Sep 30

What is Emotional Sobriety?

emotional sobriety

What is emotional sobriety? AA literature speaks to being “happy, joyous, and free” – a promise made by many who say, if you work a good program, you will achieve physical sobriety and become happy in the process.

However, emotional sobriety is not so much about feeling good, or bad; emotional sobriety is the ability to actually feel one’s feelings yet not be consumed by those feelings or driven to act out because of feelings – whether it is to start using again or to act out in other not-so-spiritual behaviors. Being restored to sanity isn’t about being “happy, joyous, and free” all the time, but it is about being in the present moment, whatever that happens to look like. It’s being able to be in the question: What am I experiencing right now? And how about now? Can I be present to all of my feelings without any one of them defining me?

Emotional sobriety sometimes is merely tolerating what you are feeling; it’s about staying sober no matter what you are feeling. Life can be challenging – having emotional sobriety means that you don’t blame yourself or your program when things get tough. And, it means that you don’t necessarily need to do something to make the feeling go away.

Emotional Sobriety vs. Spiritual Bypass

Often times you will hear this advice: pray about it, meditate on it, or do service work. And this can be good advice. However, if you are looking for ways to distract yourself from your feelings, then you might not be necessarily working such a good program after all. This spiritual distraction is what is known as spiritual bypass.

Now, it is normal to want to protect ourselves from our painful realities; in fact, as a defense mechanism, we are all susceptible to do this unconsciously. And using spirituality as a defense certainly looks a lot better than using drugs or alcohol. However, it is a defense mechanism nonetheless. The ability to access all of our feelings and being present to what is real is what enables choice, and choice propels us towards our most authentic and fulfilling selves in sobriety.

Bill Wilson on Emotional Sobriety

In a letter that was published in January of 1953, Bill W. addresses emotional sobriety, coming to the conclusion that his “basic flaw had always been dependence, almost absolute dependence, on people or circumstances to supply [him] with prestige, security, and the like.” He also recognized that his perfectionism and high expectations almost always led to “defeat,” which in turn would bring on another bout of depression.

Bill W. goes on further to say that the root of “every disturbance we have, great or small” is some sort of “unhealthy dependence and its consequent demand.” We must continually surrender our demands. It is then that “we can be set free to live and love: we may then be able to gain emotional sobriety.”

Emotional Sobriety and the Human Condition

So, give yourself permission to feel all of your feelings and just know that we don’t have the sort of surgical precision to only feel the feelings that we enjoy. As humans, we experience happiness and regret, joy and grief. That is just the human condition. And experiencing all of our feelings is true emotional sobriety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/

http://home.earthlink.net/  letter written by Bill Wilson, January, 1953

 

Sep 02

Binge Drinking and Depression

Binge Drinking and Depression

When people are feeling depressed many of them view alcohol as a comfort or stress reliever. In the beginning alcohol may even feel like it is making life easier but it is actually concealing a terrible truth. Alcohol can only make depression worse never better. This is because alcohol is known as a depressant. This means that alcohol depresses arousal levels and reduces excitability.  Alcohol can not only worsen symptoms of depression but it can also cause depression in the first place. Alcohol induced depression is very common among people who engage in binge drinking.

What are the different kinds of depression?

  • Minor depression that lasts a few days.
  • Major depression lasts longer than two weeks, and the symptoms can be highly disruptive in the individual’s life. This can be referred to more technically as Dysthymic disorder.
  • Alcohol induced depression.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that people experience due to the change of season. This condition is most common in those countries where there is a long dark winter.
  • Some women experience postpartum depression after they have a baby. The cause of this will be hormonal changes in the body.
  • A psychotic depression is where people also experience distorted thinking that has a psychotic nature. This is the most serious type of depression because the individual may be a danger to themselves or other people.
  • Those individuals who are dealing with bipolar disorder will have periods where they suffer from the symptoms of depression – this may then be followed by period of mania.

What are the symptoms of depression?

  • They feel drained of energy
  • Inability to sleep at night.
  • Turning to food for comfort. Alternatively the individual may completely lose their interest in food.
  • Problems with forgetfulness.
  • The individual may find it a real struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
  • The activities they once enjoyed no longer feel satisfying.
  • Pessimism about the future.
  • They may feel guilty about things that happened in the past.
  • Body aches and pains that seem to have no obvious cause.
  • Difficulties with concentration.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse. This includes dangerous patterns of consumption such as binge drinking.
  • The individual feels irritable much of the time.
  • The feeling that life lacks any real meaning or purpose.
  • Low self esteem – the person may believe that they deserve to feel the way they do.
  • Thoughts of committing suicide.
  • Feeling disassociated from the world.
  • The individual may feel like there is a barrier between them and other people.
  • They do not feel like socializing. The individual may begin to isolate and avoid other people.
  • A sad nostalgia for the past.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking refers to a specific type of drinking that is particularly dangerous. Binge drinking is a type of drinking where the individual deliberately becomes intoxicated by consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a very short period of time. Bing drinking is usually a pattern of drinking most people only engage in on the weekends but it is still a form of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking is actually the most common form of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking means that the individual is deliberately trying to get drunk and this can cause all sorts of problems and trouble. It is not necessary for people to drink every day in order to suffer consequences from alcohol abuse; binge drinking just on weekends can easily cause consequences. What are the dangers of binge drinking?

