Tag Archives: recovering

Must Read: Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg

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“One of my friends from AA has read this book and often suggests it for recovering male addicts. Its a great book for newly recovering addicts that have once built themselves a productive life only to see it crashing down under the peak of their disease. He doesn’t sugar coat anything, many reviews speak of his brutal honesty and graphic descriptions… but something about that is incredibly refreshing in the world of addiction. Tell me for yourself what you thought of this book!” -Love, Robyn

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Successfully Surrendering It All to Crack

By Dwight Garner, June 15, 2010

There are two kinds of crack addicts, those who cook their own — a complicated business that involves cocaine, baking soda, water and a flame — and those who grab the stuff to go, in ready-made chunks called rocks. Most people go for the rocks. Even when it comes to killing yourself, slowly and gruesomely, who has time to cook anymore?

In his memoir, “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man,” Bill Clegg describes the few times he tried to prepare his own crack. “I wasted the coke, burned my hands, and ended up with a wet glob that was barely smokable,” he writes. He’s not quite Woody Allen, sneezing into the cocaine in “Annie Hall.” But he’s not far off.

Whatever black comedy there is in Mr. Clegg’s book dwindles pretty quickly. “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” is a mesmerizing bummer; reading it is like letting the needle down on a Nick Drake album. He tells his story in short, atmospheric paragraphs, each separated by white space, each its own strobe-lighted snapshot of decadent poetic memory. It’s an earnest style that mostly works. This is a short book that pulls you in and spits you back out before you have time to tire of it.

Mr. Clegg is a literary agent in New York City, but don’t come to his book sniffing for publishing gossip. There are no party scenes with Sonny Mehta. Ann Godoff does not leap naked into a swimming pool. The discreet Mr. Clegg doesn’t even mention the names of the writers he represents or, frankly, many books at all. If he’s well read, that’s among the few secrets he’s keeping to himself.

What this book does have — grim scenes in a crack house and behind a 7-Eleven in Newark aside — is an elite, stylized Manhattan milieu. There are meals at La Grenouille and drinks at the Bemelmans Bar. Among the boutique hotels Mr. Clegg holes up in to get high or have sex with anonymous men are the SoHo Grand and the Hotel Gansevoort. There are trips to Paris and London. This isn’t flea-bitten Bukowski territory.

Adding to the book’s sexpot glamour is Mr. Clegg himself, who in his dust jacket photograph, and especially in two recent full-page photos in New York magazine, seems as clear-eyed and clean-cut as a J. Crew catalog model. Glancing at a faded pile of recent addiction memoirs, here’s a salient truth: No one wants to read one of these things by a grizzled or potato-shaped or even middle-aged writer. We want our addiction memoirists to nearly die young and definitely stay pretty. Maybe that’s why, in bulk, these books aren’t better.

“Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” is the story of how Mr. Clegg lost it all — his clients, his apartment, his loyal boyfriend, his sanity — one crack hit at a time. It’s a story that ranges over several years but finds its dramatic center of gravity during one especially dark two-month binge, during which Mr. Clegg manages to fritter away some $70,000 on crack and Ketel One vodka and on the elegant hotel rooms he often shares with greasy characters, including male hookers. He picks up a cabdriver by asking, “Do you party?”

This story is told in the present tense, alongside flashbacks to Mr. Clegg’s childhood in Connecticut. His father was a pilot for TWA, and not a warm and fuzzy guy; his mother wasn’t much more approachable. He doesn’t really blame them for his addiction, however, nor for his dramatic inability, as a boy, to urinate without first spending hours alone in the bathroom performing a desperate kind of rain dance.

What drove Mr. Clegg to crack? Mostly, it seems, it was a common-enough big city and publishing world malady: the towering inferiority complex. This memoir is laced with lines like, “This is a place for a sleeker, smarter, better-educated, and altogether finer grade of person.” And: “I am not nearly as bright or well read or business savvy or connected as I think people imagine me to be.”

