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Mayor Marty Walsh, Alcoholic: Politician Opens Up at DNC

Mayor Marty Walsh, Alcoholic: Politician Opens Up at DNC

Author: Justin Mckibben

While we acknowledge the importance of maintaining personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films, this recent declaration made at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention was one that took a lot of courage and was done with some very real intentions. The Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, took what many would be considered a very strong stance on breaking stigma. Marty Walsh opened his speech at the DNC with the line:

“My name is Marty Walsh, and I’m an alcoholic.”

Walsh shared a very personal story about his journey to rock bottom. He talked about his path to recovery, and used both as a means to emphasize his support for Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.

So how much meaning does this kind of declaration add to a political message? Was it right for him to break his anonymity on such a massive media scale?

Rock Bottom Politics

Marty Walsh is already considered perhaps the most prominent elected official who is open about his recovery.  As part of his opening speech, Walsh even recalled a dark and hopeless time for him. This kind of transparency is actually quite admirable in a sense for such a public figure.

During his time on stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia e stated:

“On April 23, 1995, I hit rock bottom. I woke up with little memory of the night before and even less hope for the days to come. Everybody was losing faith in me, everybody except my family and the Labor Movement.”

Walsh attributed his surviving his alcoholic life to the labor community. He said they helped get him the help he needed that gave him the second chance that changed his life.

This truly isn’t anything new for Marty Walsh, alcoholic. He actually applied it to his incredibly progressive and groundbreaking campaign approach. As a mayoral candidate, he made no effort to hide that he was a recovering alcoholic. During this time leading up to him being appointed to office, Mart Walsh publicly related to and advocated for the recovery community in various public and political venues. This is a man who found his way into politics while still taking steps to apply and practice his principles in all of his affairs. Even though some would look at this as ignoring the tradition of anonymity in most 12 Step Fellowships, it should be noted that he has made it his personal responsibility to help people both on and on the campaign clock.

Working with Others

At 20 years as a sober alcoholic (as of 2013) Walsh was actively attending 12 Step meetings while continuing to work with others both in and outside the rooms of his fellowship. As a state senator, he advocated for more recovery services. Throughout his time in recovery Walsh is actually known for personally helping people find drug and alcohol treatment.

During one 2014 interview Walsh addressed the issue of making such privy information a public fact. He stated:

“I don’t really care who knows I’m an alcoholic because if it helps someone else … then they’ll ask me for help if they need it,”

So was it right of his to let his guard down and share his experience with the world?

Some might say it is safest to tread lightly on such grounds. Others may say that as long as he does not directly name his fellowship or claim to represent it, he should be confident in his actions to shed stigma and raise awareness. Altogether, in my opinion, this is a strong message. To have a politician admitting to the world he is an alcoholic AND a success story in the recovery community could be tremendously powerful. Showing the world an example of a recovered alcoholic who has gone on to help countless people stands to shatter the stigma.

Principles before Personalities

Then comes another question for the importance on anonymity. Walsh went on after making his speech about recovery to endorse Hillary Clinton. This is where the lines blur, because then people start to ask if 12 Step Fellowships are endorsing Hillary, or even the Democratic Party in general. One of the biggest reasons why 12 Step Fellowships aspire to stay disconnected from politics and religious organizations to an extent is to insure that the fellowships remain all-inclusive and attractive for anyone with any belief system or political values.

So I guess the question is now- is this a “violation” of the suggested traditions in 12 Step Fellowships? Or is it up to the individual to decide their own level of anonymity? There are no “rules” in groups like AA, but is this crossing a line concerning principles before personalities?

Personally, I think what he has done his is inspiring and progressive. This kind of open discussion can be useful in the evolution of America’s perspective on stigma. When it comes to dealing with people in recovery, it is nice to see some people step up and show how far they have come. In a way this can give some people hope. His experience, strength and hope could push someone to make a change, and push others to see the addict and alcoholic with a more open mind.

With the presidential race getting closer and closer to its climax, and with progressive politics and compassionate drug programs being so vital, it seems we should be paying particularly close attention to how drugs and addiction are handled on both sides. Meanwhile, safe and effective treatment for the alcoholic who still suffers is more important than ever! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135

Man Buries Himself to Raise Awareness of Drug Addiction

Man Buries Himself to Raise Awareness of Drug Addiction

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Would you bury yourself alive to raise awareness of drug addiction? One man just did that. A charity worker decided to spend an entire weekend buried underground to highlight the plight of people affected by the substance abuse problem.

