Tag Archives: family

I’ll be Home for Christmas by Markell Clay

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This is one of my favourite songs. Especially this year because I am not in Illinois to celebrate in the cold of the winter. I get teary eyed thinking about how I am not with some of the most supportive and caring people in my life on such of day of thanksgiving. I will miss them this holiday season but they are always in my heart.

Just for today, let’s stay clean for our families and friends. Through all the pain we’ve caused them, all the heart ache, all the dishonesty— they still found a way to love us and never gave up on us. They have faith in us to live a clean and sober life. Let’s make them proud this Christmas.

Lyrics:

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents ‘neath the tree

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
And you’ll be in my dreams

I’ll be home this Christmas, darling
I’ll be coming home to you
And there’s nothing in the world
Gonna get in my way

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow
And mistletoe
And presents ‘neath the tree

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
And you’ll be in my dreams
I’ll be home for Christmas
Till then you’ll be in my dreams

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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.

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

relationships

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.

The Streets of New York

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“This is a powerful collection of photos that truly reflect the outcome of drug use in on the streets of New York. While the pictures speak a thousand words, the accompanying descriptions shed more light on the individuals stories— although its more like a darkness. Chris Arnade is an inspirational photographer whose courage and curiosity drives him to meet hundreds of people who are suffering with addiction, poverty and what is typically seen as poor life decisions such as prostitution. You can visit his website to view more of his heart-breaking and thought-provoking work.” -Enjoy, Robyn

Chris

Chris

Chris Bishop was drinking in front of a liquor store when we met. A resident in the local homeless shelter, he told me the following: At the age of 13, Chris killed his father, stabbing him with a knife after a childhood of abuse. He spent the next 18 years in correctional facilities. ‘When he was drunk and mad he would hold me out the apartment window and threaten to drop me to the street, eight floors below. He beat me and my mother all the time. I have been drinking ever since. To forget.’ When I asked how he wanted to be described, his eyes teared up and he said, ‘I am human, like everyone else.

Vanessa

Vanessa

Vanessa, 35, had three children with an abusive husband. She ‘lost her mind, started doing heroin,’ after losing the children, who were taken away and given to her mother. The drugs led to homelessness and prostitution. She grew up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, but now spends her time in Hunts Point, ‘trying to survive every day. Just doing whatever it takes.’ She was standing on the cold street corner looking for business, wearing only flip flops and smoking with her two friends. When I asked her how she wanted to be described, Mary Alice jumped in and said, ‘She’s the sweetest woman I know. She will give you the shirt off her back, if she has one on.

Beauty

Beauty

“Beauty, 21, was born and raised in Oklahoma, and was brought to New York City by a pimp who promised her she could ‘make some mad money.’ She has since had nine pimps. ‘I have been through nine nigg*s. Got my first black eye from one, another punched me in mouth, but this guy is good to me.’ Her mother was an addict. ‘She started using crack. That’s when it all started, the walls started coming in on me. Now she is incarcerated. I can’t blame my mom, she’s my mom. I smoke weed, but not crack. I don’t like that peppermint burning smell. I want to get out of this stuff, but I am scared. I guess I could stop at any time. Some of the guys tell me I could be a model. Money wise it’s good, but otherwise, fuck Hunts Point. Maybe I can become an RN, or go into childcare.’ When I asked her how she wanted to be described, she said, ‘I’m a good person. I don’t like to see anyone down. I like to make people happy.'”

Luis

Luis

“I call him Luis, but I am not sure. Luis is unable to do more than mutter a few words, often breaking down in tears. He refuses to go to the local shelter or methadone clinic, sleeping instead in various spots, spending his waking hours bumming cigarettes and panhandling in front of bodegas. I worry that my pictures put a happy face on addiction. Photos cannot capture the pain, suffering, and destruction wrought by heroin, crack or in this case, whiskey. Sometimes it requires smoking a cigarette with a sobbing incoherent drunk to truly remind you what loneliness and addiction can do.”

Clarence

Clarence

“The ‘brickyard’ is a vacant lot on an otherwise industrial side street in Hunts Point. It’s where many of the local addicts spend their time, gossiping and smoking. They bring their carts filled with what they can collect to sell to the adjacent scrap metal shops. It’s where I found Clarence, who has lived for 40 years in Hunts Point since moving from North Carolina as a teenager. I spoke with Clarence, a former truck driver, for a long time. He told me all that his addiction has wrought: job loss, homelessness, health problems. Never once did he sound angry, bitter, or depressed.”

