fantasies of using drugs or alcohol again. This is dangerous because it will weaken their resolve to stay sober. Relapse in a dream can lead to relapse in reality.
  • It will be harmful if the individual becomes too obsessed with their dreams. They may use it as a means to escape reality; much in the same way that they once used substance abuse.

There is some concern that dealing with the unconscious mind can be potentially dangerous. The worry is that the individual will come across something that they are not yet ready to face. This concern tends to be overstated as most people only report positive outcomes from such contact with the unconscious mind in the lucid dream.

How to Dream Lucidly

Some people will achieve lucidity in dreams without ever making any special effort; they may not have even realized that it was possible to achieve lucidity beforehand. If the individual is trying to induce lucidity it can be difficult; at least in the beginning. Here are some of the techniques that have been show to be beneficial for promoting lucid dreams:

  • One of the most popular techniques for inducing lucid dreams are reality checks. This method requires that people regularly check to see if they are dreaming throughout the day. There are many differences between the real world and the dreaming world, and the purpose of reality checks is to notice these differences. If the individual becomes accustomed to doing reality checks in the waking world they will automatically begin to do them when they are dreaming too.
  • Wake-Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD) is a far more involved technique. The goal of this method is for the body to fall asleep without the mind losing awareness. One way of achieving this involves setting an alarm so that the individual wakes up 6 hours after falling asleep. They then get up for about an hour. When the individual goes back to bed they will put all their focus on staying aware as they fall back asleep. This method is also known as the wake back to bedtechnique.
  • Mnemonic induced lucid dreaming (MILD) also involves interrupting sleep. The aim here is to wake up during a dream; the person sets their alarm so that it goes off during the middle of REM sleep. Once they are woken up by the alarm the individual will try to recall their dream in as much detail as possible. They will then imagine themselves becoming lucid in this dream. As they fall back to sleep the person will focus their mind on achieving lucidity.
  • There are a number of devices that are believed to help people become lucid in dreams. One gadget involves wearing a special type of cover over the eyes. This monitors for rapid eye movement, and when these occur the device directs flashing lights towards the eyelid. These lights can notify the dreamer that they are asleep. Binaural beats are also believed to help some people achieve lucidity in their dreams.
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Why We Smoke SO Much!

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” When I first started smoking, I thought I was cool. Then I stopped. When I picked up smoking several years later, it was a way to get high. Then I stopped.  It wasn’t until I found myself in recovery that I really started smoking like a chimney. My parents were concerned and frankly annoyed my this new habit. There was a sense of relief  however, when they discovered in their NAMI class (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that this was commonly seen in people who have mental disorders and addiction. So I went on their website and found the article that explains it all! So if your a smoker, you may relate to this bit of text! It does focus on mental illness but a lot of the information can be useful to all.” -Peace, Robyn

Smoking and Mental Illness

People living with mental illness have a very high rate of smoking. A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 44.3 percent of all cigarettes in America are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. This means that people living with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other persons.

A positive note is that people who live with mental illness had substantial quit-rates, which were almost as high as the group without mental illness. NAMI has led many changes in our mental health system─getting access to the tools to quit smoking is a way to improve the quality and quantity of life. Improving lives is a new advocacy pursuit.

The Connection between Mental Illness and Smoking

There is no one single, certain reason why so many people who live with mental illness smoke. It may be a combination of brain effects, psychological effects and the social world in which we live.

From a brain-based perspective, research is being done to determine if and how nicotine is involved in some of the brain’s memory functions. If nicotine is a factor, then this could explain why so many people living with an illness like schizophrenia or other illness involving cognitive deficits may smoke. Even though smoking is thought to enhance concentration and cognition, the effects are short in duration.

Researchers and the medical community have a great deal to learn about how smoking impacts the brains of those living with mental illness. It is known that people diagnosed with schizophrenia often smoke before the onset of symptoms and that they smoke more often and inhale more deeply than smokers without schizophrenia.

While we still have a lot to learn about why people smoke, there is plenty of information to support the serious health risks of smoking. So while there may be good reasons why you were attracted to smoking, the key is to figure out ways to increase rates of quitting. Nicotine isn’t a health problem on its own, but when smoked and combined with hundreds of other chemicals that are present in cigarettes the practice of smoking is toxic.

