Community and Education


Jeff Daniel's Reflections on Relapsing

Thursday, July 27, 2017 | Comments (0)

Jeff Daniels recently opened up about his long-term sobriety and his relapse in the early 2000s when his career began to take off, for the second time. Daniels, who is now 61, and is most recently known for his work on the HBO show The Newsroom was 50 years old at the time. Actor Jeff Daniels has been sober for the better part of 25 years — but he suffered a setback shortly after turning 50. His career had just begun taking off again and that fateful night when he started to drink again, he had just checked into a hotel. He was putting his bag on the bed, when he says he heard a voice as clear as day, say, “haven’t you punished yourself enough.” Daniels said that he knew the voice was his own and he went straight to the hotel mini-bar and proceeded to drink.

Daniels dropped out of college and moved to New York City to become an actor. But a few years later, he returned to his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan, where he got married, had three kids and tried to keep his acting career afloat. He was determined to sustain his career from the Midwest for as long as he can, which became his business plan that did work for a while. Eventually, his career dropped off and he turned to other jobs to pay the bills.

But after his kids got older, he returned to acting as he began landing in bigger roles in the early 2000s. As his career began to flourish, it took a toll on his mental health. Daniels had been sober and in recovery for 14 years when he turned to alcohol just to take some of the stress away. He convinced himself he could have a beer just to relax.

Daniels describes the internal judge, that acts like a preverbal devil, sitting on our shoulders telling us lies, in hopes that we’ll act them out. He refers to when he is on stage and about to give a big speech and that judge chimes in, saying you’re going to screw this up. As an actor, he has learned to fire this judge, ignoring its whims, so that he can perform, but he says that night, he didn’t fire the judge but listened to him, which leads him directly back a drink.

The 14 year period before Daniels’ relapse was a period of sobriety that he undertook all on his own, without seeking professional help. He just decided to quit drinking one fine day, which he actually did. This brings up an interesting point, the difference between just being able to stop drinking for a period time and sobriety.

Many alcoholics find quitting alcohol for a long time on their own like an impossible task. But there are some people who think they have the ability to stop drinking by sheer will power alone. The problem with this is that it is not entirely sustainable. At some point without a strong foundation in recovery, the internal judge will show up, and there will be no defense.

Anyone who has struggled with alcoholism knows this relaxation strategy can quickly backfire. For Daniels, it only took a few months before he sought out professional help and got sober again. He has been sober ever since, and his career has continued to blossom. Daniels received a Tony nomination for his role in Blackbird on Broadway and won an Emmy for his leading role in Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom.

Daniels proceeded to drink for the next three months until he decided to stop and seek professional help. Considering his entire journey, sobriety is seen as two distinct periods, when it has been just a three month period of relapsing. One was trying to do it on his own and the second time when he realized that he can’t do this on his own.

Daniels experience reveals a common misconception that many people have about sobriety, that the ultimate goal and the ultimate proof of its existence are the absence of drinking, and while this is an important piece to sobriety, it is but only the beginning. After being sober for a period of time, you begin to understand that alcohol was not your problem, alcohol was merely the manifestation of your problem and paradoxically, for a while, the solution. The absence of the drink does not necessarily equate to a recovery from alcoholism, it simply means that the drink has been removed. Many people who are not alcoholics do not understand this, and in fact, many people who are alcoholics, until they get sober, do not understand this either.

Daniels goes on to say that after relapsing, he realized that he needed professionals who knew a lot more than he did about alcoholism in order to get the help that he needed. He was aware that his way of attempting to get sober on his own did not work and that only through seeking professional help from outside, could he manage to find sobriety again. Daniels hasn’t had a drink since then, which is just over 10 years.

An interesting aspect of this story is the time frame of Daniels’ relapse. It only lasted for 3 months. The time periods in between sobriety seems to get shorter and shorter once the cycle of sobriety and relapse begins. For instance, let’s say someone drank for 10 years before they entered their first rehab. They may achieve some measure of sobriety for a few months and then they go out and drink again. That person will more than likely enter into a treatment center again within the year. This means that they went from being able to go 10 years without entering into a treatment center, to only a year without entering into a treatment center. This pattern usually continues, with the time periods in between attempts at sobriety, getting shorter and shorter until the person achieves sobriety.