Before insecurity could fully take root, however, there were other addict-in-training milestones. Sneaking Scotch, as a teenager, from his dad’s liquor cabinet. Snorting a line of crystal meth at 15 — his first illegal drug — off a box of mozzarella sticks with a grocery store co-worker named Max. Smoking pot daily, bales of it, in college.

Mr. Clegg was introduced to crack by an older married man from his hometown, a respected lawyer who also seduced him sexually. Here is Mr. Clegg on that first taste of crack: “It is the warmest, most tender caress he has ever felt and then, as it recedes, the coldest hand.”

Among the reasons to stick with “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” is the lightly narcotized sensorium of Mr. Clegg’s prose. He nails the “weary authority” of the Empire State Building, with its “shoulders of colored light.” He describes swaying in time, while high, with another addict, the pair of them “like two underwater weeds bending to the same current.” He can write.

Stick with it, too, for its second half, which is thick with jittery drug-induced paranoia. (Mr. Clegg begins to think cabs and helicopters are following him, as well as guys in — the horror — cheap off-the-rack suits.) Along the way you’ll learn some things. Who knew that crack use made your contact lenses dry out, so that they pop right off your eyes?

At one point, Mr. Clegg hops into a cab and orders it to race away from his family, who’ve gathered to stage an intervention. As he roars off, he thinks to himself, “Like so many other moments, this one feels lifted from an after-school special or ‘Bright Lights, Big City.’ ”

Actually, his memoir doesn’t read much like either one of those things. But the first sentence of “Bright Lights, Big City” certainly captures the mood Mr. Clegg works to set: “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time in the morning.”

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Running in and Racing for Recovery

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9 Reasons Recovering Addicts Turn to Running for Their New High

 

Running Down a Natural High Proves to Keep Addicts and Alcoholics Steps Ahead of Their Addiction

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Every one has a story of triumph, but for some of these runners, this story is a battle over addiction. They run the marathon with demons nipping at their heels.

Why are there so many in recovery from addiction who turn to running as their new high? What does running offer them? Here is a list of nine reasons that running is particularly helpful to an alcoholic or addict looking to experience the rewards of a sober life.

1. You only get what you give. Distance running by its nature lends itself to the addictive personality, if there is such a thing, of rewarding those who blast past barriers. It not only rewards but demands the obsessive brain, the kind who go to a $5 “all you can drink” keg party and ask for $10 worth. It’s the metaphorical potato chip that, once it’s on your taste buds, lights up something deeper within you that craves for more.

Yes, addicts can be cowards, immature, fragile, obnoxious, and so on (it’s an ‘in’ group thing, so I can get away with saying that) but lazy is one thing they are not. Maybe lazy when it comes to responsibilities, sure, but not lazy when it comes to getting what they want. There is nothing more industrious, more creative, or more persistent than an addict trying to get high. Waking up with unexplained bumps and bruises, not a penny to your name, barely able to see through blood shot eyes, vomit ready to project out of you at any moment, and afraid to make eye contact with another human being. Yet still, an addict is pulled by powerful forces to will themselves out of bed, get out the door, scrounge up some money in some creative (albeit often times illegal) ways, and travel as long as it takes to get what they want.

You think a bit of muscle pain or discomfort is going to stop us from hitting the road and taking a run? No way.

2. Spirituality. Running can provide the needed spiritual awakening to help an addict stay sober. Running just seems to make all of your atoms spin a bit faster, unearths previously hidden parts of yourself, and allows a connection with something deeper. Yes, this is partly due to the physical explosions of endorphins and cannabinoids, but the result is an overall sense of well-being and feeling of peace with your place in the universe.

Compare this spiritual awaking with the spiritual despair of the last stages of addiction. As the consequences of addiction escalate, a loss of meaning to live is often the result. That is why spirituality is crucial to recovery.