Sonya

Sonya

“Sonya lives on the top floor of an abandoned building with her husband of ten years Eric. They left Rhode Island in pursuit of drugs, settling in Hunts Point five years ago. Eric said, ‘This is the only reason me and Sonya are in Hunts Point, because this is literally right now the best heroin in all of New York City.’ Sonya left her husband and family after being turned on to heroin by Eric. ‘I wasn’t addicted to drugs until my 30s. Before then, I was a normal person, meaning I wasn’t a fucking junkie. I lived in Rhode Island and had a family. I was a soccer mom. I always kind of knew I was a heroin addict. I always knew not to fuck with heroin. I always knew it was the drug for me. It just makes you feel good. And when you’re feeling bad, having a magic button is kind of a great thing. Unfortunately the magic button is also a stupid button because it comes with a lot of consequences. I am happier in some ways than I’ve ever been in my life. But I’ve lost so many things. I want to get out of my addiction but in some ways it’s made me grow a lot. And I think I know now how to live more than I ever have.'”

Supreme

Supreme

“Supreme saw me taking pictures and asked to be photographed with his dog Obama (yes, Obama). I asked him why he was giving the camera the finger, he said, ‘Thats for people judging who I am.’ I said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘A doped up junkie.’ I told him I post the pictures online and write a short description. He said, ‘I ain’t mind people knowing what I do or who I am. Its me.’ Supreme and I chatted awhile more; despite the finger he was happy to talk.”

Egypt

Egypt

“Egypt, 38 and homeless, was 14 when her mother, an addict and prostitute, put her out on the streets. She has been working the streets, in the Bronx, addicted to heroin and crack, much of the time since. While telling me her story, she started crying. She was high, having just shot crack. ‘Mix it with lemon juice. If you do it with water you will be fucked up. Abscess, dead.’ She noticed a beat up alley cat wandering. ‘That cat’s how I feel. I really do. I didn’t come out here to fucking cry. See, that cat needs a hug. I get that. He wants somebody to love him. Saying, ‘Don’t touch that,’ is like saying not to touch me.” I apologized for making her cry. She said, ‘I didn’t cry. There’s no time for crying out here. If you cry, you’re a pussy, and you can’t let them do that to you. You can’t let them see you cry. You can’t show your weakness. I’m a cancer. You scrape us off and we come right back. But we’re curable. It’s only as hard as you make it. If you think you can change, if you know you can change, you can. If you set your mind to something, that’s what’s going to happen. You have to want it. You can’t have someone else want it for you.'” Original Images and Descriptions by Chris Arnade.

How Mental Illness and Addiction Influence Each Other

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Many addicts struggle with mental disorders. I myself struggle with bipolar one and it is the cause of much of my use (read my journals for more personal accounts). Using drugs to defeat things like that or depression and anxiety most often make things worse. It can further offset the symptoms despite the immediate satisfaction. Its important to see a psychologist, being as honest as you can, to seek proper treatment. I have found that treating my illness with prescription drugs has controlled my mental/emotional state far better than any illegal substance I have ever used. The effects are long-term and with the help of medial professionals, I am able to stay sober and sane.” – Love, Robyn

There is a complex relationship between addiction, such as alcoholism, and mental illness. Treatment needs to focus on both conditions at the same time, once the right diagnoses have been made. 

The complexities of mental illness are often compounded by drug and alcohol abuse, making it a challenge to get the right diagnoses and treatment for both.

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: A “Complex Dance”
“Mental illness and alcoholism or drug abuse interact in a complex dance, “says James Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and research scientist at UNC’s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. “Mental illnesses can increase the risk for alcoholism or drug abuse, sometimes because of self-medicating. On the other hand, alcoholism can lead to significant anxiety and depression that may appear indistinguishable from a mental illness. Finally, one disorder can be worse than the other.”

According to Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction psychiatrist at New York University in New York City, “Alcoholism and drug abuse addictions and other psychiatric disorders often occur at the same time. However, they are distinct disorders that must be treated as such in order to get a good outcome for the patient.”

Rorschach Test Smoke

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: Likely Conditions
Certain mental conditions are frequently associated with alcohol and drug dependency. They include:

  • Depression. In some cases, individuals may start to abuse a substance to mask the symptoms of depression. Female substance abusers are particularly likely to have depression, but it also occurs in male substance abusers.
  • Bipolar disorder. Those with bipolar disorder — a condition that causes alternating cycles of depression and an abnormally elevated mood — may attempt to smooth out mood swings with alcohol.
  • Anxiety. Alcohol abuse is more common in both men and women with anxiety disorders.
  • Schizophrenia. Psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, may lead to substance abuse as a way to ease the distress that these symptoms can cause.

