‘Why I drank’ by Veronica Valli

Unknown-4Here is some powerful writing from Veronica Valli, recently posted on her blog and taken from her book Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.

‘I tried to drink like ‘other people’ because they looked ‘normal’ to me. Other people drank and they were fine; I could tell. I would judge them by how they looked on the outside and I wanted to be like that.

Something inside me was different and it wasn’t fine. Which is why I had to lie to myself – a big fat lie that ate me up and that I had to keep telling myself, because it kept a lid on the horror. I had to lie about what I was doing to myself. I had to lie about how I really felt. I had to lie about who I was. I had to lie because I was terrified of the horror inside me being exposed.

This may only make sense to someone who has had a problem with drink or any other mood or mind-altering substance. Or it may make sense to you if you have lived a life of desperate compromise and unfulfilled promise.

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‘Are you recovered or recovering?’ by Veronica Valli

Unknown-1Here’s a great piece from one of my favourite bloggers.

‘It’s time to address a somewhat contentious issue in recovery circles. The matter of being either a ‘Recovered alcoholic/addict’ or a ‘Recovering alcoholic/addict.’

I am a recovered alcoholic and have considered myself one for many years. Let me explain why.

If you have read my book or read any of the posts on my blog, you will know that I predominantly believe that alcoholism is a manifestation of a spiritual condition. Alcoholism is not caused by external factors although they most definitely contribute.

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‘What to expect in early recovery’ by Veronica Valli

Unknown-1I like Veronica’s website. Here’s a recent blog.

‘The following is meant as a guide to support you in your early weeks of recovery from alcoholism. The first few days and weeks without alcohol can be frightening and confusing; you have, of course, put down your security blanket, your crutch, your way of coping with the world. It can be very challenging initially to go about your daily life without it.

The following are simple suggestions that when applied will greatly enhance your chances of a successful recovery; it’s the small things that can sometimes make the biggest difference.

Be good to yourself. Making the decision to ask for help is an act of courage and self-love. Don’t beat yourself up about the past. This will get sorted out in time.

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Sir Anthony Hopkins talks about alcohol

I spent 16 years living in Wales, first on the Gower Peninsula near Swansea and later in the country near Cardiff. Beautiful places to live.

Two of Wales’s greatest actors had alcohol problems at some stage of their lives. Here is one, the man who appeared in one of my favourite films, Silence of the Lambs.

‘Emotional Unmanageability’ by Veronica Valli

A nice short blog from Veronica Valli to reflect upon at the start of the week.

ID-10084481-300x198‘Unmangagbility and alcoholism are talked about a lot in recovery circles. When unmanageability was explained to me, it was described an outside occurrence; unpaid bills, DUI’s, divorce, car crashes, damaged furniture, broken bones etc.

That wasn’t something I related to, my life was a little chaotic but by no means unmanageable. My inner life was another story, that was then I realized in relation to alcoholism it is emotional unmanageability that causes the real problems.

To some degree, the alcoholic may be able to create some sense of order in their outside world. They may be able to work and pay their mortgage, for instance. This is how some alcoholics can convince themselves they don’t have a problem; because they have a job and a car they believe things can’t be that bad.

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‘How does alcoholism develop?’ by Veronica Valli

Unknown-1Here’s an interesting and important blog from Veronica Valli which she has take from her book Why You Drink and How to Stop: A Journey to Freedom. I like Veronica’s sentence: “Alcoholism develops because it has an internal environment to grow in.”

‘In order to overcome alcoholism, stopping the drinking of alcohol simply isn’t enough.

Alcoholism develops because it has an internal environment to grow in. Although external conditions enable drinking, it is the internal conditions that allow alcoholism to control someone’s life. There is a need for a greater understanding of this.

  • Alcoholism is an internal (spiritual) illness. Drinking is only a symptom.
  • Alcoholism’s key motivator is about changing how you feel.
  • Alcoholism grows out of a faulty system of thinking and emotional responses.

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‘Brain Surgery as Addiction Treatment?’ by Bill White

Lobotomy‘In 1935 – the founding year of Alcoholics Anonymous, Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz introduced a surgical procedure into psychiatry that came to be known as the prefrontal lobotomy (recall One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).   Drs. Walter Freeman and James Watts pioneered the use of this technique in the United States in 1936. 

By 1960, 100,000 psychosurgery procedures had been performed in the U.S.  Patients targeted for this procedure included those judged to have “compulsive hedonias” – alcoholism, drug addiction, excessive eating and sexual deviations.  

