By Cheryl Steinberg
Taking other people’s inventory, you know you do it. Or you have done it in the past. Probably early on in your recovery as well as on days that you were perhaps not feeling so spiritual. But, you’ve been warned against doing it; you know better. And you know that it doesn’t feel too good when someone butts into your program, either.
The problem with concerning yourself with other people’s programs is that it allows you to take the focus off of yourself but, that’s what a 12 step program is all about: becoming self-aware and taking responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
It’s said that those who find fault with others and their programs, calling them “sick” and whatnot, are probably pretty sick, themselves. And getting called out for their sober-shaming (I just came up with that)…well, that generally sends the offender over the edge. And you know why? Because they know the implications of such an accusation: they’re not spiritually-fit; they’re sick; they’re being judgmental; they’re not showing unconditional love for their fellow alcoholic/addict and so on. These are things we in the program are trying to avoid and outgrow, from our days spent in active addiction, when we were the most selfish and self-centered we’ve ever been.
If you find yourself being ‘down with OPP’ it’s important that you call yourself out on it. I don’t think it’s overly-dramatic to say that your sobriety – and therefore your life – depends on it.
Taking other people’s inventory leads to developing resentments. And these resentments can spread like wildfire. Soon enough, it’s not just some ‘rando’ at your meeting that you can’t stand for their hypocrisy; it’s your friends and even your sponsor, and eventually, the program, itself. As you can see, this is very dangerous territory.
The next time you find yourself becoming overly-concerned what someone else is doing, that’s a red flag that you need to take a good look at yourself. There’s something called projection, or transference, and what that means is that you see something in someone else that, in fact, applies to YOU, and you don’t like it. Not one bit.
Instead of condemning that other person, whether in your head or aloud to others, take some time to be with yourself. Journal about it. Talk about it with your sober supports and your sponsor. Take action to get back on track: meditate, pray, get involved with service. Re-commit to your program. Maybe begin the steps over again, if you’ve already completed them.
Remember, being judgmental from time-to-time is a human trait; it’s natural and normal. But, for those of us in recovery, allowing ourselves to get carried away with passing judgment on others that could spell Trouble (that’s right, with a capital ‘T’)!
Also remember: everyone is on their personal journey toward recovery from a very serious and life-threatening disease and each path may look different from your own. The next time you perceive someone to be ‘off’ or struggling, reach out your hand instead of condemning them for being a bad person.
Are you struggling with recovery? Have you relapsed and looking for a way back to sobriety? Talking to your sober supports, including your sponsor is a good place to start. You can also talk to an Addiction Specialist 24/7 by calling toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We are here to listen and help. You are not alone.
image via wifflegif.com
By Cheryl Steinberg
Addiction and recovery seems to be having more of a presence in pop culture, such as in TV and film; probably for the clandestine nature of 12 step fellowships – with the whole anonymity thing – and perhaps also because of the sheer number of people who are affected by addiction (1 in 3). Some get it right, or close to right, while others are way off base. Here are 15 things I wish normies knew about being an addict.
#1. Not to take the things we did in our active addiction personally
Many of us in our addiction lied, stole, and cheated. That’s not really who we are as it is often goes hand-in-hand with substance abuse. It really wasn’t personal and we’re each a work in progress (See #4).
#2. Why we need to go to meetings
It’s part of our new maintenance program. Instead of subsisting on drugs, we attend meetings to support us in staying clean and sober.
#3. Why we need a sponsor and sober supports
We can certainly be friends with normies but, it’s also über-important for us to have sober friends that can support us in our sobriety, simply because they can understand firsthand what we go through. As for having a sponsor, it’s not nearly enough to just go to meetings. We also need a mentor of sorts to take us through step work.
#4. What Step work is
The 12 steps are basically a blueprint for learning how to be self-aware, conscientious of our shortcomings, and learning to take responsibility for actions. Also referred to as ‘working a program,’ it simply means learning how to be a better human being. And, basically, it could be applied to anyone, not just addicts and alcoholics.
#5. Also, that working a program doesn’t mean we’re now ‘Jesus freaks’
A 12 step program emphasizes building a strong spiritual foundation by finding a Higher Power of our own understanding. Therefore, for some people, their Higher Power might be Jesus, and that’s cool. For others of us, that’s not the case. There’s a huge distinction between being religious and being spiritual.