Those with a mental disorder may also be less inhibited and more likely to show risk-taking behavior — like buying and using illegal drugs or drinking to excess — that could quickly lead to alcohol or drug abuse. “Individuals with a mental disorder could have impaired judgment and consume higher amounts of a drug or alcohol, says Dr. Garbutt.”

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: Underlying Causes 
There are also other factors that could explain the frequent simultaneous occurrence of addiction and mental illness, including:

  • Genetics. Genetic factors seem to account for some of the co-morbidity (having both disorders at the same time) of substance abuse and mental disorders. Studies comparing identical and fraternal twins found more instances of having two disorders among the identical twins, indicating that genetics likely play some role.
  • Chemical deficiency. Neuro-chemical factors were also found to be a common thread when mental disorders and addiction occur together. A reduction in the amount of serotonin, a chemical critical to brain functioning, may be the reason that alcoholism and anxiety disorders coincide so often. There is also evidence that addiction and mental disorders are associated with the dysfunction of a group of brain chemicals called monoamine oxidases.
  • Shared environment. Studies surrounding twins also showed that environment plays a major role in having both a substance abuse problem and another mental disorder.

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: What Is the Exact Relationship?
The answer is not entirely clear, but the connection works both ways. People with alcohol and drug addictions tend to develop mental illnesses. People with certain mental illnesses tend to develop substance abuse problems.

“Fifty percent of those with an addictive disorder will have a psychiatric disorder. And for those who have a psychiatric disorder, about 20 percent have an addiction problem,” says Dr. Gilman.

That number is even higher in those with certain mental conditions. “A variety of mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, antisocial personality disorder [characterized by a lack of empathy toward other people], anxiety, sleep disorders, or depression, increase the risk of addiction. Those with the highest risk of addiction have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia — up to 50 percent [of people with these conditions] can have an addiction,” says Garbutt.

Researchers don’t yet know exactly why people with these particular disorders are at an increased risk for addiction, says Garbutt, but it has been noted that:

  • Abruptly stopping alcohol intake can lead to withdrawal symptoms — including hallucinations — that may look just like schizophrenic symptoms.
  • Alcoholism and drug abuse can cause changes in the brain, sometimes leading to changes in personality and mental disorders.
  • Alcoholics of both genders frequently suffer depression and anxiety disorders, while men are more likely to exhibit antisocial personality disorder than non-abusers of alcohol.

Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: Treating Two Sets of Symptoms
According to Gilman, “It is very important, but often difficult, to distinguish which symptoms are psychiatric and which are addictive. A person must be substance-free for a period of at least two weeks in order to tease apart the various symptoms.”

“Clinically speaking, you have to treat the addiction and the psychological symptoms at the same time. Misdiagnosis, and therefore under-treatment, is common, such as when an alcohol addiction is masking bipolar disorder,” says Garbutt.

Garbutt and Gilman both believe that treating an addiction and a mental illness at the same time is possible, and when you treat them together you can begin the process of unraveling the underlying causes of each.

By Linda Foster, MA from Everyday Health
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Must Read: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

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“Ever since I saw the series of Orange is the New Black on Netflix before I went to rehab, I had recommended it to all the girls I had met that had been in jail. After hearing their experiences of being locked up in prison for months or years, I knew this was something they could relate to. I find that when we can relate to something, we feel less alone, less of a need to isolate. Things of our past no longer seem so daunting. Instead they appear as experiences that have only made us stronger. Piper might not have been a heroin addict but in her time spent behind bars, she met many and could sympathize with most every woman she that came into her life during her year sentence. I found this book to be heartbreaking yet hilarious. Opening my eyes to a rock bottom I hope to never hit! Below is a summary and make sure you watch the series too, you won’t be disappointed!” -Love and light, Robyn

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In 1998, Piper Kerman was working as a freelance producer in New York City and living a peaceful life with her magazine editor boyfriend, Larry. When two police officers arrived at their door one morning, Kerman assumed it must have something to do with the apartment building. In fact, they were there to arrest her on conspiracy drug charges related to her role in a heroin trafficking ring several years earlier.

At the time of her arrest, Kerman’s family, friends and boyfriend had no idea about her criminal past. Despite their assurances that a “nice blond lady” would never do time, Kerman ultimately served eleven months at the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a memoir ensued. The result is a perceptive, if imperfect inside look at our criminal justice system and the women who cycle through it.

Kerman begins by describing how, in 1992, she found herself a recent Smith College graduate from a good Boston family “with a thirst for bohemian counterculture and no clear plan.” She stuck around her college town waiting tables and soon began dating an older woman named Nora, who revealed on their first date that she was part of an international heroin trafficking network. While this disclosure may have prompted a “Check, please!” from your average gal, a young Kerman found it “exciting beyond belief.”

