Through My Eyes

My Sister’s Struggle with Addiction and how it Affected My Family

By Kitty Noir

When I was younger I watched my older sister struggle through an active heroin addiction. I watched her lose everything, emotionally and physically. I watched her manipulate my parents and get away with a lot. I watched as my parents gave her chance after chance, as their hearts broke a little more with each chance. I watched my parents live in denial even when her addiction was literally knocking on their front door. They still denied it, and it ate away at them slowly. In Fact, they still live somewhat in denial of her lifestyle today. I did not really understand the extent of what was happening until I look back on it as an adult. I have a lot of unresolved feelings about the situation but have grown to understand that it isn’t about me, but that doesn’t invalidate what I went through as a sibling of an addict. My younger brother has a lot of resentment towards my older sister, and my parents, because of how everything played out. I can honestly say I do not blame him. As most of us know, addiction doesn’t just affect the addict, it also affects their loved ones. Not many people are closer to an addict then their immediate family.

My older sister was a star in our small hometown. She was an outstanding athlete and a decent student. She was the freshman who made the varsity teams. She lettered all four years in three different sports. My sister was all-state in volleyball and softball and was built to lead. My mother lived out her dreams through my sister. She put a lot of undue pressure on her to become a great athlete and earn a full ride scholarship for volleyball. My mother was an all-state athlete growing up and definitely wanted her children to follow in her steps. I think she saw the greatest potential in my sister so she really pushed her hard. I suppose all that pressure was stressful to my sister. Pressure from her coaches, pressure from my mother, and I assume the pressure she put on herself because of her perfectionist tendencies. She wanted to live up to all the expectations she felt that everyone had for her. On the outside she seemed very comfortable with all the attention she received, but I think on the inside it just became too much. Everyone has a breaking point and eventually she reached hers.

When she was in 8th grade she started hanging out with a new, older group of friends who also played sports. By ninth grade she was smoking pot regularly and had started to experiment with alcohol. She must have really liked the release that using gave her because it didn’t take long before she had tried almost every recreational drug out there and turned into quite the party goer. Throughout her using she was able to maintain her outstanding sports performances and although her grades did slip, she will still an above average student. I cannot tell you how many times my parents caught my sister with drugs and just looked the other way. Every time she would promise them that she would stop and it was just for “fun.” My mother and her would get into a huge argument, then my mother would comfort herself with her denial, and then life would go on. This was a constant cycle. Looking back, I suppose I cannot blame my mother because my sister was very manipulative. She was great at convincing people by telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. Her manipulation combined with my mother not wanting to admit that her outstanding athlete daughter also had a drug problem was a recipe for disaster. My sister graduated high school with a full ride scholarship to a prestigious university in our home state for a pre-med degree. Everyone looked the other way at the underlying issue; her addiction. She left for school in August. By December the coached had called my parents to let them know that she wasn’t showing up for practice and was displaying some concerning behavior. My parents talked with her and of course everything was back on track after that (so they told themselves). The following February my sister had switched her major out of pre-med because her grades had dropped so low she was no longer accepted in that specific program. By May she was kicked off the volleyball team and had lost her full ride scholarship. She came home with nothing. She had sold every single one of her personal belongings. All of them. Her laptop, all her clothes, her bed, her car, everything. The one thing she brought with her was a raging heroin addiction.

Her boyfriend of four years had left, and all her friends from high school were still off at college. It only continued to go downhill from there. My parents continued to support her, even after she crashed two of the cars they had gotten her and stole money from me. My parents offered to send her to rehab but she refused. They allowed her to live at the house but incidents kept happening and eventually my parents kicked her out. This was only after her dealer showed up on our family’s doorstep with a gun and threatened my mother. She moved to Washington and lived in a tent with her new boyfriend. She was doing what she needed to get by at that point. Working in a club to support her habit. She started muling drugs for her boyfriend and made some enemies along the way. She called my parents begging for help. She told them her life was in danger and they allowed her to come home on the condition that she get treatment. She agreed.

While she was in treatment her counselors suggested that our family go to therapy as well. Our family unit was in shambles. My brother and I were resentful towards my sister for putting my parents, and our family, through everything. We did not understand why she got all this attention every time she screwed up. We felt extra pressure to never make a mistake because she was making so many of them. It felt like even though we did everything “right”, it still was not enough in their eyes. My parent’s marriage was falling apart. My dad had started to see right through my sister’s manipulation but my mother just couldn’t see past it. He was pushing my mother to do the “tough love” thing and she just kept enabling my sister. My dad had threatened to take us younger kids and leave my mother if she didn’t stop living in denial. She was codependent on my sister’s addiction. We were a mess, and we needed just as much help as my sister to pull through this. It has taken years for everyone to heal from having a member of our family struggling with active addiction. Countless hours in therapy. Not only individual therapy but also family therapy.

Today my sister has been clean for almost ten years. I am so proud of her. The road to recovery has not been easy for her. She has relapsed many times but by the power of god she has been able to get back on track with her sobriety each time. She has a renewed sense of love for life. I can imagine being in the depths of an addiction that bad that she has a new appreciation for living. My family thanks god every day that she has been able to become sober. We have all mended our relationship with her and it feels good to be a functional family unit once again. She tells me that she takes her sobriety one day at a time, even after almost ten years sober. She has become an active member of the recovery community and helps newly recovered people navigate their world sober. She is currently enrolled in college again to become a licensed therapist. Helping others is something she feels passionate about and I know that she will be great. She was always meant for great things, and now she has found a way to serve god and others by helping people who are recovering from addiction.

Anxiety, Depression, and Addiction… Oh My!

Anxiety, Depression, and Addiction ... Oh My! - Featured Image

You know the days. The ones where you feel like you literally can’t breathe. Your mind feels like it is going 1000 miles per second and you cannot keep the angst at bay. You aren’t able to focus on any specific thought really, because you are trying to think about too many things at once. It feels like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. The days where it feels like life itself is sitting on your chest and all your worries, fears, and anxieties are suffocating you slowly. Those are the really bad days. The days you are so overwhelmed with life that you just want to reach for anything that will lift that burden and give you some sort of relief. Even if that relief is only temporary. Just enough relief so that you can take a breath, and release some of the stress that is plaguing your mind. Just something to give your mind a break and make you numb to the world of worries, even if only for a couple hours.

If anyone who is reading this has anxiety or depression they know exactly what I am talking about. I have pretty severe anxiety if you couldn’t tell from that description above. I have my good days, and of course the bad ones. Then I have the really bad ones. It is hard for my mind to shut off, and I often find myself feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis. Most days I just roll with it and keep it inside. An outsider wouldn’t even know I had anxiety. I am sure it just looks like I am a type A personality who likes to stay busy. I have had anxiety since I was a child. It would come and go in spurts. Sometimes it was really bad, and other times I barely noticed it at all. As I have grown older I have noticed that it seems to be situational. I am either really bad at handling stressful situations in general, or it is specifically the ones I cannot control that throw me into a tailspin. Control. That’s a funny concept isn’t it? I mean, it is almost comical to think that we really have any control over what is going to happen to us in our lives. I heard a quote once and it has stuck with me for years; “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” It is true. As much as I do not want to admit it, life is unpredictable and trying to control every situation is futile. There is no such thing as planning your future and expecting it to be a straight shot with no detours or unplanned stops.

This is much like the path of recovery from addiction. As many of you know when you begin your journey you may imagine it looking something like this: “I can never do this, I can’t get through the sickness, okay I have to do it I can’t keep going like this, I am going to get clean, wow I made it through detox and I am still here, okay going to try this treatment program thing, I have made my first plan and actually saw it through, now I am going to make some more plans, and I won’t ever have to look back.” Wrong. Recovery is riddled with roadblocks and detours for most of us. As much as I wish I could tell you that once you make that choice to get clean and commit to staying clean that it is smooth sailing after that; it just is not the case for the majority of us. Relapse is a part of recovery. For many of us it is a part of our recovery again and again. A lesson to keep being retaught and until we actually understand what we are suppose to be learning, it will keep rearing its ugly head. Rebuilding or ending important relationships that we have had in our lives often times brings heartbreak, which at times can seem unbearable and we wonder how we will get through. Maneuvering heartbreak, failures, and let downs on our new found sobriety is trying to say the least. Most of us want to run back to old habits to find the familiar comfort that using gave to us during these times. I get it and so do many others who have relapsed.

Life throws curve balls and its unpredictability can make someone like me with anxiety feel as though there is no other way to cope with life then to use. In fact, that is how it began for me. I started drinking when I was 15 but it was just casual. I guess if you could call any drinking at 15 casual? I guess what I mean is that it wasn’t anything heavy. Just the occasional “let’s sneak a Mike’s Hard Lemonade” or some other kind of malt beverage, and then we would split it between four girls. I started smoking pot when I was 15 as well, once again, just occasionally. I experimented with plenty of other drugs throughout my time in highschool but never really felt the pull to use more then recreationally. I knew I did not care for uppers, they just made me feel more wired then I already was. The same with hallucinogens, no thank you, I do not need to feel anymore paranoid about bad things happening then I already do. Downers were my preference and as I got older and my partying started becoming more frequent I was drawn to them more and more.

