Author: Justin Mckibben
As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, it is funny to talk about how insane my logic used to be, and how I could justify so many ridiculous things in my life in ways that to a ‘normal’ person seems so outrageous there isn’t even a word for it. However in my eyes these explanations made perfect sense and it was shocking no one else could see them. Ignorance is bliss, or maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder fits this scenario. Either way people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol have some of the most incredibly backwards logic and we often don’t even know it, or we do but it has been normalized.
Here in this article I’m going to address a few examples of the alibis we give for our madness, and hopefully some people will relate or maybe I’m crazier than anyone expected. Maybe if you’re not sure about how bad your addiction is, this kind of logic will help you decide. To help me better illustrate my point, I have commander Spok of Star Trek (who is the MASTER of logic) here to help, and we’re going to hash-tag (#) this article like crazy, because that would be the logical thing to do, right?!
I’m not going to take any cash with me tonight, because then I can’t buy any drugs… but I will take my bank card just in case I need to hit an ATM.
I didn’t die from my overdose?! Good, because I still have drugs to do!
I did really well and didn’t use drugs all day… so let me reward myself with a bunch of drugs tonight!
Well now that I have successfully completed detox, my tolerance will have gone down and I can use.
I won’t prostitute myself for drugs; I just have sugar daddies who buy them for me.
#Diva #PimpinAintEasy #OldestProfession
I feel like such a failure for being an addict, and I hate feeling my feelings, so I’m going to keep getting high so I don’t have to feel bad for getting high.
#SeemsLegit #ZombieLife #SoManyFeels
I’m getting clean, so my parents should pay my rent because I deserve it.
Like 5 people have died from that guy’s drugs, so I need to find him because the drugs MUST be good.
I’ll only get high when I play Xbox… now if only I could stop playing Xbox.
#HIGHScore #DontHatethePlayer #HatetheGame
I’m so sick, there’s no way it’s from the drugs. In fact, I need to take the drugs to feel BETTER!
#NOPEChuckTesta #HealthyLivin #GluttonFree
I was a total heroin addict, so I stopped using heroin. Now I just drink a lot of beer and use painkillers.
All jokes aside we addicts have a very funny way of making things sound like a good idea at the time, like excuses why we keep using, reasons we don’t need to quit, and even why we relapse. Addicts are not stupid people by any means, we are brilliant in so many ways whether we see it or not and we tend to perfect the art of manipulation and self-deception. Our thinking patterns and our instincts often lead us to believe our bad ideas to be inspired and helpful, but we are only furthering our physical and mental anguish.
Commander Spok, you are dismissed!
Once we addicts and alcoholics can take an honest look at the way we handle ourselves, at the way we treat others, and at the way that our lives are impacted by the actions and the ideas that we use to define us as individuals and justify or rationalize our erratic and irresponsible behavior. Once we take a look at the damage we cause ourselves and others, we can start to mend our lives, but first there much be a mental change and actions taken for recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Recovery is about letting go, and about gaining new ground. Getting off drugs and alcohol are essential to the recovery process for an addict of course, but those are not the only the things we have to let go of in order to really get something out of sobriety. We don’t get to just give up drinking or using and expect that our lives will become exciting and fulfilling without changing some destructive behaviors and some old harmful belief systems, but once we are willing to give some of these things up, we have opportunity to gain so much more. These are 9 things to give up in recovery.
Lies are a huge problem when it comes to sobriety. People say that our secrets keep us sick, and that the more we try to hide who we are and what we have done, and the more we lie to everyone around us, the closer we come to a drink or drug, because or mind-state is stuck with the perspective of hurting others to get what we want out of life.
Toxic relationships tend to be a trend among addicts and alcoholic, and in recovery it becomes apparent to most that we cannot latch onto others to support us in a healthy way in our recovery. It is safe to develop relationships with others, especially sober supports and peers in recovery, but to create codependent relationships that you rely on for sanity, serenity, and happiness is counter-productive and self-destructive.
One huge concept in the recovery community we hear a lot about is resentments. Basically resentment is like holding a grudge, and for the addict or alcoholic this grudge will grow to define you if you let it. Resentment is something we are frequently reminded we must try to let go, and new resentments crop up all the time, so it is important to try and stay self-aware in order to dump that baggage.