The prefrontal lobotomy procedure severed the connecting nerves between the thalamus and the prefrontal and frontal lobes of the brain.  Its intent was to induce significant changes in thinking and personality that could alter the course of intractable psychiatric illness.

The total number of people with substance use disorders who underwent this procedure is unknown.  One could assume that the prefrontal lobotomy is one more chapter of “harm in the name of help” long ago cast into the dustbin of addiction treatment history in the U.S., but when exactly did use of this procedure stop?  The following story suggests it may have gone on much longer than once thought.

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Don Coyhis, Founder of White Bison

coyhisI found this great biography of a special Native American, Don Coyhis.

Founder, White Bison, Purpose Prize Winner 2009. Coyhis developed Wellbriety, a substance abuse recovery program that taps the power of Native American culture, tradition, and community to help heal his people.

Don Coyhis felt emptiness in sobriety. He found himself going through the motions at support group meetings, disconnected from the reasons why he shouldn’t drink.

Searching for understanding, he turned to his Native American roots. During a five-day fast in the Colorado mountains, Coyhis saw a white bison rise from the ground – to him, a sign that his recovery would be incomplete without his culture. Coyhis founded a nonprofit offering native-focused recovery resources to communities across the country, and in turn, launched a movement called Wellbriety.

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‘It’s quite all right, I’m well’ by Theresa

Cliffs of Moher in County ClareLet’s continue Theresa’s blogs on WITR, this one from a few days after the last (13/05/2010). 

‘Ya know…? I sometimes wonder about my state of mind. Not in the way that I did in the last days of drinking, when I kinda knew that I needed to be sectioned. I mean that I am still looking at myself with a straight head and thinking, ”Huh… fancy that.” I am surprised at myself, and it just sometimes makes me look twice.

In my opinion, I am very healthy mentally. But I may just be seeing it that way, as a man with two broken legs getting out of his wheelchair and limping on crutches for the first time, who may start picturing the marathons he’s gonna run even though, in reality, he has got a lot more physio to do. Like I feel liberated after my time caged in with a desperately ill mind.

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Theresa’s Story: Through her Wired In To Recovery Blogs, Part 1

The Right reefTheresa started blogging about her recovery on Wired In To Recovery in May, 2010. Here are her first two blogs:

Me (6th May, 2010)
I am 17 weeks, today, into Recovery from alcohol addiction. I have found that getting into Recovery is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is also the thing I am most proud of because of the unbelievable physical and mental effort it has taken to get this far.

The fear of withdrawal and the absolute belief that I would be unable to cope without drink made me believe for a very long time, that a drunken haze would be my life until I became so distraught and heartbroken that I ended it (which I almost did) or my body just gave up the fight.

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My Favourite Blogs: Ed Mitchell – Lost & Found

‘… documentary [from 2009] on the latest steps to recovery of former BBC and ITN broadcaster, Ed Mitchell, is broadcast exclusively on Inexcess TV – marking Ed’s return to television and first employment following his battle with alcohol and homelessness.

In his new role as editor at Inexcess Television, Ed produced and directed his latest documentary, Ed Mitchell: Lost and Found, the second programme to be broadcast on Ed’s life story, from living as a white-collar tramp to his subsequent recovery from alcoholism.’

This blog first appeared on this website in June 2013. Ed Mitchell no longer works for Inexcess Television. Check out the first documentary made about Ed’s alcohol-related problems. His book Headline to Hard Times is well worth a read.

My Favourite Blogs: The Story of Noreen Oliver – What you can do with Recovery

‘It’s almost ten years ago that I conducted an evaluation of the BAC O’Connor for Noreen Oliver. My visits to Noreen’s treatment centre were a real eye-opener! Here was a genuine recovery community, a place where recovery oozed out of the walls.

I couldn’t tell who was there to help and who needed help! It was a special experience and I learnt so much from those early visits. Most importantly, I learnt the power of community and belonging, of love and acceptance, of role models and peer support.

Over the years, I’ve watched as Noreen has continued to build BAC O’Connor and facilitate related activities (RIOT, Langan’s Tea Rooms and RIOT Radio). We meet periodically when I am back in UK and it’s always great to catch up.

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‘Surrendering to Heal’ by Ellie Schoenberger

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Last week I had two blogs on Ellie Schoenberger, one an interview and the other focused on Ellie’s work. Couldn’t resist including one of Ellie’s blogs, this one from WomenHeal.

‘I am currently in recovery from two chronic, life altering diseases that if left untreated are always fatal.

Always.