Former drug addict, John Edwards, wanted to do something eye-opening to raise awareness for the addiction epidemic affecting people across the globe. Edwards decided to spend the entire weekend buried underground in a coffin to symbolize the grave outcome of this disease.

“It’s a way to reach more people,” Edwards explained. “When people first hear about the idea they are a bit surprised but when they hear about why they have a ‘eureka’ moment and love the idea.”

Edwards started the charity “Walking Free” after his personal experience with drug addiction, stints in rehab and homelessness.

He said: “I’ve had a liver transplant, cancer twice, 41 pints of blood transfused last year to keep me alive. Now I’m recovered from all illness and got my strength back. I’m determined to leave a legacy of hope.”

In order to complete the task, a team was on hand to support Edwards’ underground. He received food and water through a pipe, and a second tube was connected to a caravan toilet. The coffin measured at an 8ft long, 3.5ft high and 4ft wide.

While this act may seem extreme to most, the reality is the disease of addiction is taking lives away each day. Last year, statistics revealed that more people died from drug addiction than automobile accidents. The numbers only continue to get worse. The prescription painkiller epidemic means anyone can fall victim to this disease.

Edwards feels his burial will be an act of compassion for the many families and friends who lose loved ones to addiction. Statistics in the US reveal that every 15 minutes, someone dies from an overdose of drugs and alcoholism. The symbolism in Edward’s act is hard for anyone to ignore.

Drug Addiction Facts

Substance abuse is not limited to prescription opioids. While that is getting more attention lately due to the increase in prescription drug-related deaths, alcohol, and other drugs are still major problems.

  • In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids.
  • As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for chronic pain ends up with addiction.
  • Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  • Twenty-three million Americans age 12 or older suffer from alcohol and drug addiction.
  • More than 15 million of those are dependent on alcohol, roughly 4 million are dependent on drugs, the rest are dependent on both.

Prevention Is Key

The key to combating drug addiction is preventing it before it starts. The act of burying serves as a way to raise awareness of the effects of long-term drug abuse. When laws and events like these are held, it prevents the prevalence of substance abuse long term.

Would you do something like this to raise awareness? Drug addiction is a serious disease affecting people worldwide. If you are struggling, you are not alone. The good news is treatments are available for you. Do not wait. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

10 Distorted Forms of Thinking That Are Holding You Back

10 Distorted Forms of Thinking That Are Holding You Back

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

Author: Shernide Delva

Recently, my therapist revealed I have a catastrophizing form of thinking. Essentially, I overanalyze everything and believe something will go wrong one way or another. This negative type of thinking results in anxiety when even the smallest things go wrong, which ultimately results in more things going wrong. Needless to say, it is a horrible cycle.

Still, the realization had me pondering other forms of irrational thinking people have. How do other negative ways of thinking affect people’s life? Cognitive psychologists pay very close attention to what is known as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are our mind’s way of convincing us of something that is not true. These distorted thoughts reinforce our negative thoughts and emotions. We tell ourselves things we believe sound rational and accurate, but in reality, they only make us feel bad about ourselves.

For example, a person might tell themselves, “I always fail when I try to do something new; therefore  I fail at everything I try.”

Honestly, these thoughts might be grounded in truth. Maybe this person has tried many things and HAS failed at many of them, but that does not mean they will fail at everything. That is an all or nothing mentality. People who think this way hesitate to do anything and feel worthless as a result. This form of thinking is known as overgeneralization—because you failed at x, y and z, you automatically will fail at a, b and c. It is self-deprecating and destructive in the long term.

Therapists try to understand their client’s way of thinking so that they can help them change their thinking in the future. Chances are, we have reinforced our thinking patterns over and over again for years, and some of us need help replacing our negative thought patterns with more rational, balanced ones.

10 Cognitive Distortions Holding You Back

  1. Filtering

    Filtering is when you take the negative details and magnify them while filtering the positive aspects of the situation. For example, you get a flat tire on the way to an event, and you decide to focus on that one negative aspect of the day that went wrong, rather than all the positive events that occurred afterward. Dwelling on these negative occurrences causes our vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

  2. “Black and White” Thinking

    This form of thinking is also known as all-or-nothing thinking. Either you go to the gym seven days a week, or you sit on the couch all week.  Either you work on something every day until it is perfect, or you do not do it at all. The “must be perfect” mentality does not work because no one is perfect. People who have black-or-white thinking lack the ability to see shades of gray. Every situation or performance must go perfect, or you are a failure. The concept of balance is difficult for a person with this style of distorted thinking to understand.