Forgiveness is not just for our resentments and those who we deem have wronged us. In recovery addicts and alcoholics must remember to forgive ourselves. Letting go of our guilt and shame can be a great impact, and mean the difference between growth or morbid reflection that keeps us obsessed with the mess and detached from the solution.
With letting go of that guilt, we should consider working towards giving up the methods by which addicts and alcoholics harm themselves other than drinking and using. Some of us have serious issues with self-inflicted injuries whether it is cutting, eating disorders, or other dangerous habits. If someone wants to keep a healthy recovery, and they struggle with something like this, they should look for ways to alleviate that issue.
Manipulation is pretty closely related to lying and/or blaming others. As addicts and alcoholics we know how to try and pull all the strings and arrange everything in a way that most benefits us or our motives. Addicts are really good at trying to convince others and push the world around us to move in a direction that serves our purpose, to the point where it becomes more subconscious than anything. So in recovery we must be careful not to give too much power to our manipulation if we wish to remain honest and humble.
- Blaming Others
It’s so important to give up blaming others for the issues we face in our lives, or for the past playing out the way it did that leads us to where we are. So many people, especially addicts, get good at playing the victim and justifying ourselves based on the faults we try to find in others. In sobriety we cannot continue to shield ourselves by pointing out when people don’t meet the expectations we assume to hold them to.
Prejudice is probably one of the most dangerous things in the world. And this is not meant to just mean race, because prejudice goes so far beyond base skin tones. Prejudice includes men and women, young and old, all races and countries. Human beings become prejudice against the cultures, beliefs, and even the appearance of others. In recovery one of the most ridiculous things you can possibly do is hold on to a prejudice, because at the end of the day who are you to judge another addict or alcoholic? Staying open-minded to those around you can save your life.
Positive or negative, ego is poisonous. The ego is in my opinion the most difficult to let go. The reason being I believe the ego is so difficult to try and give up is because you don’t have to be over-confident or proud. You could be self-loathing and manic-depressive, but either way you are making yourself sick with your ego. That self-image doesn’t always have to be a picture of perfection but when we paint a self-portrait and obsess over that image, and refuse to humble ourselves enough to take others into consideration before that ego, then we are fighting against our spiritual growth and sobriety.
Recovery is about more than just leaving behind our drug abuse or drinking. It is about giving up our own behaviors and surviving old old habits, because addiction is based on more than drugs and alcohol, and if we hope to build a new foundation and maintain sobriety we have to be willing to give up our selfish and self-serving ways if we have any hope of saving ourselves. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
Drum roll please….the most dangerous drug in the world is…alcohol. What? Did you think I was going to say heroin? Crack? PCP? Nope. It may surprise you, given that it’s legal and socially acceptable but, when you look at several aspects – not only health risks – alcohol is actually the worst drug out there. And, just to be clear: Alcohol is a drug.
According to Professor David Nutt, who is the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London, alcohol ranks as the most dangerous drug in the world, with heroin and then crack a somewhat distant second- and third-place, respectively.
Professor Nutt was once the government chief drugs adviser in the UK and was fired from his official post by the former Labour Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, when his findings did not support the general consensus regarding alcohol and its acceptability; Nutt refused to leave the drugs debate and staked his job and reputation on his findings and refused to back down.
Nutt then went on to form the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, which he says aims to investigate the drug issue without any political influence or interference. One of its other members is Dr. Les King, who is also a former government adviser that chose to quit over the treatment received by Professor Nutt at the hands of the government.
In 2009, Professor Nutt co-authored a report in which he ranked 20 drugs based on their effects on users and society and found that alcohol had the greatest negative impact. Tobacco and cocaine were equally harmful as one another, while ecstasy and LSD were among the least damaging. Also as a result of his report, Nutt lost his job because he did not agree with his government’s decision to re-classify cannabis as something more dangerous than he found it to be.
The report ranked 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm, looking at risks to the user, to the community, and to the society at-large. Members of the committee, along with two other experts, scored each drug for damages, including mental and physical damage, risk of abuse and addiction, crime and costs to the economy and communities.
Heroin, crack and crystal meth were considered to be the worst for individuals, with alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine worst for society, and alcohol the worst drug overall.