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In comes Xanax. Benzos really changed the game for me and that is when my addiction really started to take off. It was the mother of all relaxation for me. Especially when I mixed it with other depressants. That sensation that came over my entire body when I used was like a warm blanket that just made everything okay. It all started out as an occasional thing, I only did it on the weekends. Fast forward a few years and I found myself in a full blown addiction. Trying to manage my life and hide my addiction was just too much. I was crumbling under the weight of it all and finally hit my bottom. It took me three different treatment programs and several relapses to finally understand who I was and what that meant for me. Me as in someone with anxiety and depression. Someone who was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol because I needed that comfort and just wanted to feel normal.

I have since learned ways to cope with my feelings of excessive worrying and being extremely overwhelmed with life. I have learned ways to relinquish my need for control to feel secure. For me this looks like daily self affirmations, yoga, meditation, and exercise. I have be careful with exercise because I find myself becoming obsessive about it when I start to crave that endorphin release. I have learned that I need to monitor myself in that area, and lately have been doing okay with it. I practice yoga as a way to reach a higher spiritual state and connect with a higher power, and the same with meditation. I can’t say that any one of these things has been more important than the other when it comes to maintaining my sobriety. They all play a significant role in helping me to to stay out of my head and in reality. When I get lost in my head among my thoughts of worry and angst that is when things take a turn for the worst. If you suffer from anxiety or depression and addiction, there is hope. Seriously, I know that sounds cliche but I can attest to it. I know those days when the anxiety and depression have become physically debilitating, it feels like there is no point in living anymore. Don’t give up. It might not always be a straight and smooth road, but I can tell you that it will be worth it.

by Kitty Noir

Why Our Couples Program Works

Couples Rehab Program That Works - Image

Couples Rehab is located in the beautiful sunshine state of California. Our Couples addiction treatment program is quickly gaining popularity throughout southern California. Although many addiction treatment centers are now offering a couples program track, most of them do not allow couples to recover together at the same facility. That is not the case with our popular couples addiction treatment program. Our team believes that recovering together as a couple will better our clients chances at lasting sobriety. Our couples program has increased so much in popularity that it has caught the attention of the national news network, CNN. Our program was recently featured on CNN’s LoveStory series. The episode follows a young couple through the beginning of their recovery journey from opiate addiction. Viewers get a glimpse of what early recovery looks like by watching the couple attend therapy sessions, community events, and a variety of meetings. This feature allows people to see the positive impact that a couple’s love and support for one another has on their recovery from addiction.

CNN Featured Our Orange County Drug Rehab Program for Couples

America is truly in a crisis amidst the opioid epidemic. The number of people suffering from an opiate/opioid addiction in America is astonishing. Things have gotten so bad that our president declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency last year. America has finally recognized just how dire the situation has actually become. Opioid use now kills more than 100 Americans each and every day. Between the overprescribing of opioid containing pain medications by doctors, and the greedy pharmaceutical companies who are aggressively pushing their products, is it the perfect storm for disaster. No wonder we are in the middle of a crisis. Unfortunately if our country does not make some drastic changes soon the opioid addiction problem will just continue to grow exponentially.

This epidemic has led to more and more couples finding themselves struggling with an active opioid addiction. There are many addiction treatment centers throughout the county but very few of them will allow a couple to recover together at the same facility. In fact, many facilities won’t even allow both partners of the couple attend at the same time. It was previously an industry standard that couples be separated during their time at an addiction treatment center. The was advised so that an individual’s recovery was not affected or dependant on their partners sobriety, or lack thereof.

The views on this are changing and Couples Rehab Treatment Center is proud to provide one of the first programs where couples are allowed to recover together. We believe there is no separation necessary for a couple to achieve sobriety. We have found that allowing couples to heal and grow together through addiction treatment increases their chances for successful and long term recovery. The support system that a relationship provides is an effective tool for recovery. Of course this is only true if both partners of the couple adopt new and healthy habits together.

Much of our client’s success in our couples therapy program is from the implementation of our innovative take on couples behavioral therapy (CBT). We have tailored our couples program to specifically help couples who are looking to attend drug and alcohol addiction treatment together. This means attending meetings, therapy, and community events together as a unit; in addition to some individual sessions too. We created our program to focus on individual recovery as well as growing and rebuilding the romantic relationship. During CBT couples will learn how to provide support to one another through the tough times in hopes to help prevent relapse. Our clients will identify and work through other issues besides addiction that have harmed their relationship. While working through these issues the couple will be able to recognize and correct any enabling or codependent behavior that is present. Once both partners have healed individually and together as a couple, their relationship will become a positive influence on keeping their new found sobriety long lasting.

The Key to the Most Effective Addiction Recovery

Key to Effective Addiction Recovery -Image - Couples Rehab

There is a stigma that surrounds the term addiction. When people first hear the word they almost immediately envision someone who is at their worst. People can become addicted to many different types of things; drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, or gambling to name a few of the more known factors. Regardless of what the circumstances are surrounding that addiction the sad truth is that there are many people suffering from addiction and our society as a whole needs to change their views on how to help those struggling.

Addiction is a serious disease that needs to be treated as such. Many people believe that addiction is merely a choice and that those addicted individuals have made continuous bad choices. This is not the case however. Individuals, regardless of age, gender or status in life can become addicts and these people do not have control over the things they do, take or use. Their addiction might even reach a point that is causing them complete harm and devastation. Overcoming addiction and working towards recovery is therefore vital to end the miseries, the damages, and the negative effects addiction has had on their life.

What is Addiction?

What does addiction really mean? Not all individuals may know it but addiction is defined as a condition which results when someone ingests substance like nicotine, cocaine, alcohol and more or engages in a particular activity like shopping, gambling, and even sex. All of these activities can be pleasurable but when it becomes compulsive it can interfere with normal routines and responsibilities in relationships, work, and one’s physical health. Individuals suffering from addiction might not be aware that their actions and behaviors have become out of control which results in significant problems for themselves as well as their loved ones.

The term “addiction” is being used in many different ways. One known definition describes physical addiction. This pertains to the biological state wherein the body adapts to the existence of drugs so drugs no longer have same effects. This is otherwise referred to as tolerance. Another type of known physical addiction is the overreaction by the human brain in response to drugs. An example of this would be an alcoholic walking into the bar and feeling an extra boost of pleasure because they know they will soon be drinking. Not all addictive behaviors are linked to exposure or cues, many people use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stressful feelings or situations.

There are also psychologically based addictions as well. These are not physical in the sense that the body or brain needs them to function, but they are definitely habit forming and sometimes just as hard to break as a physical addiction. Many times people will replace one psychological addiction with another as a means of transference. While this may initially seem like a positive thing it is not really solving the deep rooted problem of why the person has addictive behaviors. The main focus of addiction treatment is not necessarily “what” a person is addicted too, but answering the “why” they have turned to substances to deal with stress in the first place. Treating or overcoming addiction requires a better understanding on how this works psychologically. When treating any type of addiction, it’s imperative to recognize and realize that the reason people use it not just for pleasure. It is also important to that addiction has nothing to do with a person’s character strength or morality. There have been ongoing arguments about addiction being a disease vs a choice. Many people agree that addiction is not a choice and it is not just a person of low moral character deciding to be repeatedly make bad decisions. It is a disease and those suffering from addiction should be treated as any other person who needs helps with their illness.

What Does Addiction Look Like?

Addiction has many different faces. It appears in many different situations; the addicted child rebelling against his family, a mother taking drugs because she is fed up with all the overwhelming responsibilities, a businessman taking speed to stay on top of his workload, and many more. Addiction problems do not exclude anyone and the sad truth is that addiction can affect your friends, your religious leaders, and most of all, your family. It does not discriminate. All of this being said, many individuals are still confused what addiction really looks like. Despite individuals’ different views about why addiction happens, there is one common denominator, and that is addictions ability to destroy someone and takes over their life. A person’s interests like school, work, family, and relationships will be replaced with disinterest on and neglect. These areas that were once important to an individual before they started using will no longer be held as priorities.

When someone is afflicted with addiction their entire family is affected. It does not leave anyone who is close with the addict untouched. Many times there are unmet responsibilities and loved ones are feeling the weight of those. They either have to pick up the slack or watch things go undone. The sudden and often times erratic changes in behavior of their loved ones can be stressful. The secrets and possible aggression is upsetting to the family dynamic. Once addiction becomes of a part of life whether that is yours or a loved one, you will start to notice the following happening:

  • Neglect. Nothing will matter except when you are going to use alcohol or drugs. Other important priorities in life are set aside because of addiction.
  • High-Risk behaviors while using. A person suffering from addiction could start to steal, use shared needles, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, solicitation, or engage in unprotected sex and more.
  • Legal troubles. Using or selling illegal drugs, theft, DWI, DUI as well as other risky behaviors that prompt arrest.
  • Relationship issues. Spouses or partners start to set boundaries or give ultimatums to their loved one who is suffering from addiction. This in turn oftens stresses the addict out more which causes them to use more. Discord and fights will take place between partners, families, co-workers, and friends.

