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4 Easy Ways of Helping Others in Addiction Recovery

4 Easy Ways of Helping Others in Addiction Recovery

Author: Justin Mckibben

Studying Compassionate Goals

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology actually states that compassionate goals we set are about

“- striving to help others and avoiding selfish behavior” for example, “making a positive difference in someone else’s life.”

Researchers here measured how participating in self-image goals and compassionate goals had an impact on symptoms of depression and anxiety, along with their conflict with others.

This study concluded that its results suggest there is a very real relevance of self-image and compassionate goals for the interpersonal maintenance of issues like depression and anxiety.

Principally, the results held some pros and cons for people with anxiety. The downfall is that trying to boost self-image by avoiding vulnerability backfires, leaving people more depressed and anxious. This can create a difficult cycle to escape from emotionally.

The good news is that by focusing on helping others, we make everyone involved, including ourselves, feel better. This is because showing compassion through action doesn’t just relieve our anxiety or depression in the moment, but it helps us build our relationships, which can reduce anxiety and depression as they grow stronger and healthier. It is a win-win. In recovery from drugs or alcohol, we should take all the wins we can get.

4 Ways to Help Others that Help Us

If you want to utilize acts of kindness to help you grow in your recovery, there are plenty of ways to do it. Here are just 4 examples of things you can do to help others that will help you.

  1. Making constructive comments to others

”Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity.”

-Yehuda Berg

That statement is no exaggeration. If the pen is mightier than the sword, the spoken word is truly the undisputed champion.

In recovery use your words to help others. Make constructive comments that serve to build others up, while pointing out their strengths and celebrating their successes. This helps us develop a habit of focusing on the good in one another and ultimately in our communities and our lives. It can also build up our relationships to give us strong support.

  1. Having compassion for others’ mistakes

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”

-Oscar Wilde

For a lot of people, it is already hard enough to accept their mistakes. Most of us are our worst critics. No one likes people pointing out their shortcomings. We all make mistakes. Try to be compassionate about it when others slip up.

Why is it important to show companion when someone else makes a mistake? Because not only does giving someone an empathetic response make them feel better, it also reinforces our relationship with them. It shows those around you that you are understanding and humble enough to support someone through their mistake without shaming them or holding it over their head.

In recovery, this means a lot because it is important to remember that we are also a work in progress. We have our own faults, and if we want to build a new life we have to move on from the old. Compassion can even help others show you the same support when it’s your turn to mess up.

  1. Don’t be self-centered

“A selfish man is a thief”

-Jose Marti

In most recovery fellowships there is an emphasis on avoiding the self-centered behavior. Being self-centered is never really beneficial in the long-term, even if it helps you with some level of instant gratification. In addiction recovery, being so self-involved can be counter-productive to healthy growth.

Surely it is ok to take care of yourself and honor yourself. But being self-centered makes it less about self-care and more about self-seeking and being inconsiderate.

In fact, high levels of depression and anxiety tend to make us turn inward and focus on ourselves even more. The worse we feel the more isolated we become. Being considerate of others and finding a way to help them can actually relieve anxiety and depression by turning that energy outward.

In recovery, we should think of others as we improve ourselves. When we realize we must make choices and take action to benefit people other than ourselves, our compassion gives us perspective.

  1. Avoiding harming others

“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”

-Dalai Lama

Last but certainly not least, we can easily help ourselves and others by not causing harm. If you can’t make someone’s life better, at least don’t make it worse. You don’t have to necessarily go out of your way and do random acts of kindness, but at least don’t do random harm to others.

And this kind of compassion is pretty much just common courtesy. It can be active on a small scale and still impact you in recovery. You can throw your trash in a garbage can so someone else doesn’t have to sweep it up later. You could put away your shopping cart at the grocery store, or even use that crazy ‘turn-signal’ thing everyone keeps talking about when you’re driving.

While these seem like silly examples, for some people it goes a long way to just be considerate with the little things. It helps build character slowly but surely, while also giving us a sense of our impact on other people. If we can learn to so how our small kindnesses add up, maybe we will be more aware of the power in our bigger decisions.

Compassion in Addiction Recovery

It might not always be easy, but the important choices often aren’t easy. In addiction recovery, we should try to work on ourselves as often as we can, especially for the benefit of others. If our actions can make a positive effect and help someone else, while helping us stay clean and sober, we are on the right track.

But how do we start on that path?