Professor Nutt reported the findings to the BBC: “Overall, alcohol is the most harmful drug because it’s so widely used.
“Crack cocaine is more addictive than alcohol but because alcohol is so widely used there are hundreds of thousands of people who crave alcohol every day, and those people will go to extraordinary lengths to get it.”
He said it was important to separate harm to individuals and harm to society.
Nutt added, “In Britain today, alcohol is a leading cause of death in men between the ages of sixteen and fifty, so it is therefore the most harmful drug there is in terms of life expectancy, family disruption and road traffic accidents.
“It all boils down to the question of what are we trying to do when we make drugs illegal – we should be trying to reduce harm for people but in order to decide on whether to make something illegal we need to have a good appreciation of what relative harms are.”
He said his goal is “to understand what the right approach should be, based on the science and evidence.”
Are you struggling with alcohol? Do you find that you are drinking too much and you just can’t stop? Alcoholism is a serious medical condition and help is available. Call an Addiction Specialist toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak to someone directly to get answers. You are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Is it a muse to self-medicate? Do artists, musicians and other innovative thinkers have a defective piece of the personality puzzle that makes us more vulnerable to drinking and drugs? Creativity is an art of the imagination that some believe may be both an amazing gift and a self-destructing curse, due to the fact that so many suspect creative types may be more susceptible to developing addictions. Scientists and psychology researchers have pondered for years the link between creativity and mood disorders and mental illness such as depression and bipolar disorder. And in the same light there has been much speculation as to the roll of addiction and alcoholism in the lives of great artists, writers, actors and other inspired minds.
Addiction is very frequently considered to be a mental illness in many respects. Most experts say mental illness does not necessarily cause creativity, nor does creativity necessarily contribute to any specific mental illness, but a certain deliberating personality type may contribute to mental health issues, behavioral disorders, addiction and art.
The Creative Genetics
Part of the body’s internal rewards system is regulated and stimulated by neurotransmitters that experience activity through dopamine, a pleasure chemical released into the brain through certain activities. It has been suggested that both creativity and addiction are both created by diminished dopamine functioning.
According to neuroscientist David Linden of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine there are several factors that weigh in on both addiction and creativity, but this is in no way a sure fire formula for addiction. So as far as Lindens theories are concerned there is no direct link, however he states there is a noticeable connection between addiction and things which are typically perceived as a prerequisite for creativity.
Very specific genetic variants make for the low-functioning dopamine system, specifically the brains D2 receptors. If you carry these variants, you are more likely to exhibit behaviors like:
- Tendency to act impulsively
- Tendency to value nonconformity
- A need for regular stimulation or excitement
- Being prone to attention seeking
- Enjoyment of taking risks
None of the above listed characteristics are exclusively credited to creative thinkers, but they are attributes that are symptoms of creativity and addiction. Luckily there is the upside to these traits that come from having low dopamine function, because they can contribute to people having great success in the world out of a thirst for fulfillment through actively creating and striving.
Genetics is not 100 percent of the source of creativity, or addiction. In fact genetics maybe contributes to about 40 percent of the equation in any respect. It’s possible to carry the variants and not be an addict, and it is possible be an addict without these variants. The individual’s environment always factors in. So in a matter of science thus far there is no evidence that addiction is a product of creativity, although chemically they have very similar designs.
There are a lot of indications that creative types on average have a great possibility to develop substance abuse issues, but to say it is the reason for addiction is not true. Sadly this pattern is a self-fulfilling prophecy because many artists and creators believe that they are more inspired when intoxicated, and so they spend more time drinking and using drugs because they feel they need it in order to produce quality work.
Many artists fear giving up their addictions based on the belief that their imagination and muse comes from their substance abuse, and that once they sober up they will lose their creative character. Historically this is typically the opposite. Whenever there has been an artist who spent a great deal of time creating while in active addiction and then they gave it up, their work actually got exponentially better. When author Stephen King gave up his alcoholic life, he wrote his best work to date. Painter Jackson Pollock shaped his most famous pieces during a 2 year period of sobriety.