#6. That no, we can’t still drink or *just* smoke weed
Being clean and sober means we don’t take anything that’s mood or mind altering and, last I checked, both weed and alcohol do just that. It doesn’t matter that marijuana is becoming legalized, for people like us, it’s off-limits. Plus, as hard as it might be to understand, it’s impossible to *just* do anything. We do it till it’s done, and then go find more.
#7. We don’t judge our normie friends for drinking
Generally speaking, we have accepted that drinking is something that some people can do “successfully,” meaning that they don’t go overboard with it.
#8. We don’t always want to disclose the drugs we did or the things we did to get them
Here’s the deal don’t ask us what we did for drugs and we won’t ask you what you would do for a Klondike bar.
#9. On the contrary, we’re pretty open about our addiction
So, don’t be all awkward if you want to ask us questions, just don’t be a d*ck about it. There’s something called ‘tact’ – use it.
#10. Being an addict doesn’t make us bad people
A lot of people still think of addiction as a ‘moral failing,’ that those of us with addiction are somehow bad seeds. This simply is not the case. Get informed.
#11. Having the disease of addiction is not a choice but that we have a choice to recover
Addiction is a psychological disorder, just like depression and schizophrenia are psychological disorders. And what that means is that we addicts don’t have control over the fact that we have this disease, however, we do control what we do with this knowledge; we can choose to recover.
#12. You don’t need to handle us with kid gloves
We’re pretty tough considering what we’ve been through. Don’t patronize us, please. We’re not fragile, nor are we broken.
#13. Many of us also have disorders such as PTSD, so please no loud noises or sudden movements
Comedian John Mulaney via http://m.tickld.com/funny/t/645519
(This one’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor). It’s quite common for people with addiction to also have other disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), therefore, we are fighting several battles all at once. We’re pretty tough folks. But, as the philosopher Plato said, “Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
#14. That ‘addict’ isn’t a dirty word
Kind of like those old build boards that said: “‘Virgin’: Teach Your Kids It’s Not a Dirty Word.” The term addict still carries a negative stigma but, the more information that comes out about its legitimacy as a chronic disease and the more people speak out about their experience in recovery, especially celebrities, the better the understanding amongst normies.
#15. Lastly, it should be pretty obvious by now that we generally have a sense of humor when it comes to our addiction and recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, such as addiction, help is available. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 and you can speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and share with you our resources. You are not alone.
Here’s your Recovery Weekly Horoscope. Enjoy!
You are on fire this week – not literally – and it seems as though nothing and no one can stand in the way of your progress. Remember to slow down and practice gratitude. After all, that’s what really keeps you moving forward. You might be obsessing about what you want but stop and remind yourself that you have exactly what you need.
You are known for your stubbornness, dear Taurus, which can actually come in handy sometimes. This week is not one of those times. Be open to suggestions from your sober supports, even if you believe you already know the best way because, after all, they have an outside perspective on your situation. You may receive the most valuable bit of wisdom from a most unexpected source.
You might experience some frustration with things that are beyond your control this week but, you have a choice: be frustrated and annoyed, or practice surrender and experience peace. Try reciting the Serenity Prayer. Also, nurturing your creativity will do wonders for letting go of what you can’t control while helping you to express yourself, which will lend its own sense of freedom.
This week is going to be an exercise in patience for you, Moody Cancer. You might feel like others are stepping on your toes or taking you for granted. Don’t bottle up your feelings because that will only sabotage you in the long run. It’s up to you to speak your mind, with compassion and respect, that is.
Leo, Leo, Leo…holding on to unresolved feelings will complicate relationships this week. You know change and moving on might just be for the best but, you want to be sure. Talk to your supports. Change is scary but necessary to grow. Clinging to the past is just you trying to control things. Get with your Gemini friends and practice saying the Serenity Prayer until you believe it. It’s way healthier to acknowledge your emotions, accept them without judgment and then move on.
You might be feeling extra spiritual this week. Or else, you realize that your spiritual program could use a little TLC. Explore ways to do this, maybe adding meditation, yoga, reading, Tai Chi. You can enroll others to support you but be careful not to manipulate them in your endeavors. Your strength returns naturally as you rediscover center and recalibrate your balance. Getting into the new routine might be difficult at first but, by making sure that your values and beliefs are in line with this new way of doing things will set you up for success.