  • It can lead to symptoms of depression. It can also exacerbate existent depressive symptoms.
  • Alcohol is damaging to every organ in the body. It is not necessary to be a daily drinker before entering the early stages of alcoholic liver disease.
  • The individual will be more likely to commit crimes or become a victim of crimes when they are intoxicated.
  • It can easily lead on to alcoholism. The vast majority of alcoholics will have started off as binge drinkers.
  • It can lead to alcohol poisoning. Some people have died because their blood alcohol content reached levels that were excessively high.
  • This is the pattern of drinking that is most likely to cause hangovers.
  • Some people will experience blackouts when binge drinking. This means that there will be parts of the evening that they cannot remember.
  • It can mean that people are unable to take care of their family, social, and work commitments the next day.
  • When people are intoxicated they can do things that they later deeply regret.
  • Binge drinking is associated with domestic violence.
  • It is also associated with promiscuous and unsafe sex.
  • People will make irrational and impulsive decisions when they are inebriated.
  • Many people who commit suicide will have been binge drinking beforehand.

Binge drinking and depression

  • There are number of reasons why binge drinking causes depression to get much worse. For instance, as mentioned above alcohol is a depressant. There is also the fact that if the person is already depressed then it means they are binge drinking to run or hid from their condition instead of treat it. This obviously makes things much worse in the long run.
  • A person who is binge drinking often will regret what they did while they were drunk. This means they will have more things that are eating away at them.
  • Binge drinking makes people more impulsive. If the person is already feeling depressed then they may engage in behaviors they might not normally consider doing while sober.
  • Binge drinking will cause the person to have less self-control. This mixed with the fact that they have a reduced decision making capacity makes someone with depression a high risk for suicide.
  • Binge drinking often means that he individual might often have problems with family members and loved ones. This can make depression worse trying to deal with that.
  • Binge drinking will make an individual less capable of handling the symptoms of depression. This is because alcohol is a toxin that harms the body and mind.

When people with depression begin binge drinking they can get caught up in a vicious cycle. The symptoms of their depression make life unbearable and so they binge drink as a type of self-medication. When they do that they will feel better in the moment but the binge drinking is actually making the depression worse as listed above. This means when they sober up now their depression is even worse than it as before and causes the person to want to drink even more. This leads to a cycle of wanting to escape through binge drinking while the binge drinking causes more reasons to want to drink due to the worsening depression.

Aug 23

Diet Pill Addiction

Diet Pill Addiction

Diet pills are any type of “medication” or supplement that is marketed to control or reduce weight. There are numerous diet pills that have been produced and promoted for weight loss but only one is actually approved by the FDA for long term use. Diet pills always claim to achieve weight loss by increasing the metabolism, altering appetite levels, or interrupting the normal rate of absorption when it comes to fat and/or calories. The majority of diet pills can be purchased at pharmacies, over the counter without a prescription. This is especially dangerous because not only are the diet pills not approved by the FDA but they also can be bought by minors. Diet pills usually contain large amounts of addictive substances such as ephedrine, caffeine, or herbal stimulants which can have severe side effects. This is especially true if the individual taking the diet pills develops a diet pill addiction.

A diet pill addiction can develop at any time throughout an individual’s lifetime. This means that all age groups are vulnerable to a diet pill addiction. The statistics about diet pill addiction are helpful in realizing and understanding fully, the fragility of a diet pill addiction and how to improve the treatment of it.

  • A study from the University of Minnesota’s “Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) found that high school-aged females’ use of diet pills nearly doubled from 7.5 to 14.2 percent.  By the ages of 19 and 20, 20 percent of females surveyed used diet pills.
  • Abuse of diet pills by individuals with eating disorders is well-documented clinically, with prevalence estimates reported as high as 50%.
  • According to a study published in Eating Behaviors, individuals with eating disorders associated with vomiting and other purging behaviors are more likely to use diet pills.

What is the cause of a diet pill addiction?

Many things can cause a diet pill addiction. Typically a diet pill addiction begins with the want for a a temporary or quick fix for weight loss. Individuals who use diet pills under a doctor’s care with a prescription may have an actual need for the drug. However, when diet pills are just used recreationally or for non-medical purposes, it becomes a diet pill addiction. Men and women alike, who struggle with body image, even at a normal weight may feel inclined to use diet pills as a method of controlling their weight or losing weight. Body image dysmorphia or the inability to see one’s body clearly can be one of the biggest causes of a diet pill addiction. For example, someone who is suffering from anorexia nervosa is very likely to have a diet pill addiction. Feeling the necessity or want to take diet pills stem from deeper and underlying issues which are all usually connected.