She spent the next four months traveling the world on heroin-smuggling missions with Nora and her crew: Hanging out in Bali beach clubs, wandering through Paris, and transporting drug money (but never actual drugs), before realizing that she was getting in too deep and breaking all ties. When Kerman reflects on this time, she seems unwilling or unable to explore her motivations, and more often resorts to describing her lifestyle in list form. A typical recollection: “We worked, we threw parties, we went skinny-dipping or sledding, we fucked, sometimes we fell in love. We got tattoos.”

In contrast, her depiction of arriving at the prison in 2004—saying goodbye to Larry, surrendering all her possessions—is poignant and thoroughly-rendered. If the author seems hard to relate to in her wild-child days, empathy abounds as she skillfully describes her sense of terror upon losing all freedom.

Contrary to her fears, most of her fellow inmates approach her with warmth and concern. Descriptions of their small acts of kindness are remarkably touching. When one woman shares a commissary root beer float that Kerman has not yet been approved to buy for herself, you feel so vicariously grateful that she may as well have given Kerman a kidney.

The author is soon showing newbies the ropes, helping her fellow inmates with schoolwork, and lending them books. (Unlike most women at Danbury, she receives a steady stream of mail and reading material from family and friends.)

She learns that prison life is sometimes brutal (guards sexually abuse inmates with impunity), often humiliating (the women are subject to strip searches at any time), and generally tedious. Still, deep friendships spring up; surrogate mother-daughter relationships are cultivated. The inmates throw birthday parties, complete with inspired microwave creations. (Kerman’s specialty is prison cheesecake. She supplies the recipe, which calls for a whole container of coffee creamer and nearly an entire bottle of lemon juice.)

Kerman excels at chronicling the other women and their struggles, from teenagers doing time for drug-related crimes to a 69-year-old nun in jail for trespassing as part of a peaceful protest at a missile silo. In one haunting scene, inmates are briefly reunited with their children for a field day—the separation afterward is brutal, and Kerman weeps. At another point, Kerman grieves over the fact that some inmates are actually afraid to leave prison because their neighborhoods are “more desperate and dangerous than jails.”

She is less successful at talking about herself. Occasionally, she opens up, and these moments are powerful. But, a public relations executive by trade, Kerman is often frustratingly careful, polite. She paints nearly everyone pretty rosily and without much nuance.

Everyone, that is, except “The Fed.” Interwoven with the women’s stories are facts about the War on Drugs, with which Kerman makes no effort to hide her anger and bafflement. While acknowledging her privileged background, Kerman never fully dispels the reader’s discomfort when she more or less conflates her own case with those of the majority of the women around her. Drug use has wreaked havoc on so many of their lives, a fact that ultimately makes Kerman aware of “the people who suffered because of what people like me had done.”

Though certain aspects of her own story never quite seem resolved, her sympathetic portraits of these people stay with you long after the book is through.

Summary from Chicago Tribune by J. Courtney Sullivan

Red Cave by Yeasayer

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Yeasayer is not one of the first bands I would pinpoint for recovery. Given their lucid sounds and trippy vibe… Yet while I was listening to them the other day, this song came on. I had simply forgotten about and it wasn’t until this moment that I could truly appreciate what they were saying.
In the song they sing about is about being guided by some higher power who ends up bringing them up when they were going further and further down. They then go one repeating the same versus several times about the love of life and their support. Its kind mantra-like… Just give it a go!

Lyrics:

I went out past the willow and the well
caught my breath upon the hill
at the edge of the domain

and I went down
and further down
and when I got up,
I’m at the red cave

and with that sound
as if I had been put under a spell
she led me to her abode
despite a winter’s day

Mary’s house in the hollow of the
white hazel rapid whirlpool
and the church of hurricane

I’m so blessed to
have spent that time
with my family and the friends
I love with my short life I have met
so many people I deeply care for

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 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.

Addiction and the Role of Family History

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Addiction is due 50 percent to genetic predisposition and 50 percent to poor coping skills.This has been confirmed by numerous studies. One study looked at 861 identical twin pairs and 653 fraternal (non-identical) twin pairs. When one identical twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin had a high probability of being addicted. But when one non-identical twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin did not necessarily have an addiction. Based on the differences between the identical and non-identical twins, the study showed 50-60% of addiction is due to genetic factors.(1) Those numbers have been confirmed by other studies.(2)

The children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction. One study looked at 231 people who were diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction, and compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Then it looked at the first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) of those people. It discovered that if a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, the child had an 8 times greater chance of developing an addiction.(3)

Why are there genes for addiction? We all have the genetic predisposition for addiction because there is an evolutionary advantage to that. When an animal eats a certain food that it likes, there is an advantage to associating pleasure with that food so that the animal will look for that food in the future. In other words the potential for addiction is hardwired into our brain. Everyone has eaten too much of their favorite food even though they knew it wasn’t good for them.

