Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Bottom line

This is what it all boils down to; making the daily choice between continued sobriety and my former lifestyle of drinking and drugging.
Some days it just takes the memory of getting another 24 hour coin.
I already have quite a collection from various meetings. I do not miss those feelings of guilt shame and remorse whatsoever.
Today I have to want to stay sober more than I want to drink. Sounds easy, right? It all depends on my mental, emotional and spiritual condition. Some days are easier than others, so I need to recognize that there are things that are out of my control and more importantly, there isn't anything that a drink or drug will make better. A big help to me is the Serenity Prayer, and the crucial key is the wisdom to know the difference. I often compare it to the line in the Kenny Rogers tune, "The Gambler"; "you got to know when to hold up, know when to fold up..."

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Journey continues...

Every day is new territory for me; having had various amounts of clean time, yet in the past, I could always find an excuse to sabotage my recovery. I'm not thoroughly convinced that anything miraculous has happened,this time, and I can't answer the common question asked by most counselors, "what are you going to do differently this time?"My response is that today, no matter what happens, I just don't pick up that first drink or drug. Life still goes on, there will be illness, disappointment and struggle. Today, I realize I can experience these things, and just accept issues which are out of my control. Sure, a quick fix was a convenient escape; but it was temporary and changed nothing! Well almost nothing; my sobriety date, serenity and the sense of accomplishment for my efforts up to that time. I often hear in the rooms "my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk"... well that doesn't hold true for me, but my average day sober, is way better than my average day, drinking!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Progressive wellness

This is the term I like to use when referring to my journey in recovery. I have not experienced any dramatic spiritual awakenings. That is not to say that they don't exist for some people. What I have gained. is a gradual release from the obsession to drink and use, and a steady hope and faith, that I can continue to move forward.
The ability to make progress depends largely on my willingness to admit to myself and others that my condition is permanent, yet treatable. In the past I would succumb to what I like to call the three C's; feeling cocky, complacent or cured. This would invariably bring me back to a drink or drugs. Today I accept that I can no longer drink or use safely; those days are gone forever.
I have learned to not rush my recovery, realizing it was a long slow process, creating my addiction. It is essential that I be patient and tolerant in my quest for Serenity.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

HOW it works

Honest, open-minded and willing...
genuine honesty is essential to any progress in recovery. The beginning of this is accurate self appraisal and the ability to be totally honest with others. Deception is a common practice for the addict, to the extent that it becomes second nature, making it that much more difficult to correct.
The importance of having an open mind is allowing a psychic change; a belief that there is a different way to live. An addicts world is very small and driven by selfish desires. Ego, pride and self-centeredness all contribute to the isolation. In order to break through this, we must look beyond ourselves and seek greater meaning in life. We become willing upon accepting who we are, what we have become, and how we have affected others.The desire to make amends and continue to take a daily inventory, contribute to our ability to remain willing.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Show UP, Own UP, Grow UP

That is my basic theory to the real-life method of 12 step recovery.
Showing up is the easy part; it only requires a minimum of effort and there are plenty of meetings to choose from.
Owning up requires honesty with ourselves and with those we encounter in the rooms, and in our personal and work lives.
Growing up is probably the most difficult, letting go of selfish motives and self-centered wants.
Maintaining impulse control , keeping the ego in check and attaining humility are crucial to emotional growth.
If I continue to practice these 3 simple actions, I have an opportunity to maintain my mental, emotional and spiritual balance.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, August 17, 2007

Live and Let Live

Live and let live; a popular slogan in the rooms of recovery. It was today's reading at the Living Sober format, noon meeting today. Sounds simple enough, right? Not usually the case for the typical addict, who can be confrontational, resentful and angry. My usual mood was like a time bomb waiting to explode. The root of that simmering rage was the feelings of power and control that surfaced with a good buzz.
Looking back, I now see that non-restraint of pen and tongue, could have had horrible consequences. Today, I still get torqued a bit on the road, or with people who annoy me, but I am able to just take a breath and think; does it have to be said now, or by me , or even at all.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Incurable, progressive and fatal

