Category Archives: Recovery

I Went to a Recovery Home in 1977 and It Gave Me the Foundation I Needed to Succeed

16097484060_3c9e39aa47_zIn 1977, being 3 months sober, I had an emotional crisis of feeling that I was on a high cliff and being afraid that I would fall or jump. It was a Sunday and I talked to AA members all day. Everyone I called was home and they helped me to decide that I wasn’t going crazy as I thought but that I needed more help in my recovery. Maranatha Home in Jacksonville, North Carolina was my salvation.

When I went to rehab, I had been sober for 3 months so had no need of detox. I also had been going to daily AA meetings so my rehab started with a foundation. I only drank alcohol. Today’s rehab client often comes to rehab needing detox from several substances. So much of the 30 day program is spent detoxing the client.

With a 90 day program many more benefits can be achieved. I have been supporting Chris Fiore’s work. His “Anthony’s Act” is a grassroots movement to get rehab extended to 90 days. His Facebook page has a petition I signed. The petition states: “We are asking congress to amend the Affordable Care to provide for a minimum of Ninety (90) days inpatient drug or alcohol treatment up to a maximum of One Hundred Eighty (180) days per year at a facility certified to provide such care by the Secretary of Health of the state in which it is located. Let’s give those suffering with addiction a real chance at recovery.”

Dr. David Sack has listed the benefits of having a longer rehab in an article he wrote in 2012 for Psych Central. The article was titled, “How Long is ‘Long-Term’ Drug Rehab?” He lists these benefits–

Detox Doesn’t Dominate. Depending on the individual and their drug history, detox may take up a significant portion of a 30-day drug rehab program. And while detox is a critical part of the process, it is not in itself treatment. With a longer treatment stay, clients still have several weeks or more following detox to engage in the deeper work of recovery.

Healing the Brain. Research shows that the addicted brain can heal over time, but months or years of drug abuse cannot be undone in a few weeks. Brain scans of recovering addicts show that changes are still taking place three months or more after treatment. This is why many recovering addicts report clouded thinking, skills deficits and other issues even months into recovery.

Practical Application of New Skills. Going to drug rehab and “stepping down” to lower levels of care (such as outpatient treatment or a sober living environment) ensures that clients are not thrown back into society prematurely, nor are they sequestered away from the real world without opportunities to test their skills. With gradual increases in freedom, clients can begin applying their new skills with guidance and support from their treatment team.

New Habits Take Root. Recovery requires a change of lifestyle, not just putting an end to drug or alcohol use. It takes anywhere from three weeks to three months to form new habits. Recovering addicts who have already begun to integrate new habits into their daily lives, such as support group meetings, sober recreation, meditation, exercise and other recovery-related activities, will be able to make a smooth transition into life outside rehab.

Living the Relapse Prevention Plan. Every client should leave treatment with a relapse prevention plan. But the person who leaves treatment not only knowing their relapse triggers but also having experience working through them in real time will be that much more secure in their recovery. Spending time in intensive outpatient treatment or a sober living environment provides this type of real-world exposure along with ongoing structure and support. As a result, recovering addicts know how to deal with drug cravings, stress and other common causes of relapse and feel comfortable reaching out to their sponsor, self-help group or loved ones for support.

Healing Relationships. Long-term treatment allows clients to address the complexities of family dynamics, which often contributed to addictive patterns, and begin couples or family counseling, if needed.

Identify and Treat Co-Occurring Disorders. Roughly half of people suffering from drug and alcohol addictions also struggle with other addictions (e.g., sex, food, gambling) and/or mental health disorders (such as depression, anxiety, trauma and eating disorders). These co-occurring disorders do not always come to light early in treatment. In fact, it is often only after intensive therapy and 30-plus days of treatment that these issues surface. Left unidentified and untreated, these underlying problems often lead to relapse.

“Perhaps the greatest testament to the efficacy of long-term treatment can be found in drug rehabs for professionals. Physician health programs, for example, have documented five-year abstinence rates of 79 percent and return to work rates of 96 percent, with virtually no evidence of risk or harm to patients from participating physicians. These programs involve comprehensive treatment followed by long-term monitoring and support that often lasts upwards of five years. This model, which has proven effective for professionals in safety-sensitive occupations, is likely equally effective for others.” Photo credit.

