Category Archives: Addiction

Loving an Addict Means Learning Self-Control Over the Powerlessness

613445810_2249c2d193_z“Don’t evaluate your life in terms of achievements, trivial or monumental, along the way.  If you do, you will be destined to the frustration of always seeking out other destinations, and never allowing yourself actually to be fulfilled…Instead, wake up and appreciate everything you encounter along your path. Enjoy the flowers that are there for your pleasure.  Tune in to the sunrise, the little children, the laughter, the rain and the birds.  Drink it all in…Drink it all in…there is no way to happiness; happiness IS the way.”                                         Wayne Dyer

1.  Parent 2 Parent: Another ER Visit!

“I wasn’t going to open the letter but couldn’t stop myself. I did receive another letter from an attorney indicating my son has another pending arrest warrant. I am proud of myself for not going online and checking for outstanding warrants etc.”

“In addition, I have noticed that I have not been receiving any messages from friends telling me how sick my son looks. I am pleased I don’t get those calls but it also indicates he is avoiding them which also indicates a past pattern of his chronic addiction.”

“After seventeen years of watching his addiction in action I can usually predict when he will reach his bottom. If he doesn’t end up in jail or the hospital he will seek a homeless shelter; perhaps another try with the Salvation Army ARC program. He’ll appear to be doing good and will convince me and others, including himself, that this time he is through with drugs. Then within nine months he will relapse. His disease is so predictable.”

“Of course, I know that He is in God’s hand and recovery is possible for anyone, even my son!”

“In prayer for my son and your child also.”

2. Borderline Families: “Reevaluating”:

“I never came to her unbidden. Sobbing into the phone while walking across the bridge back to Manhattan, keys to her apartment lost, hungover and scared – I didn’t come. I came after the the quiet calls. The ones where her voice was barely audible and sadness seeped into the phone lines making it almost unbearable to hold the phone to my ear. Still, I always waited for her to ask for help.”

“What I didn’t know then, was that my daughter was suffering with withdrawal from the psych drugs that she abruptly went off of seven-eight-nine months before. I thought at that time that she was experiencing an overflow of “mental illness”. She had headaches so severe that she cried out in pain, dizziness, and mood swings that knocked her out of any social gathering she tried to attend. She had insomnia but when she drank enough to sleep, she was plagued with horrendous nightmares. Her stomach was in an uproar; nothing she ate stayed put. She couldn’t concentrate and lost time in dissociated states.”

“During those months last fall, I got too many quiet calls. Her world seemed to be crumbling and I went scrambling to save her.”

“No parent should have to discuss suicide with their child. (Where is God?, July 5th, 2010) But, I told her on these visits that I understood. I did. The pain was just too much. Months of it. Endless rage and sorrow.”

“All the while I kept searching for help.”

“After I bowed out in January, my daughter would go for long stretches without calling my husband (she calls him “Dad”). There would be a flurry of calls concerning money once or twice a month. But, the emotional crises seemed to tapered off.”

“If you do go back and read these old post, you will see that they are written in a language I which have abandoned – the labels and descriptions presented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, devised by the psychiatric industry. The posts were written when I was firmly entrenched in the psychiatry-driven mental healthcare model. I believed that the professionals were going to deliver a cure. During all those crises, I still believed that my daughter would find relief by taking some combination of psych drugs and finding a sympathetic psychiatrist who would set her on the “right” path.”

“At the end of May, I was reading Susan Smith blog, A Journey, Gianna Kali’s Beyond Meds and had just bought Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic.  My world was about to change significantly.”

“My daughter called on May 23rd and needed to talk with me. Only me. She was not okay and she needed me. And, there I was, back in it her life in a blink of an eye. On the flight to New York I wrote a post, In Flight to New York, May 25, 2010.”

What unfolded was tragic but she and I were different this time. I had been reading about the concept of the neuroplasticity of the brain. I was able to see the benefits of months without me being involved in her life. She had definitely built a life with friends. She had had occasional work as a model or art director and despite being too jangled to answer it, her phone (once we replaced it) rang and rang.”