Ultimately there is not enough concrete evidence to support the idea that creativity enforces addiction, but there is most likely a connection in the creative types and the personality types that statistically become addicts considering the links between mental illness and creativity, and the generic parallels between addiction and creativity. Like being creative is actually the most beautiful form of mental illness.
Creative Passion in Recovery
Creative passion and that mode of out-of-the-box thinking is commonly credited to individuals who are said to be more thoughtful and original. Their ability to create and express themselves in many ways that give the rest of the world new music, art, poetry or even science is very much a product of their ability to perceive the world in a unique way, and develop new ideas based off the appreciation they show to the things others often miss.
Essentially, because addiction is also a disease of perception it is easy to see how people would relate the causes and the effects of addiction closely to creativity. Both blaming creativity for addiction, while persisting that creativity is a bi-product of substance abuse. That second thought is most definitely NOT the case. Drugs and alcohol actually damage the minds capabilities to generate new and unique concepts.
In order to maintain creative passion in sobriety, there is plenty of work you can try to use to stimulate those senses you may have told yourself you have lost.
- Meditation- even just some quiet time alone is healthy for the mind to wonder and try new ideas with itself
- Exercise- going on walks, jogging, etc. can help to stimulate the mind and body by activating your energy and taking in the world around you
- Journalism- not just to give your mind a back-up for reminding you of your new ideas, but to get the creative mind working on itself by starting with those ideas and expanding on them, taking notes on thoughts and letting them evolve
All in all it is understandable why people would assume to relate addiction so closely to creativity. With so many celebrities and artists in the world notorious for substance abuse, and with countless tragic deaths of talented men and women over the years from drugs and alcohol it is natural that people would wonder if the individual with an active imagination is more prone to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. With the stigma that substance abuse also inspires creativity this also makes sense, but at the end of the day there is only a slight indication that it really matters at all. Addiction, mental illness, and creativity are all about perception, and how our perspective influences us to live our lives.
Personally I used believe I was doomed to addiction because I was creative. My passion for art and music must have meant I was destined to be an alcoholic and drug addict, but once I found recovery I realized that this was just another cop-out I gave myself to not stop drinking and using. If that were true, I should have started up an ‘Artists Anonymous’ group. Then when I got sober I was terrified I had lost the inspiration needed to do those things, but I actually rediscovered a new-found respect and passion for the arts and music I loved so much that are such a big part of who I am as an individual. So in theory it may be that artists statistically are prone to depression, and depressive people are more prone to addiction. However I know that these conditions can exist all on their own, and I can exist on my own now without drugs or alcohol, and I see life through an artist perspective more than ever.
Having an inventive or artistic muse is not a requirement or a result of addiction. While it may be true that a noticeable amount of people experiencing addiction are creative and talented individuals, there is still a vast majority of creatives who are not addicts or alcoholics. Either way, whether a creative type or not, an addict or alcoholic is in the grips of a disease that diminishes the mind, body and spirit and deconstructs the most unique parts of our perspective and personality that make us who we are. By taking action to get help you are taking the steps needed to save not just who you are, but your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
In the past few years new legislation and reforms have sprung up all around the nation in support of the legalization of medical marijuana, and in some states even the recreational use of marijuana. The debate has gone on for years in effort to end the prohibition of marijuana in America, and how ineffective and unjustifiably expensive the War on Drugs has been against the marijuana industry in particular. With so many changes going on in Florida now, and so many other states preparing to legalize marijuana in some capacity or another, some people want to know what kind of impact this will have one the recovery community, and will it be for better or for worse.
Legalization of marijuana, medical or not, does have some potential to put a strain on the recovery community, but many believe that only pertains to those who are not committed to the life-style of recovery. But in keeping with the idea that the newcomer is so important to the fellowships of recovery, it may be troubling that the newcomer may be putting forth effort in a battle to recover from alcohol or other hard drugs, but be under the impression that marijuana is a different class of drug that they can use safely. With the concept of legalization, some may be more prompt to use marijuana because they feel it will not become problematic, just as many drug addicts tend to be under the impression early on that alcohol is safe for them as well.
Some people who are new to recovery have a pretty difficult time as it is accepting marijuana as a drug that poses any danger to them, and I can say in my own experience as well as the experience of others, that it is typically the drug people will use first when they relapse, other than alcohol. My relapse, as well as the relapses of several others I have known, directly resulted from the belief that marijuana was a safer drug and that it could be used with impunity unlike opiates, or other ‘harder’ narcotics. Some also wonder will these dispensaries take the place of the ‘pill mills’ as the new corrupt drug industry?
