Iâ€™m a Recovering Addict, Child of an Addict and Psychology Major. I write this blog in the hopes that sharing my knowledge of addiction recovery can help people achieve a happy life in recovery. I want people to know they are not alone in this fight. This common struggle will hopefully bring us together so we can find support, in which we can gain the strength and the courage to keep fighting. I want this blog to help people understand addiction and inspire compassion within them for addicts. I hope to eliminate the discrimination and stigma of an already difficult struggle by raising awareness of the challenges addicts face, and hopefully increase peopleâ€™s acceptance of them. As a society, I believe we need to stop punishing addicts and increase our harm reduction efforts.
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You can work it. Health and happiness begin when you work your program of recovery. A guest post by an anonymous contributor. We would sit in the back of the room on the floor, behind the rows of chairs. The carpet was blue, hence the name, “the blue room”. The building and room are still […] The post Yes, It Works. You are worth it, So Work It Today, For a life beyond your wildest dreams. appeared first on Recovering Addict...
A guest post by an anonymous contributor.
We would sit in the back of the room on the floor, behind the rows of chairs. The carpet was blue, hence the name, “the blue room”. The building and room are still there. Recently, they stopped having meetings there. Many years ago, the blue carpet was removed and replaced with laminate flooring.
We sat on the carpet, near the back wall, close to the table where the coffee pot sat and sometimes a box of donuts or cookies. We would quietly joke about the clichés of meetings. Old-timers who seemed to love the sound of their own voices would repeat certain phrases over and over again.
We developed a game where we would drop something on the floor every time we heard one of these over-used phrases. I don’t remember what object we would drop, though it was probably the white chips we collected for, “an honest desire to get clean, just for today.”, “meeting makers make it.”
“Keep coming back.”, “take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.”, “90 in 90”, “Don’t use no matter what”, “Let go, let God”, “work the steps or die”. There were so many. I don’t remember most of them anymore, but my friend and I, at the time, became masters, learning every phrase. We entertained ourselves, making fun of the meetings and these people who took themselves way too seriously.
I don’t know what ever became of my friend. We eventually lost touch when she found new friends and seemed to disappear from the meetings we both used to go to. Maybe it was wrong to sit in the back, quietly making fun of 12-step meetings and laughing at the ridiculous overused phrases.
At the end of every meeting, they would close by gathering in a circle and saying a prayer together. Sometimes it was the “We version of the Serenity Prayer”. I thought they were saying, “Wee”. I wondered what the full version of the prayer sounded like. Then, they would say, “It works if you work it so work it your worth it.”
This chant at the end sounded funny to me. It sounded like something that evolved over time. I wondered if the ending chant would grow more in the future. I imagined them adding, “And work it, and work it, the more that you work it, it works so go work it.”, or something like that.
The funny thing about it is that strange and funny sayings that are repeated over and over again stick in your head. It is almost like brain washing. In fact, I remember once a man saying, “This program is about brain washing, but my brain needed a good washing.”
While I no longer go to meetings, I have fond memories of the frequent repetition of these recovery clichés. I sort of miss them and I wonder what great new sayings the groups have come up with since I’ve been gone.
The post Yes, It Works. You are worth it, So Work It Today, For a life beyond your wildest dreams. appeared first on Recovering Addict Advice.
The American Academy of Pain Medicine, The American Pain Society, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine jointly agree on the following definition of addiction: Addiction is a primary, chronic, neurobiologic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the […] The post Who Is An Addict? Here are five reasons why you might be an addict. appeared first on...
The American Academy of Pain Medicine, The American Pain Society, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine jointly agree on the following definition of addiction: Addiction is a primary, chronic, neurobiologic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving.
Addiction is a disease that often is characterized by the 5 Cs; i.e., Chronic disease with impaired Control, Compulsive use, Continued use despite harm, and Craving for the substance(s) to which the patient is addicted.
-Heil H, Addiction, Physical Dependence, and Tolerance: Precise Definitions to Help Clinicians Evaluate and Treat Chronic Pain
Patients. Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy. 2003;17(1):1549
The above text was once used on an informed consent form in a medical office many years ago. It was a form designed to make it clear to patients what addiction is and to let the patient decide for themselves if they have an addiction problem.