If you want to begin a new journey that will help you build the life you deserve, while helping those you love most, there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Dave Grohl Discusses Cornell, Bennington and Mental Health Stigmas

Dave Grohl Discusses Cornell, Bennington and Mental Health Stigmas

Author: Shernide Delva 

If there’s anyone who understands the shock of losing a bandmate to suicide, it’s Dave Grohl. Back in 1994, Nirvana’s lead singer Kurt Cobain took his own life in his Seattle home. At the time Grohl was the drummer in the band.

Now, Grohl, lead singer and founder of the band Foo Fighters, is opening up about the untimely death of his musical peers Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden). Grohl says there is a real need for mental health awareness.

Grohl is not the first to speak out. After the tragic death of Bennington and Cornell, fellow musicians from bands like Slipknot, Creed and Limp Bizkit expressed the importance of addressing mental health and the need to reduce the stigma.

Grohl’s explained in a recent interview the difficulty of losing a friend through mental illness.

“When it comes to someone like Chris Cornell or Chester, depression is a disease, and everybody kind of goes through it their own way,” Grohl stated in an interview with New Zealand’s RockFM. “I can’t speak for anybody else’s condition, but the hardest part is when you lose a friend. And I just always immediately think of their families, their bandmates, ’cause going through something like suicide, it’s a long road. And Chris was such a beautiful guy, man—he was the sweetest person, he was so talented, he had so much to offer—that it was a real shock to hear that he had gone.”

“I think that mental health and depression is something that people should really take seriously,” Grohl continued. “And there’s a stigma attached to it, which is unfortunate, because just as you take care of yourselves in every other way, I think it’s important that people really try to take care of themselves in that way too. And it ain’t easy. You know, life’s hard.”

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins weighed in on the discussion:

“Like [Dave] said, people [think], ‘You’ve got it so together.’ It just goes to show you, it doesn’t matter what’s in your bank account, or how many hits are on your YouTube page, or all that kind of crap—it all goes out the window if, like Dave said, you’re not feeling right.”

Hawkins elaborated,

“[Soundgarden] were a big inspiration for us as musicians, and Chris Cornell was just the master. So the loss, it’s a bummer, but, like Dave said, that’s a real thing. Look after yourselves, and if it looks like someone’s down, way down, check on ’em.”

Mental Health and Suicide Awareness:

Despite the recent deaths of Bennington and Cornell, there still remains a stigma behind mental illness. The reasons behind suicides remain misunderstood. The stigma of mental illness was evident after these recent deaths. Many people used words like “selfish” to describe these acts.

The reality is depression is a complex disease. Depression is a mental illness that requires treatment. Without treatment, the condition only worsens.

Signs of Depression Include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Helpless
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Guilt
  • Worthlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in Eating Patterns
  • Weight changes
  • Thoughts of death

September is National Recovery Month. Recovery includes both substance use disorder and mental illness. It is important that public figures like Dave Grohl are speaking out about this. Recovery IS possible. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Are Chronic Pain Patients Unfairly Suffering Due to Stricter Opioid Laws?

Are Chronic Pain Patients Unfairly Suffering Due to Opioid Laws?

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

Author: Shernide Delva

The opioid epidemic continues to worsen year after year. In 2015, painkillers and heroin killed more than 33,000 people, according to the CDC. About half of those overdoses involved prescription pain medication.

New policies and laws introduced in recent years aim to prevent the number of opioid prescriptions distributed. However, these stricter policies come riddled with negative consequences.  For example, chronic pain sufferers are finding it more and more difficult to manage their pain with opioids now that some of these laws have been implemented.

An article in The Tennessean references a woman named Bridget Rewick. Rewick has experienced pain for all of her adult life. At 56 years old, she is on disability. She does not work and worries about the strain on her body from being out. Pain swells through her body causing her to need a cane to walk.

She has avascular necrosis, which means her bone tissues are dying faster than her body can repair it. Rewick uses opioid painkillers to manage her pain.  However, these days, when she goes to the pharmacist, she says she gets looks. She admits she feels judged by the increasingly conscious medical community.

“I am almost afraid to go to the doctor sometimes to say I have pain,” Rewick says. “Because I don’t want be seen as a pill seeker.”

Unfortunately for Rewick, she has more than judgment to worry about.  The recent federal crackdowns on drug abuse have resulted in stricter guidelines on the use of opioids to address chronic pain.