Psychologically, all addictions soothe cravings. People often find themselves relaxed and less tense when their addiction is fed. This is true of cigarette smoking. Smoking can also be part of a social norm, one where people in your social circle all hang out and smoke. Some people who live with mental illness learned to smoke in a hospital or in group-living settings. These examples help illustrate how the mental health culture needs to move forward to reduce the tie between socialization and smoking.

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Facts About Smoking

People die from smoking-related illnesses. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body and diminishes your overall health. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of cancer-related death.

Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke and lung disease. With the increased risk of heart disease from second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs), individuals living with mental illness must try to quit.

Inhaled cigarette smoke is made up of 4,000 chemicals, including cyanide, benzene, ammonia and carbon monoxide to name a few. There is no safe tobacco product, so switching to a smokeless or chew product will not eliminate your risk of smoking-related diseases.

People are finally waking up to the fact that smoking is a true health hazard, and people need to quit in order to live longer. More psychiatric facilities are going smoke-free, and NAMI is advocating for access to smoking cessation in outpatient settings.

State mental health commissioners and state medical directors are committed to changing the way the public mental health culture relates to smoking. Check out their toolkit (http://www.nasmhpd.org/general_files/publications/NASMHPD.toolkitfinalupdated90707.pdf) to see what policy changes and strategies they are using to create a healthier mental health system environment.

Smoking’s Effects on Symptoms and Medications

Research shows that people living with mental illness do not have worse symptoms after they quit. It is understandable that this is a concern with quitting smoking. Quitting is hard work, and it may take many efforts to be successful. Be sure to get support, talk with your doctor, set a quit date and explore the tools for success (Link to tools for success section) that are available to help you quit.

If you are a smoker and you quit, you can usually get the same treatment results from lower doses of psychiatric medications. Smoking increases the breakdown of medicines in your body, so smokers need to take higher doses to get the same results as someone who does not smoke. Without cigarettes you may need to take less medication. An additional benefit is that a dose reduction will likely reduce side effects of medicines, such as weight gain and other side effects.

Chakras and Addiction

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“I absolutely love this article! Kelley Young, a writer for Mind Body Spirit Healing, gives an introduction to the theories of chakras in their basic form and goes on to describe their effects through substance abuse. I try to go a little more in depth, noting physical and mental correlation’s and how they effected us during our us and can aid us in recovery. We learn that all the 7 chakras can benefit a different part of our lives and are all equally important. We can easily incorporate these spiritual beliefs into our daily meditation and yoga routine. Each chakra holds a different association to the mind and body. Certain colours also stimulate these chakras, so even meditation on an object of this colour can enhance the energy flow. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!” -Namaste, Robyn 

What role do Chakra’s play in addictions and behavioral health and how can we treat addictions and behavioral health issues by working with the body’s energy system? For starters lets look at what a “chakra” is. Wiki defines Chakras as follows, “Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the subtle body of living beings.] The chakras are said to be “force centers” or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation. Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered the focal points for the reception and transmission of energies.”

When these chakras are out of balance, either over or under active, or when they have built up toxins, the physical body will attempt to balance them through negative behavior patterns and addictions, by literally reaching out for some kind of fix. Each chakra relates to specific issues, and therefore specific addictions or behavioral patterns. By balancing each chakra and removing toxins that have built up in the energy patterns, it is possible to treat and overcome addictions and behavioral health issues Common treatments for addictions do not always entail spiritual healing, but only touch on aspects of spirituality for healing. For example, in a traditional addictions treatment program, there may be a specific group or topic of a group called something similar to spirituality for addictions. Perhaps this group would meet once per week and discuss the topic for about an hour or so. Then group parts ways and perhaps the addicted person may further discuss spirituality with an individual counselor or attend AA meetings, but that is different than actually changing the bodies energy system. With my chakra cleansing program the addicted individual is given the opportunity to heal on all levels, mind, body, and spirit in a private and safe setting. One on one energy work until balance in each chakra and the energy system as a whole is found. Removing blockages and toxins that deter healing on all three energy bodies..physical, etheric and astral… clearing what is unhealthy and replacing it with health. Health is energy with grace.

