Tag Archives: do

One Word at a Time

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When I came back from India, where I hit my rock bottom, I wrote some journal entries and some poems. Grant it, I was still in psychosis for a month, so much of my writings are teetering on questionable madness.. but at least I have documentation of my unraveling thoughts. I have spoken to many people who see me in meetings jotting quickly —and mindfully— everything interesting that someone might say. They come to me after, questioning and prodding. “What are you doing? Why do you do this?” Inspiration, I say. For the future. To distract my mind all the while keeping it focused on the purpose of me being here. I reflect on these words somedays, these phrases that are jotted down in a penmanship only I can make out, it lifts my heart.

My journals on the other hand, don’t always do the same. People question me about this too, saying, “I don’t journal. I’ve tried. I just can’t get into it. Where do you start? What do you say?” I simply reply, anything. Everything. Theres no judgement but your own. Its just you and the paper/the keyboard, whatever. You just let your guard down and scream through the only words that come to your mind in that moment. You let it out. You get lost in the present as the words slip out of your hands and manifest themselves in front of you.

I find it healing. I also find it necessary to let go of all the thoughts that collect in the back of your mind. You make them real when you scribble them down. Something tangible that you can reflect on in the future. You start to realize how crazy you are. How human you are. You can map your progress, track your emotions and notice the moments in time that you let yourself fall and the moments you picked yourself up.

Its unlikely that I ever write on a good day. I am far too merry and cheerful and I often think I sound like a idiot. My ambitions are bloated and my head is held too high. I sometimes get scared when I observe this. It makes me think of mania… But its on those good days that I like to spin the clock back and see where I’ve been. Remind myself of the way life was regarded before I woke up with this smile on my face. I can see clearly that all things will pass. There is evidence of my mind when I felt I was stuck. Where time didn’t exist and the idea of life moving on to send me into the unknown was far from my imagination.

Today is one of those days to reflect. Not that I am in the best mood in the world; my thoughts have wandered here and there, sending me on a whirlwind of inspiration and thought provoking questions. After spitting out the ideas that were trapped in my mind (untangling them enough to make sense), I took a break. I shifted my attention to a long lost entry written when I got out of rehab, it read:

 

“Nothings doing it for me; running, Spongebob, Facebook, reading. Nada. Nope. I still feel like a heavy lump sits in my throat, a thousand butterflies wish to come up from my stomach, my body aches, my head spins, my eyes droop lazily on my clean face. I’m at a loss. I’ve been out of rehab for a few weeks now and plans of moving are becoming more official by the second. Halloween comes closer to reality. I just want to move. I just want a job. I want to go to school again. Some grandiose voice in my head tells me to study philosophy and be a professor. Write a bunch of books. Be a success. Be a success? Why am I always wishing for success? I can hardly handle failure. And I am such a great failure. The essence of depression wreaks from my veins today. Taunting me through every controlled breath. Gently caressing me, telling me things will look brighter. Don’t use. Don’t use, I tell myself. Moments like this, these receding moments that have lasted over 12 hours… they are the ones that make me want to use. Make me want to just pass out and sleep to wake up to a new day that has more purpose, more umph in my step. Where are those days? How do they come to me in my life? How do they even exist? I know that they have before, I can remember the ease of those days. Where did they go? What brought me here? I digress.”

Writing

As I sat there and read these lines I saw a glimpse of my past. Grateful to be here in the  future/present. Though I can’t say much has changed. I still get the occasional craving, though I try not to bother my mind when things are working out. I remove myself, not allowing my thoughts to unravel, revealing nothing but increased anxiety. Stop, I say. Don’t go there. You know how you’ll feel when you go there. And surely I do. You do to. You know how it is when your mind gets caught in a single thought. How it spins down, causing you to loose control, throwing you into a black hole. Thats no fun. Certainly counter productive. But its during these times that we have to remember to do only two things. Only these two things (from my experience) seem to work; prayer and journalling.

We need to take a step back from those winding thoughts and give them to our higher power to answer. “This too shall pass,” God most commonly replies. Then we have to let it out. Its no good bringing someone else down by removing them from their busy lives to complain and ramble on comically about nothing at all. At least, thats what we feel in these moments… So, instead of locking it up inside to save it for a rainy day, you got to just write it out and give it to yourself to listen to. Once its all down and you hand hurts from the process, you can read it over. Wow, you’ll think. Thats it. Thats me—right now.