Opioid Limits State by State

In Tennessee, there is now a limit set by the Department of Health on how many daily doses of opioids doctors may prescribe.  New guidelines spell out protocols for giving drugs to women of child-bearing age and establish certification requirements for pain medicine specialist.

Tennessee is not the only state seeing these types of policies. Across the country, new legislatures limit the amount of opioids and range of opioids that can be prescribed. Therefore, chronic pain patients are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their pain, without having to overcome assumptions and red tape.

In fact, some doctors have opted to stop prescribing opioids completely.

This leaves those with legitimate chronic pain with fewer places to turn to. While most chronic pain patients agree that it is absolutely necessary to tackle opioid addiction issues, they still believe there are legitimate pain sufferers who struggle to find relief.

“This epidemic has destroyed people’s lives, and I think the motivation (to regulate) is appropriate,” Rewick says. “But they don’t understand the ramifications of how pain affects people every day. … I am not expecting to be completely without pain, but I have the right to have quality of life.”

In the United States, at least 100 million adults suffer from common chronic pain conditions. Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting longer than 90 days. Chronic pain can range from disease to injury. Sometimes the cause of chronic pain is unknown.

Sadly, chronic pain reduces quality of life and productivity. It disturbs sleep and can lead to anxiety and depression. Chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability.

Building Relationships and Trust

Furthermore, it is difficult for doctors to know if a patient is authentic. No one can look a patient and know for sure if their claim of pain is insecure.

Dr. John Guenst, an internal medicine doctor with Saint Thomas Medical Group, sees chronic pain patients all the time. He believes the relationship is the most important factor.

“You have to listen to their story; you have to examine them, you have to start from scratch without your bias and turn over every stone that is reasonable,” he said. “You are giving patients the benefit of the doubt.”

Guenst said his opioid prescription rate “is very low compared to my peers, but I am not afraid to use them.”

Clinics Say No to Opioid Prescriptions?

Still, some medical professionals have decided not to prescribe all-together. Last year, Tennova, one of the largest health systems in Tennessee, decided to no longer prescribe long-term opioid pain medications to patients at two pain management clinics.

This was a response to recent CDC guidelines. Although the guidelines set by the CDC are voluntary, many doctors around the country are adopting them and are weaning patients off opioids or choosing not to prescribe them at all.

These sudden changes come with good intentions; however, it remains a tricky manner. Untreated chronic pain is connected to depression, mental illness, financial problems, and even further substance abuse.

What is the solution to this? Time will tell. However, it is clear this is a serious problem with an even more complicated solution. If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, please call now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Family of Chris Cornell Believe Anxiety Drugs Caused Singer’s Death

Family of Chris Cornell Believe Anxiety Drugs Caused Singer’s Death

Author: Justin Mckibben

Since late last week, the tragic story of the sudden death of rock legend Chris Cornell has taken some heartbreaking and bewildering turns. While the initial reports held no details of the singer’s unexpected death, more recent reports have indicated the cause of death was suicide. However, as the story continues Chris Cornell’s family is skeptical and openly critical of this conclusion. Now some are speaking out saying it was drugs, and not depression, responsible for the sudden passing.

Born Christopher John Boyle, the 52 year old Seattle, Washington native was one of the most recognizable voices of American rock music. His famous and powerful vocal belting technique along with an impressive voice range has inspired countless artists and soothed the rock genre with its passionate and often brooding words. The guitarist, singer and songwriter is best known as lead vocalist for the bands:

  • Soundgarden
  • Audioslave

Cornell was also the founder and front man for Temple of the Dog, a tribute band dedicated to his friend, the late Andrew (Andy) Wood. Andy, Chris Cornell’s roommate who played in the band Mother Love Bone, died in 1990 from a heroin overdose.

He is also known for his numerous solo works, soundtrack contributions since 1991. Cornell is credited as one of the architects of the 1990’s grunge movement

Chris Cornell was found in the MGM Grand Detroit in the early hours of Thursday morning, May 18, 2017. He had only hours earlier been on stage performing with his Soundgarden band.

Multiple Addictions

Since his teenage years Chris Cornell struggled through multiple battles with addiction and roads to recovery. In one 2006 interview Cornell actually talked about having a bad experience with PCP at age 14 and developed a panic disorder. He admitted that as the child of two alcoholics, drinking ultimately led him back to drugs in his late 20s.

The rocker managed to get off of drugs and alcohol between around the year 1980 up until 1997. Around 1997 his first marriage was failing, and the band Soundgarden had split up. Cornell resorted to using substances including the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin.

