Before I went to treatment for substance abuse and addiction issues, I had no idea what recovery was about. Now that I’m working a program of recovery, I realize just how ignorant I was about it. I also get a kick out of people’s responses when I tell them that I’m in recovery as well as when I watch TV and movies that incorporate themes dealing with addiction and recovery. There are many aspects to being in recovery and it’s kind of fun to compare what people think recovery is vs. what it really is. Here are some examples.
12 step meetings
Those in recovery understand the importance of attending addiction support group meetings. These meetings are an integral part of the recovery process. But, people who don’t need to attend meetings, whom we affectionately call “normies,” often misunderstand what these meetings are like and often think that they’re some kind of religious revival.
So many people fear the idea of going to rehab, myself included. It seems to evoke images of being chained to beds and tortured. Now that I have gone through treatment at a rehab facility, I consider it the best gift I have ever given myself. And btw, there were no chains.
Before I got clean and sober, my idea of sober people was that of the dry drunk who is totally miserable without his/her drink or drug of choice. Living in recovery, however, is not that at all. In fact, I have never been as happy, joyous, and free as I am now. Being in active addiction is a miserable place to be and I don’t miss it one bit.
I think the term sponsor has people thinking of a Nascar driver with all of those corporate sponsor patches on their jumpsuit. Or else, a little league coach. Sponsorship involves a partnership and relationship between two people who are navigating this whole sobriety thing. A sponsor is kind of like a mentor, who takes you through the steps and is a sober support for you.
Step work is mostly about looking at our experiences and actions. I think the term throws off the rest of society, which tends to think of doing step work as some kind of series of homework assignments, that is, if they’ve even heard of the term.
A typical, sober Friday night to the rest of the world might involve drinking and other forms of debauchery. It seems to be really challenging for people to comprehend going out on a Friday night, having fun, and not drinking. It can be done, folks.
Those of us in recovery keep track of our clean time or sober time. And we like to acknowledge and celebrate our anniversaries. To others, this might seem like an odd thing to do. For us, it’s a chance to see that recovery works and that we do recover.
So many times, I’ve heard the term “Jesus freak” thrown around in reference to the idea of a recovery program. And to be honest, before I got clean, I thought that people who get sober have to ‘get religion’ in order to recover. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Spirituality and religion are two separate concepts that, for some, do overlap – and that’s cool. Speaking of…the coolest thing about working a program of recovery is that this is totally up to the individual.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is also called Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome, the term protracted meaning “lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual.” This is a more accurate way to describe PAWS because many people, myself included, are misled by the more common name (post-acute). That’s to say, PAWS can last for two or more years after you stop using.
Most people seem to know about the symptoms that happen right away: shakes, sweats, insomnia, cravings, anxiety. But, I’m willing to bet that a lot of you, like me, didn’t know that PAWS can include longer-lasting symptoms that affect us in less obvious ways. Here are 12 things you may not realize are post acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).
#1. Impaired interpersonal skills
This means that you might experience difficulties with developing and using the types of social skills that help with interacting and communicating with others.
#2. Difficulty experiencing pleasure
This is a good one to be aware of. Many people in recovery might start feeling discouraged because they can’t enjoy the “normal” things in life without the use of drugs to somehow enhance everything. Knowing that ‘this, too, shall pass’ should help. Things might seem a little flat and boring but that will change as your brain heals – over time.
You might experience feelings of depression as well as pessimistic thoughts as a result of your active addiction. It might be challenging to stay positive when you are being bombarded with negative thoughts. Remember that there are things you can do to overcome this, such as talking to your sponsor, working the steps, meditating, eating right, and exercising – to name just a few. Some people benefit from taking an antidepressant, which if taken as prescribed, does not compromise your sobriety.
#4. Memory problems
This has been a big one for me. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from friends and acquaintances, such as being told I’m re-telling the same story for like the fourth time or, upon “meeting” someone and introducing myself, they tell me we’ve met before – on three different occasions. This can be really embarrassing but, I laugh it off because I know it’s just going to take some time.
#5. Sleep disturbance
By now, you’ve probably experienced ‘using dreams’ or drug dreams but, did you know that this is actually a symptom of PAWS? There are a whole slew of reasons that we experience using dreams and they all stem from physiological, neurological, or psychological changes in the brain that are now healing.