If there is something that is absent, it is the sense of guilt about his relapse. Many alcoholics feel a tremendous amount of guilt for being sober for a period of time and then going back to their old ways. There is usually a feeling that they have let down their family and friends and any trust that has been built up over the years has instantly been wiped away by a single moment of weakness in relapse. This guilt is enough to drive many back into relapsing, and it could be tremendously difficult to deal with it. But relapsing is nothing to feel ashamed of, as the true measure of a man is often discovered in his failures and not his successes. If you have found yourself in this position, seeking to get sober after a relapse, don’t let guilt keep you away from seeking the professional help you need.

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Putting yourself first in recovery: Necessary not selfish

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 | Comments (0)

Recovery is closely interconnected or related to the selfless giving of oneself. This is a necessity that is constantly emphasized in every step of the 12-stepprogram. But the key point is to learn how and when to give such attention to recovery is very important.

There is a misconception that an act of sacrificing your needs to satisfy others is what recovery is all about. This might only hamper your recovery, leading to feelings of resentment and bitterness. For instance, if someone asks you to do something that you honestly have no time for, but still you agree to help because you believe that putting the other person’s needs before yours is what is expected of you. This is because you might be living with the thought that selfishness is the root of your issues and you can overcome this by placing other’s needs before your own. Though this might be partially true, the result is not a reduction in selfishness but a denial of yourself, and the self-care that you require throughout your journey to sobriety.

Self-care is hardly considered while pursuing to help others. After all, how is it possible to put yourself first, when you are told that your selfishness is the root of your troubles?

You have to understand what it means to place yourself first in recovery before you could actually do that the right way. By doing this, you’ll be able to know why putting yourself first in recovery is important. Putting yourself first does not mean attending to your needs while ignoring everyone around you, but what it means is that you must put your recovery before and above everything else.

For instance, during your treatment, you can kindly tell your parents not to call you and that you would call them. This doesn’t mean that you are rude, but you know that if you have to get sober, you couldn’t have them calling you all of the time questioning your every move. Though this may sound a bit selfish, it is actually an act of simply putting yourself first in order to recover. After all getting recovered could be the best gift you can give your family. So putting yourself means, to do the things that you need to do in order to achieve and maintain your recovery. Though situations are different with different people, it is always a rule of the thumb to make the choice of you and your recovery over other people and their needs.

One such area where you need to get your priority right is between you and your friendships. In early recovery, you seem to make a lot of friends, but as time goes by some people tend to back off. At situations like these where your friends start to use drugs, do you cling on to them or do you cut them out of your life, this is totally based upon your circumstances, likes and dislikes. But a recommended rule is to put your recovery first, regardless of your friends going mad at you.

Another situation like this could be your workplace. This is quite inconvenient as by the end of the day, you are with a need to pay your bills and make a living. But what you have to understand is by being a people pleaser; you might be at the risk of giving more than needed at work. Many alcoholics and addicts are great at work when they become sober, but the going gets difficult when you don’t realise your balance of when to give and when to step aside. Your job might play the negative role that pulls you away from your approach and dedication towards sobriety, which begins to affect your life. By putting yourself first, recovery becomes important and stepping aside and shifting your focus just a bit can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.

Learning to put your recovery is crucial not only because it will help you to maintain sobriety, but also because it will make you more helpful to others. You have to remember that you cannot transmit something that you haven’t got. You cannot carry the message of the 12 Steps if you yourself are at the wrong place. Self-neglect doesn’t harm you alone but also harms the people you could help, so remember to take care of yourself and your sobriety above all else.

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Senate passes the CARA Bill

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | Comments (0)

The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis, sending to the president’s desk the most sweeping drug legislation in years in a rare instance of consensus in Congress.

The bill holds proposals that would strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, largely by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts. It also includes emergency access to a drug that could be uses to help reverse overdoses.