As you can see, addiction is a complex issue. It took three major medical societies to get together and agree on that convoluted definition of addiction. Interestingly, none of these organizations are psychiatric societies.
Psychiatrists tend not to use the word addiction and addict. They prefer terms such as substance use disorder, opioid use disorder, alcohol use disorder. Addiction is a complex thing that is hard to pin down.
Narcotics Anonymous has a page that is read at the beginning of meetings to explain what an addict is: “Very simply, an addict is a man or woman whose
life is controlled by drugs.”
Let’s discuss the five Cs listed in the above definition.
Addiction to a substance is a lifelong problem. If you are addicted to a substance and then quit using that drug, you still have to be vigilant for life to not use drugs. If you do use drugs again, you are at high risk of returning to active addiction where you are again going to be out of control. Your addiction is never really reset where you can casually use drugs again without losing control.
Active addiction definitely involves a loss of control. When you get started, you cannot stop. It is like they say in NA, “One is too many, a thousand never enough.”
This means that you keep using the drug without thinking too much about it. It is a physical drive to get more drugs and use it. While excuses will pop into your head about why you should go out and get high again, you are really going to just do it regardless of any reason you come up with.
If you are addicted and using drugs, it seems that if someone were to point out how you have lost control, you would realize it and just stop. It seems reasonable that if you are causing harm to yourself and the people around you and you are now aware of it that you would make that decision. However, the fact is that if you are addicted, you just keep going. It really is like a car without breaks going downhill. It won’t stop until something stops it.
This is the obsession part of addiction. Even after you stop using drugs, you can’t stop thinking about them. Cravings are what often lead to relapse. Over time, however, if you can stay clean, the cravings subside and things get easier.
This definition of addiction is useful, but using the word, “addiction”, is problematic. The word can be offensive to many people who have struggled with substance use disorder and have been deeply misunderstood by the people around them. Addiction is a word that has been used for a long time by people who do not understand what it means to be addicted. I think that this attempt by these medical societies to pin down a definition is admirable, but I also believe that we should be precise in our terminology when talking about a medical condition such as substance use disorder.
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What does insufflation mean in relation to powdered street drugs? Insufflation means to push or draw a substance into a body cavity or dead space using air pressure. While the word has multiple meanings, it means just one thing when it comes to drugs: snorting. The act of insufflating a drug, such as cocaine, methamphetamine […] The post Insufflation: The Gateway To Heroin Is Your Nose appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Insufflation means to push or draw a substance into a body cavity or dead space using air pressure. While the word has multiple meanings, it means just one thing when it comes to drugs: snorting. The act of insufflating a drug, such as cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin means to snort it up into the user’s nose and nasal passages. Why is a drug insufflated? Because it is a fairly effective way to get high from a drug fast. While slower than injecting or smoking, snorting a drug gives a faster and more potent effect than swallowing the same drug. In fact, some drugs are only minimally active orally, so insufflation is the preferred route.
Imagine an opiate user going to their street drug dealer to buy pills. This is fairly common in the US. There has been a crackdown on medical pain management. Patients have had their meds cut in half repeatedly by doctors responding to mandates from their states and the federal government. What is it like to have your doctor tell you that you will be getting only half of your needed medication this month? You would ask why of course. How would you feel if your doctor told you that it is because of changing laws or fear of discipline?
Of course, many pain patients will just accept that they are getting far less medication. While they may suffer, they will do so quietly. The CDC released a report in 2016 which many officials have taken as a mandate to severely reduce medications for chronic pain patients. While the CDC has recently admonished doctors, law enforcers and politicians for misinterpreting their guidelines, the damage has been done. There is an increased risk of suicide among undertreated chronic pain patients and there is a decrease in quality of life and productivity. Unfortunately, some of these patients will turn to the black market for relief. This means buying pills from a drug dealer.