If you were wondering what addiction in general looks like this is a little glimpse into the life of an addiction. This can give you an idea but this is just surface. Many times it is much worse than this. Many people will watch their life crumble before their very eyes. They are heartbroken but at the same time unable to stop because addiction has taken over their life. It is a vicious cycle of feeling guilt and shame about their addiction but then using to make those feelings go away.

What are the signs and symptoms to look for if you expect a loved one is suffering from addiction?

Drug and alcohol addiction isn’t a condition that just crops up overnight. Often times it starts with someone who uses occasionally or recreationally to relieve stress or for leisure. When people start to repeat these behaviors is when it becomes an issue. Many people start to use regularly and it becomes a habit and can even become compulsory for some. Once the occasional use turns into regular use there is a fine line between staying in control and losing it. That is often times how addiction happens. No one ever plans to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. It’s the repeated behavior or use can actually progress into the need of using regularly despite the fact that this can compromise their education, career, relationship, safety, finances, and health.

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Free yourself from Addiction

It is different for each person who is suffering from addiction but over time they will do just about anything for the substance they are addicted too because of intense cravings. If your loved one is an addict they might not be able to stop their addiction on their own. Addiction will take away their ability to choose to stop even if their loved ones desperately want them to. It can prove difficult to notice if a loved one is struggling with addiction at the beginning. Things may seem off but there may not be a noticeable reason. Many times people who are suffering from early addiction are unlikely to admit their problems. Individuals suffering from addiction are ashamed and usually cover their own tracks. However, there are signs and symptoms that your loved ones may indicate that they are suffering from addiction.

This might include the following:

  • Having new unsavory friends and new places they hangout
  • Sudden shifts in attitude, mood, and motivation
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Lying and other secretive behaviors
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Unexplained and sudden increase on spending
  • Enlarged pupils or bloodshot eyes
  • Losing interest in once favorite hobbies and pastimes
  • Trembling hands and unusual body odor
  • Strange schedule and unusual changes in their sleep patterns

You may also notice that your loved one has angry outbursts which are more unpredictable and volatile. Your loved one may also become inattentive and lacks interest in following through on his or her obligations, duties, and responsibilities. Another sign that your loved one is suffering from addiction is if they all of a sudden become secretive, has unexplained or secretive phone calls, large withdrawals of cash, conceals what is on their phone, and/or erratic changes in schedule. It is also probable that your loved one is not making regular bill payments and may request to borrow money. Some individuals suffering from addiction even end up stealing from family or loved ones. Another sign of addiction is feelings of depression and withdrawn from social situations. Many times people who are withdrawing from drugs tend to be reclusive. There are physical symptoms when someone who is addicted tries to stop using a substance. These withdrawal symptoms can include sweating, vomiting, muscle aches, insomnia, diarrhea, and fever. Just in case these signs are affirming your doubts instead of allaying them, you may wonder what you should do now. Before confronting your loved one, take some time to collect your thoughts, so you are more reasonable and you’re able to get your points across. You may notice that you are feeling anxious and apprehensive. This is normal. This first discussion with your loved one can be tough, but is a needed step.

Overcoming Addiction

The best kinds of addiction treatment involves peer support, self-help, or both. Many people enroll in an addiction treatment program facility where they will receive different types of therapies and support. Individuals can also develop strategies which engage support of family, small groups, and friends to meet with addicts. This type of support is to help maintain abstinence and help addicts live a drug-free and addiction free life. These strategies and approaches may not come easily, however through careful and proper instruction; they can manage patients and help them during the course of their rehabilitation. Network therapy can also be a helpful means to overcome addiction. Peers and family are vital parts of the therapist’s working team. Social supports are also necessary to help prevent relapse and denial which are very compromising to and individuals newly found sobriety. The thing about addiction is that it does not discriminate. Everyone and anyone can be affected. You are never too young, too smart, too moral, too athletic, or too rich to suffer from addiction. The only way to stay addiction free is if you abstain completely from addicted substances, which in some cases is nearly impossible.

Get the Best Help and Treatment for Addiction from Couples Rehab

Regardless of whether you are or somebody you love is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, knowing is the initial step to effective recovery. Understanding what dependence or addiction looks like and realizing that you are not the only one, will bring you towards the road of recovery. Hiding your addiction will never heal anything. In the event that you or somebody you know is experiencing addiction, you can connect with Couples Rehab. We are one of the leading Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery centers operating today. Our substance abuse treatment program is comprised of experienced therapists who have spent years helping people recover from addiction. Couples Rehab is focused on delivering comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction solutions to ensure that individuals suffering from addiction will experience effective and successful recovery. If you are or you someone you knew is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, note that professional help is available at Couples Rehab. Contact us today and see for yourself how our treatment center can help individuals go all the way through effective and successful recovery.

Drug Addiction, Alcohol Addiction, and Healthcare

There are lots of things that people need to take into consideration when they want to stay healthy and strong. They have to start taking care of their body’s and engaging in healthy activities in order for them to be able to maintain a their health. Many people who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction are unable to perform healthy habits. Those who are struggling with addiction need help in order to recovery from substance abuse. They need to take the first step in choosing recovery in beginning their health journey.  For many suffering from addiction taking that first step is overwhelming. Achieving long term health seems like a distant dream. It is easy to lose hope because the task of recovering seems daunting.

Drug and alcohol addiction recovery is a long process that needs patience and hope of the person who is going to undergo the process.  They need spend the time and be responsible enough to be able to handle and deal with their addiction as well as helping themselves to stop using. Drug and alcohol addiction recovery has an easier start for those people who are showing willingness and want to change their life. Change is possible with the right addiction treatment program as well as the support of your friends and family. There are different drug addiction recovery tips that will help you with regards to your recovery. Here are some of the tips you should be familiar with:

  • Deciding on making a total change in your life. This will help you to avoid relapse since you are going to tell yourself that the presence of problems will not be solved by taking drugs. You need to change all activities you are doing. This includes the way you deal with problems as well as the things you are doing during your free time.
  • Knowing and getting to know more about addiction treatments. You need to be familiar with all the options on how you are going to treat your drug addiction. Once you decide on making a change, see to it that you are open to all the possible treatments that would help you in recovering.
  • Know how to seek guidance and support of your family, friends and other people who are ready and willing to support you in whatever types of recovery treatment you opt to have. They will always give you support and will encourage you in your recovery process and they will eventually help you to avoid relapse. The guidance they will give you will be for your own benefit and you are assured that they are always on your side no matter what.
  • Learn healthy ways on how you can deal with drug addiction and other problems. You need to help yourself to stay busy with healthy activities and replace your previous unhealthy choices. Think of the possible ways on how you are going to solve problems without the presence of drugs.
  • Build a healthy life in an environment which is drug free. You need to remove the presence of drugs in your life. Make sure that you are going to avoid situations in which drugs become a part of your life.

Drug and alcohol addiction recovery is possible for people who want to make a change in their life.

New Healthcare Laws

The National Drug Control Strategy of the White House supports a change in the way law enforcement perceives and reacts to drug problems. While many of the proposed laws are just funding the same old projects, there is a noticeable demand for rehabilitation over incarceration. Noting statistics such as the booming difference in recidivism between regular felons and those that are drug addicts, the government seems to be acknowledging that the cost of drug enforcement is much more effective when drug addiction treatment is involved.

They are therefore asking states to review the policies under which they consider drug addicted prisoners for release, public housing, and treatment, because, as the strategy states, drug addiction is a disease. Combined with the Affordable Care Act, the administration is further hoping that healthcare will cover the costs of drug addiction rather than paying for it with law enforcement funds. While whether or not paying these costs through a different arm of the government is really going to change things is a good question, the success of rehab over incarceration has been backed by scientific data for some time.

What is Obamacare?

Right from the moment they heard something about health care reforms, people keep on asking “What is Obamacare?” There are various concepts and regulations associated with this reform and it is also important to familiarize yourself with them. First of all, you have to start with the basic information which is to know about it first. ObamaCare has been the unofficial name that refers to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that has been implemented on 23rd of March 2010. The health care reform of ObamaCare introduced various significant things which cover the Health Insurance Market. This serves as the opportunity for Americans to purchase their federally subsidized and regulated health care insurance.

Drug Addiction and Healthcare

Drug Addiction and Healthcare

Important Facts about ObamaCare

As people ask “What is ObamaCare?” they also ask what it really means to them. There are a few little things that should be learned from it, especially the Affordable Care Act.