“So, what happened? Was all that hard work at making a life dashed by a fit of uncontrollable anger and anxiety? I want to believe that she can build on what what she has worked so hard to achieve. But, like in May, it seems so dire. It looks hopeless.”

“Cutting off contact works until it doesn’t. Then what?”

Accepting Our Core Issues in Addiction Recovery

Dealing with alcoholism and depression means needing a different path than only doing the Twelve Steps for recovery. I don’t believe that my core issues can be solved by the Twelve Steps of any self-help group.

Having grownup in a home controlled by alcoholism, I was able to see my addiction very early into the disease. Thanksgiving, 1976, I told my family that I thought I was an alcoholic. I fully expected everyone to disagree with me because I had not had any outward signs. But, my mother said that she had been afraid of that. So I was stuck with the admission and being the “perfect daughter”, I never drank again and went to AA.

My third month into recovery, I had a radical conversion as described by William James in his The Varieties of Religious Experience. It was instant and I call it ‘”the moment that changed my life.” So I have been trying since 1977 to hear what God’s will is for my life. Many days I have followed my will and called it His. But there has been progress, too.

Our core issues in recovery for those of us who lived in a family of “don’t ask–don’t tell” include the following:

1. From Want to Know.Info: “Transform Fear Through Core Issue Work”:

“Most of us have one or more core issues or challenges which surface repeatedly over the course of our lives. These issues are usually rooted in deep unexpressed fears. Depending on your perspective, core issues either cause all sorts of problems, or present many opportunities for transformation. When you choose to look at core issues as an opportunity, you are much more likely to transform your fears into learning tools which lead to a better life. Below are the most common core issues, their related fears, and suggestions for dealing with them.”

“Examples of Common Core Issues and Associated Fears”

  • Abandonment – Nobody cares about me. I’m all alone. I don’t matter.
  • Arrogance – I’m better than all of you. I’m too much. I’m right and you’re wrong.
  • Damaged – Something is wrong with me. I’m a failure. I’m damaged.
  • Inferiority – I’m not good enough. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m boring. I’m hopeless.
  • Rejection – I’m a burden. I’m unwanted. Nobody wants to spend time with me.
  • Shame – I’m bad. I’m evil. I’m a mistake. I’m a monster. I’m disgusting. I’m possessed.

“Our core issues often originate from childhood family scenarios. They can be a result of negative messages that were repeated many times to us by our parents or other significant people in our lives. Or one of these beliefs may have been driven deep into us during one or more traumatic experiences. Was one of the above statements drilled into you in your early years?”

2.  In a post on The L.I.S.T ACA Group, a reprint from ACA WSO Webster, lists the “Effects of Abuse and How to Get Past them”, the following suggestions for overcoming abuse are given:

1. Share your story – you don’t need to deal with pain alone
2. Believe your story – you have a tendency to discount
3. Establish perpetrator responsibility – recognize it isn’t about you
4. Address the addictions used to numb the pain
5. Realize you can deal with the pain without mood altering substances
6. Learn to recognize, then accept, and then communicate feelings
7. Learn to nurture yourself
8. Build self-esteem and positive body image (affirmations)
9. Deal with family of origin – break the code of secrecy – by writing and talking with other people
10. Learn to be playful
11. Learn that now you do have a chance to live, you do have choices – YOU NEED NOT BE A VICTIM
12. Take back your power – act responsibly, set boundaries that feel comfortable, control sexual
behavior – you can control who enters your life
13. Remind yourself of your strengths
14. Learn you can say “No”
15. Learn to give and receive criticism
16. Stop abusing others

Some links about core issues:

3.  PDF of Core Issues to be Addressed for People in Recovery from the Friends of Vermont

4.  Recovery from Abuse which is a practical introduction for pastors and other religious professionals has good links for three areas of recovery. Recovery from Distorted Images of Self–Recovery from Distorted Images of God–Recovery from Distorted Images of Others.