The first one is alcoholism. In 2007, after years suffering in silence and struggling in vain to get sober on my own, I gave up. I stopped kicking and screaming and trying to do things my way and went to rehab. For thirty days. I had been to rehab before. Twice, in fact. The difference with my last rehab was that I surrendered. I got out of my own way and let people who had walked the path before me carry me when I didn’t feel like carrying myself.

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‘Your Recovered Life’ Series with Ellie Schoenberger

Couldn’t think of a better way to starting my blogging week. I was quite simply blown away by this interview. Ellie Schoenberger is quite simply one special lady. Here is what your host Courtney Webster has to say about Ellie.

‘Ellie wears many hats (see bio below) but I think of her most as a woman who takes a stand for bringing alcoholism and recovery out of the shadows –  Letting us know that recovery is not only possible but phenomenal and that no matter where you are in the process, you are not alone.

I have admired her work from afar for years and personally known many women whose lives she has touched with her advocacy for telling the truth and taking the shame and stigma out of our addictions. I was thrilled to talk to her for this project and am now honored to call her a friend.’

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‘The Street to Recovery’ by Kevin Kennedy

51-JLmnATJL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Remember this guy? Well, he has a Recovery Story to tell, which you can read about in his new book. Meanwhile, here is an article from Addiction Today.

‘Kevin Kennedy – Curly Watts from TV’s long-running Coronation Street, and so popular he drew in 22million viewers for his TV wedding – has now been sober for 15 years. He shares his experience of alcoholism and rehab, strength of recovery and hope for the future with Addiction Today readers. Pdf

PROLOGUE: A FRIDAY IN AUGUST 1998
Sometime in the morning, I came round. I’d blacked out from the drink, with no memory of the night before. As soon as I opened my eyes, before I’d even focused on the room around me, I knew I had done it again. After all the promises, even swearing on the Bible and all the pleas for second chances, I’d still gone ahead and lost it. The four hideous horsemen – shame, remorse, self-disgust, and, worst of them all, fear – had found me, again.

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The Grass Arena

Some of you may remember my earlier blog,  ‘Saved by the book’ by Erwin James, which focuses on the life of the author John Healy.

Mike Scott, who first found the article in the Guardian, has now tracked down the film on YouTube and says it is well worth watching. The film stars Peter Postlethwaite and is rated 8.6 on IMDB. YouTube shows it in parts which you can track very easily. Enjoy!

‘The Grass Arena is the true story of John Healy. Raised in an ultra religious family, with an abusive father, young Johnny soon learns that he has to learn to defend himself. He takes up boxing, but soon falls victim to alcoholism. His boxing career over, John takes to the Grass Arena (the park) where he lives with other alcoholics.’

75 Years In The Making: Harvard Just Released Its Epic Study On What Men Need To Live A Happy Life

rsz_harvardhappinessCouldn’t resist putting up this article from FEELguide, which focuses on one of the longest ever research studies. George Vaillant, who directed the study for more than three decades, has some seminal writings on alcoholism, including his book which is well worth reading.

‘In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development in history.  The study’s goal was to determine as best as possible what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing. 

The astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — ranging from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” – indicates just how exhaustive and quantifiable the research data has become. 

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Jim’s Recovery Minute

“I love life again, I have… I live in a  great community, my kids are thriving, I am thriving. I get up every day just wanting to face the day… enjoy the day and all the opportunities it has.

And that’s sobriety, that’s life. And that’s me, so I’m just grateful to be able to give you this message.”

 

‘It’s called the past for a reason’ by Matt Kay

keld1Here’s an early blog from one of my favourite Wired In To Recovery bloggers, Matt Kay.

‘For all of us in recovery, irrespective of our substance of choice, it’s important to remember to always keep things in perspective.

As addicts, we craved our drug and wanted it immediately and always wanted more. Likewise, in recovery we crave abstinence or sobriety and cannot understand why the little devil on our shoulders just won’t take a long sprint off a short pier!

A friend of mine (eight months sober) rang me recently and, in floods of tears, said they couldn’t understand why they had been out ‘for just one drink’. During this moment of his intoxication, I had a chat, calmed him down, and advised a good night’s sleep and we’d talk again in the morning.

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Support for You – One Woman’s Story

Louise C. runs a successful family business in Scotland that employs 90 people.

But she very nearly lost all of this, and her life, due to chronic alcoholism. Louise thanks her family for getting her into treatment. She remembers the day her family dropped her off at Castle Craig: “It took three men to drop me at the door of Castle Craig.”

She admits that “the best thing to do with alcoholics is to gang up on them and give them no option but to try treatment and face up to their addiction.” Once that is done, “you’re half-way there.”

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