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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

Rapper Macklemore’s Relapse and Return to Recovery

Rapper Macklemore’s Relapse and Return to Recovery

Author: Justin Mckibben

The well-known hip-hop artist Macklemore, born Ben Haggerty, earned himself quite a following a few years ago when he broke out on the scene  with his breakout album, The Heist, which won him the 2014 Grammy for Best Rap Album. Macklemore and collaborator Ryan Lewis also scored the Best New Artist Award, along with a bunch of No. 1 singles.

One thing setting Macklemore apart from his peers was his speaking openly about his recovery from drugs and alcohol, and his music sending messages of hope and inspiration. His status as a sober musician was very public and seemed to draw even more fans toward his positive influence with some inspiring songs about recovery from addiction.

So it was a bit of a bummer recently to hear he admitted in an interview he’s in the process of recovering from a relapse. Still, his honesty should be admired considering how difficult it can be for some, and his shared experience might help others avoid making similar choices.

Price of Fame

32 year old Macklemore and 27 year old Ryan Lewis retreated to their native Seattle, Washington to work on new music after they had grabbed up a mantle full of awards for their initial album, and it was in this Macklemore has noted he began slipping back into some of his old bad habits and how he began to regress to a more destructive youth, trying to escape from the new found fame and the downsides that came with it.

In an interview he stated:

“I held it together for a while. But, eventually, I stopped going to my 12-step meetings. I was burnt out. I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping — doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country. In terms of the media I was getting put into a box that I never saw for myself. The pressure and the fame — everything. All the clichés, man — like not being able to walk around, having no privacy, and from this TV appearance to this TV appearance, and the criticism, and the lack of connection, and the lack of meetings — all of that put into one pie was just…I just wanted to escape.”

One good thing is he was quick to point out where he had made his mistakes and what brought him to relapse. Between stress from his work, feeling disconnected, and not keeping up with his program of action which he used to maintain sobriety he found himself wondering if he could safely use, which turned out not to in his best interests.

Tough Times

Macklemore admitted that he was not able to get back on the wagon right away, and said it actually took the intervention of his fiancee, Tricia Davis, finding sleeping pills hidden in his shoe at the SXSW festival for him to even try to sober up.

This was short lived as he kept putting himself around drugs to catch ‘contact highs’ before jumping right back into smoking weed. He experienced the typical pattern of bargained with himself about sobriety that so many addicts are familiar with, saying:

“You know, like, Monday, I’ma stop…. OK. Tuesday, I’ma stop…. OK, f— it, I might as well go on to the weekend. Sunday, I’m done. But after this bag of weed…,”

The relapse took a turn for the worst when he started attending business meetings high and stopped making music, then he started to see the faults in his choices,

“I felt so dumb. I felt like I’m just wasting time. What am I escaping here?”

Eventually a major life change for Macklemore gave him a new reason to rededicate himself to working his 12 step program again to try and save himself.

Back to Basics

Macklemore stumbled back and forth through his relapse for a little while, but in September 2014 he found out his fiancée was pregnant with their first child, and everything changed. Macklemore started attending his 12-step meetings again, and is making an effort to find his way back to the basics and grow up, saying:

“Since I heard that Tricia was pregnant, I was like, ‘I need to grow up right now.’”

His new sobriety has also helped to get the creative juices flowing.

“…as it always works, the minute that I start actively seeking recovery — not just sobriety, but recovery — music is there. It always has been. Songs write themselves. My work ethic turns off-to-on in a second and I get happy again. I get grateful again.”

Looking at the transition he went through in his relapse, Macklemore seems to be aware of where he fell short and how to address these issues in his life. His emphasis on 12 step meetings and the connection he felt his active recovery has to his passion in music shows he has a great deal of respect for his sobriety and the means by which he has chosen to keep it.

Artists and celebrities are human just like the rest of us; sometimes they recover and sometimes they relapse. Thankfully there is always recovery even after a relapse. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

All the Feels: Emotions after Addiction

All the Feels: Emotions after Addiction

Photo of Author

Author: Justin Mckibben

Today I got a case of the feels…

From my experience having emotions ain’t easy, and can cause a lot of self-inflicted suffering… especially when we try so hard to mask them, or trick ourselves into thinking they don’t matter.