Although everyone has the potential for addiction, some people are more predisposed to addiction than others. Some people drink alcoholically from the beginning. Other people start out as a moderate drinker and then become alcoholics later on. How does that happen?

Repeatedly abusing drugs or alcohol permanently rewires your brain. If you start out with a low genetic predisposition for addiction, you can still end up with an addiction. If you repeatedly abuse drugs or alcohol because of poor coping skills, then you’ll permanently rewire your brain. Every time you abuse alcohol, you’ll strengthen the wiring associated with drinking, and you’ll chase that buzz even more. The more you chase the effect of alcohol, the greater your chance of eventually developing an addiction.

Your genes are not your destiny. The 50% of addiction that is caused by poor coping skills is where you can make a difference. Lots of people have come from addicted families but managed to overcome their family history and live happy lives. You can use this opportunity to change your life. (Reference: www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)

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What Is Your Family History?

Most people don’t know their family history of addiction very well. Addiction is not the sort of thing that most families talk about. Not too long ago you could have a raging alcoholic in your family and nobody would talk about it. Or they would make some quaint remark like, “Oh he drinks a little too much.” There was so little people could do about addiction before that there was no point in talking about it.

But now that you can do something about addiction, a family history is worth talking about. Once you stop using and tell your family that you’re in recovery, that’s often when they will tell you about the family secrets. That’s when family members will sometimes come out of the closet and tell you their stories.

Let your coping skills be the legacy you pass on to your children. Don’t let your genes be the only legacy you pass on to your children. Your children are more likely to have an addiction because of your addiction. But their genes don’t have to be their destiny. You can help your children lead happy lives by teaching them healthy coping skills – by being an example with your recovery.

Is Addiction a Disease?

Addiction is like most major diseases. Consider heart disease, the leading cause of death in the developed world. It’s partly due to genes and partly due to poor life style choices such as bad diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. The same is true for other common diseases like adult-onset diabetes. Many forms of cancers are due to a combination of genes and life style. But if your doctor said that you had diabetes or heart disease, you wouldn’t think you were bad person. You would think, “What can I do to overcome this disease?” That is how you should approach addiction.

Addiction is not a weakness. The fact that addiction crosses all socio-economic boundaries confirms that addiction is a disease. People who don’t know about addiction will tell you that you just need to be stronger to control your use. But if that was true then only unsuccessful people or unmotivated people would have an addiction, and yet 10% of high-functioning executives have an addiction.

If you think of addiction as a weakness, you’ll paint yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of. You’ll focus on being stronger and trying to control your use, instead of treating addiction like a disease and focusing on stopping your use.

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Cross Addiction

You can become addicted to any drug, if you have a family history of addiction. If at least one of your family members is addicted to alcohol, you have a greater chance of developing an addiction to any other drug. Cross addiction occurs because all addictions work in the same part of the brain. If your brain is wired so that you’re predisposed to one addiction, then you’re predisposed to all addictions.

This is especially important for women who may come from alcoholic families, but who often develop addictions that go undetected, like addictions to tranquilizers, pain relievers, or eating disorders.

One addiction can lead to other addictions, and one drug can make you relapse on another drug. That’s one of the consequences of a brain that’s wired for addiction. Suppose you’re addicted to cocaine. If you want to stop using cocaine then you have to stop using all addictive drugs including alcohol and marijuana. You may never have had a problem with either of them, but if you continue to use alcohol or marijuana, even casually, they’ll eventually lead you back to your drug of choice. Recovery requires total abstinence.

How does cross addiction cause relapse:

  1. All addictions work in the same part of the brain. Addiction is addiction is addiction. Therefore one drug can lead you back to any other drug.
  2. Even moderate drinking or smoking marijuana lowers your inhibitions, which makes it harder for you to make the right choices.
  3. If you stop using your drug of choice but continue to use alcohol or marijuana, you’re saying that you don’t want to learn new coping skills and that you don’t want to change your life. You’re saying that you want to continue to rely on drugs or alcohol to escape, relax, and reward yourself. But if you don’t learn those new skills, then you won’t have changed, and your addiction will catch up with you all over again.

(Reference: www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)