You’ll feel better. Trust me. I know it may seem hard at first. Maybe time consuming. But it really isn’t. Once you lose yourself in the rapid collection of your thoughts, you’ll pull back feeling a weight lifted from your shoulders. You’ll realize that everything that had concerned you in those moments that were just vented seconds ago were actually real. There for you to decode and “digress,” as I say. Its out, your free. Free from those emotions that once felt like they were going to take over and drag you down so low that there would be no way you could get up. The feelings where you felt like you just wanted to give everything up, just to use, now seem like foolish memories. You thank God they’re gone.

I recommend to everyone I meet to journal whenever they are bored, alone or confused. Sometimes I find myself coughing up broken sentences and take those opportunities to write poetry. They don’t always have to rhyme, you know. None of that it matters. You have to keep in mind that these entries are for no one other than yourself. Of course, if your proud of your creation you can always share it, barring in mind that not everyone can or will relate. I certainly keep that in my mind every time I post a blog that is actually written by myself. I have never been trained in the art of English, but I enjoy it. I know that not many people (or no one at all) will actually read the things I put out there. I don’t let that bother me. And you can’t let it bother you. Let any shred of doubt be transformed into emotional release. Because writing is like a form of meditation; you focus your thoughts on present, reflecting on the things you feel and the anxieties that are stressing your mind — then you breath— and let it go; one word at a time.

 

 

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Do Holistic Therapies Work for Addiction?

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“After posting so many blogs about holistic theories and their effects with addiction, disorders and diseases, its time I took another approach. Do they even work? What is the evidence that proves that they might? Here is an article from Psychology Today that briefly talks about it. The full article can be read by the link below.” -Love, Robyn
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No question about it – holistic therapies are “in” at addiction rehabs, particularly ones at the more elite end of the rehab spectrum. One of the ways that treatment facilities attempt to attend to the whole person and to individualize care is by providing such alternative treatments—sometimes called “complementary” or “integrative” therapies—including acupuncture, energy psychology, equine-assisted therapy, neurofeedback, psychodrama, Reiki, somatic experiencing, and massage therapy. Yet when I investigated scientifically sound approaches for helping people with addictions for my book,Inside Rehab, none of these holistic therapies surfaced.

Do these holistic interventions add to the quality of the rehab experience, increasing the chances of recovery from addiction? Could their benefit be in the user’s head—that is, just a placebo effect? Are they worth the added expense? Or could some of them pose harm?

Where’s the evidence? Some experts said that, in general, there’s no evidence that such holistic approaches are beneficial for addiction, nor that they’ll improve the odds of getting and staying sober, as suggested by a claim at a famous rehab’s website that holistic treatments have “proven” to be highly effective in improving recovery rates and preventing relapse. I asked Yale University psychologist Kathleen Carroll, PhD, whose careeris devoted to studying approaches most likely to help people with substance problems, to take a look at some of the testimonials I’d heard, as well as the “experiential/integrative” offerings of some high-end rehabs. Her reaction was, “There is no evidence base for experiential therapy—no randomized clinical trial, no evidence of help with addictions. It may feel great to get a massage or to let oneself cry, but none of that appears to lead to sustainable change. Although sometimes very important, simple expression of emotion alone has not been shown to be an effective ingredient in improving addictions or mood disorders, such as depression.” She added, “The other problem with these alternative therapies is that the providers are, essentially, making claims about effectiveness of unproved interventions and may be charging an insurance company or using public funds to do things like whack around nerf balls. Finally, time spent in alternative therapies is time not spent providing good quality, evidence-based treatment.”

Source: Psychology Today

Read more here!

The Truth About Addiction Triggers

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Earlier I read an article in Psychology Today outlining the so-called ‘truth’ about addiction triggers. The author, Lance Dodes M.D— after bashing current methods of treatment— begins to claim there is a simple recipe to cure the addicts darkest thoughts about using. He gives an example, a scenario of a triggered mind that applies the typical means of coping: distraction. This is something we are taught in most treatment centers and even in the rooms. Busying our heads with thoughts of consequences, positives of sobriety or just ‘surfing the wave’ (that is a common term used to describe a moment of craving that is observed as it passes) are all means of distraction. However, what Dodes suggests is not to look forward. Instead, he wants us to look back.