  1. Overgeneralizations

    Overgeneralization thinking focuses on the past rather than the future. For example, if the first time you tried pizza, it was bad, that means all pizza is bad. If the first time you tried flirting, you were rejected, that means you will always be rejected. If the first time you take any risk, you fail, then you will always fail. This form of thinking relies on a single incident or piece of evidence that we cling on to validate never doing that particular thing again. However, this only reinforces a never-ending pattern of defeat.

  2. Jumping to Conclusions

    You meet someone, and they are in a bad mood, and you automatically think they are mad at you.  You must have done something, right?  Perhaps your friend has not called you in weeks, so you assume they are ignoring you. Jumping to conclusions means you automatically assume the worse scenario when something out of the ordinary, or negative happens. You do not bother finding out the truth; you just make a conclusion on your own. This form of thinking is destructive because it relies on assumptions and not facts.

  3. Catastrophizing

    When we catastrophize, we expect the worse no matter what. We always question the what-ifs in life rather than remain in the present. This is also known as “magnifying or minimizing.” An example is when planning a trip; you think of every possible thing that could go wrong before the journey begins. Ex: “What if my flight delays?,” “What if I forget my passport?”, “What if tragedy strikes?” Everyone catastrophizes once in a while, but in excess, it can prevent you from doing anything you want in life.

  4. The Fallacy of Fairness

    In this form of thinking, you feel resentful because you do good things, yet do not get what you think is “fair” in return. For example, you volunteer to help your friend with an errand, however when you have an errand to run, she is not available. People who have this form of thinking keep track of everything and use measurements for every situation. Example: I did this for you, so I expect the same in return. The problem with this form of thinking is that life is not always fair, and you should not waste energy keeping track of every good deed you do. Learn to make sacrifices without expecting favors in return.

  5. Blaming

    You hold other people responsible for your pain. Example: “You are making me feel bad about myself!” or “I feel insecure when I am around you.” The problem with this form of thinking is nobody can make you feel a certain way. Your response to a situation comes from your experience and emotions. Blaming the outside world for your emotions is not an effective way of controlling them.

  6. Emotional Reasoning

    This style of thinking means everything you feel about yourself must be true. It is the ultimate “I think. Therefore I am” mentality. If you feel stupid and depressed, then you must be stupid and depressed. You assume your unhealthy emotions define who you are as a person. This form of thinking is harmful because our emotions do not define us. Our emotions are a state that we can alter and change.

  7. Global Labeling

    This form of thinking involves labeling ourselves or other people because of an error or mistake. For example, you fail a math test, so automatically you are a loser. If you went over budget on a project, you are obviously irresponsible. This negative form of thinking is self-destructive. Furthermore, people who have this form of irrational thinking tend to judge others harshly. When they see another person make an error on a particular task, they label the person as a loser. This form of thinking is unhealthy because making mistakes does not automatically make you or anyone a loser or failure.

  8. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

    A person with this type of thinking always feels unappreciated. When you do well, you feel like people should comment on how well you are doing. If they do not notice, then you feel less inclined to work as hard. You expect the sacrifices you make to be recognized and rewarded. If you do not get the reaction you want, you get bitter. The problem with this form of thinking is that you rely on other people to stay motivated. Instead, you should understand that not all our sacrifices will pay off. No one is keeping score. You should work on motivating yourself rather than waiting on others to motivate you.

Cognitive distortions are not healthy because they rely on a distorted, irrational way of thinking. Learning to understand your style of thinking will help you shift your negative thoughts. Awareness is critical.  If you are struggling with any of these types of thinking, we can guide you.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Rapper Gucci Mane: Recovering Drug Addict

Rapper Gucci Mane: Recovering Drug Addict

Author: Justin Mckibben

Ok, this is actually a pretty crazy story if you ask me. Of course no one did ask me, but if they did… woah. Somebody hold my gold teeth! Not to say celebrities never get sober, or rap artists, but Gucci Mane is one rapper that was infamous for his reputation as a “Trap Artist.” Typically that title means he is a rapper who makes music glorifying selling drugs and the violence that comes with it. Not a huge fan personally, but the guy is definitely one of those “nothing to something” stories that makes you scratch your head to think he’s gone straight.