#6. Difficulty with motivation
There will be times when you’re feeling lethargic, lazy, and unmotivated and this could be a result of PAWS rearing its ugly head again.
#7. Inability to think clearly
A big part of PAWS that probably lasts the longest is the cognitive impairments you’ll notice. These are aspects that relate to mental function such as difficulty with concentration and thinking clearly. So, just be patient and gentle with yourself when this happens. Getting frustrated will only add to your stress and will make matters worse.
#8. Feelings of guilt
It’s natural to experience feeling guilt and shame about our addiction and the things we did to support our habit. We might have stolen from other people, committed other crimes, and probably hurt our loved ones. But feelings of guilt might last after you’ve made amends and might even seem amplified – as a result of PAWS. Again, it’s important to be aware of what’s going on and that this is something that will improve over time.
#9. Physical coordination problems
You might have noticed that, at times, you’re a lot more awkward or clumsy than other times. Yes, even physical incoordination can be affected by PAWS.
#10. Stress sensitivity
There will be times that you feel extra stressed out and you might not even know why – nothing has changed and you’re under the same amount of stress with work, family, etc. as usual. This, again, is a symptom of PAWS that can come and go as it pleases. There will be times that you feel easily stressed out. Just remember that it’s part of the healing process and then be sure to exercise, eat right, and get plenty of sleep.
#11. Increased sensitivity to pain
This was another one that surprised me. There are times that people in recovery with PAWS will be more sensitive to physical pain than others. This is extremely important to remember since many of us will be tempted to use this as an excuse to use.
#12. Panic disorder/Generalized anxiety disorder
Even if you didn’t experience anxiety before, it’s possible – as a result of PAWS – that you might feel anxious at times, even without a reason, it seems.
Again, it’s said that symptoms of PAWS can last anywhere from two years after you get clean to several years and even a lifetime. This isn’t to say that it will always be this challenging or frustrating. There are things you can do to lessen your symptoms and improve your quality of life – things such as brain teasers, reading, meditation, praying, yoga, exercise, nutrition, etc. It’s best to be well-informed about this condition so that you can recognize it for what it is and then choose a healthy way to cope.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Sometimes the media just cannot paint the picture the way it needs to be portrayed. In the headlines of scandals and drama Dean McDermott of the Lifetime TV series True Tori and husband to stunning starlet Tori Spellings, has been treated like a fool and a pig, and I almost was right there believing it. But then I noticed he claims to be a real deal alcoholic. The revealing April 29th episode exposed a lot about Deans inner conflict pertaining to the scandal between the troubled two and their Hollywood heartbreak, and Dean gave an honest look at how the disease is devastating his life, then he goes on to follow up with describing the issue with substance abuse, and some of the mess starts to make sense.
Stepping Up About Stepping Out
When confronted about cheating on his wife of seven years with 28-year-old Emily Goodhand, the actor and reality star, 47, opens up about how he ended up in the dog house. He said “I didn’t think I would get caught”. At first I thought this guy was just being inconsiderate and a little arrogant, but after watching his discussion with his friend about the situation, McDermott did go on to talk about how the actions he has recently taken now put his home life and relationship with his loving wife in jeopardy, and how this all stems from an all too familiar fault in his ability to steer clear of abusing substances instead of facing his life and relationship. “I was drinking and using drugs. I was not dealing with things that happened to me in the past. McDermott sees that his addictive characteristics have gotten him into this position, and that his bad choices had him drinking and using before he checked himself into rehab last December. It’s not like I was looking for sex — our relationship and sex life is solid. I have a brain that wants to kill me. I have a brain that wants me dead”. Given this statement, it seems that Dean has some idea of how the disease of addiction affects his mentality and ultimately his life, and now the world sits and watches the process of him and Torri trying to rebuild.
McDermott sees that his addictive characteristics have gotten him into this position, and that his bad choices had him drinking and using before he checked himself into rehab last December, and he has openly admitted to falling into the traps any alcoholic or addict knows. The delusions the disease of addiction create for those who struggle with substance abuse that one can sustain and even succeed in active addiction. He went on to say, “That’s how the alcoholic mind works and thinks. You have a couple cocktails, do a couple lines… Then cut to the sunrise, it just never works out that way.” It is true that by believing he could use and drink freely, he puts himself in a position to fail, as someone who struggles with his self-control. He even admitted to having suicidal thoughts in the wake of the infidelity, and Tori expressed in a therapy session how afraid she was to show her anger because of how it may hurt Deans mental health. The fact that he sees what brought him to his desperate state may give him the opportunity to resist it in the future, but time will tell.