They say religion is for those who don’t want to go to hell, but spirituality is for those who have been to hell and don’t want to go back. Running and facing the challenge of pushing yourself to physical extremes provides a sense of harrowing hell and then ascending. It’s the biblical notion of a descent, and then ascending to, yes, feeling like you are sitting on the right hand of God at the finish. During some euphoric moments of a run, I feel fully connected to the universe, doubts of a higher power are erased, and I understand my place in the universe at these moments. And it’s pretty darn beautiful.

By the way, if you subscribe to or read the 12 steps of AA, spirituality is the whole reason you work the first 11. The steps say not a word about staying sober, they only speak to having a spiritual awakening. Once you experience the thrill of such an awakening, the despair of using would taste too bitter to go back to.

3. A solitary pursuit in a communal environment. Solitary and communal — running is both of these. It offers alone time and an inner exploration unlike none other. Paraphrasing Joseph Conrad from the Heart of Darkness: “I run as I dream – alone.” Yet the communal nature of a group run, and even more so, starting a marathon with 40,000 other runners, and then seeing them near the end, at mile 23, is a feeling of primitive yet transcendent connection. We are all psychically connected in those moments, and the primal nature of the event has stripped down the artificial barriers between us. The feeling of being one with others around me during these moments is not unlike using psychedelics.

4. Keeping an edge. When you are using, sober life seems so boring and like a curse. Of course, once you get sober, you realize there is not enough time in the day to do all the things you want to do. But, you still need an edge, and despite the stereotypical geeky cross country runner in high school, runners have an edge since their brain and heart go to some unique places, and discomfort becomes a whole new comfort zone. Drunken wasted exploits are replaced by stories of amazing workouts. A strung out addict is a sad, silly cliché, where as the ultra-marathoning tattooed-up runner doing 80 miles a week with self-made body armor of muscle is truly one who lives on the edge.

5. Emotions and expressing them. Most addicts are emotionally stunted. We can’t express fear or joy or insecurity or talk about things. But running, even though it isn’t verbal, has always been an expression of feelings for me. There is nothing that vents rage and anger like a good set of intervals. Nothing. And nothing that provides a sense of joy as a nice 10-mile trail run. Running brings me to an emotional catharsis such that I cry at the end of every marathon. It both expresses emotions and polishes them up. Witness the end of any marathon, and you’ll see the spectrum of emotions squeezed out of every human who makes it across the finish.

6. Health. Our bodies are pretty ravaged and have been punished by too much and not enough, so running is one way to start being good to them.

7. Ego-maniacs with an inferiority complex. Yes, we’ve done some rotten things, sacrificed our ethics and made choices that are shameful, so in order to live with ourselves, we tend to have inflated our ego and lied to ourselves about who we really are in order get by. The worse we became, the more lies we had to feed ourselves about who we really were, and this usually means artificially building ourselves up. But deep in our heart we feel less than, inferior, scared of others since we’ve always felt they had some secret gene that made them know how to live in ways we never learned. Inside the haughty ego is a core of shame and worthlessness.

Running balances this out. It checks your ego since there is always, always somebody faster – and you will always be humbled by a run. Yet you feel incredibly triumphant inside, and never inferior because you have conquered, you are a warrior now, you run like a beast and have found new strength and new hope.

8. You’re good enough, You’re strong enough, and God dang it, God loves you. This seems so Stuart Smalley, but running makes us face ourselves, prove ourselves, and every time we win one of those little battles—either to get out the door and put in a few miles, to hit a certain mileage split, or to qualify for the Boston Marathon—it affirms our existence. We’ve stared into our selves, listen to the voices of doubts and self-fears, but heeded naught yet instead responded to something higher.

9. The persistent need to get high. The bottom line is this: A recovering addict still needs to get high, The difference is that one form of getting high is cheap, is killing you, will hurt your loved ones, and is not going to work anymore; the other will bring you to a higher place of your higher self. Yes, I still want to chase the dragon down, sometimes catch it, ride aboard and soar above my existence for a while, but I would also like to return from the ride in a better spot. Drugs and alcohol never did this, but the highs through running often provide what the addict was truly looking for in the first place: physical strength, emotional expression, spiritual well-being, and a deeper connection with oneself and others. Recovering addicts are just on a different side of the “getting high” Yin-Yang.