Black market opioid pills are not cheap. Street prices tend to be around $1 per milligram. This works out to hundreds of dollars daily for some users. And, there are often shortages of these pills on the streets. What happens when a dealer is out of pills? They may recommend heroin as an alternative. The same may happen if the user is short on cash. Heroin is cheaper than pain pills. When the user is suffering in physical withdrawal and possibly severe pain, it is an easy sell. Heroin converts to morphine in the body. It is easy to justify that the switch is not that big of a deal. Yet many opioid users have never used a needle to take drugs and suggesting that they shoot up will be a deal-breaker.
Here is where the dealer can finalize the sale of heroin to a pill customer who never considered buying the dangerous street drug before. They tell the user that all they have to do is insufflate the drug into their nose. Snorting does not seem to be that big of a deal to many users. Many pill users have already experienced crushing up their pills and insufflating them. They do this to get more potency out of a dwindling supply of pills. Now, an opiate pill user is on heroin.
The culprit behind many, if not most, of the deaths in the opioid epidemic, is fentanyl. This is not the hospital fentanyl or cancer patches or lollipops that you may have heard of. This fentanyl is made in clandestine labs in China and shipped through the US Postal Service to drug dealers. It is then used as an additive or replacement for heroin. It lowers costs and increases potency. Unfortunately, it can dramatically and unpredictably increase potency and lead to deadly overdoses.
I would say that all of it is affected at this point. I don’t remember how long it has been since we had a heroin-using patient in our office who came up positive for heroin and not fentanyl. It has been a while. While many are positive for both drugs, some are positive for only fentanyl. Often, the patients are not even aware that they are insufflating pure fentanyl.
Now, you can see how a person can go from being in an accident to developing chronic pain to being prescribed opioids to the insufflation of heroin. It is not as far-fetched as you may have thought. So, when you discover that a loved one is using heroin, you should offer to help them to get help, but please have empathy for their predicament. Few people walk out of their door one morning and decide to get addicted to heroin. In fact, becoming a heroin addict could happen to almost anyone.
Why should I start with McRisc? Calvin McGinn PhD, LMFT, RN and Joyce Ann McGinn OTR/L, GCFP are the co-founders of McRISC.com. This innovative online tool is built on years of research, data and cutting edge technology. When you first go to the site, you will see a menu of various options, including informational pages […] The post McRisc: Your First Stop For Addiction Treatment Help appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Calvin McGinn PhD, LMFT, RN and Joyce Ann McGinn OTR/L, GCFP are the co-founders of McRISC.com. This innovative online tool is built on years of research, data and cutting edge technology. When you first go to the site, you will see a menu of various options, including informational pages about the nature of addiction and the importance of understanding substance use disorder as a chronic illness, just like other chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you are on the McRisc website on your computer or mobile device, you can jump straight to the menu option, The Assessment. From here, you can begin the 10-minute assessment. Who should take this assessment? Well, it is available for anyone. If you believe that you may have a problem with addiction, you should take it. Or, if you have a loved-one who may be struggling with addiction, encourage them to take it as well. This powerful assessment can be taken in private. Your privacy is fully protected. In fact, you do not even give any identifiable personal information.
When you take the assessment, you will have the opportunity to take your time and think carefully about it. If you decide to go back and answer a question differently to be more honest with yourself, you will have that chance. When you are done, I recommend that you complete the process to allow your healthcare provider to access your full report. This report is based on science and will give an accurate assessment of your addiction risk, risk of relapse and what your best treatment options are.
Ideally, you should see your family doctor. If you are an established patient with a primary care physician who knows your health history, you can allow your doctor access to your report. The report will give your doctor the information needed to refer you for the proper treatment. If you do not have a primary care physician or you are not comfortable going to that doctor, another option is to make an appointment with an addiction specialist.
Rehab or detox may be recommended for your addiction treatment. 12-step meetings and other types of addiction recovery support meetings can also be helpful. However, you may discover that a local doctor who practices medication assisted treatment is able to treat your addiction as an outpatient, coordinated with appropriate psychotherapy. This means that you can get effective addiction treatment and continue your regular daily life at home and work without having to take time off to check into rehab.
If you are ready to get help, or you are thinking about asking for help with addiction, I recommend visiting McRisc.com today. Take a look at the website and take the private assessment. This is an excellent first step in getting help for your addiction. To learn more about McRisc, I recommend listening to this fascinating podcast interview.