Signs of a diet pill addiction

Certain signs and symptoms will be evident if you or a loved one is suffering with a diet pill addiction.  Diet pill effects can range in severity and can impact a man or woman physically, psychologically, and socially.

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pain
  • Rapid respiratory rate
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Liver/Kidney damage
  • Chronic mood swings
  • Blackouts
  • Memory loss

Someone with a diet pill addiction may also deal with the side effects physically, psychologically, and socially. For instance, unstable weight, headaches, tightness in chest, heart palpitations, dizziness, stroke, and mood swings, depression, and low self-esteem as well as, increased isolation, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, and avoidance of social encounters.

 

Aug 16

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Eating disorders, specifically anorexia and bulimia, are characterized by extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. They are serious disorders and can have life threatening consequences. This is also the case for the category of eating disorders known as eating disorders not otherwise specified (ENDOS). These eating disorders can include a combination of signs and symptoms that are pretty typical for someone who has anorexia or bulimia.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by emaciation, a never ending pursuit to try and be thin and a total unwillingness to stay at a healthy weight. There is also a distortion of body image and an intense fear of gaining weight. Anorexia Nervosa is also characterized by a lack of menstruation among girls and women. The eating behavior is extremely disturbed. Some people with anorexia will try to lose weight by dieting and exercising obsessively. Other people with anorexia will induce vomiting, misuse laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

• Deliberate self-starvation with weight loss

• Intense, persistent fear of gaining weight

• Refusal to eat or highly restrictive eating

• Continuous dieting

• Excessive facial/body hair because of inadequate protein in the diet

• Compulsive exercise

• Abnormal weight loss

• Sensitivity to cold

• Absent or irregular menstruation

• Hair loss

Bulimia Nervosa

Someone with bulimia nervosa will have regular moments of overeating which are always followed by a feeling of guilt, which can then lead to extreme crash dieting, doing lots of exercise and purging (self-induced vomiting.)

  • Binge-eating “repeatedly” – eating much more than most people normally do, together with a feeling that they can’t stop or control their eating
  • Repeatedly and inappropriately compensating for the over-eating, such as over-medicating with laxatives, fasting, exercising to exhaustion, or making themselves vomit
  • Frequent dieting
  • Been doing these two things (binge-eating and inappropriately compensating) repeatedly at least twice a week for the last 3 months
  • Overly judging themselves in terms of the weight and shape of their bodies

Eating disorders not otherwise specified

These are the most common examples of eating disorders not otherwise specified but every person experiencing eating disorders not otherwise specified may have varying symptoms.

  • Menstruation is still happening despite meeting all the criteria for either bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.
  • All conditions are present to qualify for anorexia nervosa except for the individual’s current weight is in the normal range or above.
  • Purging or other compensatory behaviors are not occurring at a frequency less than the strict criteria for bulimia nervosa
  • Purging without binging which is sometimes known as purging disorder
  • Chewing and spitting out large amounts of food but not swallowing

An eating disorder not otherwise specified is simply put an eating disorder that meets all the criteria except for one or two things. Mainly all of the above have one thing in common and that is an obsessive preoccupation with weight to the point that affects the present day moment and the ability to enjoy life while being around friends, family, at work etc. A person with ENDOS or any other eating disorder will constantly be concerned about their weight and food.

Aug 09

How to Beat the Relapse Statistics

How to Beat the Relapse Statistics

The drug and alcohol relapse rehab statistics for relapse are disheartening and discouraging. Drug and alcohol relapse statistics show that the percentage of people who will relapse after a period of recovery ranges from 50 to 90 percent. This is a scary relapse statistic and it is often used as a justification for addicts and alcoholics who don’t want to stop using drugs or drinking. What the relapse statistics don’t tell though is that there are things that an individual can do to greatly increase their chances of long-term recovery. People who are serious about aftercare greatly increase their chances of staying sober.  Aftercare can include everything from a 12 step fellowship, staying in a halfway house and going to groups. This is good news because this means there are ways to beat the relapse statistics. Here are some ways on how to beat the relapse statistics:

Despite the fact that relapse statistics pretty much say that half of all drug addicts and alcoholics are going to relapse there are many people who escape addiction and go on to build a great life. Anyone can beat the relapse statistics by taking some action.