Check out how you can get started running today and set a goal to race. Racing for Recovery offers a range of help in this area including but not limited to counseling and training. They even have speakers that work all around the US to help promote conscious recovery from addiction through exercise and holistic health. Check out more information below! – Love, Robyn

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Racing for Recovery™ is a federally approved 501 c 3 non-profit organization.

Founded by Todd Crandell in 2001, Racing for Recovery works to save lives and improve the quality of life for addicts and their friends and family by promoting a lifestyle of health, fitness and sobriety.

Our mission is achieved by offering individuals and their families the opportunity to participate in one-on-one or group counseling services provided by Professional Counselor (PC) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC III), Todd Crandell; free support group meetings that are open to anyone effected by addiction; Team Racing for Recovery, an online community support system; as well as in real-time social media conversations on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Our annual events include a 5K/10 Run/Walk and a USAT sanctioned Half Triathlon. These signatureevents bring together struggling and recovering addicts, family, friends, volunteers, everyday athletes, sponsors, donors, supporters and the entire community to enjoy the outdoors, get fresh air, exercise and see that, “With Sobriety, Anything is Possible.”

Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia

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This is a really great song that is so uplifting, especially in those time when you feel like giving up. It’s all about strength and courage. The video is a little odd in my opinion. At first I thought the kid was a serial shooter like we see from time to time in the news… But he’s not. You can give it a watch but I seriously suggest just giving it a listen and reading along with the lyrics.

Lyrics:

You shouted out
But I can’t hear a word you say
I’m talking loud not saying much
I’m criticized but all your bullets ricochet
You shoot me down, but I get up
I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
Cut me down
But it’s you who’ll have further to fall
Ghost town and haunted love
Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones
I’m talking loud not saying much
I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
I am titanium
I am titanium
Stone-hard, machine gun
Firing at the ones who run
Stone-hard as bulletproof glass
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
I am titanium

Why Do Recovering Addicts Crave Sugar?

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Maybe recovering addicts, like the rest of us, reach for sugary foods and drinks because they make us feel good. Think about it: it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you’re at work and tired so you reach for a soda, candy bar, donut, or something else loaded with sugar.

Why do we crave sugar? What can we do to avoid it?

Blood sugar levels have an effect on our mood, energy level, and cravings for sugary foods. Sugar gives us energy and releases the chemical dopamine which is also called the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Recovering addicts increased dopamine with their drug of choice. But now that they no longer have the drug they are substituting sugar to get that high. If, for example, alcohol was your drug of choice, it is very high in sugar. Therefore, turning to sugar is an easy and cheap way for a recovering alcoholic to increase their blood sugar level and dopamine, and to chase that high. You will even see someone who is trying to cut down on their drinking substitute it with sugar, often starting in the morning with sugary drinks and using sugar in a similar way that they used alcohol.

The high that is produced from sugar is very short lived and usually followed by, what some people call, a “sugar crash”. The person physically feels worse, continues to crave sugar, and eat sugary foods. This is very similar to how someone craves their drug of choice.  Over time, just like with their drug of choice, the person will need more sugar to get the same “high”.

The most important part of recovery is to stay sober, but maintaining a healthy diet can also help you be more successful in your recovery as well as your work and life.  If you eat sugary foods or drink sugary drinks your blood sugar will rise and fall more rapidly than if you eat protein. Think about how you feel after you eat a couple of cookies compared to how you feel after you eat a turkey sandwich. If you eat a lot of sugar you may feel more agitated, depressed, or anxious, which can lead to relapse. When you feel good it is easier to overcome cravings, especially in early recovery.  Keeping your blood sugar level as consistent as possible by eating a healthy, balanced diet will minimize mood swings and can help you be successful in your recovery.