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As I said above, each chakra relates to specific addictions and behavioral patterns. They are as follows:

Chakra 1 The Root Chakra: Related to heroin, cocaine, alcohol, milk, fat, meats. “Located at the base of the spine, it is a symbol of foundation. It is related to security, survival and potential. It governs sexuality and stability, giving us the ability to be sensual yet balanced which is something many of us have struggled with in and out of recovery. Weaknesses in the root chakra manifest in unbalanced sex life, overspending, cutting and overall health.”

Chakra 2 The Sacral Chakra: Gluten, wheat, starchy carbs, grain based alcohol, chocolate. “Located in the sacrum, it is associated to reproductive organs and sex hormones. Stimulation helps reproduction, creativity, joy and enthusiasm. Issues tend to be with relationships, violence, emotional needs including (but not limited to) pleasure. Excuses to use drugs often stem from these deficiencies.”

Chakra 3 The Solar Plexus Chakra: Cannabis, cocaine, caffeine, carbonated beverages, corn based alcohol, beer, corn processed sugars. “Located near the navel, this chakra plays a valuable role in digestion and adrenaline— both of which are highly effected by drug use by simply using and manipulating the way the body normally reacts while stable. Issues include personal power, fear, anxiety, self-identification and growth. With addiction, much of these emotional/mental formations are skewed and attempted to cover-up through use.”

Chakra 4 The Heart Chakra: Ecstasy, smoking, sugars and sweets, wine. “Located (obviously) at the heart, this chakra deals with circulation, the immune system and endocrine system. Emotional problems that arise have to do with compassion, tenderness, love for self and others, rejection and well-being. Many people that PTSD from relationships tend to have weak heart chakras. Also, after recovering from opiate or heroine use, that sugar craving can arise and effect the heart chakra in a negative way.”

Chakra 5 The Throat Chakra: Smoking, food in general. “Located at the throat, this chakra can effect the thyroid and is normally associated to compulsiveness. This relation can be found in the natural compulsive behaviour of using, shopping, overeating and even mania in people who are bipolar. Mentally it governs independence and thought.”

Chakra 6 The Third Eye Chakra: All mood-altering substances, chocolate, caffeine. “Located in the center between the brows, this chakra deals with the pineal gland and melatonin which regulates sleep. Physically, addicts normally struggle with sleeping problems with either lack or excess and bad dreams. Mentally it deals with visual consciousness, clarity and intuition, trust and inner guidance. Meditation on this chakra can raise awareness and bring a sense of ecstasy through heightened thoughts.”

Chakra 7 The Crown Chakra: All mind-altering substances. “Located at the top of the head, this chakra deals with the nervous system and the base of consciousness. It deals with the release of karma, spirituality, meditation, mental reactions, creative force and unity or oneness. This is especially important to open during meditation because it is what brings us closer to our higher power and gives us a sense of peace in an unaltered reality.”

You may have noticed that some of the addictions or behaviors are found in more than one chakra, so it is necessary to treat each chakra that the issue is found in. The Chakra cleansing program is for anyone who wants to overcome on not just a physical level but spiritual and emotional level as well. My personal opinion is that in traditional treatment centers, relapse is so common because only the physical and emotional bodies are being treated typically. So many issues and toxins literally get stuck in the individuals astral and etheric bodies where they “creep” back into the physical body which can then lead to relapse. The goal of this program is to offer an opportunity for holistic healing for the addicted person or for the person with negative thought or behavioral patterns.

It Takes a Village

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“In the beginning, a lot of us thought we could do this alone. But as recovery programs such as AA, NA and CA prove; we just can’t. A great way people jump-start their recovery is through inpatient and outpatient treatments. These facilities (that can be independent or hospital run) are armed with people to help and guide you through a smooth and successful recovery. Offering therapies and skills that will offer you the chance to lead a happier life. I went to rehab at Gateway for a month and followed up with an intensive outpatient program. Now I have graduated that with over 65 days sober and seeing a therapist regularly (and of course finishing the 90 in 90!). It has been a long journey so far, but everyday I am reminded of my strength and perseverance. I will never give up on my sobriety because that means I would be giving up on myself. Something I never want to do again…” -Thank you, Robyn

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Types of Recovery Programs

Not all recovery programs involve a inpatient stays. Some programs involve daily attendance and participation in group programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. Some types of treatments that might be available in your area are outlined below.