Drug addiction has earned a reputation for obstructing our growth and prompting a status of emotional immaturity, a status a lot of us struggle desperately to grow out of. But when we come out the other side of addiction, what does that mean for our understanding of those feely feels?

A lot of my addiction was the never ending search to feel nothing; to somehow chemically condition myself to be immune to my own emotions, but the beautiful part of this is realizing there is progress and possibility beyond what I have even begun to experience already in recovery.

Addict Immaturity

A lot of times we are told we stop maturing mentally and emotionally at the age we start using because drugs stunt our growth, and a lot of us start using at an age where our sentiments and our sense of self are moving through a critical period of development. We are caught in the only emotional maturity (or lack thereof) we understand in our youth, moving incredulously slow in our progression… if at all.

Looking at it in sobriety, I can see now where my life has changed in relation to how I understand and react to some of those feels.

Angry Feels

I’m told I was a happy child, but I am also reminded I had a serious chip on my shoulder. Before I was 10 years old I had already spent a few years in anger management therapy, and by the time I was a teenager I had taught myself to bury my anger to avoid unwanted attention, but it ultimately festered into volatile resentment that would burst through the surface impulsively.

In active addiction it became much worse, and at the most inappropriate and unpredictable times I would lash out.

I never saw myself as an angry person, and at worst others have described me as indifferent and disconnected, but anger was there and it went unchecked until it was too late and it spilled over onto others who did not deserve it.

In recovery, I’ve been taught to understand anger as something else entirely… ego and fear. Rage and aggression should have no place in my spiritual principles, because humility and acceptance need to be present for me to keep my sanity in sobriety.

If I am angry, it is because I want to force my will onto things that are none of my business. A lot of that came from being afraid, and anxiety ruled my life. Letting go of anger isn’t easy, but it creates an easier life.

Depressed Feels

Despite being remembered as a happy kid, my life in addiction was perforated with depression. Another extension of my negative ego and anxiety was the belief futility and hopelessness was at the very foundation of everything.

Depression isn’t rare when you are addicted to downers. Basically all my usual drugs of choice were depressants so of course when I got high, I actually felt lower than my lowest lows. Guilt, regret and loneliness existed in an endless cycle of me trying to suppress them, but ultimately inviting them into my heart like long lost friends. This led to suicide attempts and overdoses; desperate attempts to break the cycle.

It’s easy to hide depression behind a smile. In sobriety I don’t have to fake the feels anymore.

I still get depressed sometimes, but I’m reminded when I feel sorry for myself I am forgetting what amazing blessings have already been given to me. Clinical depression is an obstacle for some, but not an impossible one. When I appreciate my life, I remember it is OK to be sad, but not to forget the incredible relationships and circumstances life offers me.

Happy Feels

Sometimes I don’t even know how to handle being happy. I can wake up with bliss in my heart and it feels surreal, like when you put on your favorite shirt but it doesn’t seem to fit right.

In addiction ‘happy’ wasn’t really about feeling happy for me; it was about not feeling anything else. Happy wasn’t having truth or love in my life, it was getting high without immediate consequences; avoiding emotions and using manipulation to take advantage of everyone else’s. Happiness was based on how tolerable drugs made my life, not about life itself.

I’m still not happy all the time. The beauty in that is I don’t have to be. I have finally allowed myself to feel the things I never wanted to feel in addiction, and that in itself brings me serenity. Knowing the world wont come crashing down when I’m upset is a new peace.

Emotional Sobriety

Emotional sobriety is a foreign concept to me sometimes. I can still be anxious and afraid; I can still be selfish and angry, or depressed and ungrateful, but the evolution of my emotions has shown me how to treat myself and other people in spite of my emotions.

A wise man once said,

“You gotta ‘F’ your feelings before they ‘F’ you…”

In sobriety I understand this philosophy. Our feelings are part of the human experience, but they do not have to dictate our destiny. Our hearts and minds carry so much meaning, but even they can be fooled by our feelings. Your truth is your truth, but that doesn’t mean you have to live blind to the truth of the world, or of the impact you have on others.

Be ready to feel those feels.

Today, happiness to me is the love and appreciation I have for the incredible people in my life, it is the awesome opportunities I have to be a better person and the gifts I have been given throughout all my life, not just sobriety.