Gucci Mane- born Radric Delantic Davis in February of 1980- is an American rapper from Atlanta, Georgia. He released his debut album back in 2005, but was getting in trouble long before then and found plenty of it afterwards. Now after serving nearly three years behind bars, Gucci Mane says he is sober and ready to reclaim his throne… 3 years sober!

Rocky Past

Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis, had a string of hits in the 2000s including “Wasted” and “Lemonade.” He’s also had a string of arrests that year. At least 10 times since 2001. Most noteworthy was May 10, 2005, when Guccie Mane was attacked by a group of men at a house in Decatur, Georgia. Gucci Mane and his companions shot at the group, killing one. The corpse of one attacker was found later behind a nearby middle school. The rapper turned himself in to police investigators on May 19, 2005, and was subsequently charged with murder. Mr. Gucci Mane claimed that the shots fired by him and his party were in self-defense. The DeKalb County district attorney’s office dropped the murder charge in January 2006 due to insufficient evidence.

On top of such a controversial story, Gucci Mane also has a history of drug related arrests. Various other arrests, including this most recent, were related to assault or weapons charges. Needless to say, Mr. Gucci Mane is notorious for a reason.

When speaking with members of his management team, Todd Moscowitz was quoted by New York Times that,

“every single time that he was about to break through is exactly when he went back to jail.”

In September 2013, he began serving a three-year jail sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon. Since May he has been released to finish his sentence on house arrest.

Recovering Drug Addict

However, it would seem even a guy like Gucci Mane can turn things around. While in jail, Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis got sober. Since then he acknowledges that his addiction has been a primary source of his unruly behavior. His latest album, Everybody Looking, is the first time he’s made music while sober. New York Times again went out of their way to interview him on this development and he stated,

“I felt like I couldn’t make music sober, I couldn’t enjoy my money sober. Why would I wanna go to a club and couldn’t smoke or drink? I felt like sex wouldn’t be good sober. I associated everything with being high. In hindsight I see it for what it was: I was a drug addict.”

This is actually an incredible transition. From “Trap Star” to “Recovery Artist” it seems Davis has really switched it up! Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis is currently overcoming addiction to a wide range of drugs. When talking about his drugs of choice he includes:

Gucci Mane speaks out about his addiction and recovery in his new music. The new single, “No Sleep,” includes him relating to his drugs of choice and his past as a drug dealer. Throughout a lot of these new songs he calls himself a “Recovering Drug Addict” which sounds like some 12 Step Fellowship talk to me.

Determined to Stay Sober

This isn’t the first time Gucci Mane has tried getting clean. This time he was forced to take the withdrawal process on while locked up. This probably has a lot to do with his determination to stay sober. He said in an interview,

“Death. It feel like death. Your body just craving lean bad. Stomach tore up, can’t think straight. Just mad at the world. Temper so short, so violent, so aggressive. So just rude and toxic.”

Gucci Mane says he stays sober with a commitment to:

“I made like a pact to myself: When I get out, no matter what happens, I must record these songs. It was so real when I wrote it,”

Not only is he committed to not letting his career and money making opportunities slip by anymore based on his addictions, he also seems adamant about sharing his experience as much as possible to keep on the right path. The truth is despite his history as a violent drug dealer with a laundry list of criminal offenses, he is a prime example of how recovery is possible for anyone. If a guy like Mr. Gucci can actually hit a bottom despite all the millions of dollars, flashy music videos and multiple arrests to turn himself around and spread a message and change his life than who has an excuse not to?

As surprising as a story like this can be, even a hardcore drug dealing rap artist can fall hard enough to realize there is a serious problem with their substance abuse and addiction. While their lives may be incredibly different, addiction does not discriminate. Luckily, the solution doesn’t either. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Be Free: The Art of Navigating Your Jealous Emotions

Be Free: The Art of Navigating Your Jealous Emotions

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

Before we begin this article, let me just say:

Everyone gets jealous.  It’s okay.

In case you were not aware, we are all human.

No, but really, jealousy is a natural emotion. How you respond to jealousy is a choice. We all have to make choices on how we respond to our feelings. I have found over the years I am able to evaluate my emotions better. Jealousy is something I do not let take over my life, and it has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine.

Nevertheless, jealousy can be a healthy emotion if you learn to navigate it. Jealousy can be your biggest motivator or your strongest downfall. You choose. How do you want to live your life? Do you want to go your entire life looking at other people’s lives, or do you want to live?

Are you wallowing in your jealousy?