In 2002 Cornell checking into rehab, and afterward commented on the experience stating:

“It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better. Going through rehab, honestly, did help … it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression and either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them and you know.”

Chris Cornell also noted in an interview in 2011 that the biggest difference he had noticed when Soundgarden had reunited and began making music together was that the presence of alcohol was no longer constant. Without conversation, it had just been removed from the picture.

Wife Vicky Refutes Suicide Reports

Although he was a profoundly emotional musician with a catalog of melancholy or blues melodies, many have called into question whether Chris Cornell would actually knowingly take his own life, including his wife, Vicky. Reports have said Vicky does not believe Cornell was suicidal. Less than 24 hours after the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Chris Cornell had died as a result of suicide by hanging himself, Cornell’s wife and attorney openly challenged that conclusion. Lawyer Kirk Pasich said in a statement:

“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris – or if any substances contributed to his demise,”

The statement also said the family found these implications disturbing, and that Chris Cornell was a recovering drug addict who had been taking a prescription anti-anxiety medication Ativan. The statement added:

“The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,”

The statement included medical literature indicating that,

“Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment.”

The Night Of

Vicky shared her heartbreak over the loss of her husband of 13 years, the father of their two pre-teen children, and told interviews that Cornell, a devoted husband and father, had come home to spend Mother’s Day with his family between shows, and flown to his next stop Wednesday.

“When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do,”

“When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.”

In her own words Vicky reasserted the belief that his anti-anxiety medication had played a bigger role in the tragic events, stating:

“What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life. The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know. Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”

Cornell leaves behind his wife Vicky, their two children- Toni, 12 years old and Christopher, 11 years old- as well as his 16 year old daughter Lillian Jean from his first marriage to Susan Silver, the former manager for Soundgarden.

Chris Cornell on Black Days

Some might argue the following statement supports the suicide claims, but others could argue it supports the doubts presented by Cornell’s family. Back in 2014, Chris Cornell had spoken in depth with Rolling Stone magazine for a 20th anniversary edition of his band Soundgarden’s ground-breaking Superunknown album. When asked about the song “Fell on Black Days” he had said,

“I’d noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, “Things aren’t going so well, and I don’t feel that great about my life.” Not based on any particular thing. I’d sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn’t a catastrophe. There wasn’t a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody’s parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same.”

No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you’ll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that’s something that – as far as I know – we don’t necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write.”

What this may suggest is that beneath how happy Chris Cornell was with his family and his future, some part of his perspective could have made him even more vulnerable to a sudden shift created by a powerful medication designed to impact emotions.

Anti-Anxiety Drug Ativan

Is it possible that anti-anxiety medication could have played a part in Chris Cornell’s apparent suicide? According to the list of side-effects for Ativan and the common opinion of experts as to the risks associated with these drugs, absolutely.

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam. This prescription drug calls into the category of benzodiazepine (benzo) medications. Lorazepam is typically used for treating:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleep problems
  • Active seizures
  • Sedation
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Nausea or vomiting from chemotherapy

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, serious side effects of using Ativan include:

  • Worsening depression
  • Unusual mood or behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of balance or coordination
  • Memory problems

The truth is, Ativan is intended for short-term use, specifically for treating anxiety. In fact, the FDA advises against using any benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, for longer than four weeks. There is a very real risk of dependence, withdrawal symptoms and even overdose.

The Dangers of Legal Drugs

Back in March 2016 we wrote about how data shows that in the last two decades deaths by overdose of anti-anxiety drugs have quadrupled, which coincides with a tripling rate of these drugs being prescribed. What is even worse, independent reviews from different research groups showed that in many cases the pharmaceutical companies were misrepresenting suicides or suicidal thoughts in their own research reports.

Could the unusual behaviors and slurred speech Vicky described of Chris Cornell be signs of something else at play? Could a lifetime of struggling with a panic disorder, depression and drugs have been exacerbated by the presence of a chemical that worsened his depression, throwing his mood into chaos and flooding his vulnerable state with thoughts of suicide have been the cause of such a heartrending and desperate act? Drugs, legal or not, can devastate.

Now, there is definitely a shadow on the sun.