Reviewing what caused the trigger in the first place can better prepare us for future cravings. Basically, predicting the trigger before it happens. It sounds simple enough! So today I put it to the test. I thought back to every moment within this day and even this entire week where I felt a craving coming on. What had started it? What was I thinking, feeling or doing before my brain let out an intense sense of despair, longing for me to seek out a drug. I came up with this list:

  • I asked someone what drugs were prominent in the area I just moved to… Meth was the answer. I thought, “I have never tried meth before, I should find someone who has meth… Where can I find someone who has meth? I heard it like cocaine x2, I love cocaine!”
  • “I’m completely bored. I have some pills I can take. I’ve been avoiding those pills. No one will know. I’m so bored.”
  • “M.I.A is so amazing. Live fast die young, bad girls do it well! YOLO! Her new album is killer, I should listen to it soaring and take a walk down the highway.”
  • “Ooo. There is so much alcohol here. I bet they wouldn’t even notice if I took a bottle or two…”

As embarrassing as it was to see my thoughts so vulnerable to my feelings and surroundings, it certainly brought light to the facts that my cravings come in waves of curiosity, boredom, and grandiosity. I wasn’t surprised. I began to analyze myself even further, trying to connect these to the steps and the realization of your character defects.

An addicts curiosity stems from their first high. They like this feeling. They think, “what is this? Why do I feel this way? I wonder what other ways I can feel…” Personally, my curiosity goes all the way to questioning what reality is and if it even exists. I could go into all that, but I think you’d rather I didn’t.

Boredom is such an easy way to find a craving. It leads to so much more like isolation, negative thoughts and loss of motivation. When we find ourselves in this place, I find it best to have an escape route. Something that will surely keep you occupied and away from those triggers. Make a list of all the (sober) activities you can engage in while your alone. Heres a few off of mine:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Workout
  • Read (leisurely or texts from AA/NA/CA)
  • Journal
  • Call someone
  • Whatch netflix (put a damn timer on it though!)
  • Cook something complicated
  • Pamper yourself

As far as grandiosity, thats a tough one to break. When I first picked up smoking, I thought I was cool. Every time I snuck out of the house, I thought I was cool. When I stole drugs, I thought I was cool. All the times I did drugs by myself, I thought I was cool. It didn’t matter if no one knew or no one cared, in my mind… I was cool. Its hard to beat that feeling out of your brain! I managed to quite smoking cigarettes after just a short summer of doing it. I picked it up again to smoke cocaine in the most subtle way but I always hid it cause it smelled slightly and I didn’t want anyone to notice (because I hated to share). I dropped smoking cigarettes as my addiction traveled to something new but now that I’m sober, I’ve picked it back up. I have recognized the triggers to my smoking to be not only social but that need to feel cool. Whenever I watch a show or movie and someone is smoking, it seems so delicate yet subtly rebellious. I want to give that off. I want to be like them. Its a horrible way to go about things but I have to admit to my defects of character. I feel better than everyone (especially here in boo-foo Florida)! I think, “I’m from the Chicago, I’ve traveled halfway around the world, I’ve been crazy before, I’ve tripped and dipped in an assortment of illegal drugs, I break the law, I am cool…” Gosh, thats awful! Thats not the way to think! Thats not healthy! Thats grandiose (and a good sign of mania according to my psychologist)… but thats the way it goes.

Certain music or other forms of media can trigger these feelings. Even people that give off that badass aura can make me want to prove my own rebellious past. But its not about my ego is it? Its about my recovery and my sanity. Change the song or station and take pity on the addict that is still suffering. I try and think, it once was you, but you’ve moved on. You don’t have to be that person anymore and when I dig deep down, I really don’t want to. What did it bring me but shifty attitudes, false friendships and power hunger? Thats no good.

Dodes article does ring true to some extent. To another, we may end up seeing everything as a possible trigger and finding that that observation is, in and of itself, a trigger. I could go back and forth all day long, but I think its time for you to take these opinions and reflect upon them and yourself. Leave any comments below on what your triggers are, how their formed and what you do with them! Don’t forget to like our page on Facebook and invite your friends 🙂

– Love and Light, Robyn

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

Ittakesavillage

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