  • This act has more than a thousand reform pages to the industry of insurance and health care. This is for cutting the costs of healthcare and providing affordable health care insurance to the Americans.
  • Just before this law, you may have been denied treatment or coverage if you were sick previously; get charged more if you are a woman; get dropped mid-treatment due to simple mistakes on the application; and get no or very little ways to fight for appeals against the insurance companies.
  • There are about forty four million Americans who presently cannot obtain health insurance. ObamaCare made major accomplishments such as helping them to obtain health care insurance by expanding Medicare and Medicaid. At the same time, they also offer cost assistance to those who cannot afford their health care.
  • Majority of Americans needed to obtain health insurance on the 1st of January 2014; or, when they needed to pay the year-end taxes. Most Americans are eligible for health insurance subsidized costs from about 0 percent up to 9.5 percent of the taxable income. The subsidized insurance can be purchased with the presence of Health Insurance Market.

How Does it Affect Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation?

Obamacare is designed for improving the CHIP and Medicare quality. The insurance companies cannot deny or charge your health insurance according to gender or health. Going through a drug addiction recovery program is never easy and shouldn’t be construed as an easier option compared to sitting behind bars with no motivation to self-improve. Couples Rehab confronts psychological and emotional problems in ways that the prison system today shows no interest in trying anymore and empowers patients to live healthy and sober. For those that are saved from their overpowering addiction, their days where they resorted to crime to fund their habit will be gone for good.

How does it pertain to Addiction Treatment?

Many people are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. They are suffering and facing many difficulties when wondering how they are going to overcome their addiction. Luckily there are trained professionals who specialize in helping people suffering from addiction find sobriety in Addiction Treatment Centers. Addiction treatment is a process where a person suffering from active addiction is healed through many types of psycho-social therapies and sometimes with the help of medication.

Discover the Drug Rehabilitation Process

  • The drug rehabilitation process can include medication for those people who need it depending on the substance they are addicted too and the duration of the addiction. If can also be used for those who would benefit from comfort measures.
  • Counseling services are available in order to help people in sharing what are their experiences are and giving them the courage to believe in themselves and believe that they will be able to overcome their addiction problems.
  • There is also meditation as well as spiritual services where they are being taught on how to give importance to God as well as hopes. There is a chance to change from addiction and this can help them reach that.
  • People who are undergoing the drug rehabilitation process typically stay in a rehabilitation center where they can actually perform all the needed treatments with regards to their condition.
  • In the treatment centers they are given ample time to change and can practice healthy habits. This is achieved through taking part in healthy activities and learning how to do household tasks. People stay in the rehabilitation centers for a couple of months depending on how serious their drug addiction was.
  • Drug rehabilitation is essential in teaching people how they are going to live in an environment that is drug free. This can mean removing themselves from their prior friend circles and toxic relationships. They will learn to replace old unhealthy habits with new health ones.

Staying in rehab will help people to be at ease about their worries with regards to drug addiction. For people who are having a hard time during recovery, any drug rehabilitation center is open to guide and assist you in treating drug addictions.

The Future of Addiction Treatment

Couples Rehab is here to help addicted people to discontinue the use of drugs and stop the obsessive cravings for drugs. Drug rehab centers can take place in different settings, in various diverse forms, and for different time periods. Since drug addiction is normally an unceasing disorder distinguished by irregular relapses, a single short-term treatment is generally not adequate. For lots of people, drug rehabilitation treatment is a continuing process, which includes frequent monitoring.

Couples Rehab makes use of a wide array of substantiate tactics to cure addiction. Drug addiction treatment usually comprises of behavioral analysis like group or personal psychotherapy, cognitive analysis or contingency supervision, medications, or a combination of everything. The definite form of therapy or mixture of therapies will differ based on a particular patient’s personal needs and also the different kinds of drugs they take. The seriousness of drug dependence and earlier efforts to discontinue using drugs also affects a treatment method.

Couples Rehab offers programs which make available a mixture of drug rehabilitation treatment and various different services in order to satisfy an individual patient’s requirements. Specific requirements may possibly be associated with sexual orientation, culture, age, race, gender, other drug use, pregnancy, melancholic conditions like HIV or depression, physical and sexual violence history, parenting, employment and housing.

With the help of Couples Rehab, you can be sure that you get back to the life you once lost due to drug and alcohol addiction.

Theories on Addiction

The theories of addiction are a bold attempt that let people unify their understanding of human behavior and pathological refraction. Reviews have already been presented about the existing theories on addiction. With these reviews and shares of point of views, people have already been divided about the theories of addiction. Some people believe that it is a disease while some believe it to be just a consequence of poor choice.

Point of View: It is a Disease

The theory that addiction to alcohol or drugs is a disease is no longer a new concept. In 1784, Dr. Rush already initiated that this condition is a disease. Requiring it to be treated by doctors and physicians. Nevertheless, the theory did not get much attention until Alcoholics Anonymous was established in 1930. Even during the olden days, before the disease theory became popular, society was prejudiced against people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Addicts were looked down upon. They were thought to have a lack of morality and discipline. They were presumed to be people who were only after pleasure without regard to other people. Addicts were also viewed as people with deficiencies in their character.

It was then that the theory of addiction being seen as a disease came up. This is exactly the same as diabetes, tuberculosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It helped to say that those who were suffering from addiction were not bad people. They were sick and needed help. With this theory, the public became less judgmental and less critical of those who were addicted.  It was not welcoming to hear that you were afflicted by a disease. But this was a lot better than being regarded as self-centered or immoral. The concept was embraced by almost everyone. The popularity of this theory, led people to explore more into addiction. They were better able to understand the changes that occur in the brain and that are brought on by chemical dependency. When all these physical changes that occur, it can be said that addiction is a disease.

Moreover, Dr. Benjamin Rush believed that addiction is a disease. In his struggle, it was twenty-eight years ago that he went to his first AA meeting. According to him, addiction is surely a disease. He drank and it was who he was. The fun and excitement just stopped along the way. He tried every means he knew of to control his drinking habits. Throughout that struggle he experienced failure after failure to stop drinking. It was not until he asked for assistance from a recovery treatment center that he realized with help he could achieve sobriety. He believed that addiction was just the same as a disease like cancer or diabetes. It was caused by a combination of factors and issues, including predisposition. Studies have also shown that ten percent of the population is predisposed to addiction.

In the year of 1950, the medical field already increased their support for the theory that addiction is a disease. The AMA, the APHA and the ASAM also pushed their position regarding addiction as a disease in both their treatment methods and definitions. In the past few years, psychology, pharmacology and neuroscience have concentrated more on gaining understanding of the physical side of addiction. The American Board of Medical Specialties even recognized another field, called Addiction Medicine.

Point of View: It is a Choice

There are some people who still believe that addiction is actually the result of a poor choice. To understand it clearly, addiction is a behavior and that behavior is a choice. An addict has all the reasons to start using and to start quitting. When one acts purely based on reason, it can be considered as a choice. Addicts are not simply mindless zombies who aim to find drugs at the expense of all else. Many of them are able to go through detox and get sober. They can make the decision to keep away from those situations that will trigger them. Recovering addicts can also enlist the support of their family and friends for them to get through the rough times.

Some people believe that once the brain has gone through a profound change after years of abuse substance, an addict could still be determined and motivated to stop it. This is also even after a short time. In a study conducted by a research group from Hart, it explains that addicts want to recover because of one important goal. For instance, physicians who were told to stop their addiction do so. If not, they will lose their medical licenses. The study uses an incentivizing process that is essential in support and recovery. The brain of an addict has already been chemically and physically altered by drug abuse over a long term period. But, they still have the ability to overcome and make a different choice. Thousands of addicts having proven this.

Some believe that addicts still have a choice to stick to their addiction or to choose a healthier and better life for themselves. There just are not many addicts that know this. It then becomes the job of trusted professionals, loved ones, friends, and employers that will guide the addicts to change for an improved and better life. The people who believe addiction is a choice argue that if it is a real disease, some of your body parts would be in a state of abnormal physiological functioning causing undesirable symptoms to occur. For instance, in cancer, it is the mutated cells that are the evidence of physiological abnormality. The low production of insulin cells is also the culprit to diabetes. And, those who have diseases cannot stop all their symptoms on their own. They also could not stop certain abnormal and physiological functioning that only creates the symptoms. In this regard, they could only stop the abnormality by way of medical treatment.

With regard to addiction, there is no such thing as physiological malfunction. Addiction is described as a chronic relapsing disease and is characterized by a compulsive drug use. Addiction is a choice because of the inability to quit despite the negative consequences. When an addict comes into addiction treatment no one is physically treating or healing their brain. There is medication involved in some cases, but that is simply to provide comfort measures. These addicts were ordered by the court to engage in a treatment program. These programs consist of individual counseling, group counseling, and many with with twelve-step attendance.

Gene Heyman is the author of the book “Addiction: A Disorder of Choice”. In the study presented in the book, it went back to cocaine abusers that were given conventional addiction counseling. They were offered vouchers that could be traded in for rewards like sports equipment or movie tickets. As long as they could prove their abstinence from drug use, through urine tests, they could get all these incentives. In the study, seventy percent of those who were under the program remained abstinent where as twenty percent stayed in the control group. This demonstrates that substance abuse is not involuntary or compulsive. It is actually a choice. After they were presented with a rewarding alternative to drug or alcohol abstinence, they chose to stop it. There were follow up studies that showed how this led to changes in a long-term period.  After a year of following the program, the patients doubled their success rate. Whatever it was they were filling their time with was working. The were able to replace their old bad habits with new, health habits.