  • Residential programs involve living in the treatment facility and attending groups, individual counseling and other activities. Long-term or extended programs usually last 90 days, and shorter programs require stays of 28 or 30 days.
  • Outpatient rehab programs offer a number of options, often treating individuals for several hours a day over the course of a few weeks.
  • Group support or therapy sessions can meet daily, weekly or at other intervals. This type of recovery program is offered by accredited facilities, volunteer organizations, churches and community centers.
  • Individual therapy with a Board Certified Substance Abuse Counselor can be the appropriate treatment for some patients and may also be part of an aftercare program following a stay in a residential rehab program.
  • Some addictions may require medical intervention, especially during the early days when physical withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous for the person attempting to become sober.

Who Should Consider a Rehab Program?

No simple formula exists for providers or patients to determine who should attend what type of drug treatment program. Drug addiction is not a simple issue, so you should ask for assistance from experienced medical or behavioral health professionals to design a treatment plan that is right for your situation. Trying drugs just once does not necessarily indicate an addiction. On the other hand, being unable to say no to substances, taking extreme actions to obtain drugs or finding yourself frequently taking drugs may indicate a need for treatment for drug and alcohol recovery.

Important Information for Effective Treatment

Research over the past 40 years has consistently identified some key information that has helped build effective treatment programs. It is important to understand the following drug recovery information.

  • Addiction impacts the function of your brain, which can alter your behavior. Guilt associated with drug-related behavior often keeps people from successful addiction recovery, but you need to be able to separate how you act on drugs from how you want to act.
  • Successful treatment programs provide for all aspects of a person’s life, not just a specific addiction. Learning new skills and sharing emotional troubles may help with recovery.
  • It is essential that you remain in treatment and comply with follow-up care. Drug addiction is a chronic disorder; some doctors have even compared addiction with asthma or hypertension. You would not stop taking your asthma medicine if it was helping to control symptoms.
  • Drug addiction is often closely related to mental illness. A rehab program that can deal with adual diagnosis is essential in these cases.
  • Treatment plans should be reevaluated and altered on an ongoing basis to seek continuous improvement. In most cases, the individual struggling with addiction should have the opportunity to provide some feedback.

When you are looking for a drug recovery treatment center, keep the above information in mind. You may also want to ask for a referral or request information about outpatient and residential rehabilitation programs from a counselor, social worker, doctor or psychiatrist.

Aftercare is Essential for Success

One thing that causes people to fall off the wagon after completing a recovery program is noncompliance with aftercare. Some people believe that drug addiction can be treated similarly to a traumatic injury such as a broken arm. The arm is set and it heals, the cast is removed, physical therapy is scheduled and life eventually returns to normal. In most cases, drug addiction cannot be approached in such a manner. Someone struggling with an addiction can appear to heal, only to relapse months or years later because of the chronic nature of the problem. Because of this, following aftercare recommendations, including involvement in group or individual counseling, is essential.

Compiled by Recovery.org

Your Recovery Checklist

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“I will be using this great checklist I found from addictionandrecovery.org to inspire the rest of this weeks post. Checkout how far you’ve gotten in your recovery and how much further you can take it down the road.” -Shanti, Robyn

A list of important goals for the first year of your recovery. Use it as a reminder and to help you stay on track in the days and months ahead.

🔹Accept that you have an addiction
🔹Practice honesty in your life
🔹Learn to avoid high-risk situations
🔹Ask for help
🔹Practice calling friends before you have cravings
🔹Become actively involved in self-help recovery groups
🔹Go to discussion meetings and begin to share
🔹Get a sponsor and do step work
🔹Get rid of using friends
🔹Make time for you and your recovery
🔹Celebrate your small victories.
🔹Recovery is about progress not perfection.
🔹Practice saying no
🔹Take better care of yourself
🔹Develop healthy eating and sleeping habits
🔹Learn to relax and let go of stress
🔹Discover how to have fun clean and sober
🔹Make new recovery friends and bring them into your life.
🔹“Play the tape forward” to deal with cravings
🔹Find ways to distract yourself when you have cravings
🔹Deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms
🔹Develop a strategy for social settings where drinking is involved
🔹Thank the supportive people in your life.
🔹Develop tolerance and compassion for yourself and others
🔹Say goodbye to your addiction
🔹See yourself as a non-user

Take Five

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Take Five

Sure enough(she really should’ve known) when it came to going up, she would come down. This rapid cycling has been going on for about two weeks now. Today she spent the whole day laying in her bed crying. Going over all the insanity she had experienced six months prior when she was in India. Every time she managed to stop, she burst end out in tears again. She decided to make some calls. After several failed attempts she finally reached a girl she had met in rehab.