Picking Up the Pieces
The sad truth is that it usually takes something falling apart in order for an addict or alcoholic to put themselves and families back together. During this TV break down he opened up and admitted, “I am on the verge of losing everything that means anything to me in this world. My wife and my family,” and it is pretty clear the threat of his marriage not surviving this next year is bringing him closer and closer to another bottom. The underlining truth to this is that even in the pampered life, someone who chooses to cope with everything in a toxic way will inevitably hurt those around them. We often find our lives in places we never expected them to end up once we subject ourselves to drugs and drinking and follow that mind state. Torri herself goes on throughout the episode debating on if she can forgive her husband’s actions. The father of five— four kids with Spelling and one son with ex-wife Mary Jo Eustace—goes on to explain to his friend how easy it is to lose control, and how important it is for him to change his life and get back on track. I cannot help but find myself cheering this guy on and keeping my fingers crossed that he is able to find an amazing life and some level of sobriety, because I know first-hand how terrible it feels to be standing in his shoes, and how much peace and love someone can find in recovery. I may secretly find myself tuning in to Lifetime sometime soon to see how Deans doing.
If you of someone you love is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please call 1-800-951-6135
Addiction Treatment in Shelburne, VT: What is Addiction?
Addiction is a medical condition that involves several different aspects: physiological, physical and psychological. The first two can mostly be described as having developed a physical dependence, also known as ‘tolerance’ – meaning that you need to have more and more of a substance in order to achieve the same effect that you used to get from smaller amounts, or lower doses. When you try to stop, you experience physical and psychological symptoms, known as drug/alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Having an addiction also means that you continue to use or drink – whichever the case – despite wanting to stop and despite negative social, financial, and legal consequences. People who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs usually experience such problems as loss of a job, marriage, and other relationships. Also, people who are addicted often have financial and legal troubles such as fines and even jail time as a result of their addiction, both directly and indirectly. Addiction treatment in Shelburne, VT can help.
Addiction Treatment in Shelburne: Withdrawal Syndrome
Research reveals that people struggling with addiction issues feel that the main obstacle to quitting drugs and alcohol is their fear of the withdrawal syndrome – that is how profound, uncomfortable, and even scary it can be. Not only can withdrawal be extremely uncomfortable, it can be potentially life-threatening. Addiction treatment in Shelburne includes detox programs that specialize in treating substance abuse and physical dependence so that you can begin to live your life without the crutch of drugs and alcohol.
Addiction Treatment in Shelburne Step One: Detox
The first step in the process of addiction treatment in Shelburne is called a medical detox. During this phase of treatment, you will be evaluated in order to find out what drug or drugs you are using, for how long, and how much is currently in your system. This is done by way of a urine drug screen. Because addiction treatment in Shelburne is provided in a medical setting and because drug addiction is recognized as a chronic medical condition, the results of your drug screen and information disclosed during your assessment are strictly confidential just like any other medical information is. All of this is done in order to make a treatment plan that will best serve you.
During detox, you will be giving certain medications in order to wean you off of drugs and alcohol in both a safe and comfortable manner. Withdrawal syndrome is a real and very serious condition that involves uncomfortable and even frightening symptoms that could lead to coma and death if not treated properly. If you are detoxing from painkillers or other opiates, you will be given other specific medication to manage your withdrawal symptoms and keep you as comfortable as possible in the detoxification process.
Addiction Treatment in Shelburne Step Two: Rehab
The rehab stage of addiction treatment in Shelburne VT can last up to 30 days, sometimes longer, and offers safe haven while you heal and recover from your drug addiction. During rehab, you will have all your needs provided for including nice, comfortable housing and well-balanced meals while you are given essential, life-saving information about substance abuse and addiction so that you can learn how to cope in healthy ways, without the use of drugs. You will attend both individual and group therapy sessions where you will begin to heal your mind while healing your body and you will learn tools and coping methods in order to live a healthy lifestyle once you complete your addiction treatment in Shelburne. If you or a loved one is seeking addiction treatment in Shelburne VT please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
I have a sponsor, who has a sponsor (who has a sponsor), and I sponsor. This is little cliché if you’ve heard it before, but it is too vital to overlook. Recovery from substance abuse offers so many incredible gifts to the lives of those who seek it and the ones closest to them. In my own experience it restores families, rebuilds personalities, and creates spiritual and emotional relationships that are built on an intensely intimate foundation incomparable to others. Sponsorship in relation to a 12 Step Program is the most common example of one of these relationships. Working with a sponsor creates a new respect for the disease of addiction and its influence on our personal lives, and becoming a sponsor breathes new life and understanding into the blessing of sobriety. This relationship changes both individuals in aspects not always recognizable or deliberate, but the work one does with another afflicted individual is instrumental.
