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"[HUMAN BEINGS] ARE NOT DESTROYED BY SUFFERING.
[THEY] ARE DESTROYED BY SUFFERING WITHOUT MEANING."
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From Jan Williams, MS, JD, LCADC, site owner:

Online Addictions Services

Through this site, I offer free addictions information as well as professional services based on my 34 years of experience as a licensed addictions counselor and 36 years of personal recovery. My DUI alcohol evaluation, counseling, recovery coaching, and educational services are presented through email, telephone, and Skype sessions. Payment for services is done through PayPal and is secure, and encrypted. Please contact me at 443-610-3569 with any questions or concerns about my services. As you can see by reading my blog posts, I favor a spiritually based approach to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, but recognize there are many paths to recovery and will support any rationally based approach to seeking abstinence. Out of respect for the Traditions of the 12 Step Programs, I strive to avoid any specific personal references to 12 Step Recovery.


Addictions Recovery Blog

I offer through the blog portion of the site an opportunity for discussion, by me and the public, of addiction, addiction treatment, recovery, support services, 12 Step Programs, and any other material relevant to addictions and recovery. Newcomers to recovery, old timers, addictions professionals, significant others of a person with a drug or alcohol problem, are all welcome. Registration is required to cut down on spam and other unsavory intrusions.

The rules for blog participation are simple:

  • You must register and login in order to activate the comment functionality
  • Be respectful in your comments
  • Do not use profanity.

Reflections on Freedoms in Recovery from Addiction

The life of the individual in the throes of addiction, including that of the significant others of the addict or alcoholic, undergoes a transformation from a life where the addicted individual delights in the perceived freedom experienced through the effects of alcohol or other drugs to an existence where every conscious thought is focused on that next drink or drug. Addiction extinguishes the basic freedoms of the individual and enslaves its victim in a seemingly endless journey of loneliness and pain that " *** many pursue to the gates of insanity or death (Alcoholics Anonymous, Chap. 3, More about Alcoholism)."

However, recovery from addiction can restore to the individual all of the freedoms lost to the power of addiction, and, in the case of those who pursue a spiritual recovery journey, can result in "*** a new freedom and a new happiness (Alcoholics Anonymous, Chap. 6, Into Action)." Here are are some of these freedoms (to name but a few):

Freedom From:

1. Use of alcohol or other drugs.
2. Fear.
3. Concern for what others think.
4. Overwhelming guilt.
5. Self-pity.
6. Selfishness and self-seeking.

Freedom To:

1. Love others, unselfishly.
2. Be of service to others.
3. Discover who I am and Whom I wish to become.
4. Seek to develop and improve my spiritual condition.

These are but a few of the freedoms that recovery from addiction can bring. I invite readers of this post to add their own recovery freedoms. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 07/14/2014.

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Recovery Tip: "Being Human Is Not A Character Defect"

Here is a Recovery Tip for those in recovery from addiction or from the effects of addiction due to a relationship with someone with addictive disease: "Being Human Is Not A Character Defect." This language is a quote from the Al-Anon (the !2 Step Program of recovery for those hurt by addiction in a significant other) publication, Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II (1992, May 30, page 151).

Individuals in recovery tend to be perfectionists even in their recovery programs. Steps 6 and 7 of the Twelve Steps of recovery suggest the need to identify character defects and seek spiritual strength to remove them. The emphasis is on reducing self-centeredness which is said to be the root of the addiction problem. Recovering individuals with all positive intentions may consider all self-centered emotional reactions as negative reflections on their recovery progress, that is, that human emotional reactions are self-centered and, therefore, bad or wrong. Hence, the title of this Recovery Tip: Being Human Is Not A Character Defect!

Feelings are not good or bad; they are natural emotional reactions that all human beings, recovering from addiction or just "normal" people (earth people), have. Being fearful of serious surgery; feeling deep grief over the loss of a loved one; or experiencing anger at an unjust event, are all normal human reactions. The key, of course, is in how we recovering individuals react to these realities of life and resulting feelings. Fortunately, recovering individuals have many recovery tools to apply to these normal life problems and their emotions. Here are just a few tools: slogans such as, "this too shall pass", "turn it over", "live just for today"; sharing with another trustworthy individual or even group; and asking for spiritual strength.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 06/24/2014.

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How the Painful Past Is an Asset in Recovery, Part I

Individuals with the disease of addiction have accumulated a vast reservoir of pain and consequences resulting from their behaviors while in active addiction. Indeed, many use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and avoid having to deal with the consequences of addiction. One of the paradoxical rewards of recovery from addiction is that the pain and consequences of addiction become a positive resource not only for the individual addict or alcoholic responsible for the pain and consequences, but also for those in the throes of active addiction or seeking to recover from addiction whom the addict or alcoholic seeks to help.