The post McRisc: Your First Stop For Addiction Treatment Help appeared first on Recovering Addict Advice.
Experiential therapy was developed in the 1970s and has quickly become popular since it was introduced. Researchers and mental health professionals all over the world have attested to the positive benefits that experiential therapy can provide to those who participate in it. While it is still a relatively new form of therapy, it has still […] The post Experiential Therapy: What It Is and How It Helps appeared first on Recovering Addict...
Experiential therapy was developed in the 1970s and has quickly become popular since it was introduced. Researchers and mental health professionals all over the world have attested to the positive benefits that experiential therapy can provide to those who participate in it. While it is still a relatively new form of therapy, it has still proven to be successful and offer a number of benefits that other forms of therapy often do not. Here’s a quick breakdown of what experiential therapy is and how it has been shown to help.
As its name suggests, experiential therapy is a form of therapy that incorporates other activities into the process. The fundamental theory behind it is that when people are focusing on other tasks, they are much more relaxed and are able to access parts of themselves that they otherwise wouldn’t want to or even be able to. When done correctly, experiential therapy is much more than simply having fun; it’s a way for people to reconnect with the hidden parts of themselves that they have been suppressing, ignoring, or unaware of.
It is important to know that when people are participating in these activities, they are not simply having fun. While that is an important element, they are also being guided by a therapist who is using the activity to relax the client and help them to lower the defenses that they so naturally put up. Here are only a few examples of experiential therapy, all of which have been shown to be effective with many people, especially those who have not responded well to talk therapy.
As mentioned before, experiential therapy provides a wide array of unique benefits, most of which revolving around openness, communication, and present awareness. You see, when people are involved in an activity such as music, art, writing, or any other activity that is used in experiential therapy, they are focusing on what is happening right now. They cannot dwell on the past or the future and instead are living completely in the moment. That is very beneficial because it helps them to stay present, even while they are talking about the past or the future. In this way, it allows them to think about the past and the future without dwelling on them and it therefore enables them to be more productive in their thoughts.
People who regularly participate in experiential therapy are able to better process traumatic events that happened to them in the past and are able to think about the future without being fearful or anxious. They are also able to open up more, be more vulnerable, and address issues that they otherwise would not have wanted to or been able to. Those are all incredible benefits that can change people’s lives for the better. It’s no wonder that experiential therapy has become so popular in such a short amount of time!
What makes work addictive to some people and the exact opposite to others? It is hard to say what causes certain people to become addicted. There are a wide variety of addictions to various substances and activities. What they have in common is that there is a compulsive drive to repeat an action that causes […] The post Work Addiction And Workaholism: Finding Peace In Life and learning to #CHILL appeared first on Recovering Addict...
It is hard to say what causes certain people to become addicted. There are a wide variety of addictions to various substances and activities. What they have in common is that there is a compulsive drive to repeat an action that causes self-harm. This obsessive-compulsive symptom of addiction is caused by activities that stimulate the reward centers of the brain. Hence, a person can become addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, video games and even work.
This kind of thinking has lead us right into a work addiction epidemic. In our modern world where everything seems to center around social media, we have come to idolize financial success. We follow motivational speakers, successful entrepreneurs, and see everyone we know working hard to find financial success. While work addiction is becoming a serious problem, it is not a new problem. In previous generations, people were encouraged to get respectable jobs and work hard to get ahead in the company. The world has changed since then, but the problem of overworking is as bad as ever.
We see multimillionaires and billionaires on television and social media bragging about their magical lives of wealth and freedom. Yet, they keep working. Why do they need more money? If you had a billion dollars, would you want to start another company? While there are some business successes who make their money and then retire from work to do the things they truly enjoy in life, these people seem to be the exception to the rule. Next time you are watching a hard working millionaire on social media or a screaming motivational speaker telling you to hustle and work 10 times or 100 times harder, consider the possibility that you are looking into the face of a work addict.
