Saturday, September 29, 2012

Getting Unhooked from Addictions

by BJ Gallagher 4/9/10 on Huffington Post

What are we to do about this addiction pandemic? What are our options? What works?

Einstein said: "A problem cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it." Which explains why addicts cannot simply put down their drugs and solve their problem. It requires a shift in consciousness -- some form of psychic transformation -- for addicts to live without their "fix."

Medical experts look for bio-chemical solutions -- paying particular attention to brain chemistry. Other researchers look for genetic markers in our DNA, seeking to understand why alcoholism and other addictions often run in families. Many psychologists look at the "nurture" side of the "nature versus nurture" debate, pointing out that use of mood-altering substances or activities is learned behavior -- coping mechanisms developed in response to painful, dysfunctional family life. Religious authorities suggest that addiction is a spiritual malaise, amenable to spiritual solutions. In short, experts each look through their own professional paradigm for an answer to the riddle of addiction.

I applaud these experts for their efforts, but when I hear them explain their theories, I can't help but recall that old saying: "If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." It's easy to be blinded by your paradigm.

We needn't wait for white-coat experts to find causes and cures. We can learn much from the personal stories of those who have already discovered a way out of the hell of addiction. These sober, sane, serene people don't argue whether addiction is a physical disease or an existential dis-ease -- they don't care about parsing details. They just care about what works and how they can help others who still suffer.

Here are some of the basics, based on the experience of recovering people:

~ Addiction is a multi-faceted condition, with physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects - requiring a corresponding multi-faceted approach.

~ It is essential that an addict be teachable in order to change. Buddhists call it having a "beginner's mind." This is why most addicts have to hit bottom before they give up doing things their own way and become open to learning a new way to live.

~ Denial and ignorance are two major barriers to recovery. Addicts are usually in denial for a very long time about the seriousness of their problem; family members are often in denial as well. Public ignorance about the true nature of addiction keeps many people from seeking help; there are many stereotypes and myths about who's an addict and who isn't.

~ Rarely, if ever, are addicts able to kick their habit without help. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency may be laudable attributes in our society, but these same qualities hinder recovery from addiction.

~ Human beings are social creatures -- we do best when we have good social support. Addicts recover best with the support of a strong group, where they learn healthy inter-dependence.

~ Unconditional love and acceptance are at the core of recovery from addiction.

Full article at:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Junkies' Wives Club

This is a great site that I have utilized a lot in the past. There are not a lot of forums out there for families struggling with addiction that don't push Al-Anon down your throat. You will find people struggling with spouses of all sorts of addictions on this page. Some use traditional 12-step programs, and others don't.

You can be as anonymous as you want to be. But most importantly, it is a place to vent without judgment and be supported by other women who have either been there or are still there.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dating an Alcoholic? Run Like Hell!

I liken living with an alcoholic to living in a war-zone.

Like one who lives in deceit, I stone myself and call for help

Your wound grows and grows

It slits my throat from vein to vein.

I put sand in you wound,

I put in your wound a giant, and around myself I light the fire.

—Hoda Al-Namani, I remember I was a Point, I was a Circle

When I read this, I thought, this is me. This is my life. But, I’m not living in Beirut. What’s that about?

If you are an addict, I’m sorry. This story isn’t for you. There are hundreds of stories and resources for addicts. It often seems it’s the families of addicts who are forgotten and who largely suffer in silence.

There will always be another excuse, another mistake, another relapse, another addiction or anger about a parent’s addiction that they need their lifetime and yours to get over. With addicts there is just always something.

And if you’re reading this and you feel yourself getting angry perhaps you probably know that someone is finally telling the truth.

Of course, I have empathy for addicts too. So much in fact that I belittled myself by staying with one for seven years.

When my husband first relapsed after his mother died, my well-meaning Christian father told me to “just love him.” But that’s the problem with the addict; the more you love, the more they take of you and everything else, until there’s nothing left to give.

I remember the night I decided to stop walking on tip-toes.

I realized over the years I had become less of myself. I was worried about his anger, or that he would relapse, or be too stressed out or my actions would cause something bad to happen. Suddenly I realized how ridiculous this all was. It was his turn to learn to deal with the reality of our existence instead of us having to shrink because of the reality of his.

I remember before the first rehab, a very good friend looked me in the eyes and said, “Run.”

His mother had been an alcoholic and it had stunted his life. His comment affected our friendship for years. I didn’t want to run. I thought I could fix him. I thought my love would be enough.

Four years later, when I found out about my husband’s relapse, I thought about this friend and the courage it took him to say this and acknowledge my reality.

While most other people tried to be polite, or pray for me, their comments seemed to gently gloss over what was actually happening. When someone doesn’t fit into the perceived notion of what an addict is, it’s hard for people to know what to say.

“Run” was the best advice I received and it’s the advice I would give my daughter if she ever got involved with an addict.

Run. Run like hell.

The reason this advice hurt so much at the time was that it would have forced me to see my part in things. And when you are with an alcoholic, you are use to suffering in silence as the martyr, wondering why the alcoholic does what s/he does.

I wasted years of my life wondering why. I’ve come to realize it doesn’t matter.