Three words that we hear often at meetings; wow, what a concept. addiction is sometimes compared to an allergy, in the literature they use strawberries. well I have to tell you it is much easier to stay away from strawberries, than it is drugs or alcohol. there is not a fruit I have ever tried, that gave me the buzz I got getting ripped. Depending on the individual, the addiction progression can be swift or slow.
Whatever the case may be, it can never be reversed; hence the old expression you can't change a pickle back to a cucumber. Even armed with this knowledge I didn't think it applied to me.
yes I was unique, I was the pioneer who was going to find a way to drink safely, or so I thought.
Needless to say, all my efforts were due to fail and with each failure came the usual guilt shame and remorse. Early on I held a great deal of envy for those who could still drink safely.
Today I no longer feel that way, and I often joke with friends that I squeezed all my lifetime drinking into 20 years!
In my 24 year career as a firefighter and first responder I have seen the wide swath of death created by alcohol and drug abuse. From drunks falling asleep in bed to addicts slumped over the wheel of their car, and the numerous car accidents.
There are many more deaths in this country caused by alcohol that are not reported as such.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Truth or Consequences

It's been said, "the truth will set you free". Very true when it comes to addiction. Honesty begins with strident self-appraisal, and not the euphoric,"well I wasn't that bad" type.
It is not until we reach that degree of gut level honesty, that we can begin to be truthful to others.
How many times have we said "I'm sorry", to friends, family and employers? All the while we were deluding ourselves, thinking we could regain control, or didn't need outside help.
No matter how trivial an issue may seem, even a lie of omission, is STILL a lie!
Honesty is not always the soft, easy way, but for us it is the only method of ever establishing the trust we have lost in our tangled web of former deception.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Options after Rehab

Research done by Oxford House has found that addicts who return to their previous living arrangement after treatment, have only a 25% chance of staying clean for 6 MONTHS; whereas those who choose a sober house stay of 13 months, have a 75% chance of remaining clean for 5 YEARS.
Quite a dramatic difference. The study shows the difficulty of returning to all of the people, places and things that surrounded us during our addiction spiral. The purpose of the sober house, is to establish some healthy habits to replace the destructive ones. I can attest to the dramatic difference between going back home and deciding to try the transitional living mode.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rehab Pros & Cons

Yes, I have been to several, ranging from Nazi style, to places of sex, drugs and rock & roll!
My first foray into rehab was a 21 day outpatient at Guenster House. Initially, I was a bit skeptical, but I was willing to listen and share my thoughts. I really wasn't ready to give up my party life at that time, and did not complete the program.
During the next 10 years I found myself trying to maintain a semblance of control and normalcy.
It was getting progressively worse. I tried another inpatient center, and was able to amass about 3 months. It was back on the sauce again, until friends and family began to encourage me to get help. Each time in rehab, I would learn something new about addiction and myself. Of course I was still convinced that I could somehow regain control of my problem. The idea of permanence was still a bit foreign to me.
Rehab was becoming a "recharge" for me, rather than a long term solution. Of course the more I learned about addiction, the less fun it was to go back out. A big part of the problem for me was making the connection that rehab is merely an education and an introduction to AA & NA.
The super strict rehab was way over the top, concerning interaction between males and females.
On the other side was the facility that did nothing to curb physical relationships developing between the guys and gals; way too chaotic! The programs that struck a balance between these two, by allowing social interaction, without the intercourse, were the most beneficial.
Rehab centers allow the protected environment most addicts need , in addition to Spiritual guidance, factual knowledge of the mechanism of addiction and the introduction to the rooms of 12 step recovery.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Practice these Principles

So often we hear the words "practice these Principles in all our affairs"; easy to recite, but much more difficult to do on a daily basis.
When I see folks with long term sobriety trying to hit on someone in rehab with 6 days clean, or others cheating on their spouses, taxes and lying to employers, I have to ask; "are you practicing these Principles and just trying to HAVE an affair?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Summer...a Relapse Bummer?

It seems every year at this time, we see and hear of more people going back out. Is it the lure of the beer at the ballpark, the joint at the picnic or even just the glass of wine at dinner?
There is a certain attraction, especially watching friends and relatives who can drink socially.
That envy certainly took me out many times, always thinking I could recapture that "control magic". Of course, the experiment always ended badly, with the usual guilt, shame and remorse that occurs in the aftermath. Summer is just another excuse, like blaming the spouse or the boss.
The true reason we relapse, is giving in to the primitive mid-brain, that only wants more, overcoming the logical portion of our brain. This leads me to practice the first step every day, reminding myself; once I ingest any drugs or alcohol, all bets are off, and I don't know when it will end. What I DO know , is it will end badly.

Stumble Upon Toolbar