Sometimes I’m so happy it brings me to tears, because the beauty of this world passes too much of us by; because I live in gratitude and feel it so intensely after I spent years trying not to. Other times I get lost in feelings I just want to experience, and that’s OK too. I’m feeling some type of way today, and the fact I want to is amazing.

The rain is just as beautiful as the sunshine.

In sobriety I get all the feels, and I like to feel ‘em because feeling feels is my favorite feel… ya feel me?

Sobriety has given me a lot, but I remember feeling trapped in addiction. Drugs and alcohol misuse our feelings and keep us sick, but recovery is possible, and mine began at Palm Partners. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135  

How Music Moves Us in Recovery

How Music Moves Us in Recovery

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

I like to think of music as the true voice of humanity. It is the expression of the world around us, the heartbeat of an entire species, existing inside and outside us all. It transcends everything we can see; connects us with everything we know and even with what we don’t. Music bypasses all language barriers and cultural bias; it is the pulse of our history, the melody of all emotion and the thing that lets us live in a moment’s highest vibration simply by feeling our way through notes and nuances.

A tapestry of tempo and tones can speak our truth when we have no words, and words strung across the chords can tell stories we never knew we needed to hear. Songs and sounds can strike rhythm to our bones, or they can stubble our skin with chills that speak to the secrets of our souls.

In short… Music is life.

Seriously… the hills are alive with the sound of this stuff… come on.

Music has the power to soothe us, to trigger an immediate expression of joy and love, or even anger and fear. From music we can tap into the energy of empathy, compassion, ambition or remembrance. Realistically there is no limit to the impact music can have, and there are endless reasons why music therapy can help people recover from physical and mental trauma, and addiction recovery.

Music and the Brain

The truth is, scientists don’t know the exact mechanism that gives music such emotional power down to an indisputable formula… yet. But they do have several ideas about how our brains and bodies respond to music, citing various studies on different kinds of music.

The Music Instinct: Science and Song was a documentary where scientists and musicians collaborate to explore the effects of music on the brain and body. One thing they discovered is that there isn’t actually one specific music area of the brain!

Music affects multiple areas of the brain at once because your brain actually interprets the music in several ways at once, using different parts of your brain.

  • One area of your brain processes the words
  • One area of your brain processes the sound of a voice
  • One area of your brain processes the sound of the instruments
  • One area of your brain processes the melody

Then in an incredible feat the brain collects the individual elements and integrates them all together. The brain itself is truly amazing, as all these different levels of interpretation happen instantly and simultaneously, so we never even realize this process is happening!

Music and the Body

Music, like all noise, is composed with vibrations of sound waves. Your ears register sound in the ear drum when they pick up the sound waves that flow through the air. Those sound waves also vibrate other parts of your body. This sound is vibrating in other parts of your body too, but your other organs are not necessarily as sensitive to sound as your eardrums, so you don’t realize what’s happening.

There are people, however, who are more sensitive to sound vibrations and can actually feel sounds resonate in various parts of their body. Dame Evelyn Glennie is the deaf percussionist who was featured in the 2012 London Olympics, who has the astonishing ability to hear by feeling the vibrations of the instruments through her feet and other parts of her body.

Are you addicted to heavy bass drops? Probably because of the vibrations!

Now all those extra speakers make sense, since the effect is especially noticeable in small, enclosed spaces like a car. In a car vibrations can be magnified, so you really feel the music.

Music and Emotional Cues

Now when you weigh in the fact music impacts multiple parts of the brain and the body, it’s easy to comprehend that certain music instigates an emotional response. We have become conditioned to feeling our way through situations with both the vibrations we feel (consciously or not) and the connections are brain makes when it hears music.

Sit and watch a preview for your favorite movie on mute and see how in touch you feel to the story… don’t worry, I’ll wait.

The reason the experience feels disconnected is because music has implanted itself in our memories and in how we make comparisons and connections. Good or bad, those emotional responses can be strong simply because of the meaning we have learned to associate with the music.

Music and Addiction Recovery

Music is often used as a therapeutic tool during recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Counselors may use music to help patients manage their physical, emotional, or cognitive problems. Music therapy for addiction may include:

  • Discussion of lyric interpretation
  • Singing along
  • Dancing
  • Writing music or lyrics

Music is a powerful instrument for creating shifts in mood and behavior. When someone in recovery is struggling, music can be used as a means to break the cycle of destructive thinking or behavior and aim the individuals emotional energy in a more constructive and healing direction.