This week might have you feeling a bit annoyed, Fair Libra. Speaking your mind and sharing your feelings is your responsibility. Let others know exactly how you’re feeling. Your tendency to over-analyze can undermine what you’re trying to do: gain clarity. Staying present and observing your emotions will yield the most positive impact for you.
Be open to receiving the emotional support you so deserve and that is long overdue for you, Scorpio. Don’t push it away and try to embrace change as it comes. Although you could feel pressured by being put on the spot, your world is becoming a friendlier place. Concentrate on keeping your balance as you take on some major transformation.
You’ve been distracted by fun and adventure, which ironically has led to more stress than relaxation. Take time this week to leave some of your schedule open for you. Everyone – including you – requires some downtime, so just accept any peace and quiet you do get as a gift from the Universe. Being grateful, and maybe specifically making a list, is a great way to remember what’s most important.
You’re feeling content, as if you have both feet planted firmly on stable ground. However, be careful not to get complacent. It’s OK to stop and smell the roses but be sure to have the next step plotted out – and then take that step. It’s not enough to hope, wish, and want; committed action is necessary to making things comes to fruition. Remember Capricorn, you can sink into your emotions while the Moon travels through your sign and so you can’t afford to become lazy or complacent; do your planning right away rather than procrastinating until a storm hits.
It’s time to trust both your head and your heart, especially this week, Aquarius. Intimacy might be a point of contention for you, as it is for a lot of others, and that goes for all relationships, with family and friends, too. You’ve been thinking about working through your resistance for a while now but the thought of feeling your feelings is enough to stop you in your tracks. Remember, there’s no time like the present moment to start going for what you want. Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
You’re generally a people-person, Pisces and this week is no different. It’s wise to involve others in your planning and activities this week because group participation makes the process that much more enjoyable. Oh, and it also helps you with accountability. Fear of failure often has you self-sabotaging your dreams by filling you with doubt before you can even get started. Have faith in yourself and let others show you their support.
This article is meant to be fun as well as give suggestions to those in recovery by reminding them of the tools that are essential to coping in healthy ways with life on life’s terms. If you struggle to cope with daily life and find that you are relying on alcohol or other drugs– either prescribed or illicit – there is help available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist; we are available 24/7 to answer your questions and share resources.
As a person in recovery, I know what it’s like to experience drug dreams – also called ‘using dreams’ – and to awake the next morning upset or in a panic about it. It’s important to know, and to remind yourself, that dreaming about drug use is common and to be expected in recovery. And not only that, it’s important to realize that using dreams aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
Findings suggest that readiness for change is reflected in dream content and that our “dream-life” can provide us with opportunities to rehearse change when it comes to using in our dreams. In fact, drug-using dreams can serve an important purpose by informing us of where we’re at in our recovery at any given time. Probably what’s most telling – and most important – is your reaction upon waking from the dream, whether you actually used in the dream or refused. Here are 5 possible meanings of your drug dreams.
#1. Indicate your state of mind and level of recovery
Depending on the type of dream, whether you used or not and how you reacted, drug dreams can be an indication that you’re more engaged in the treatment and recovery process.
A well-known study showed that alcoholics who dreamt about drinking during the course of their rehabilitation treatment tended to achieve longer periods of sobriety. So, in other words, they were serious enough about learning to abstain and recover – so much so that they were dreaming about it at night. A similar study of crack cocaine users had very similar findings. Therefore, the using dream, in-and-of-itself, may be a positive sign.
#2. Some of these dreams are memories being consolidated
Dreaming – any kind of dreaming – is a way for the brain to categorize and consolidate memories and experiences. And for the recovering addict and alcoholic, there are many experiences and memories involving drug use because, well, most of our time involved being under the influence. So, it isn’t strange to be dreaming about drug-related actions, such as getting and using drugs.
#3. It’s just your brain’s ability to dream regenerating
Being unconscious (as we often were in our active addiction) is not the same thing as actually sleeping (what we’re able to do now that we’re not using). That is, the heavy use of drugs and alcohol didn’t allow normal dreaming to take place. Previously suppressed dreams may be unfinished business, especially traumas that had not been processed while we were using or drinking. Many drugs suppress dreaming and the common understanding among the medical community is that the brain simply needs to make up for those lost dreams.