In this study there was no evidence that substance or alcohol use is uncontrollable. The subjective report is that drug users cannot stop. The treatment professionals would also insist that the behavior is compulsive because of brain changes. Nevertheless, the promise of giving them an incentive is just enough to increase the success rate of traditional addiction counseling. Some people truly believe that addicts can control their urges. They only relied on substance to feel happiness. When they were introduced to other sources for happiness, they were more likely to choose these options. In the long run, they will stay sober and can practice self-regulation and self-control.

So there you have it. The two theories on Addiction.

 

LGBTQ in Recovery

by Eric Robert H.

 

When I came to the realization that I could no longer drink, I thought I was greatly disheartened. Anger and resentment against God pumped through my veins. It had only been a couple years since I came out as bi-sexual (which some people just put off as gay) and I was coping with my new lifestyle by working alcoholically and drinking the same. Now, I had to accept the fact that I have to endure the rest of my life on this Earth without drinking. Distressed, bereaved and spiritually enraged, I felt that God was punishing me for a life I never asked for. What I did ask him for was happiness, a mentor, romantic love and success in my career field. Alcohol inhibited any and all of those blessings from arriving.

Investigative journalist Walter Armstrong attests, “Alcoholism is the granddaddy of gay health problems. It may have little of the urgency or newsworthiness of crystal meth, say, or HIV, but it remains one of our community’s (and nation’s) most insidious and intractable destroyers.” (http://www.realjock.com/article/985) The disease of alcoholism is definitely insidious. The progressiveness of the disease in my life gained momentum when the pressures of living “in the closet” became near unbearable. In coming out, it seemed like the news spread like wildfire. I began to lose trust in others. Disclosure with a few resulted in many knowing more about my personal life than I had ever let on before. I could not trust myself with the truth, let alone others. So what did I do? I moved residences, got a new job on my ideal career path and isolated when I drank. The objective was not to drink alone but rather to avoid being disappointed by the lack of gay men at the local dive bars and also not to be overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy upon entering a gay bar. Alcohol cornered me – putting me right between its menacing grip of destruction, self-pity and isolation.

Upon entering rehab I found great solace and comfort in the support and acceptance I received from most men who were also clients of the treatment facilities. By taking that simply yet bold leap to enter treatment for alcohol abuse and dependence I took myself out of isolation. Rather than entering general population of the world right off the bat, I entered a population of men who knew and understood my pain as an alcoholic. This was one of my first experiences introducing myself not only as an alcoholic but also leading with the fact that I don’t identify as straight – a conversation that seems to arise quickly whenever men socialize. For the first time in my life, I did not feel so different, estranged and alone in a world where everyone else seemed to enjoying their booze in moderation. I thought my drinking was a homosexual problem when in fact I discovered and accepted alcoholism for the tyrannical spiritual malady it truly is. Straight men who stood by me, shared with me and attended groups with me led me to this understanding.

Accepting my sexual orientation for what it is takes courage each and every day. Much of my experience as a man pursuing other men revolved around alcohol. I struggled accepting myself and the struggle to accept other gay men was even greater. With that, I accumulated a lot of guilt and shame from drunken one-night stands with men who identified as straight. The shame and guilt I bore was not mine to bear. According to a study published by The Journal of Social Psychology,  “heterosexual people are more likely to find members of the same sex attractive after consuming alcohol.” The journal furthered the conclusions drawn from the study stating, “men who had more than ten alcoholic drinks were just as interested in the men depicted as they were in the women.” (http://www.newnownext.com/straight-men-drunk-gay-sex-study/05/2017/) In the words of R&B artists Jamie Foxx “blame it on the a-a-a-a-alcohol…”. Rehab gave me the healthy, sustainable friendships with gay and straight men I had always longed for.

In addition to rehab, spiritual and emotional gains have been made for the better due to the acceptance and tolerance I found in the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Two of my sponsors have been straight men and most of the calls I receive daily are from the like. My sexuality doesn’t define me, nor does it define my disease. I drink from the fountain of community with cups of friendship because AA and treatment facilities did not close their doors on those who identify along the spectrum of LGBTQ. Walter Armstrong went on to note that  “AA opened its doors to gay men two years after its founding in 1935, whereas gay-sensitive treatment centers remain few and far between in some parts of the U.S. It’s estimated that there are now more than a thousand gay AA groups nationwide, with 12-step.programs for everything from crystal-meth addiction to sexual compulsion increasing the count by half. “ (Armstrong, “Just a Sip? Gay Men and Alcoholism”, http://www.realjock.com/article/985)

In any discussion revolving around homosexuality it is necessary to address the lack of progressiveness and acceptance in normative culture. Matthew Todd, former editor of Attitude, argues that for gay men it is “our experience of growing up in a society that still does not fully accept that people can be anything other than heterosexual and cisgendered [born into the physical gender you feel you are]… It is a shame with which we were saddled as children, to which we continue to be culturally subjected.” (Owen Jones, “Gay Men Are Battling a Demon More Powerful Than HIV”, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/20/gay-men-hiv-homophobia-lgbt-drink-drugs). I have my own stories of being sanctioned, ridiculed, ostracized and discriminated against for identifying as bisexual. Even in treatment I experienced the pain of being called a “fag” by a fellow client who bore tattoos indicating allegiance to white supremacy. He later apologized and our friendship was built on the foundation of sobriety and clean time rather than our differences.

Recovery and AA have an irrefutable power to bring people who would typically not mix together.  Armstrong notes that “Recent studies have found comparable trends in alcoholism and alcohol abuse between gay and straight men.” (“Just a Sip?”) We alcoholics are not all that different regardless of who we want to spend the rest of our lives. Getting sober not only helps me come out of the closet but also accept myself. I attend AA mens meetings just as much as I attend gay meetings. I pray to a God of my own understanding. And the best part about early sobriety is that I’m not looking for sex or romantics for the next year at least.

So the pressure is off. Be yourself and defy whatever defamations alcoholism is trying to tell you. Getting sober is an affirmation uninhibited by race, creed, sexual orientation or religion. It’s a universal language of love that will endure as long as mankind and alcohol co-exist. If you are struggling with alcoholism and your identifying as anything other than straight, address your disease first and I guarantee the know-how and courage to face life’s other many mysteries will reveal itself.

Shameless Sex Sober

The Discussion of Celibacy in Early Recovery as Portrayed on Primetime Television

by Eric Robert H.

Seven seasons of egregious acts, lack of concern for others and doing whatever it takes to survive the cold streets of Chicago has immortalized the Showtime series Shameless. The raunchy bluntness of the characters enthralled me while in college and every season finale left me thirsty for more of the Gallaghers. In recent seasons we’ve seen the eldest son of the Gallagher clan, Lip played by Jeremy Allen White rise to the rafters of academia but endure an insufferable demise alcohol abuse. Alcoholics Anonymous maintains an appeal to “attraction rather than promotion” so it’s quite a guilty pleasure to see it depicted in primetime media. As a fan and avid viewer of the show, I identify with Lip extensively – the struggle to balance book smarts with street knowledge; the appeal to better yourself through education despite leaving your family; and the baffling insurgence of alcoholism at all the wrong times.

A standing ovation is due as Season 8 of Shameless has found its stride and brings the viewers into the rooms of AA through the eyes of Lip. The character is an archetype newcomer and chronic relapser. This season we find him clinging to the guidance and mentorship of his sponsor and reaffirming his patriarchal seat at the Gallagher breakfast table. In a September 12 interview with TV Guide White discussed Lip’s character arch this season explaining, “He’s trying to understand himself. He becomes almost childlike in his sobriety. He’s really going to his sponsor and his family members and asking questions, not thinking that he knows it all. It’s nice to see Lip curious, I guess…I’m not gonna say that Lip’s perfect this season because he’s not by any means, but I think you’ll see Lip thinking about his actions a bit more. Lip is obviously incredibly intelligent, but I think emotional intelligence is a completely different thing, and he often struggles with making the right choices.”

(https://www.thefix.com/shameless-star-jeremy-allen-white-talks-characters-newfound-sobriety)

 

“But how many men and women speak love with their lips, and believe what they say, so that they can hide lust in the dark corner of their minds? And even while staying within conventional bounds, many people have to admit that their imaginary sex excursions are apt to be all dressed up as dreams of romance.”