What a Sponsor is NOT
The way I was taught may be very different from any other party’s experience, but holding to what I believe there are common misconceptions of the responsibilities of a sponsor. There is no age or time requirement. Some may say you need a sponsor with time, I once heard someone say you need a sponsor with 3 years sobriety while speaking to a room full of newcomers to recovery . Personally I have known men with over 30 years of clean and sober who have asked men with a few months to sponsor them because those newer men were so excited and serious about maintaining sobriety and staying active in recovery. Many new to these 12 Step Programs can put themselves under the impression that a sponsor is at your disposal for any number of random requests. As I understand it, a sponsor is not responsible for any of the following:
- Making you put in the effort
- Making you accept a religion
- Keeping you from getting high or drinking
- Giving you relationship advice
- Giving you financial advice
- Listening to your problems
- Being your best friend
- Giving you rides to meetings
What a Sponsor IS
As it was shown to me, the only qualification to be a sponsor is that you have done 12 Steps with a sponsor. My experience as given to me through my sponsor is that the list of responsibilities is actually short and simple.
- To take you through 12 Steps
This job description may seem vague, and it does not mean that it has no other implications as far as how to handle this task. However the method of which any individual chooses to work with another through each step is at their discretion, and usually passed down from one person helping another. It is essentially important though to keep in mind a few things. A sponsor is not a therapist. Most sponsors do not possess psychiatric degrees or medical doctorates. Those who do may chose if they feel inclined to give opinions on such issues, but the primary purpose they are to serve as a sponsor is not to diagnose and treat your illness, but to suggest and facilitate the progression through a program of rigorous honesty and action to create change and inspire others. This is a transition with lasting rewards for both involved, given that both do what they can to carry out this task to the full extent of their understanding.
My sponsor put my hand in Gods hand, and has never once entertained the idea of taking credit or blame for any fragment of my life that has been transformed through the process of my getting sober, or my spiritual evolution. Some sponsors take it upon themselves to punish, criticize, or convert whoever they work with, and mold them to fit their own expectations. This may even be done with good intention, but it is a reflection of pride and arrogance, and not what is outlined in a 12 Step Program as a healthy and effective sponsorship. No sponsor can make the decisions for you, and they cannot keep you sober. If a sponsor has suggestions, it is always their freedom as an individual to express them, and to offer experience, strength and hope. The newcomer is then free to accept, digest, and act on their own, and as long as sobriety and spiritual principles are nurtured and re-enforced, the work of a sponsor is to see that the individual participate in and complete their steps, to the best of the sponsors ability. They are there to fulfill their work of helping others and helping give the gift of recovery; to carry on practicing and sustaining their own sobriety and spiritual growth.
The Gifts of Sponsorship
Now it is conceivable to cultivate a resilient connection with your sponsor. It happens more often than not that this collaboration through a shared illness of mind, body and soul with similar experience creates an environment conducive to developing true friendships. I have a Sponsorship Family, because to me these men are my brothers in life, in growth and sobriety. The important thing to distinguish is that my sobriety did not depend on these relationships; in fact these relationships were only possible through my sobriety. I have sponsored and made it clear to those who asked for my help, my primary purpose in life is to help another person, to grow spiritually, and to take someone through the 12 Steps like it was done for me. Anything else is a blessing and a gift that is only possible through my new life, and the only expectation I have for them is once they finish the work, to sponsor another sick and suffering person so that they have the chance to receive the tools I was allowed for spiritual growth. Because men with decades of sobriety have told me they never got one person sober, it was a Higher Power, and they were just blessed to be there.
If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse or addiction, please contact Palm Partners at 1-800-951-6135.