#4. For purely physiological reasons
In early and not-so-early recovery (remember, PAWS can last for several years after your last use), the brain is still adjusting to a new chemical makeup and balance without the presence of drugs. Therefore, it’s quite common for people like us to experience dreams about drugs and using drugs.
#5. A sign that you’re craving
If you’re experiencing drug dreams in which you use and feel good about it, it might be an indication that the addictive part of your brain is craving drugs. This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to relapse.
It just means that you’re experiencing a particularly trying time in your recovery where your body and/or mind is craving substances. It’s what you do about it that counts: you can choose to give in to the cravings or you can choose to step up your recovery game in order to walk through it without using.
In either case, it’s a choice and it’s your choice. Relapse isn’t something that just simply happens one day. There is a process taking place well before the actual moment in which someone picks up.
Because having ‘using dreams’ or ‘drug dreams’ can sometimes be a trigger, it’s important to talk to your sponsor or other sober supports about the dream as well as your thoughts and feelings about having a using dream. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
You might be newly clean and sober or you might have a lot of time in sobriety, either way, when it comes to recovery from addiction, we must remain ever-vigilant. That said, there are several things that we do to undermine our program of recovery at one time or another and this could lead us down a path of self-destruction. Here are 11 ways you are sabotaging your recovery.
#1. You keep your feelings to yourself
You’ve probably had it drilled into your head by now that you can’t keep your feelings to yourself. If you don’t tell anyone how you are feeling, then how is anyone going to know that you might be in a bad spot and could use a little love and support?
#2. You listen to your distorted thinking
Instead of turning to your sponsor and sober supports as a sounding board, you’re listening to one person, alone: you. That’s risky business. As recovering alcoholics and addicts, we struggle with distorted thoughts and perceptions. We must remain ever-vigilant and be willing to turn to others, whom we trust, for insight and suggestions (see # 11).
#3. You won’t reach out to others for support and/or you refuse help
Everyone seems to be doing so well and you don’t want to burden them with your problems. This is your disease talking to you and it’s related to #2.
#4. You convince yourself that you’ll always feel this bad
You will no doubt experience peaks and valleys of good times and not-so-good times in your recovery. After all, we have to be able to deal with life on life’s terms. But, you might be sabotaging your recovery if you find that your thinking has become fatalistic; you think things will never get better. This often leads to a case of the “fuck-its” and that is very dangerous territory.
#5. You’re isolating
You’ve heard it said a lot in treatment, therapy, and in the rooms: we have to be careful to not isolate, especially when we’re feeling bad or experiencing our distorted thoughts. If notice that you’re shirking social responsibilities more and more, be careful. You just might be setting yourself up for a fall.
#6. Wait for things to get better on their own
Move a muscle, change a thought. You have to take action to change things; things will not simply change without any effort from you. Whether it’s simply praying or meditating, or taking a ‘bigger’ action like applying for a new job, if your current one isn’t serving you.
#7. You’re pretending that everything is fine
Whether for your own sake or for the sake of others, you’re putting on a happy face when you’re really feeling bad. There’s no need for the charade. Speak out and reach out. That’s why it’s called ‘fellowship.’
#8. You’re making bad health choices
If you usually make it a point to eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest, yet, recently, you haven’t been taking care of yourself and your health in this way, this is yet another indication that you’re undermining your own recovery.
#9. You’re being selfish and self-serving
You seem to have stopped caring about others and aren’t willing to do service, whether it’s something you do at your home group or meeting with sponsees. This is a clear indication that you’re sabotaging your recovery program.
#10. You stop taking your medication(s) without consulting your doctor first
If you are on medication for a psychological or mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar, you can’t simply stop taking your meds. Be sure to talk it over with your doctor. And, if the meds have been helping you in your recovery, decide why it is that you want to stop your meds. You just might be setting yourself up for unnecessary difficulties and possibly relapse.
#11. You’re unwilling to take suggestions from your sober supports and friends
Being unwilling to take suggestions is yet another obvious way that you are sabotaging your recovery and could be headed for trouble.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.