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

 

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.

 

Jul 15

Women in Recovery

Women in Recovery

Here is a fun fact about women in recovery, Marty Mann, NCADD’s founder, was the first woman to recover from alcoholism in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  As a result, NCADD has always been dedicated to increasing public awareness and support for women struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs. 

Women are the fastest-growing segment for substance abuse in the United States. In fact, according to the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, about 2.7 million women in the United States abuse drugs or alcohol. Even more frightening is that the majority who need treatment do not receive it because:

•They are afraid of losing, or being separated from, their families

•They view their substance use as a social activity or habit, rather than an addiction that is disrupting their lives

•They believe that their substance abuse is the outcome of anxiety or depression, treating the mental health issue while ignoring the addiction

•They are afraid or embarrassed to admit they are struggling with addiction, and hide their drug or alcohol use from family and friends

There are special issues that women face in addiction treatment and recovery. The traditional wisdom of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that women progress faster in addiction. Now the research is telling us the “why” and more importantly “what” can be done to assist women in recovery.

Women start using for different reasons, get addicted differently, progress faster, recovery differently and relapse for different issues. Due to shame and stigma, women may be more likely to drink/take pills when alone and hide it from others. Some women have their home as their bar and may have three martini play dates with their friends and their children. Those with stressful careers may use to keep up the image that they can raise three kids, have a high power job and still keep up! With the stimulant drugs some women start using to lose weight. While many women are high functioning and may be able to keep up the appearance of being fine they are unraveling on the inside.

Physiologically women metabolize alcohol and drugs differently than men. Physically one drink for a woman has twice the impact physiologically on a woman that it does on a man. That’s not just about getting drunk, that’s impact to the organs, to the brain. Mixing types of drugs makes it even more damaging. When mixing chemicals one and one is not necessarily two. Women also tend to have more access to prescribers of medications which can make it even more dangerous. Yes, there is physical damage but it may pale in comparison to the emotional and spiritual damage done by addiction. When a woman is addicted it can impact the entire family system – since women are generally the central organizing factors in their network (caregiver to aging parent, parent to children, caregiver of older partner, etc).

Women are complicated! In addition a female’s distinctive physiology, mental health issues, hormonal differences, spiritual concerns and as well as life circumstances may affect their experience in addiction and recovery. Treatment and recovery are most successful when these individualized needs are taken into account. The good news is that recovery is natural for women. Addiction is the unnatural state. The female brain is actually wired for connection! Many women find that the support of 12 Step programs and other support groups are exactly what they need to live a life free of chemicals. Recovery is the most critical part of an addict’s journey and many find that in recovery they have a life beyond their wildest dreams.

 

 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/remarkable-recovery/201203/addiction-and-gender-recovery-women

Jun 18

Pro Ana and Pro Mia

Pro Ana and Pro Mia

One of the greatest advantages of the Internet today is that it has the ability to bring people who think alike together to one place for support and encouragement of their lifestyles and hobbies. In some cases, these may not be lifestyles or hobbies that are healthy or even socially acceptable such as anorexia and bulimia. These sites on the Internet for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia go by the shortened terms that let its users know that they are in support of the behavior; these names are pro ana (pro anorexia) and pro mia (pro bulimia).

What does pro ana and pro mia mean?

  • Pro-ana stands for pro-anorexia
  • Pro-mia stands for pro-bulimia.
  • “Pro” does not mean, “supports the promotion of”.
  • Most disclaimers on the sites contain something along the lines of “If you do not have an eating disorder then it is better for you if you do not develop one”, although the more hard-line sites often use challenging language, such as “If you can’t handle it, leave”.
  • Pro-ana sites are for those who are already anorexics, who want to be “triggered” and are looking for advice, tips and support from fellow anorexics to help them become “better” anorexics.
  • “Pro-ana” symbolizes the choice not to go into recovery; if you are pro-ana then by definition you have chosen to live wholeheartedly as an anorexic, at least for the time being.

How did pro ana and pro mia sites start?

In the early 2000’s with the rise of the Internet, pro ana and pro mia sites became very popular, very quickly but that meant they also became very visible to not only those who wanted to find them. That is when the pro ana and pro mia sites made their debut in both Time Magazine and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Soon after pro ana and pro mia sites made themselves known many site hosts such as Yahoo began to shut down existing pro ana and pro mia sites and they banned any new sites.

Pro ana and pro mia sites today

Now days pro ana and pro mia sites are hard to find but they still exist. Most pro ana and pro mia sites feature tips for very low calorie eating, tricks for hiding extreme weight loss and ways to avoid being detected. Many pro ana and pro mia sites also have what is called “thinspiration” on them. “Thinspiration” is photos of very thin women; most of whom are celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Victoria’s Secret Models or Kate Moss.

Pro ana and pro mia sites are very dangerous. Not only can pro ana and pro mia sites push someone who may be on the verge of an eating disorder into one but the sites also can undermine anyone who is in recovery from an eating disorder.

Luckily many of the pro ana and pro mia sites today have made a transition from being pro eating disorder to pro recovery.

The pro ana and pro mia sites that are still defending their existence state that anorexia and bulimia are lifestyle choices rather than dangerous mental health conditions that can end up killing someone.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-ana

http://www.sirc.org/articles/totally_in_control2.shtml