It also incorporates elements of the 18 opioid-related bills passed by the House in May, including provisions to do the following:

  • Create training programs for providers to test co-prescription for at-risk patients;
  • Establish an interagency task force that will examine best practices for pain management and pain medication prescription;
  • Raise awareness and education around the safe care of infants born affected by illegal substances; and
  • Require the Government Accountability Office to track and report on the capacity for inpatient and outpatient treatment for opioid abuse disorders.

Being the Republican from Ohio, a state plagued by opioid addiction, Senator Rob Portman described that this is a historic moment, the first time in decades that Congress has passed comprehensive addiction legislation, and the first time Congress has ever supported long-term addiction recovery. He also stated that this is the first time that addiction is treated like the disease that it is which will put an end to the stigma that surrounds addiction.

Mr. Portman, who has long pushed for improved policies on opioid and heroin addiction, said he was optimistic the Senate Appropriations Committee would fully fund the policy measure — which, he said, calls for increasing overall funding by 47 percent. He also quoted that this is an authorization bill that authorizes more money than ever before for opioids.

Tensions over spending threatened to derail the measure as Democrats insisted the Senate also vote on immediate funding to pay for the programs the bill authorizes. Republicans said funding would be addressed in the appropriations process later this year. Congress also has plans to send a spending bill to the President for his approval. As this fiscal year ends this Sept. 30, Congress has only a few weeks to do so.

Democrats were unmoved, citing Congress’s chronic difficulties in passing spending bills. The Obama administration has urged Congress to add funding into this bill, including $920 million for states to help treat addicts.

Democrats pressed to start on Wednesday with a measure that would devote $600 million in emergency funding, which typically means the money would not need to be made up with cuts to other programs.

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Self Esteem and Codependency

Friday, June 17, 2016 | Comments (0)

Self Esteem

Self-esteem is the term that people apply to denote their own value. People with low self-esteem refuse to accept that they are good enough for anything. A person with a negative self-worth struggles in maintaining smooth connections with close relations. This behavior collapses healthy relationships and makes it hard for intimate partners and relatives. An individual having low self-worth is likely to have poor parenting skills and such individuals simply refuse to believe that they deserve anything good. Even if they achieve something, they are not satisfied. Additionally, such persons could suffer from depression and other mental health problems. People degrading themselves tend to find solace in drugs and alcohol. Drugs offer a temporary way to feel a sort of hike, but as it takes hold, it takes away their self-esteem completely. This is the reason why people hesitate to go for a complete recovery from addiction.

Individuals who are addicts have a common issue of suffering from low self-esteem and find happiness only through drugs and alcohols. It becomes even harder for them when they move in for a recovery as they begin to struggle in finding happiness away from their addiction. This lack of self-worth stands as an obstacle that keeps them away from making proper efforts to improve their life. They feel this way because actually they don’t feel that they are worthy of making such efforts for the betterment of their life. This is why those individuals who are recovering from an addiction have the need to work on their self-esteem apart from other therapies and medications.

Low self-esteem in addicts

Low self-esteem is one of the indications of a person battling with addiction. Such people fall for drugs as they get a sense of confidence that way. They find this as their apt rescue to avoid their worries about how others validate their behavior. But the truth is that this is only temporary and as a result the individual gets completely addicted and soon it goes out of hand. As an individual begins to feel the downward motion of addiction, his self-esteem goes down further.

Increasing self-esteem in recovery is very important to have a successful and sustainable recovery. If patients keep suffering from low self-worth issues post-recovery, it will ruin their family relationships which will eventually take away their happiness. As a result, they feel that their recovery was inadequate and they return back to addiction. Being free from drugs and alcohol has innumerable possibilities for a happy, healthy life, but only when the person has a good self-esteem to make them accept that they deserve recovery in the first place, rather than settling to be away from drugs and then end up in the same place of an addict.

The need for people in recovery to improve their self-esteem is something that must never be overlooked. As self-worth is not fixed in a person’s character, a little effort can considerably increase an individual’s self-worth. Effective addiction recovery is possible by improving self-esteem in a person which is tempered with humility in order to achieve a balance.