  • Addicts and alcoholics need to prepare to go back home in order to have a good shot at beating the relapse statistics.
  • Willingness to do whatever it takes to stay sober can significantly help addicts and alcoholics to beat the relapse statistics. If people are not fully motivated they will struggle to make it through the early months of recovery.
  • It is vital that newly sober people take their aftercare seriously if they want to beat the relapse statistics. By joining a 12 step group or using some other type of support they will be greatly increasing their chances of success.
  • When people give up an addiction they need to break away from their drinking and drugging buddies. Failure to do this puts the individual’s sobriety at risk and they could fall victim to relapse statistics.
  • Staying sober has to be the priority in the person’s life if they want to beat the relapse statistics. They should not allow anything to come in between them and their sobriety.
  • It is important that people avoid turning to other maladaptive behaviors in recovery such as working a lot, spending, sex etc. This causes many people to become another relapse statistic.
  • Keeping an open mind is a necessary element of a successful recovery. Beginner’s mind means that the individual doesn’t allow their preconceived notions get in the way of trying new things.
  • The idea that relapse is acceptable should never enter the thinking of people who are trying to stay sober. A return to alcohol or drugs is a risk and there is no guarantee that the individual will ever get another chance at a life away from alcohol and drugs. While the relapse statistics are high they aren’t an indicator of how many people make it back and that its ok or normal to relapse.
  • Recovery is to be enjoyed and not endured. If the individual feels like they are serving a prison sentence it is a sign that they are doing something wrong and chances are they will become part of the relapse statistics.

 

Jun 21

What is Drug Treatment?

What is Drug Treatment?

Drug treatment is a broad term for all the things that are available to us in order to find recovery. Drug treatment consists of drug rehabs, 12-step programs, halfway houses, intensive outpatient programs, and even spirituality. Anything that treats our drug addiction can be categorized as drug treatment.

The first step to begin drug treatment if you want to follow a road that is going to be almost 100% successful is to find the right drug treatment center. Decide where you are willing to travel, if you are willing to travel at all, figure out what kind of insurance you have if you have any at all, and what kind of drug treatment center you want. Drug treatment centers can differ. They can range from long term residential, to detox, to a halfway house. Look at what you want out of your drug treatment. Can you spend 30, 60, 90 days in treatment? Do you want it to be 12-step program based or maybe Christian based? There are a lot of questions that go into picking drug treatment. Make sure you don’t rush into a drug treatment center blind.

The second step to drug treatment after you have picked an actual drug treatment center is to get involved in a 12-step fellowship outside of a treatment center. It’s going to be imperative to decide if you travel to your drug treatment center on whether or not you are going to relocate to that area or head back home after your time at the drug treatment center is over. If you plan to stay it’s good to start going to the local AA and NA meetings in the area to start building a support network of friends and sober supports. If you plan to go home its best if you look up some meetings that are in your area and also start to attend them and reach out. Any kind of support is good.

 

Jul 20

Women’s Group Therapy

Last night, I went to a women’s Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for the first time in a long time. I go to a lot of meetings, but I rarely end up at women’s meetings. Sitting in that room, my heart filled up with joy. There was so much support and camaraderie in that small room! I felt relaxed, supported, and loved. I could not stop smiling.

That’s the thing with women’s only meetings and women’s only group therapy: there’s a sense of trust that you don’t get everywhere. In the program, I was often told “The men will pat your ass, but the women will save it.” At first, I didn’t want to believe it. I’d never gotten on well with women, and I didn’t trust them. I couldn’t see how women could help me any more than a man could. I had male friends! They were great support. Now that I am further on in my sobriety, I recognize that saying as nothing but pure, unadulterated truth. The women in the program reached out to me, were there for me, and showed me what being a strong, spiritual woman in recovery looks like. The ladies saved my life, and if you’re in recovery, they can save yours too.  

Women’s group therapy is so beneficial because the therapist can focus on topics that affect women! Most treatment centers are so male-dominated that women’s issues are often overlooked or discounted. Women’s issues include things like child-care, sexual trauma, and being victims of abuse. Men experience these things too, but on a much smaller scale. Women also can get trapped into the “victim role” where they blame others or circumstances for their drug or alcohol abuse. Women’s group therapy is more likely to address and try to change this tendency then a mixed gender therapy group.

In women’s group therapy, women generally feel more comfortable and are able to open up about things they may not say in front of men. There is a trust created in women’s group therapy. It is easier to be honest about the things that happened in the past, especially when this includes things like sexual trauma. To truly recover, we need to be able to be honest about our past. When we keep things inside, it blocks us off from healing and moving forward. Women’s group therapy is a great place to feel safe about opening up.

Many women feel a great sense of guilt or shame about ending up in therapy or treatment. There is a stigma attached to women who drink and use drugs that is not experienced by most men. Many women do not even seek treatment because they feel alone and they feel like they will be too harshly judged. Women’s group therapy is a great place to meet women who have the same problem as you. You feel less alone when you see how many women struggle with addiction. Women’s only therapy is the perfect place to begin to build a strong support system and a lasting recovery.