Recently, I had the pleasure to interview Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., author of “#CHILL, Turno off Your Job and Turn On Your Life”. Our conversation was eye-opening. Dr. Robinson is a scientist who has studied workaholism for decades. He is also a recovering workaholic himself. He has accomplished a great deal in this field to define the disorder of workaholism. This includes many fascinating studies where MRIs were performed to study how the brain is affected. He is also the inventor of the Work Addiction Risk Test (WART). Now, Dr. Robinson helps people around the world with his best-selling book that helps them to identify workaholism in their lives. While not as immediately deadly as heroin addiction, work addiction is a serious problem. If left untreated, workaholism can steal your life away, leaving you with anxiety, depression and regret. You can listen to my interview with Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. where we discuss his new book, #CHILL, on the Mental Health News Radio Network.
You may not believe that you have a work addiction problem. Yet, if work is always on your mind, you could be a workaholic . Do you procrastinate, putting your work off until another day? Are you constantly obsessing over the work that you are avoiding? Do you find yourself feeling sick with anxiety over work you need to get done. These may be signs of work addiction. Workaholism does not mean that you are necessarily a millionaire who can’t stop building one company after another, neglecting your own life along the way. If work is taking over your life and hurting you, keeping you from enjoying the beautiful things around you, you may be suffering from work addiction.
There is a support fellowship for the workaholic. If you believe that you are addicted to work, you may be interested in Workaholics Anonymous. This is a 12-step organization where you can come face-to-face with other workaholic members. The program is derived from Alcoholics Anonymous. Going to WA meetings is one of the treatment options available to the workaholic. In these meetings, you will meet like-minded people and develop a support system of new friends who are also recovering from work addiction. The 12 steps are an excellent way to work on yourself to recover from addiction. And, in the program, you will develop a relationship with recovering friends and with the program rather than an ongoing relationship with the work that is stealing your life away. Workaholics Anonymous is a place where one recovering addict can help another to recover from work addiction.
Dr. Robinson’s book, #CHILL, goes into the 12 steps in a very subtle way. Each chapter is related to a month of the year. In each of the twelve chapters, he gently introduces the steps in order. Additionally, he provides many useful tools to move in the direction of enjoying your life and getting away from unhealthy overworking. In my interview with Dr. Robinson, he gives an example of such a tool. He asks listeners to stop what they are doing at that moment and focus on a sound in their environment. It could be a singing bird, the wind blowing through the trees, or it could be the sounds of distant traffic on the road. It doesn’t matter. By stopping the busy running around and overthinking that happens throughout the day, you break the cycle of your addictive behavior. You start to live in the moment. Take a deep breath, in and out. Take a break from your life to look around and listen. It is essential to your physical health to take these breaks from the never ending hamster wheel of overworking that has become a full blown addiction for many people.
Yes, work addiction treatment through therapy is available. There are psychologists who have experience in treating many types of addiction, including other behavioral addictions related to workaholism. Self-help and group meetings can only go so far. Sometimes, to treat addiction, you need professional help from a trained therapist. Addiction treatment is also available in specialized rehab programs. You may want to consider going away to a workaholics retreat. In such a retreat, media use, such as using your smartphone, playing video games, social media or any other type of technology would be restricted. Internet use would be either severely limited or not allowed at all. While long hours without online access may seem impossible for a hard worker or someone suffering from internet addiction, it is important to make this break. If you are in such a retreat in a natural setting, such as out in the woods or on the beach, you will come to appreciate the beauty of nature and slowing down.
Learning to overcome workaholism does not mean that you cannot work. Most of us must work in order to make the money we need to live. However, in order to maintain your mental health, you must learn to step back from your work. You need to set boundaries. And, when you are at work, you need to take breaks throughout the day. When you are with your family, enjoy being with your family. Put the work aside. Being aware of workaholism is the first step to recovering. Treatment starts with simply being aware that this addiction exists in your life.
I highly recommend visiting the website of Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. You can find his book, #CHILL, on Amazon and in all major book stores. I recommend also downloading the audiobook of #CHILL from Audible. Dr. Robinson narrates his own book. He has a very nice, soothing voice that is perfect for the book. The audiobook can be your companion while driving, on your way to work.
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