According to clinical psychologist, Christina Hibbert, jealousy becomes a problem “when we act out in jealousy, or we wallow in it.”  Essentially, jealousy becomes negative in your life when you let it consume you. When jealousy begins to creep into every part of your life, you need to evaluate why you are letting that emotion control you.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  -Steve Furtick

This quote pinpoints the cause of jealousy. We are too focused on the exterior of another person’s life that sometimes we forget to dig deeper. Everyone has their ups and downs. You might believe someone’s life is much easier than yours, but the truth is, everyone has their good days and their bad days.

Social media is a breeding ground for jealousy. All the beautiful pictures and the happy statuses and false perception of perfection make us believe that we are the only one struggling. But isn’t this thought process irrational?

After all, social media does not show you the challenges that a person had to overcome to get to where they are. It does not show the emotional obstacles, the hard work, and the determination it took for that person to post that beautiful picture you just liked.

So What Underlies Jealousy?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, jealousy stems from insecurity.

“We feel threatened, or less than or not good enough,” Hibbert said. “[W]e fear that someone else’s strengths mean something negative about us.”

The best way to overcome jealousy is to learn how to navigate it better. In recovery, learning to navigate jealousy is an important tool because you will see people in different stages of their journey.  There will be some people doing amazing things in their recovery. However, the important thing is to remember that at one point, they were once where you were.

5 Ways to Navigate Jealousy

  1. Be Honest With Yourself.

    “Awareness is fire; it burns all that is wrong in you. It burns your ego. It burns your greed, it burns your possessiveness, it burns your jealousy – it burns all that is wrong and negative, and it enhances all that is beautiful, graceful, and divine.”Osho

    The first step is to admit you have a problem, right? Yup, this applies to jealousy too. Most people who are jealous do not even realize it. Jealousy can manifest itself as anger, irritability, anxiety, or even depression. One time, it took me an entire week to realize my reaction to something stemmed from jealousy. However, the moment I realized, I was able to overcome that emotion. Ask yourself, “Are any of my emotions arising from jealousy?” Assessing your jealousy opens the door to learning.

  2. Ask Yourself: Are You Insecure?

    “A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.”Robert A. Heinlein

    Jealousy stems from insecurity. The goal of this step is to acknowledge all the things you are insecure about and write them down. Are you insecure about your body? Are financial struggles holding your back? Do you have goals you never accomplished and envied others who have progressed more?
    If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you have work to do.  Use jealousy to motivate you in your journey, not hold you down. If you spend your day feeling sorry for yourself, you will get less accomplished in the long haul.

  1. Practice Gratitude.

    “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus

    I know this is going to seem crazy, but one day, someone will be jealous of you. Someone is likely jealous of you right now. They could be jealous of your health, your age, your wisdom. They might even be jealous of your ears. Who knows? We all want what we do not have. Practicing gratitude is being thankful for what you already have. It is acknowledging the accomplishments you have made in your life.Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Gratitude is not always easy to practice, but it is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. By practicing gratitude, you can put things into perspective. Stop being jealous and start being thankful.

  2. Let Go of Your Jealousy.

    “People come to me and they say they would like to be happy, but they cannot drop their jealousy. If you can’t drop your jealousy, love will never grow — the weeds of jealousy will destroy the rose of love. And when love does not grow, you will not be happy. Because who can be happy without love growing?” -Osho

    Jealousy is not an emotion you need in your life. Jealousy is toxicity in your soul. Holding on to jealousy creates hatred in the body. Tell yourself you do not need this emotion any longer. Imagine the resentment flowing through your body and breathe the jealousy you feel out of your system. Repeat a mantra and meditate until the jealousy leaves your system. Let it go.

  1. Transform Your Jealousy.

    “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”  – Nelson Mandela.

    Learning to manage your emotions will teach you how to respond better to jealousy. Jealousy is an excellent motivator. If you find yourself becoming jealous of someone’s body, lifestyle, or stage of life, you can use that emotion to make a goal for yourself. Jealousy helps you understand the things you desire for in your life. Think about the sacrifices that are required to achieve that person’s success. Are you willing to make those sacrifices? If not, why are you jealous? Learn the steps needed to obtain the goals that you see other people accomplishing. Understand your jealousy and create goals for yourself. Stop wasting time on jealousy and use that emotion to create a life even you would be jealous of. See what I did there?

Jealousy is a natural emotion everyone experiences. Jealousy becomes a problem when we let it take over our lives. If you find yourself becoming jealous, the time is now to assess your journey.  You have the ability to change your life.  Create the life you want today. 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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