5.  Decision Point Center is a holistic treatment center.  I have no association with this treatment center or any other treatment center.  I reason I have included this one is that they believe what I believe about addiction–that trauma is the core issue of addictions, compulsive behaviors, and chronic relapse.  An excerpt from this site:

“Common aspects of trauma involve feelings of complete helplessness in the face of real or perceived physical or emotional danger. We have come to know trauma as an extreme dramatic event or series of events and experiences overwhelming the individual’s ability to integrate the emotions relative to that experience or event. We have now recognized that trauma can be even more subtle; a perceived threat can also be traumatic. Trauma can be encoded at a cellular level or trapped in the body where it impacts the way an individual may react or behave without any conscious awareness as to why.”

“We believe that addictions and addictive behaviors are dysfunctional coping mechanisms used as a way to medicate and escape from pain, shame, and trauma. Over time, these dysfunctional behaviors can become a progressive and fatal disease known as “addiction”. Through our comprehensive, integrated, individualized and holistic approach, individuals are able to identify and address the underlying core issues as well as the core features directly related to their addictive behaviors.”

6.  Journey Trauma and Addiction Recovery knows that if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or addictions your core issue may be unresolved emotional trauma. This website lists seven reasons why their experiential workshops are effective. They remind us that addiction is a symptom.

7.  Good article by Bill Urell about the three stages of recovery reminds us that the late stage of recovery is dealing with the underlying issues.

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Addiction Treatment is Mainly About Maturity Issues

Addiction treatment by the medical model means that an addict is “sick” and that someone else knows how to get that addict “well”. In reality, each person has a part of themselves that is perfect and was given to them at birth.

The basic problem with the medical model of addiction recovery is that the medical field calls someone “well” by sending them to take classes about symptoms and this determines the level of “help” that the “well” person will be able to give.

The reality of any emotional/mental help is that the healer can’t help beyond his/her level of recovery. We are all wounded healers but growth only happens after surrender to the need for recovery.

What other field of medicine focuses mainly or only on the symptoms? I mean, where is the cure? Certainly a label can help by identifying what information is needed to lead to a cure. But how does telling someone that they are in denial help that person to understand that their thinking is faulty?

Denial is not about lying but about someone not knowing the truth. Isn’t it more helpful to say that an addict is someone using a learned pattern of behavior to deal with uncomfortable feelings? If there are problems because of the addiction, then the learned pattern has to be given up and a new pattern of behavior has to be chosen for the energy used to be a positive for the addict.

In other words, some of the main issues in addiction treatment are maturity issues. The age at which a person started drinking, using, eating, buying, being overpowering to others, using sex, etc. is the emotional age he/she still is. If he/she started at age 15, which is pretty normal, then he/she is age 14 emotionally.

So recovery is generally about growing up. Another main issue of why people are addictive is to continue to live life in their head or in their imagination. No one knows reality–we only have a perception of reality.

As the hero in 10 Million Ways to Die says, “I never knew that I lived in a world that I hadn’t created.” That is why the addict experiences such anger at having to give up the addiction. The addict believes that his/her using only affects him/her and is no one else’s business. In reality, the addiction is affecting everyone in the addict’s life.

In the self-discovery model of group healing, everyone in the group is a student. The sharing of power in relationships defines the health of the relationship. No hierarchy is needed when people enter groups to help each other. The leadership of the group can be shared by all on a rotation basis.

The group members in the self-discovery group must agree to follow guidelines that the group chooses. The main goal of the group should be short-term with the idea of splitting up to form new groups. Some people may choose to recycle–repeat the same group–before branching out to their own group. After 2-3 times recycling, the other group members may help with the formation of new group to a group member who needs more support.

The Mental Health Institute claims 20% of the population suffers from mental illness. These people generally can benefit from mental health counseling. In America, with all our wealth, many of these poor souls wander our streets as the homeless. They have no medical insurance so mental health care is a sometime thing. Since most of the population isn’t mentally ill, education groups can be a great source of comfort and growth for those not needing therapy.

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