Thus, the recovering addict or alcoholic can use the painful past as an asset by tapping into his/her reservoir of pain and consequences in two basic ways: 1) To aid in self-diagnosis as an addict or alcoholic, and internalize the concepts of the first of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, powerlessness and unmanageability; and 2) to help another alcoholic or addict to seek recovery using the twelve steps (the 12th Step, carrying the message). I will elaborate here on the first of these two ways in which the past is an asset in recovery. I will address the second way (use of the past to help others) in my next blog post, "How the Painful Past Is an Asset in Recovery, Part II."

1) Step One of the 12 Steps states: “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol” *** (AA), or “over our addiction *** (NA), and that “our lives had become unmanageable.” Basically, to successfully complete Step One and take the first, fundamental action that will begin recovery, that is, hopefully cessation of use of alcohol or other drugs, the individual must examine past use of his/her substances and the resulting pain and consequences to him/her and those around him/her, stemming from such use. This examination of the past, while painful, can help the individual to become willing to abstain from further drug or alcohol use and to begin the process of recovery using the remainder of the 12 Steps. Early recovery from addiction is exceedingly painful; individuals often feel overwhelmed with guilt, remorse, and shame, among other feelings. It can be helpful for the individual to be able to see how these “negative” feelings can in fact be used to reinforce ownership of the “powerlessness” required to complete Step One. Thus, as stated in the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, referring to how the past can be of aid to alcoholics and families of alcoholics:

"Henry Ford once made a wise remark to the effect that experience is the thing of supreme value in life. That is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account. We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets. The alcoholic's past thus becomes the principal asset of the family and frequently it is almost the only one! (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 124).”

"How the Painful Past Is an Asset in Recovery, Part II", will be coming soon in another post. As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 06/09/2014.

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Use of “Smart Drugs” May Make You Stupid

A word of caution to young people and their parents: use of non-prescribed stimulant drugs to boost academic performance can have adverse effects. Recent research summarized in ScienceDaily of May 13, 2014, by scientists at the University of Delaware and Drexel University College of Medicine, suggest that abuse by young people of stimulants, often called smart drugs, to help them with academic tasks, can be harmful to developing brains. Drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) legitimately prescribed to treat ADHD in children, and modafinil (Provigil) prescribed by physicians to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, are abused by millions of young people in the U.S. to enhance their focus, memory, vigilance, and ability to function without sleep.

Research has shown that “…that young, developing brains are particularly sensitive to methylphenidate: even low dosages early in life can reduce nerve activity, working memory, and the ability to quickly switch between tasks and behaviors. Such mental flexibility is important for complex motoric learning, interpersonal skills, and work performance.” Similar dangers to the brain have been suggested in the case of use of modafinil.

One of the researchers stated: "What's safe for adults is not necessarily safe for kids," warns Urban. "The human brain continues to develop until our late twenties or early thirties. Young people are especially prone to abuse smart drugs, but also more vulnerable to any side-effects. We simply don't know enough about the long-term effects of these drugs on the developing brain to conclude they are safe."

So, the point is that abuse by young people of legitimate drugs, meaning non-prescribed use, to stimulate the brain even for seemingly positive goals such as enhancing academic performance, and not to get high, may have adverse effects on the still developing brain (can be developing well into early twenties). Other research has shown that college students who use stimulants to pull “all nighters” usually are students with a history of poor academic performance.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 05/20/2014.

 

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Recovery Tip: Recovery Is Not Based Just on Helping Others

One often hears in 12 Step recovery circles that "this is a 'We' " program, that "we can do together what I can't do alone." It is undeniably true that 12 Step recovery is based on the unique ability of one alcoholic or addict to help another. Also heard in 12 Step meetings, often from individuals in early recovery, is the declaration that helping other alcoholics or addicts is the cornerstone of their recovery. I have been reflecting on this emphasis on helping others, and have a few observations (solely my own opinion, of course). My concern is that the focus on helping others might distract the individual helping and the one helped from the primary result sought through 12 Step recovery, namely, a relationship with God, a Higher Power, or other source of spiritual strength.

Step 12, which is the principle underlying the action of helping other alcoholics or addicts, states unequivocally that "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics..." The clear emphasis is on developing a spiritual awakening based on application over time of the other 11 steps to one's recovery. So, my first point is that 12 Step work has a spiritual basis and focus. It, of course, feels good to help others and the supportive Fellowship of the 12 Step programs is vital in instilling hope and a feeling of belonging in the newcomer. Helping others develops a relationship between the person helping and the person helped. That relationship, though helpful to the helper and person helped, is not the ultimate relationship that is the goal of 12 Step recovery. The relationship that long term recovery depends upon is the relationship the individual develops with God, a Higher Power, or other source of spiritual strength.

In other words, both those who help the newcomer to recover and the newcomers who receive the help, need, in my view, to bear in mind that all of the energy expended by helper and the person helped is for the purpose of developing a relationship with God or other source of spiritual strength. The AA basic text, or, Big Book, states clearly that the alcoholic's recovery "... is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God ((Alcoholics Anonymous, Working with Others, pp. 99-100)."

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 04/24/2014.

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