(The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 67)

 

The rise of Lip’s sobriety has brought the icon’s sex life to a dramatic pause, something newcomers can certainly identify with. The suggestion to abstain from sex relations during one’s first year of sobriety is not a popular topic among us recovering. Members of AA share different, individual belief systems about sex relations in early sobriety. Celibacy may not have been practiced by some of the stakeholder oldtimers in your homegroup. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is infamous for its description and approach to sex on page, but of course, sixty-nine (69). The great text contends that “God alone can judge our sex situation. Counsel with persons is often desirable, be we let God be the final judge. We realize that some people are as fanatical about sex as others are loose. We avoid hysterical thinking or advice.” The reconstruction of one’s sex situation is deeply personal and vital to the success or failure of their recovery.

Here Season 8 is near mid-season and Lip is struggling with celibacy. As a newcomer, I can identify with the temptation to reignite the relationship of an old flame and the sobering moment one experiences upon awakening from a fantastical wet dream. It’s a total mind f*ck. What the hell does me having sex have to do with me not drinking? I lightly identify as a sex addict. The disease of sex addiction is so pertinent, so relative to substance abuse and addiction treatment a Sexual Recovery Institute was founded in Los Angeles in 1995 by Rob Weiss, LCSW, author of Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn and Love Addiction (https://www.addiction.com/expert-blogs/understanding-defining-sexual-sobriety/). The institute is now hedged under Relativity at Elements Behavioral Health as its website Sexualrecovery.com offers information pertaining to sex addiction and the treatment thereof. Now, just because someone identifies as an alcoholic or drug addict does not mean they automatically identify as a sex addict, but you tell a person like me to not even consider having sex for a year and yeah, you are going to see some signs of addiction start to surface.

The Sexual Recovery Institute maintains that “Human beings are naturally geared to make sex an important consideration in their everyday lives, and sex is one of the world’s most common pleasurable activities. These facts reflect the core importance of sexual reproduction to human survival. Unfortunately, some people develop a dysfunctional relationship to sex and start to repeatedly use sexual activity, sex-related thinking or sexual fantasy in damaging or inappropriate ways.” From a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, which was involved in most if not all of my sexual encounters, it is no wonder why my sex drive went into overdrive upon entering sobriety. The pleasure receptors in my brain are accustomed to be appeased, if not by alcohol or marijuana then by what? Sex. Porn. Masturbation. Instant gratification. This is a serious issue. It’s a classic example of an alcoholic replacing one addiction with another: “As with other forms of non-substance-based behavioral addiction, repeated and excessive involvement in sex can trigger long-term functional changes in a part of the brain called the pleasure center, and can thereby lead to the onset of addiction-related symptoms that mimic or mirror the symptoms found in people who have physical addictions to drugs or alcohol.” (https://www.sexualrecovery.com/articles/general-interest/sexual-fantasies-run-gamut-in-both-genders/)

 

“When satisfaction of our instincts for sex, security, and society becomes the sole object of our lives, then pride steps in to justify our excesses… Unreasonable fear that our instincts will not be satisfied drives us to covet the possessions of others, to lust for sex and power, to become angry when our instinctive demands are threatened, to be envious when the ambitions of others seem to be realized while ours are not.”

(The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 49)

 

We are witnessing Lip face a behavioral addiction head-on. Jeremy Allen White told Vulture his character “grew up drinking and is so sewn into the culture that he doesn’t know anything else…The idea of him getting help or not drinking is such a foreign concept.” (http://www.vulture.com/2016/04/shameless-jeremy-white-on-lips-breakdown.html) I’ve concluded that Lip grew up having sex as well. Fans of Shameless have watched Carl Gallagher played by Ethan Cutkosky enter puberty under the advice and in the shadow of his older brothers, Lip the eldest. Thus, it’s safe to conclude that sex is “sewn into” his culture. The thing is, Lip like us newcomers is changing the culture of his life. For some of us it’s an economic bottom, where financial crisis rendered us homeless and without reserve. For others it’s a mental collapse that may have landed us in jail or a padded room on lockdown for 72 hours. Whatever your bottom, it was a direct result of the manner in which we were living. Lip landed in jail as a result of his consumption. He was also admitted to the hospital to be treated for alcohol poisoning. When is enough enough? It’s no wonder why I, like him, am willing to go to celibate extremes in an effort to stay sober.

 

“…our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed… In other words, we treat sex as we would any other problem.”

(Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 69)

 

As we courageously “trudge the road to happy destiny” we resolve to stay sober by setting a definitive boundary to abstain from consuming alcohol. In doing so, we work a program of AA under the guidance and experience of a sponsor. When and if that sponsor suggests we treat sex as we would our problem with alcohol, it begs the question: How free do we want to be? See, I think Lip is tired of living below the poverty line. I think he knows a change in his familial environment that results in longevity and sustainability requires a change within himself. I think he’s desperate enough to shower the morning wood away and give himself the attention his sobriety requires. We are witnessing a spiritual transformation and though fictitious, we are watching a depiction of God working in a life so similar and painfully relatable to our own. In a recent article titled “Setting Our Abound-aries: Dating and Sobriety” on Thefix.com, columnist Kelly Neville wrote, “A boundary is rooted in a fixed, stable location. Those of us in recovery recognize the need to hold fast to our unwavering boundaries: not one drink, not one drug, not ever again. But boundaries get complicated when people we invite into our lives and hearts straddle our fence line.” She’s right. Boundaries do get complicated especially once they are explicit, established and present. We invite people into our lives and they invite us into theirs. We need to be prepared and anticipate the rise of mutual attraction. Sobriety is not a cloak of invisibility and nor should it be. It is an opportunity for us to get to know others on a deep, meaningful level absent from the disease of co-dependence that results from NSA or FWB sex encounters.

 

Remember that non-fiction guy who was so compelled to address sex addiction he founded an institute purposed with its treatment? Rob Weiss, LCSW, provides a sensible strategy for sexual sobriety that he dubs “Boundary Plans” or “Circle Plans”. Three boundaries encircle one another: inner, middle and outer. First, the Inner Boundary identifies and prohibits the actual actions that cause us pain. These are the “bottom-line” or “absolutely not” actions like paying someone for sex, having sex with an ex, participating in casual sex and for some of us even masturbating.

Encompassing the first boundary, second we have the Middle Boundary. Weiss describes this phase of the strategy as an honest listing of triggers – people, places, things and ideas that may lead to relapse. This boundary is unique in that is marked by inaction: skipping meetings, missing appointments for therapy and entertaining unstructured free time. Weiss reminds us, “these (triggers) vary widely depending on the sex addict’s goals and life circumstances”.

The third and largest circle providing a perimeter of protection is the Outer Boundary. This boundary lists short and long-term goals pertaining to the person’s aspirations and vision for life. Setting this perimeter of the outer boundary means setting realistic objectives to achieve success as we melt recovery together with daily life. Tangible objectives such as going to a meeting everyday, attending therapy once a week and volunteering on specific dates keep life interesting and enables us to accomplish little things with big implications.  Weiss suggests we also assert intangible objectives that may include things like getting a better understanding of career goals and envisioning where we see ourselves in ten years. (“Understanding and Defining Sexual Sobriety”, https://www.addiction.com/expert-blogs/understanding-defining-sexual-sobriety/).

Ultimately, the boundaries Weiss suggests for an addict of the sexual variety require the same thing Lip, like us, was lacking: discipline. In making a case for celibacy in sobriety, Chris Fici argues, “Discipline has fallen out of fashion in our post-post-modern world. In previous generations, it was seen as a rite of passage, or even a calling… now it is seen as a perversion of our natural desires, of our striving for freedom.” (https://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/a-case-for-celibacy-sobriety-sanity/) I will further Fici’s claim and argue that in striving for spiritual and emotional freedom we recovering alcoholics need to inhibit the corporal will of the body. Self-control is required. There’s an undeniable elevation of the spirit when the body is controlled, when it is metered in action and forced to succumb to the will of the heart rather than the mind. Consider a performance artist (a background dancer, pop star or Broadway lead). They were not born with the moves or choreography, but they started to practice. For the moves that were difficult they rehearsed under intense scrutiny in the mirror and under the guidance of the producer. When the show commences from the first act to the closing curtain, there’s an incredible exaltation exuding thru the pores of the performer as they take their bow. The performance of the body freed their spirit and made them an intricate piece of something bigger, higher than themselves alone. Celibacy can be considered a performance art. We the actors, life the stage, sobriety the script and God the Director.

In the Hindu text called Bhagavata Purana, verdic teacher A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wrote “By controlling the senses… one can understand the position of his self, the Supersoul, the world and their interrelation; everything is possible by controlling the senses.” The 700-verse Hindu scripture called the Gita maintains:  “But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.” (Fici, 2012)

In closing, I’d encourage anyone in recovery to grab some popcorn and a soda. Sit back and if you have the means, take a look at White’s portrayal of Lip on Shameless. Maybe you’ll be encouraged like me and discover a sound sense of community that transcends from the Roku of a college dorm to the heights of Hollywood Hills. This disease does not discriminate and neither does AA. Just like the bottle, AA can go anywhere in defiance of the disease that wants to keep us shackled to isolation and social deprivation. In a recent episode, Lip brings members of AA to the door of his friend who just caught his fifth DUI. Upon praying out, let us cater not only to the recovery of our livers but to our hearts by abstaining from the vices of the mind. We turned our sex drive into a weapon. Let’s convert it back into a gift, returning it to our higher power from which we received it. This isn’t about mind f*cking ourselves, it’s about preventing harms and allowing the journey of recovery not to be tainted by other expressions of disease. In closing, there’s a fire burning in all of us – we have the ability to control it rather than let it rage out of control causing destruction rather than utility.

