‘“Do I Have to Feel so Badly About Myself?” – The Legacies of Guilt, Shame and Anxiety’ by Peter Breggin, MD

pbregginGuilt, shame and anxiety are intimately tied to addiction. Here is a blog on these emotions by one of my favourite people, Dr. Peter Breggin, which appeared in Mad in America.

‘Guilt, Shame and Anxiety defines these negative emotions, shows how they act as primitive enforcers of anger management, describes many alternative methods of identifying their presence in our lives, enables us to discover our personal negative emotional profile, and shows how to reject these emotions and to triumph over them.

And now we can answer the question asked in the title, “Do I have to feel so badly about myself?” The answer is a definitive “No!”  You do not have to live with your emotions out of control.  You do not have to feel stymied by painful feelings whenever you seek to be more peaceful or relaxed, more creative, braver, more loving, more independent, or simply happier.  You do not have to live this way.

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Classic Blog: ‘How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life’ by Peter Breggin

Unknown-1-1I have a high regard for the work of the psychiatrist Peter Breggin. Here is an article he wrote on forgiveness for the Huffington Post earlier in the year. Forgiveness plays a key role in recovery.

‘Early in 1865, in his second inaugural address, little more than a month before his assassination, Abraham Lincoln stood before the bloodied, fractured United States to speak about forgiveness, the letting go of hatreds, and the binding of wounds. He implored the people of America:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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Gabor Maté: When The Body Says No – Mind/Body Unity and the Stress-Disease Connection

‘Stress is ubiquitous these days – it plays a role in the workplace, in the home, and virtually everywhere that people interact. It can take a heavy toll unless it is recognized and managed effectively and insightfully.

Western medicine, in theory and practice, tends to treat mind and body as separate entities. This separation, which has always gone against ancient human wisdom, has now been demonstrated by modern science to be not only artificial, but false. The brain and body systems that process emotions are intimately connected with the hormonal apparatus, the nervous system, and in particular the immune system.

Emotional stress, especially of the hidden kind that people are not aware of, undermines immunity, disrupts the body’s physiological milieu and can prepare the ground for disease. There is strong evidence to suggest that in nearly all chronic conditions, from cancer, ALS, or multiple sclerosis to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease or Alzheimer’s, hidden stress is a major predisposing factor.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Faith’s Story, “One More Chance’

Faith-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)Another wonderful story from I Am Not Anonymous, which helps us feel what addiction is like and experience the personal joys of recovery. Thank you, Faith.

‘Until I got clean and sober, I never knew that other people experienced the same pain and emptiness that I used drugs and alcohol to escape from. Even when I was a little girl I felt like a part of me was missing – I felt alone, afraid, uncomfortable, and incomplete.

I remember looking up in the sky at airplanes and wishing I could trade places with someone on them. It didn’t matter who it was or what the destination was, I just wanted to be anyone else and anywhere else… and I didn’t know why.

I started using drugs and alcohol in my early teens and they took me very temporarily to the place I thought I always wanted to be. They gave me relief from myself, my insecurities, my fears, and my loneliness. They made me feel “okay” with who I was, where I was, and who I was with, but they came with a price. At the time they seemed worth it.

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Your Recovered Life: Tim Harrington, Intervention Specialist & Recovery Advocate

‘Tim Harrington is fiercely committed to the world of recovery. He helps people get and stay sober – in whatever way works best for them AND takes daily actions aimed at reducing the shame and stigma of addiction.

The first time I saw Tim in action was at a big conference on addiction treatment. It was during a panel discussion that he raised his hand and asked a simple question.

He referenced how we, who understood addiction and treatment, were all there to learn more…but what about all the people ‘out there’ who weren’t in the know? Especially those whose lives addiction crashed into and who hadn’t a clue about the disease and even LESS about recovery. What if we had a conference for THOSE people?

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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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‘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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Today, I am Alive

The drugs made me feel ‘normal’. They drowned out the feelings and the negative, self-destructive thoughts.  They were my medication to the real problem. The problem was ME.

Samantha_Paulus_Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)Please check out this beautiful story on I Am Not Anonymous.

‘Where to begin…My life today is a beautiful thing.  It has reached measures and consistency that I could have never imagined.

I am currently 261 days into my journey and I am finally feeling awake and alive.  Today, I am conscious of myself, of the happiness of others and I have a love for life that I never thought possible.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Hugh’s Story

Hugh2Text(pp_w1000_h666)A blog from a great new website.

‘When I first heard about IAmNotAnonymous.org, I thought it was one of the coolest things to hit the recovery world. I subscribe to the idea that there is nothing shameful about being in recovery. It is my life. It has made me the man I am today. A man worthy of love and respect.

Some people believe that they need to keep their recovery a secret, I am not one of those people. Partly because the depths of my addiction was thrown into the spotlight with some unsolicited press in the form of newspaper articles in 2013. It’s quite possible that I was the last person to know that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol.

My whole life I have felt like there was a void in my soul. A missing piece of me. A void that I have constantly tried to fill with different vices.

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‘How the 12 steps can help everyone’ by Gabriel Segal

Unknown-1Found this little interesting piece on Beth Burgess’s Smyls website.

The end of my afflictions and the power of The Twelve Steps
I was born in 1959. From as far back as I can remember until 2011, I suffered from severe forms of anxiety, depression, and addiction. I had many years of therapy of different kinds. I was prescribed pills. None of that helped. And some made matters worse.

Eventually, I thought I would give the 12-step approach a chance. I was initially put off by what appeared to be a strongly religious streak in the program, something that as an analytic philosopher and cognitive scientist, I could not accept.