Amy had been a good friend from the start. At the age of 19, with it being her first time in rehab, she had more in common than most of the other girls. They spoke about their dreams of travel and made up a master scheme to backpack around the US with all the money they would save in sobriety. But those dreams were about to be shattered… 

The moment she picked up her words formed in an endless stream, overwhelming Amy on the other line, “Hi! How are you!? I’m terrible, I don’t know what’s going on I’ve been crying non-stop and I just don’t know why I think its a bipolar flare up or something I know you don’t have bipolar but I just thought I’d see how you were doing I just need to talk to someone! How are you?! What are you doing?!” 

It didn’t take long for Amy to come out with her guilty truths. She had relapsed and judging on her tone and lack of inspiration, she wasn’t coming back just yet. She explained how she had ODed… 

Amy listened as she began to cry for her. “Oh! No! I feel like I want to relapse now! How could you? What’s going on? What made you relapse?!” 

Amy immediately replied, “No! Don’t relapse too, be strong! It’s just tough for me, so many things have been going on, I just can’t control…”

Ahh, but there lies the problem. Amy thought she had to control this. But that’s not it. Give it to your higher power. That’s what I’ve learned in NA and AA. It took her another phone call to a member of NA, Ryan, before she realized this. After that call she had prayed so hard she though God would get annoyed.

Ultimately it took her a long walk, a couple more calls before she was able to calm herself down. One girl, Tay, told her firmly that everything passes. Tay may not struggle with bipolar disorder but if there is anything she knows how to do, its lift people up when their down. When she hung up with her she felt empowered enough to get out of the house and keep her mind busy. Though that was another faulty idea, as her sister, Jacquelyn, pointed out. 

“You need to face your thoughts, not just dismiss them and burry them in your heart. You can’t escape from yourself or you disorder. You have to learn to live with it. It may not be who you are but it will always be apart of you.” Jacquelyn told her.

She found all of these people so gracious and understanding. She knew again– because she needed reminding– that she was loved and not alone

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Take a Quiz to Judge How Well You Manage Your Bipolar Disorder

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“Check out this link to take a test that evaluates how well you are controlling your bipolar disorder. It offers some insight that you might not have been able to see and educates you on the steps you can take to improve your situation.

I took the test, these were my results: ” – Shanti, Robyn

Your Bipolar Disorder May Not Be Well Controlled

Perhaps you’ve been dealing with symptoms for a while but are afraid to talk to a doctor, or you’ve been diagnosed but don’t like taking medication. Sometimes lifestyle factors like your support system or dietary habits play a part. Whatever the reason, your responses indicate that it’s time to get things in order. Start here:

See a Qualified Medical Professional

When it comes to getting a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, it can sometimes take a few tries. If your primary doctor hasn’t addressed your concerns or has prescribed a medication that isn’t helping, you may need to seek out a psychiatrist to diagnose and treat your bipolar disorder. Your regular doctor or local hospital should be able to recommend one.

Educate Yourself and Your Family and Friends

There’s a wealth of information available to help you get a better understanding of the condition, whether online, through mental health organizations, from self-help books, or from your doctor’s office. Sharing this information with family and friends can help them understand too, and may even open up a dialogue about how they can best support you.

Know Your Treatment Options

A number of therapies are available to help alleviate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Your doctor can tell you about medication options, which range from mood stabilizers to antidepressants. Talk therapy is also often useful, and some complementary therapies, like acupuncture, may be incorporated into your plan.

Inform Your Workplace or School

If you find yourself struggling to keep up at work or school, it might be necessary to inform human resources, your union, or school administration that you’re managing a medical condition. That way you can learn about your options should you need to take time off, and you can file any necessary paperwork.