Music can help to separate yourself from the stresses holding onto you through the day, and it can be there for you to soothe the anxiety bound up inside. In times of depression the right music can inspire a more ambitious and acquiescent outlook, honing in on the message the heart needs to hear. Just be cautious of the music you choose, because the response can always backfire.

Be it punk rock, underground hip hop or the king of pop himself, striking the right chord in recovery can mean a catalyst for catharsis.

Music is one element of the outside world that can have some influence on how we feel, and sometimes separating ourselves from the things that hurt us the most means we need to change those elements. Learning to create healthy emotional responses is one way we train ourselves to be healthier people, but for addicts it often means a lot more. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Pro-Gamers Now Face Drug Testing

Pro-Gamers Now Face Drug Testing

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

High Score or scoring a high?

Drug testing has found its way into a variety of demographics in the pro sports world. From football to mixed martial arts sports franchises have actively implemented drug testing policies this year which call for more rigorous testing tactics, and many athletes on different fields have been put in the spotlight for abusing substances both recreational and performance enhancing.

Surprisingly, we are now going to start seeing this practice being carrying over into so-called e-sports, putting those who play video games professionally in the same position.

Despite the typical stereotype we consider about most pro gamers, and how we don’t initially imagine them to be all that athletically inclined, this week The Electronic Sports League (ESL) announced it will be enacting a drug testing policy for performance enhancing substances at future events.

The Game Changer

So why would they drug test gamers if they aren’t physically required to compete beyond the control of their counsels?

The inspiration behind this new initiative to make drug testing policies all came after a top professional player for the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive named Cory “Semphis” Friesen admitted last week that he and other members of his former team used Adderall during a tournament. During an interview after a big victory Semphis was quoted as saying:

“I don’t even care. We were all on Adderall. I don’t even give a ****. It was pretty obvious, like if you listen to the comms. People can hate it or whatever.”

The event was a tournament last March in Poland, and there was a whopping $250,000 up for grabs to gamers able to handle their high-scores! That is a pretty decent sized award for button-mashing, so the fact he and his team were on drugs during the game has some people a little upset. Not to mention Semphis’s complete disregard for the concerns brought forth by others.

This isn’t the first time these kinds of blatant comments about abusing ‘smart drugs’ has happened in pro gaming either.

Why Adderall?

A prescription psychostimulant, Adderall is administered to help people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also not uncommon for this drug to be abused, and it is very hazardous to those who misuse it.

Because Adderall is designed to enhance cognitive abilities and improve focus, so in terms of a sport where you rely heavily on hand-eye coordination, along with other cognitive function it can be assumed this kind of drug would enable the attention to detail and instantaneous reaction times that it takes to excel in the field of competitive gaming. So it could truly be considered a performance enhancing drug in this context.

Even more disturbing is the way the interviewer so nonchalantly promoted abusing drugs in his commentary, stating:

“Everyone does Adderall at [the gaming competition] ESEA LAN. Just throwing that out there for the fans. It’s how you get good.”

Yea… way to go. Tell the kids at home all it takes to get good enough to make big money playing Call of Duty is to pop pills… because that’s totally smart.

The Future of Gaming

Anna Rozwandowicz is the ESL Head of Communications, and in a recent email she pointed out a few of the focus points, and told reporters more details of the new policy will be shared soon, but that it will involve:

  • Drugs policing
  • Education
  • Prevention among participants

At this point Semphis and his team aren’t actually in any danger, because there is no way to prove they were under the influence of any substance since ESL didn’t have formal drug use policies at the time. Rozwandowicz said,

“We have no way of knowing whether Semphis, despite what he said, has actually taken Adderall or not. We can’t punish someone if we are not 100% sure he is guilty. And as we have no way to test it anymore, we won’t take action in this specific case.”

It’s unclear how ESL’s plans for drug testing will affect other organizations in the gaming world, but so far The Cologne, Germany-based organization said the random drug tests would begin at its ESL One Cologne tournament in August.

As this story develops, one can’t help but wonder how people can be so intent on finding ways to cheat their way through a competition. Then there is the wonder of how many gamers have ended up addiction to a harmful substance just to get a leg-up in a tournament.