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Excerpt from Anna’s Recovery Story: ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’

stories-02Through his heroin addiction and recovery, Anna’s brother has taught her so much about life, including the most valuable lesson she could ever learn – you can get through anything.

“… there’s no way I can tell this story without saying that my brother is truly the most inspirational person I know. I am in awe of who he is and what he’s achieved. He has taught me so much about life, including the most valuable lesson I could ever possibly learn – that you can get through anything.”

‘6. Emotional release
My parents could see that I wasn’t really coping with what was happening and they convinced me to go and see a counsellor. I went to see a very expensive psychologist for three sessions. The first two sessions were spent crying and telling the same story I’d told everyone else a thousand times.

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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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‘How to Stop Feeling Bad Instantly’ by Matt Kay

rsz_img_2332Time to ‘relive’ another blog from one of Wired In To Recovery’s favourite bloggers, Matt Kay.

‘As soon as you notice that you’re feeling bad – which includes feeling angry, sad, frustrated, etc – ask yourself, “What am I focusing on right now?” Most likely you’ll discover that all you’re thinking about is what you don’t want.

When you get caught in a negative thinking groove of only seeing what you don’t want, you get trapped in the situation as a victim and you’ll keep attracting more of the same thing into your life. You won’t be able to move forward until you change your thoughts.

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‘Coping in Early Recovery: The Toddler Stage’ by Stephanie Brown

images-1In my last blog on Stephanie Brown’s book  A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation, I looked at what Stephanie describes as the Baby Stage of early recovery. Here, I look at what Stephanie says of ‘The Toddler Stage’.

‘As a baby moves into the toddler stage, she begins to acquire a new kind of learning. She begins to pick up language, which builds the foundation for understanding and forming ideas.

Similarly, the woman born newly into abstinence begins what is called cognitive learning. She listens to others telling the stories of what they did in the past and what they do now.

She begins to hear a new language, the language of recovery, and, like a toddler, begins to form her new self and her new identity around the acceptance of her addiction. She comes to know the words, “I am an alcoholic” or “I am an addict” and build her new, strong sense of self on this foundation…

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‘The problem with instant graftification’ by Matt Kay

rsz_us-instant-gratificationHere’s another excellent blog that Matt Kay submitted to Wired In To Recovery.

‘Our world today is based upon instant gratification. Taking into consideration all of the technology that allows us to get what we want right when we want it, it’s really no wonder that we are trying to apply that standard to our emotional state.

Think of all the ways that people use drugs or alcohol pertaining to instant gratification. If you are having a stressful day – pop a pill and feel de-stressed. If you are feeling a little social anxiety or lack of confidence in a situation – have a few drinks and get some liquid courage.

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‘New Life Acceptance’ by Matt Kay

Manchester-Art-and-Culture-getawayHere’s another old blog from WITR blogger Matt Kay, this one from April 2012.

‘I’ve not been on here for absolutely ages but I’m still living the dream. I made it to two years clean and sober (Aprils Fools Day too!) Just thought I’d share this with you… it’s called “New Life Acceptance”, hence the title.
 
1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my addiction. I accept the responsibility.

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Kevan’s Moment of Clarity

images-1A Moment of Clarity for Kevan Martin, taken from his Recovery Story. After spending 25 years problem drinking and eight years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, Kevan runs NERAF which has nearly 100 staff and volunteers and provides a support service across the north-east of England.

‘One Sunday evening, when I was out trying to tire myself out, I walked past a church. I believe in God, but I am not a religious or spiritual person by any means. However, I felt this overwhelming urge to turn back and enter the church.

I sat at the back of the church watching the congregation sing and started to feel comfortable, relaxed and at ease. I must have fallen asleep, as I didn’t realise that people had left until the Vicar woke me.

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Dealing with Betrayal and Abandonment

images-1Beth Burgess flagged this article which appeared on Hubpages. Sometimes things happen in your recovery that are difficult to come to deal with. Here is some excellent advice.

Remain Objective 
It is all too easy to blame ourselves when we have been betrayed or abandoned, and to take the actions of others as a personal affront. Most people’s behaviour is a reflection of their own shortcomings or mental state rather than a rejection of you personally.

Try to be objective about the situation – ask yourself if you genuinely did anything wrong, or was this situation brought about because of the other person’s issues. If you do feel that you were somewhat to blame, what can you learn from this occasion and how can you do better in future. 

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‘How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life’ by Peter Breggin

Unknown-1I have a high regard for the work of the psychiatrist Peter Breggin. Here is an article he wrote on forgiveness for the Huffington Post earlier in the year. Forgiveness plays a key role in recovery.

‘Early in 1865, in his second inaugural address, little more than a month before his assassination, Abraham Lincoln stood before the bloodied, fractured United States to speak about forgiveness, the letting go of hatreds, and the binding of wounds. He implored the people of America:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Read More ➔

The culture of addiction: Part 2

IMG_2586The second part of this series focuses on the impact of legal status on drug culture. Click here for part one.

Society makes judgements about different types of psychoactive drug. As Bill White points out in his book Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery, the social status and value attached to a particular drug by society influence several things:

  • The risks associated with use of the drug
  • The organisation of ‘tribes’ within the culture of addiction
  • The characteristics of each tribe and the impairments that members experience from both the drug and the culture itself.

 Clearly, there are likely to be differences in a variety of factors for drugs that are legal (e.g. alcohol) and those that are prohibited by law (e.g. heroin).

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