Here are some ways people can increase their own self-esteem:

People can start by monitoring their negative feelings and oppose such thoughts with proper reasoning. They can begin this by asking questions regarding a potential proof to support the negative thoughts about themselves. By doing this, the individual finds ability to tackle all the negative thoughts in a better way.

Regular meditation serves as a productive way to increase an individual’s self-esteem. Mindfulness meditation is an effective way to monitor all the negative thoughts that cause low self-worth. These techniques also involve accepting and respecting their position first and cultivating love for others as the next step. A journal is another way to aim on all the good things about a person which involves keeping a note of all the positive aspects to appreciate about oneself. By this way of cultivating a habit of self-appreciation, a person gradually develops the habit of doing so on a daily basis.

Co-dependency

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral condition that negatively impacts the capacity of a person to have healthy and content relationships. This kind of relationship is often destructive and abusive. Many people who are closely related to people with substance abuse issues claim that they are in codependent relationships. They are spouses, parents, children or close friends of individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol who are part of dysfunctional families.

Codependent people believe that they don’t deserve happiness and often try to be nice to others by helping beyond their capacity despite being rejected. Studies show that most codependent people have relationships with others who take advantage of their low self esteem. Alcoholics and drug addicts often have relationships with a codependent person as they find it easy to use them for their benefit and let the codependents to cover up all the mess.

In a family that includes a person dealing with drug abuse, there is a risk where care-taking goes beyond normal when a codependent may allow the person to take drugs at home or supply other provisions like any sort of drug equipment including money to procure drugs. They have a compulsion to do so as they think that it would be safe for the other person to use drugs at home than elsewhere out of their reach. But, the irony is that little do they realize that their help only increases the risk levels of the addict. This type of codependency with a person dealing with substance abuse only adds to the lack of self confidence and self-esteem. The addict gets used to live a life around drugging and drinking and the rest of the family are left to hang on around the substance abuse situation. This situation means that the codependents will never be able to get the priority they deserve in an addict’s life and they will only find the relationship dysfunctional, something that they willingly or unwillingly choose to tolerate. This makes them unresponsive to grab the hands of support offered to them. Such denial is a common symptom of a codependant relationship. This denial never clears but only contributes to the problem that the addict is going through and it makes it even worse by increasing the risks associated with the abuse.

Treatment

Treatment for individuals in a codependent relationship includes professional counseling, psychotherapy, motivational enhancement and cognitive behavioral therapy both in individual and group therapy sessions. In case of partners, both of them can learn a mode to have a healthy communication and helpful skills to improve self-esteem to make their relationship work for both of them and others in the family. Customized family therapy and counseling sessions can improve the situation for all the members of the family through personal conversations where they get to know a way to have a healthy conversation without agitating the other person. This therapy works effectively with careful aftercare services offered from the addiction center. It is important that both the individual using drugs and the partner tolerating this behavior must get used to some sort of coping methods as substance abuse is usually accompanied by abnormal issues like undesirable behavior, mood swings and even seizures. So it requires professional counseling to get enabled to deal with such situations.

Additionally, substance abuse may also need to be approached through a proper detox prior to further treatment in order to clear all the toxins deposited in the body. This way the person will be ready to manage any side effects that may be caused due to withdrawal, such as cravings, irritability, depression, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, anxiety or restlessness. Such symptoms are common in codependent relationships where one or both persons deal with drug abuse. Approved medications along with therapeutic and behavioral methods may be helpful during recovery.

Taking the help from support groups is another way to help people going through a recovery from codependence or substance abuse. This helps a lot in preventing any possible relapse after treatment. This motivates the individuals to stay focused as they learn to accept themselves and approve that they deserve everything that is good, everything that helps them to live their life to the fullest. This way they learn to regain their lost freedom and start to live a healthy life for them and those around them.

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The Use of Naltrexone for Cravings

Wednesday, June 01, 2016 | Comments (0)

There has been an ongoing major effort to search for more efficient and permanent means of treating drug and alcohol addiction in order to lower instances of individuals who suffer relapses after they have sought various treatments. One of the most popular medications currently being used by substance abuse doctors to treat dependency is a drug called Naltrexone.  Read More...