 

References:

“Shameless: What Does Sober Lip Look Like in Season 8?” By Megan Vick | Sep 12, 2017, http://www.tvguide.com/news/shameless-season-8-sober-lip/

“Sexual Fantasies Run Gamut in Both Genders” June 11th, 2015, The Sexual Recovery Institute, www.sexualrecovery.com

 

“Shameless’s Jeremy Allen White on Lip’s Heartbreaking Downward Spiral” By Dee Lockett April 1, 2016. http://www.vulture.com/2016/04/shameless-jeremy-white-on-lips-breakdown.html

“Setting Our Abound-aries: Dating and Sobriety” By Kerry Neville 08/21/17

“Understanding and Defining Sexual Sobriety” by Rob Weiss, LCSW on January 19, 2015 in Sex Addiction Expert Blogs

 

“A Case for Celibacy, Sobriety and Sanity.” by Chris Fici  Jun 7, 2012. https://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/a-case-for-celibacy-sobriety-sanity/

Hannah’s Arrival, The Alcoholic’s Grace: A Theoretical Review of Arrival as It Pertains to Alcoholics Anonymou

By Eric Robert H.

SPOILER ALERT: In an effort to draw comparable conclusions from the film’s screening this article will divulge the story as it pertains to my translation as a recovering alcoholic. This article has no intention to infringe upon any copyrights or trademarks.

 

 

The previews for the feature film Arrival were released almost a year prior to its theatrical debut and upon viewing I knew the film would draw me in with incredible rapture. The International Movie Database (IMDB) summarizes the story, “When twelve mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.” (2016) Overarching themes of discovery, courage, the human spirit, reason and power lace the film with a post-modern fabric requiring a keen attention to detail. The protagonist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) guides the audience through the characterizations of her superior Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), her colleague and future spouse Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and most importantly the archetype of innocence, her daughter Hannah (played by various actors). As interaction among the characters is depicted, the story cuts through time and space like a wormhole. I had to watch the film multiple times with pen in hand to not only establish the audience’s perspective in time and space but also take note of the extensive use of communication studies as Louise ascends to the role of heroine.

A palindrome is “a word, verse, sentence or number that reads the same backward and forward” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/palindrome). In the film, Louis explains to her daughter that the name Hannah is one of power because it is in fact a palindrome, representative of the heptapod (alien) language she is tasked with translating. That name, Hannah, stood out to me as a Biblical reference and upon inquiry I learned it is a Jewish name meaning grace: simple elegance or refinement of movement. Like Hannah, the acronym AA is also a palindrome. The similarity brings relevance to the nonlinear totality upon which the film plays out. It is reminiscent of a circle with points intersecting its borders. A triangle or pyramid inside of a circle or sphere, edges meeting edges. The logo of AA depicts separation within a whole connection.

A groundbreaking discovery is made when Louise provokes the heptapods to write their language. Rather than words, logograms are displayed. The use of a logogram allows a single symbol to communicate deep, complex meaning – just like the logo for AA. Logograms like words are symbols, representing shared understandings. Those of us in recovery understand one another with a single word – sobriety. A single word conveying lifetimes of meaning and thus rendering understanding which is the objective of communication. The newcomer’s pain and our stories share common pitfalls as well as a single triumph. “I don’t drink,” now a testament that I’ve been brought closer to God than ever before. It’s a statement of solidarity rather than a debilitating confession of isolation.  Just as Hannah battles “a rare disease that is unstoppable” so do members of AA.

The rising action of the film is Louise’ race against the doomsday clock to translate and bridge communications among human and extraterrestrial parties. Upon analysis she determines that the heptapod logograms are “free of time”. The alien language is represented in ‘nonlinear orthography” meaning the rules that dictate their language are holistic and transcendent rather than metered by measurements of time. Louise and Ian discuss the Sapir-Whorf Theory which is the hypothesis that language not only influences thought and perceptions, but may also be responsible for what we are capable of thinking (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=you%20are%20what%20you%20speak&st=cse, www.sheknows.com). I relate this theory to the negative, destructive self-talk produced by alcoholism. The disease of alcoholism constructs a self-loathing narrative within its host/ victim, negating natural coping skills and leaving them with an inability to stop drinking if left untreated. Fortunately, AA submerses the alcoholic into a new culture, teaching our wet minds a new language, thus changing our perception of reality. The awe-inspiring power of AA is comparable to Louise’ influence as a linguist and her ability to change the narrative of humanity’s introduction to the foreign bodies that conflict throughout the film.

The necessity to negotiate, just as the alcoholic does with himself, presents Louise with another theory known as the Prisoner’s Dilemma. This is a scenario where cooperation and trust wins as blind pursuit of self-interest loses (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/prisoner-s-dilemma.html). AA’s survival is dependent upon AA unity. The program requires one alcoholic to work with another – cooperation and trust win. The alcoholics self-interest, “self-will run riot” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p.62), has proven a loss spiritually, mentally and physically. The prisoner’s dilemma is not explicit in the film but director Denis Villeneuve and writer Eric Heisserer made sure to explain a zero-sum game. According to Collins Dictionary, zero-sum game is “a contest in which one person’s loss is equal to the other person’s.” (2017) Sponsorship is a zero-sum game. The sacrifice and loss of free time on the sponsor’s side is matched by the social gain and understanding given the sponsee.

I was compelled to root for Louise as she transforms into a communication heroine by what Bishop T.D. Jakes might describe as the act of rising up and coming out (“Worship Connects Us”, 11/26/2017). Louise’ decision to “rise up and come out” is exemplified upon her entering a single pod extended from the alien’s ship and joining them aboard. Louise had to make herself vulnerable, take a risk and do what no one else would in order to gain the understanding and acquire a solution. Her being aboard the ship, beyond the barrier that initially separated the two species, brought her to a state of weightlessness. She was set on an equal plane with no gravitational advantage or disadvantage. The protagonist was suspended in refuge. This is equivalent to alcoholics entering the rooms of AA and participating in a meeting. Upon returning to the terrestrial plane, Louis carries the message, “Use weapon”. Obviously at face value this message is threatening, but further investigation reveals that the symbol for weapon in the heptapod language is identical to ‘gift’ – “Use gift”. Alcohol threatened our lives: a weapon of mass destruction. AA changes that weapon into a gift that unifies us. Funny how the symbol takes on a new meaning, a new cause and a new effect.

Louise’s acquisition of fluency in the heptapod language grants her the ability to see the future (Sapir-Whorf Theory). SPOILER ALERT: All this time, the audience thought we were flashing back in review of Hannah’s childhood when in actuality the film flashes us forward revealing what is to come of her short yet evasive and meaningful life. Some of us have been advised to “play the tape” when tempted to drink and we conclude that the result of such drink would be nil. We play the tape of sobriety and though the journey of life now extends much longer, narrower and still grieved with pain, we are willing to endure because it is a good fight of faith worth fighting. Now purposed to resolve the rising conflict, Louise states, “Despite knowing the journey and where it leads; I embrace it and welcome every moment.”  

As a member of AA, I could not agree more. See, the weapon of language given to Louise opens time. It unlocks the closed circuit. Alcoholism, a cyclical cycle that has no cure, that is unstoppable, can in fact be arrested. The promises of AA allow the newcomer to perceive time the same way as the old-timer otherwise known as a survivor. Therein we have a reason for unification, a reason to work a program together.

Upon further analysis of character names I found the palindromic theme reinforced as the conception of Hannah is revealed. Her origin like ours required a ‘mom’ and dad’. Both of these words, these symbols of maternity and paternity are examples of palindromes. I probably got way too into this film’s dissection but as a Bachelor of Arts in Communications I discovered that Louise spelled backward is Esioul audibly similar to ‘soul’. Hannah’s father is introduced and characterized as a scientist named Ian- a symbol very similar to ‘I am’. Exodus 3:14 reads “And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” So for the sake of my argument, let’s refer to our protagonist as ‘Soul’ and her significant other as ‘I am’. In the concluding scenes of the film, Soul embraces I am saying, “I forgot how good it felt to be held by you.” She had never been held by him before, however now that she knew her future she was penitent to have ever gone without him.

Alcoholics Anonymous requires a single penance of temperance. In that inaction, a covenant, a bond, an embrace is formed between us and a Higher Power of our own understanding. Prior to getting sober, “I forgot how good it felt to be held by” God. He’s given me a gift, a new language. That language is spoken and symbolized by abstinence from alcohol. This immersion into a new language changes how I see life. Just as the Sapir-Whorf Theory hypothesizes, my thoughts and perceptions are influenced by my language. The symbol I did not know, the sobriety I did not practice, left me unable to understand a future without alcohol. There was no future in my eyes because I thought I could not bear to live in the present; all I knew was my past and my perception was defined by it. Nowadays I’m having whole conversations in a single word, sober. I thought the film was about the arrival of the aliens but now I know it’s about the arrival of hannah: the arrival of grace.