Recovery Is My Primary Interest and Why I Started This Blog in Nov. 2004

48666899_641582da36_zBy using a RSS reader, feedly, which I love more than I loved Google Reader, I can scan over 200 blogs daily. I have gotten very efficient at what I choose to use daily. I have also been adding some these to my Facebook page, Emotional Sobriety.

The following are a few excerpts from some of my favorite blogs:

1. From codependentlife: “Enabling does not help“:

I could look at my alcoholic and see how flawed in his thinking was, but I could not see how flawed my thinking was. Who in their right mind would say and do the things that I did trying to save someone who did not want to be saved, and was angry because I tried to save him anyway. I saw my desperateness as evidence of how much I loved him. It was desperate all right, but it was not so about love as it was about fear.

What if he found someone else when he was out late and drinking with the guys. What if he left me? What if he lost his job because of drinking? How would we survive? What would our family and friends think if they knew the truth about his drinking? What if he got hurt or hurt someone else drinking and driving? What if he went to jail? What if his drinking was my fault? What if? What If? What If?

Desperately I tried through control and manipulation to keep it all together. It never occurred to me that “my helping” only helped him to deny that he had a problem, and it helped him to continue drinking. I was the one that wanted him to stop and my wants were not his wants. My helping did not help him with his drinking problem, but it did help to make matters worse.

At the time “enabling” was not a part of my thought process. I was to busy trying to control him and keep him out of trouble. It never occurred to me that all of my helping only made matters worse. His desire and need to drink was beyond my comprehension. I could nurse a drink all night long and not even finish it. I just could not understand why he could not control his drinking. In my flawed thinking I was sure that it had something to do with me. I just had to try harder to be a better wife.

2.  From sobermomwrites: “Gifts I Give“:

The quiet that goes on in my head is worth everything to me.  Not to have my every waking moment tangled all up in when, how much, and with whom I will drink is a fucking miracle.  To not have to worry about the money I’m spending or will spend or what it’s doing to my body or my kids is a blessing.  To not have to panic when it snows or over a three-day weekend is liberating.  It’s a gift I’ve given myself and it’s worth everything.

Then if that’s not enough, to have lifted that burden from my family is the satin bow that completes the wrapping of this gift.  To relieve them of having to police me, worry about me, keep an eye on me and the wine bottles, make sure I’m moderating or making it to bed when I slip is a beautiful thing.

That’s the gift I’ve given to them.  Anything less robs them of their own piece of mind and I couldn’t live with myself if I did that to them again.  Alcoholism isn’t a singular disease (condition…whatever) that only impacts the alcoholic (no matter how much we tell ourselves that it is); it’s a cancer that spreads and infects everyone around the alcoholic in some way.  To somehow make my family responsible for MY alcoholism by asking them to help me moderate is, in my opinion, a goddamn sin.

One I am not willing to commit.

Photo credit.

Knowing Yourself Means Entering Into Your Shadow Self

15662055408_5270cd6e1e_z (1)I have my “office” next to two windows in my dining room that look out over a large fenced patio. I have 10-15 blooming plants there that I so enjoy. I have always been a gardener. In 1983, I moved to Florida so I could enjoy plants all year long. It gives me great solace to look over my plants.

“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.”
by Hermann Hesse

During this holiday season, I am moving through a season of reflection about the choices I have made over a lifetime of 74 years so far. Feeling regret reminds me that I have not forgiven myself completely for the missteps I have taken. Choosing to be in a marriage that was basically loveless for 15 years seems like such a waste of life’s vitality. But I did it. So it must have been what I needed to experience. It was after the betrayal that I hit my emotional bottom. Holding your breath for over 60 years isn’t easy. But I am a tough nut. And, in retrospect, a tough nut to crack.

As I move through this retrospection, I am using a technique from Raphael Cushnir. He has written several books about the emotional connection. From his website’s overview, he recommends a 2-step process for learning from our emotions. From this overview:

What is an emotion?

An emotion is a message from your brain, delivered to your body as a physical sensation.