Temptation should also be considered, because the fact that legalization means that marijuana will be much more easily accessed also poses a problem for people in recovery. Having marijuana dispensaries in your area may not seem like a problem, but some may say once they are around and you see more advertising for marijuana in your area you may feel a little differently. Then you have more people on a regular basis you are exposed to that would be using marijuana, bringing back the concept of peer pressure.
Recent studies have also shown that legalization would also drive up the number of teens using marijuana, at least by those who have already used at least once. This presents the question, will drug use across the board increase or decline based off the availability of marijuana? And if the numbers of users increase, will there also be an increase in the recovery population as more and more people develop drug habits?
Even though there are a few concerns, it is my belief that medical marijuana is not at all a bad thing, and that it has great potential to help a lot of people who suffer from serious illness. The medical marijuana market has the opportunity to affect the lives of many sick individuals, and also to stimulate the economy while shifting the resources for the War on Drugs to other substances that are creating deadly epidemics across the country.
As far as the recovery community, I stand with those who feel that it is a personal distinction that the individual will have to make. Anyone who admits to having an addiction, be it alcoholism or drugs, should be aware of the risk they take when trying to fool themselves into believing that marijuana is a safer substance for them. Anyone who works an active program of recovery can easily tell you that any substance that you put into your body that is mood or mind altering has the potential to affect your recovery.
Again, from my personal experience I know that marijuana only leads me to drinking and heavy drug use all over again, because I am aware that as an alcoholic and addict, the real problem has not so much to do with the chemicals I abuse and more to do with what is going on inside me. The disease of addiction is a mental, physical, and spiritual illness that can catch up with me no matter what drug or drink I take. So while it may pose a threat to the newcomer who has not experienced a relapse, it is important that someone explain the truth about addiction.
Legalizing a drug and having it advertised and available may be tempting, but it’s not as if it isn’t already done everywhere every day with alcohol. Almost any store you walk into is stocked with booze and plastered with adds to try and sell new alcoholic products. Your television is constantly putting on a display of new beer and liquor commercials with cunning sales tactics and alluring visuals, not to mention cigarettes. So to say that medicinal or even recreational marijuana will be any more tempting is a cop-out in my own opinion. You are already tempted every day with a legal drug that is the most dangerous of all, and people don’t even recognize it because they have been desensitized to its image. Slowly but surely the same will be said of marijuana.
Finding Middle Ground
While it is understandable that some may feel a level of concern with being in recovery and the fact that soon an old vice will soon be more available and abundant in the public, it is important to understand that in Florida there is a large recovery community, and those in that Florida recovery community who are aware of what the disease of addiction means can tell you that it is not something to be afraid of. As long as an individual can be honest with themselves about their addiction, and understand that they are playing with fire by trying to get away with using marijuana in any form there should be no real worry.
Now the recovery community will probably see changes. More people may find themselves in recovery because they dabble with the idea of marijuana, and it could possibly lead them to a bottom quicker if they are addicts or alcoholics. Treatment centers in Florida may see changes in the number of patients, either that more come in because they are using more, or they see less individuals coming in for marijuana related issues and start to treat more patients who struggle with other narcotics.
Only time will tell exactly how this affects the recovery community. For the most part, those who are active in the recovery community will be able to comprehend that regardless of marijuana being legal or not, it is still a drug and is an unnecessary risk. Staying clean and sober does not just apply to illegal substances, and to resort to pushing the envelope of recovery just because the marijuana is there is a mistake hopefully too many don’t make. Substitution is one of the most basic ways that we alcoholics and addicts find ourselves in the grips of a serious relapse, and for people in recovery it isn’t worth putting your life on the line for pot.
Medicinal and recreational marijuana reforms may be changing the way that the law dictates drug use for some, but for the addict or alcoholic the risk is too great to compromise. While an alteration in Florida legislation will definitely make for some positive changes, it is important for people in recovery to recognize the difference in the laws does not make a difference in their own addiction. A drug is a drug, legal or not. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135