Grace /ɡrās/

the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Not into the 12 steps but looking to stay sober? Here’s what to try next

By David Heitz

Once taboo, an increasingly heard chorus of addicts and alcoholics in recovery are bemoaning the 12 steps. They say they are ancient, ineffective, and not based on science. In particular, 12-step programs have proven ineffective for many opioid addicts who have a difficult time accepting personal responsibility for their addiction. Many of them were prescribed medication by a doctor, after all, and took it as directed. If the new face of addiction is demanding alternatives to 12-step programs, we must provide it. Everyone deserves to live a happy, sober life. They say that while it is true “the program” has helped tens of millions of people, it’s also true that the program works well for the people it works for. We don’t have statistics on the number of AA “dropouts” who ended up staying sober on their own. Perhaps they took the familiar from AA and discarded the rest. Here are some other groups offering recovery support:

 

SMART Recovery (www.SMARTRecovery.org)

 

Next to AA, this is the next most common choice of recovery groups in the U.S. SMART Recovery bases its methods on self-reliance and evolving science. One of the biggest problems people addicted to opioids face with 12-step programs is resistance to the medication-assisted therapy that many need to maintain sobriety. Elizabeth Brico explains it all too well in an informative piece for Stat.

 

“Sadly, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about medication-assisted therapy for drug addiction. Take, for example, a comment made about medication assisted treatment by Tom Price, who recently resigned as secretary of Health and Human Services. “If we’re just substituting one drug with another,” he infamously said, “we’re not moving the dial much,” indicating his clear preference for faith-based and non-psychoactive interventions. The most recognized providers of those kinds of interventions are the 12-step fellowships, which include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. If that’s what the secretary of health said works best, we should count ourselves lucky that thousands of free 12-step meetings occur every day across the country. Right? Wrong. These programs are making the opioid crisis worse by making recovery from opioid addiction harder than it already is. By turning their backs on people like me on medication-assisted therapy to kick opioid addictions, these programs are prolonging addiction and contributing to overdose deaths.” (1)

 

Harsh words, indeed, but true ones. A “substance use disorder” for DSM-5, the so-called bible of mental health diagnoses, refers to when a substance is interfering with a person’s daily life. When a person on medication-assisted therapy is working, in recovery, and rebuilding their life and their relationships, they are not considered to be an active “addict” in the medical sense.

It’s important to note that some NA chapters are more progressive than others about medication-assisted therapy. It is a non-issue in many of them, but you always will encounter “old school” members and the accompanying rhetoric.

 

 

Women for Sobriety

AA is run by unscreened volunteers and is not supported with tending law enforcement or the medical establishment at its meetings. Unfortunately, it can be a playground for predators or just plain mean people. In a 2015 piece on the issue in The Guardian, one woman described her experience. “What I did not expect was to be fresh meat when I walked into AA meetings….Men wanted my number and wanted to date me. I was newly sober, clueless and craving love….“It never caused a relapse, but it did make me question the joy of sober life, and also consider suicide….The world seems like a really mean place when you are surrounded by unhealthy people.” (2)

SOS (SOSSobriety.org)

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (also known as Save Our Selves) is a non-profit group not affiliated with any religious or secular organization, as its website points out. The no-nonsense principles of SOS make it clear sobriety means abstinence from all drugs inside these rooms. The principles also state very plainly the group has no interest in controversy, only in helpings its members maintain clarity and strength in sobriety. From its website:  SOS is a nonprofit network of autonomous, non-professional local groups, dedicated solely to helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety/abstinence from alcohol and drug addiction, food addiction and more. S.O.S. headquarters began in Jim Christopher’s apartment, as did his early meetings, but later the organization found a home at The Center for Inquiry West (CFI-West) in Hollywood, California.  Today, S.O.S. meetings span the globe, and it’s headquarters can still be found at CFI West.

 

Celebrate Recovery (celebraterecovery.com)

 

Some who enjoy Celebrate Recovery meetings say that unlike what you find in “the rooms” of the 12 steps, members seem more like those “nice Christians” you remember from church, for lack of a better word. Less judgment. More love. Increasingly, research shows the tough love approach to addiction simply does not work. But understand, Celebrate Recovery is based on those same 12 steps but with Jesus Christ font and center.  From its website, explaining in no uncertain terms: The DNA of Celebrate Recovery is non-negotiable because of two pertinent facts: 1. The DNA revolves around the Gospel of Jesus Christ and 2. The Bible and God’s Word are at the very core of everything we do in Celebrate Recovery. The DNA of Celebrate Recovery is all about pointing us back to the Beatitudes; Jesus’ instructions on how to live a good, productive life. By following the DNA, groups will start safe and remain safe.

 

Some may find it odd that a person would turn away from a 12-step program such as NA or AA, yet embrace that same program when narrowed even further to focus only on Jesus Christ as their higher power. However, if someone grew up in a Christian church, the 12-steps practiced inside a Christian church led by clergy can prove enormously useful. The vibe is much different than in a non-denominational, non-religious 12-step group. Real stigma about addiction coming from ‘the rooms’ In a recent VICE piece, famed addiction journalist, author and recovering addict Maia Szalavitz talked about where the stigma surrounding addiction comes from. Writes Szalavitz in a disturbing commentary stemming from allegations of sexual abuse against actor Kevin Spacey:

 

“In fact, much of the stigma associated with the addiction model comes from the way the concept is so often used as an excuse for all types of bad behavior—and the way rehab is viewed as a site to begin restitution and penitence. This is not helped by the fact that the majority of American rehabs are based on the 12 step model, in which participants are encouraged to surrender to a “higher power,” take “moral inventory,” ask God to remove their “defects of character” and make amends to those they have harmed. The fact that so many rehabs have historically used degrading and punitive tactics that assume participants are self-centered manipulative liars also plays into the idea that addiction is really sin.” (3)

 

LifeRing (LifeRing.org)      

 

LifeRing Is another non-secular recovery support alternative. LifeRing focuses on empowerment instead of dwelling on being powerless. From its website: “Our approach is based on developing, refining, and sharing our own personal strategies for continued abstinence and crafting a rewarding life in recovery. In short, we are sober, secular, and self-directed.”

 

Relentless judgment, lack of options leaves bitter 12-step taste

 

In an interview last year with Rehab International, Szalavitz said, “It’s clear (the 12-Step program) does not work on opioid addiction,” Szalavitz said. “If you believe that your method is the best method, you should not have to be forcing people into it.” (4) The model also encourages everyone to keep their “disease,” of course, “anonymous.” How much more stigmatizing can you get, say their critics. Is now really the time to be ‘anonymous’ about addiction? Many people with extraordinarily firm faiths in God or another higher power also have condemned AA. Their reasons often have to do with the “anonymity’ part. While mothers of the dead are calling for openness about drug and alcohol addiction, those afflicted with it are encouraged to stay quiet outside their 12-step recovery rooms. It’s a conflict that makes no sense in the minds of many, particularly during a public health emergency.

 

In a recent New York Times Sunday Review Laura Hilgers writes:

 

“In fact, many recovering addicts are not in a traditional program. Some manage recovery independently. Others join Refuge Recovery, a program based on Buddhist principles, or Smart Recovery, which encourages reliance on self rather than a “higher power.”

No matter the path, why should they remain silent? “It’s like being a vegan but only being able to talk about it in a kitchen or a hospital,” said Fay Zenoff, executive director for the Center for Open Recovery, “or with another vegan.” (5)

Bibliography

 

  1. Brico, E. (2017, Oct. 4) By shunning medication-assisted therapy, 12-step meetings are making the opioid crisis worse.  Stat. Retrieved Nov. 8, 2017, from https://www.statnews.com/2017/10/04/medication-assisted-therapy-12-step/

 

  1. Cunha, D. The Guardian. Retrieved Nov. 8, 2017, from

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/22/alcoholics-anonymous-aa-women-dating-addition-rehab

 

  1. Szalavitz, M.  (2017, Oct. 7). Addiction is not an excuse for sexual assault. VICE. Retrieved Nov. 8, 2017, from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmzq48/addiction-is-not-an-excuse-for-sexual-assault

 

  1. Heitz, D. (2016). Author argues shaming addicts is harmful, says most treatments are archaic and all wrong. Rehab International. Retrieved Nov. 8, 2017, from https://rehab-international.org/blog/author-argues-shaming-addicts-harmful-says-treatments-archaic-wrong

 

  1. Hilgers, L. (2017, Nov. 4). Let’s Open Up About Addiction and Recovery. The New York Times Sunday Review. Retrieved Nov. 8, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/04/opinion/sunday/drug-addiction-recovery-alcoholism.html