Why are emotions so crucial?

Emotions are essential in reaching the greatest possible understanding of who we are and what we want. The more attuned we grow to our emotions, the wiser and more discriminating we become.

Whenever we’ve grown stale, emotions reawaken us. Wherever we’ve grown stuck, they get us moving. With just the simple ability to notice and experience our feelings, daily existence becomes fascinating and vibrant. We shift from lethargic to motivated, from passive to energized.

What does feeling an emotion entail?

Step 1) To experience an emotion, place your attention directly on the sensation it produces in your body.

Step 2) Keep your attention on that sensation until it either dissipates or changes.

That’s all there is to it. Really. These two simple steps, however, are often anything but easy. To perform them well, especially at the most difficult times, requires the following shifts in the quality of our attention.

Shift 1) Slow down

Feeling time is different than to-do list time. Emotions require us to sync up to their inner flow rather than press our own timetable upon them.

When we do, they not only dissipate the quickest and easiest, but they also reveal great personal insight without any effort whatsoever.

When we don’t, and instead attempt to think our way through a problem too soon, our powers of analysis become completely unreliable. For that reason it’s helpful to heed the maxim “Feel first, think later.”

Shift 2) Get Microscopic

At first our internal sensations can seem distant and amorphous. But whenever we  observe them up close, in patient detail, they yield the greatest possible rewards.

Emotions may be hot or cold. They may be heavy or light. They may move throughout your body in waves, swirls, or flashes. They may produce internal imagery or sound. They may pass in an instant, or gradually over time. With practice, all these emotional aspects become much easier to sense.

The above two steps, along with the above two shifts, make up the2X2 process for Emotional Connection.

What is Emotional Surfing?

Over time I developed an even easier way than the 2×2 process to describe how to feel.  I call it surfing. To understand why let’s look at ocean surfing.
Among the most challenging sports, ocean surfing involves the rare combination of two constantly moving elements. There’s the surfer on the board, and also the wave on which the surfer balances. Each millisecond during which surfer and wave proceed in unison, all is well. But at the first instant of disconnect – wipeout.

When surfing your emotions, the “wave” is your constantly shifting inner experience. The “surfer” is your attention, following the wave up close, in matching motion. There is absolutely no attempt to control the wave or otherwise alter the experience. It’s strictly “Whither thou goest, I shall go.”

When surfing your emotions, the “wave” is your constantly shifting inner experience. The “surfer” is your attention, following the wave up close, in matching motion.

In this, however, is a wondrous paradox. The very act of surfing your internal waves without trying to change them is precisely what does change them. Your attention facilitates flow. It creates additional inner space. These two results of emotional surfing – flow and space – allow turbulent waters to storm freely and calm quickly. They also allow you to keep your balance no matter how enormous the swells.

How do thoughts enter into all this?

Thinking can cause you to wipe out while surfing in a variety of ways. The most common ways are distraction, analyzing, and judging. When any of these disturbances occur, it may be a brief or long time before you become aware  of them. But at the moment you do become aware, it’s crucial that you recognize the thinking in a neutral way and return to the sensations in your body straight away.

Getting down on yourself for wiping out only creates more tension and makes surfing that much harder.

Another way thoughts impact surfing occurs when feeling states kick up painful beliefs about yourself. Say you’re feeling shame, for example. You might then have the thought, “I’m a total loser.”

If you try to banish that belief because it’s unhelpful, it will only fight back harder. And if you decide the belief is correct, and therefore collapse into it, you’ll likewise give it power.

Surfing a feeling is completely different from engaging with the beliefs you may have related to that feeling.

Instead, it’s best to notice the thought with a kind of inward bow, a “thank you for sharing,” if you will. Then, with no further engagement, return to the wave of the moment at hand.

Bottom line: surfing the feeling is completely different from engaging with the beliefs you may have related to that feeling. The good news is that the more you feel your difficult feelings directly, the easier it  is to be free of harmful beliefs once and for all. In fact,  they just disappear all on their own.

Much of the material on this page is drawn from The One Thing Holding You Back and Surfing Your Inner Sea (both books are by Raphael Cushnir).

Photo credit.