We have seen time and time again how legal, medical drugs have destroyed amazing and talented individuals. We saw it with Michael Jackson and Prince. We’ve seen how depression plays into the same tragedies, such as with the loss of Robin Williams. Still, one thing Chris Cornell spoke of with addiction is that it becomes glorified by the fact drugs kill famous people, and the world weeps, while ignoring the everyday tragedies of the unknown but extraordinary, everyday people. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Lena Headey of ‘Game of Thrones’ Opens Up About Anxiety

Lena Headey of 'Game of Thrones' Opens Up About Anxiety

Author: Justin Mckibben

Introducing… Cersei Lannister of the House of Lannister, Light of the West, Widow of Robert Baratheon, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm and Lady Paramount of the Westerlands!

Or, as she was known before her stunning and captivating performance on HBO hit series Game of Thrones, the lovely and talented Lena Headey! This amazing actress recently reached out to her fans on Twitter to speak on something very personal; her experience with anxiety.

With GOT fever in full swing now that we are a mere 3 months away from the highly anticipated 7th season (which I cannot possibly be more excited for), it is nice to see a different side of one cast members true story.

Long Live the Queen

Lena Headey’s portrayal of Cersei also earned the No. 1 spot on a Rolling Stone Magazine ranking of the “30 Best Game of Thrones Villains”, being described as the:

“Most dangerous human being in Westeros” as well as “one of the most complex and fascinating characters on television.”

Truly, Cersei is that villain you love to hate until you hate to love her. Headey received a showering of award nominations for the character of the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and a few wins for Best Actress.

A recent report stated that in 2017, Headey became one of the highest paid actors on television, and is suspected to earn $1.1 million per episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones.

Before dominating the screen with the chillingly cunning character of Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey has starred in other awesome roles, including the Spartan epic 300. With her powerful and unflinching portrayals of these kick-ass characters, Headey is still a woman who faces some real difficulties in the real world. Beyond the roles in front of the cameras, she took on another powerful role as a voice to fans who asked for her perspective.

Speaking to the Fans

While the character may have once walked naked through the streets of Kings Landing to the Red Keep with the infamous “shame” bell lady behind her (yes… she had a body double… and yes I cried a little), Headey did not shy away when asked a personal question by a fan that got quite a few people talking. A follower on Twitter asked Headey,

“Do you ever get insecure Lena?”

The response was a few tweets which stated:

“I overthink for sure. I am familiar with depression.” She then continued by saying, “I get HUGE anxiety (always fun [frowny face]) Insecure, not really.”

Another tweet from Lena Headey on the subject came after stating:

“Anxiety is a beast. You have to talk to beasts. Release them back into the wild. Easier said than done I know but still. Good to Practice.”

But her majesty the awesome wasn’t quite done. She went on to tweet:

It’s been lost to greed and aspiration, no wonder we have anxiety, no wonder we overthink ..we’re slammed with bullshit. …”

Tricked into thinking. You don’t have enough. You’re not enough. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Capable enough. Successful enough.”

“Well here’s the truth. You are enough… in fact you’re who you’re meant to be which is BEAUTIFUL… Don’t be afraid to let someone really see you…Magic happens when you are vulnerable and truthful and human.

“Anxiety. Depression. It’s real and it’s chemical. It’s also spiritual. .. stay with me everyone (and before you ask, yes I’m ok)”

Looking through these tweets, the fans showed up with a flood of support for her statements. Many shared personal experiences and thoughts on her comments, while others thanked her for putting words to the way so many of them felt.

Advocate for Anxiety

This is not the first time Headey has spoken about such personal adversity and shown support for those struggling with mental health. A while back she opened up during an interview with More magazine about her bouts with depression and anxiety. In this piece she shared an experience of “massive grief” after her marriage had been dismantled. In her statements she shows her willingness to accept anxiety as part of life, but that getting older and becoming a mother taught her to “become less serious about it all”.

It is always refreshing to hear people who seem to be living the dream of spot-lights, red carpets and award shows step off that stage and show the people who adore their characters and their performances that they too are still people with a lot of the same problems. That beast of anxiety is much like any other mental health disorder in that it doesn’t care who you are or how glamorous things appear. A beast is a beast.

Some of the most powerful moments of the Game of Thrones series are scenes stolen by the Lady of Casterly Rock, and we are lucky to have them. This tweet and the conversation are a great example of how important it is to raise awareness and talk about things like anxiety and depression, to break the stigmas and provide support.

Even a queen needs a little help sometimes.

Spreading hope and stories of success even through these troubling experiences is a vital way to show others there is life beyond our obstacles. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with self medicating and even substance use disorder. Getting the right kind of help and coping skills can make all the difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

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