Now on the flip side some researchers are even questioning how effective these ‘smart drugs’ really are, and at the end of the day drug abuse takes far more from our lives than it could EVER give us. Lives are lost every day, and those who are able to survive often struggle to do so. But there is a solution. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Jealousy and the Alcoholic

Jealousy and the Alcoholic

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Jealousy is an ugly thing, but we all have a habit of harvesting it in some shape or another. Be it envy of property or prestige, or a resentment of romantic origins, we all have a way of getting a little bent out of shape over the whole grass-is-greener scenario. Not to be cynical, we are all perfect in our imperfections, but to acknowledge jealousy as part of our human condition is necessary in order to improve ourselves.

Jealousy can turn friends into foes, co-workers and peers into rivals, and lovers into bitter exes simply by enticing our insecurities. Jealousy can corrupt our intentions, and turn our trust into anxiety.

Now, researchers are saying jealousy also has the power to turn drinkers into alcoholics. This is rooted in the idea that people who depend on their relationships to make them feel complete or content are more likely to drown their sorrows if they suspect the one they are with to be cheating.

Probing Problem Drinkers

Researchers at the University of Houston recently published a study in Addictive Behaviors where they examined the drinking patterns and romantic relationships of 277 people, and they hones in on links between 3 main factors they hypothesized could help identify people at risk of alcoholism:

  1. Romantic Jealousy
  2. Relationship-dependent Self-esteem
  3. Alcohol Problems

What they found were those experiencing jealousy were more likely to be a problem drinker… that is IF the jealousy stemmed from being in an unhappy relationship and having one’s self-worth primarily dependent on the other person.

87% of the participants in the study were women, and everyone involved was asked to fill out questionnaires pertaining to:

  • Their level of satisfaction in a relationship
  • Their level of self-esteem
  • Their alcohol use
  • Or course… jealousy

Through the process and the data collected, researchers determined many people would turn to alcohol to cope when experiencing jealousy in their romantic relationships.

Again, the emphasis on this pattern was especially pronounced among those who were in “low-quality” relationships where the individuals surveyed felt:

  • Less satisfied
  • Less committed
  • Disconnected from their partners

So it wasn’t to say that EVERY person who experienced jealously in their relationship was going to develop a drinking problem, but those who show specific traits in their love life are more likely to go on binders when things go wrong.

Impact and Awareness

Alcohol abuse is a serious issue. It is often underestimated in America, but it’s impact is profound and understanding the elements of progressive alcohol abuse is important to prevention and raising awareness.

As the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the United States, alcohol abuse accounts for 1 in 10 deaths for working-age adults. That’s around 88,000 deaths per year in this nation and 2.5 million deaths at a global scale per year. While becoming an alcoholic cannot be put squarely on the shoulders on relationship issues, it seems plenty alcoholic drinkers end up working their way toward excessive drinking through problems with their romantic relationships.

The lead author of the study Dr. Angelo DiBello stated,

“Romantic jealousy is a shared human experience, but very little work has looked at how it is related to alcohol use, misuse and associated problems. This research helps to highlight the associations between these factors and show how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are related in potentially harmful ways.”

Scientists hope that these findings could offer more insight into how relationships can impact self-esteem, and how all these elements could eventually help identify alcoholism more quickly and even get a head start on prevention.

With an alcoholic feeling those feels is actually a pretty common excuse we use to drink. People in recovery have probably heard more than once about someone’s relationship creating a set of circumstances that led them to isolation and discontentment, so relationships are often given this bad reputation as a leading cause of relapse for the alcoholic.

In reality, if you are spiritually fit and work on yourself, you don’t run this kind of risk. THAT is the big point made so far in this research. An alcoholic is not made by one defect or another. If every jealous person was an alcoholic then meetings would be a lot bigger.

The people in the study who had a fulfilled life and were self-sufficient in their happiness and quality of life didn’t have a risk of severe drinking problems like those who were co-dependent and jealous. If we are to survive the little things like jealousy and resentment, our worth as an individual has to come from the inside. YOU are not your relationship, and when you forget it then your relationship has the power to undermine your recovery.

“There is no greater glory than love, nor any greater punishment than jealousy.”

-Lope de Vega

An alcoholic drinks for the effect, and the blame for the desired effect can be put on any number of our flaws as people, but in reality there is always a choice. As an alcoholic you still have a choice; you can continue down the path that too often leads to death, or you can recover. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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