Must Read: Sane- Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps by Marya Hornbacher

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“This is my next ‘must read’ book. I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet, but I have read Madness and it was one of the most relatable and amazingly written books I have ever read. For those of you suffering with Bipolar disorder, thats the book for you. Those of you suffering with eating disorders, her first book Wasted is one you should look into. This one however, seems like a great novel for all addicts, focusing on co-occurring disorders and working the 12 steps!” – Much Love, Robyn

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Marya Hornbacher, author of the international best sellers Madness and Wasted, offers an enlightening examination of the Twelve Steps for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

In this beautifully written recovery handbook, New York Times best-selling author Marya Hornbacher applies the wisdom earned from her struggle with a severe mental illness and addiction to offer an honest and illuminating examination of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

Relaying her recovery experiences, and those of the people with whom she has shared her journey, Hornbacher guides readers through the maze of special issues that make working each Step a unique challenge for those with co-occurring disorders.

She addresses the difficulty that many with a mental illness have with finding support in a recovery program that often discourages talk about emotional problems, and the therapy and medication that they require. At the same time, Hornbacher reveals how the Twelve Steps can offer insights, spiritual sustenance, and practical guidance to enhance stability for those who truly have to approach sanity and sobriety one day at a time.

““The difference between now and the years when I lived in chaos is that I now have the knowledge, the tools, and the support to handle any kind of challenge, any kind of change.” Hornbacher (Madness) writes with honesty, empathy, and personal experience as someone with Bipolar Disorder who has struggled with addiction. She explores the meaning of the Twelve Steps in daily life to someone struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both. From perceptions of addicts (“that we can, by force of will, gain control over the substance to which we’re addicted, and that our failure to do that is simply more proof that we are failures as people”) to the “God problem” of the Twelve Steps, Hornbacher reaches out to readers in a clear, surprisingly lyrical voice that seeks to understand, assist, and explain. The Steps, she argues, “help us through the difficult passages, and they teach us to take joy in the discoveries we make as we go. What I am discovering as I work and rework the Steps over time is that there is no end to this journey.” For anyone seeking to understand or conquer addiction, her book will be a valuable guide and pocket mentor.”

— Publisher’s Weekly

Addiction and Sleep

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Written for Recovery Magazine on January 7, 2009 by Emily Battaglia

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Individuals who are recovering from addiction often experience significant sleep disturbances. Some of these problems persist only for the first few months in recovery, some for years after abstinence begins.

Scientific studies have recorded the major sleep difficulties experienced by recovering individuals. One small study, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry, found that individuals in recovery may experience problems related not only to actual sleep patterns, but also to their perception of their sleeping patterns. The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, made a thorough evaluation of sleep, sleep perception, and alcohol relapse among 18 men and women with insomnia who were in the early stages of alcohol recovery.

The study also indicated the importance of seeking help for sleep disturbances while in recovery. Lead author Deirdre Conroy, Ph.D., a fellow in the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center, commented on the findings:

“What we found is that those patients who had the biggest disconnect between their perception of how they slept and their actual sleep patterns were most likely to relapse. … This suggests that long-term drinking causes something to happen in the brain that interferes with both sleep and perception of sleep. If sleep problems aren’t addressed, the risk of relapse may be high.”

Research has shown that individuals recovering from addiction to substances other than alcohol are also at elevated risk for sleep disturbances. For individuals in recovery, sleep disturbances present a unique problem. Individuals in recovery cannot utilize medicinal aids to alleviate sleep problems without possibly undermining the entire recovery process. Recovery experts recommend some of the following strategies to help individuals in recovery address sleep-related problems:

  • Seek help! Sleep disturbances can be complex and physically devastating. Don’t let a problem that may be outside of your control undermine your efforts at good health and sobriety.
  • Establish a pre-bed routine and follow it each night. This will help to signal your brain and body that it is almost time to sleep.
  • Don’t engage in any sort of stimulating activity for at least two hours before bedtime. This includes any activity that heightens wakefulness, including exercise, high-energy conversations, video games, and other similar activities.
  • Don’t overeat. Overeating, especially at dinner can contribute to difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Don’t do anything in bed except sleep. Watching TV or even reading in bed can send mixed signals to your brain and body. Reserving your bed for sleep will help train your body to go to sleep.
  • Avoid coffee and cigarettes for at least three hours before bed. For some, caffeine may need to be avoided after noon.
  • Try setting aside time each evening to write about your concerns in a journal. This may help you process issues that are weighing on your mind before you go to sleep. Going to bed with an unburdened mind and clearer thoughts may reduce unpleasant or anxious dreams.