Running would have taken courage. It would have said, “He cannot do this to me.” I am stronger than this. I can do better. Instead, I stayed, w—a—y too long.

The other part is that it would have forced me and others to acknowledge the truth.

Alcoholism remains hidden in the shadows. No one talks about it. We go to great lengths to avoid the subject altogether. Both the addict and the co-dependent will do anything to hide their sense of inadequacy. There is nobody that tries harder at being “normal” than an alcoholic and his/her family.

In running I would have to tell the truth. He drinks. All the time. It is not pleasant. He is verbally abusive. My life is out of control. And the hardest one, I need help.

When I finally left my husband, I was only able to do so after taking weeks to compose a list of facts. At my office, I began to put together a black and white list of the things in our relationship that I could not accept. This included that he did not go to my grandfather’s funeral, he did not come home all night long, and he brought cocaine into our home. After four and half pages of undeniable facts, I realized that there was no longer any question of whether or not I could stay with him. The list made that impossible, even laughable.

When you live with an addict, you are never quite certain about reality. Everything becomes blurred. By writing down the facts as they happened, he could not come back to me later with his own version of the truth.

In my case, there were months of lying about his sobriety when I just wasn’t sure whether he was drinking or not. Had I begun the list sooner, instead of listening to the words I so wanted to believe, I would have saved myself at least a year of heartbreak.

Before I left my husband, a dear friend from school sent me a quote from Maya Angelou. It said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them—the first time!” We must remember to trust our instincts and not wait for the people in our lives to change.
The truth was I knew what I thought the first time I met my ex-husband, but I gave him chance after chance despite it.

While I have seen some wonderful transformations in Alcoholics Anonymous, the statistics are not promising and I would not place any bets for my future on another addict.

There are millions of kind, whole and addiction-free men in the world. This story has a happy ending.
I happen to now be married to one of them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Did I Shave My Pits for This?

Many of the beauty products we use are slowly killing us, without our knowledge or explicit consent. While I identify as a feminist, it is still hard to part with the privilege of being considered “pretty.” As I grow older, I am beginning to calculate what pretty costs.

Did I Shave My Pits for This? ~ Trista Hendren

Small Minds....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why didn't anyone tell me?

(Shared with permission by Margaret Clapp)

Why didn't anyone tell me this was a no-win situation? Why didn't anyone tell me how "supporting my husband's recovery" would destroy my kids? I think they should post some stats of actual long term opiate recovery outcomes at meetings. This is lifetime of descending levels of hell for the families.

Over the past six years, I sold my soul, compromised my identity and values, wasted my savings, irreparably destroyed my self esteem and most horrific of all, damaged my precious daughters. For what? To keep "my marriage together", so my kids wouldn’t grow-up without a "dad". They have a "dad" alright. A "dad" who taught them, by constant example, how to lie and avoid responsibility. This is not life I imaged for myself or my lovely children.

I was never stupid or weak. Just the opposite. I am well educated. I was fit and cute and funny. I worked hard and success came easy for me. I had a supportive family and strong network of friends in a lovely upper middle class neighborhood. Notice the past tense.

In 2005, I discovered my husband had a “problem". He was coming home from work falling down high, pissing in the hallway, sleeping/watching for days, then he went off the wall, screaming, agitated, violent. You all know the drill. I was scared. I wanted to help him. I loved him. He loved me. We had two kids. I would stand by him and he would get through this. After all, we were married for better or worse.

Over the next four years I thought I was insulating my daughters form the chaos of their dad's addiction. He never drove them in car. The kids were busy at school, sports, homework, social events, spent allot of time with grandma. I took on the roll of mom and dad. put on a happy face and took care of business. All the while, demonstrating, through my daily example, how to be a doormat, how not stand-up for your rights, that a wife is not entitled to love, affection or respect, that a wife was a target for blame, that wife should never expect the truth, that lies are tolerated in marriage, that marriage is not a partnership. I allowed this to happen.

Worst of all, they knew. My sweet young daughters knew I was compromising my integrity and self respect for the sake of a drug addict. My kids, by extension, also comprised a significant portion of their childhood for a drug addict. They had no choice. They grew-up in home without trust, without respect.

At some point, I realized that he (my Opiate-addicted husband) was not married to me. The love of his life came in a pill (Oxy, Vicodine, etc). Weren't fathers supposed to put forth effort and make sacrifices for the family? His efforts and sacrifices are for drugs. He wasn't my partner in building a future our daughters. His partner is opiates. His future is getting high.

If you're still trying to be the best wife and mother possible, please stop believing everything will be OK. Every lie you ignore, every dollar missing, every late night wondering when he’ll arrive home is one more chip away from your soul. Your kids are bearing witness to your slow decay.

GRAB the kids and RUN. Why? So you don’t end-up a soulless disaster. Run. NOW. Today. Run for your life. Don’t stop until you are free from the lies and pain of someone else’s addition . Run fast. Run while you still have love in your heart, before hate overtakes your soul. Run.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Is Everyone Addicted To Something?

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, a self-confessed nicotine addict and author of The Road Less Traveled, offered his perspective in a 1991 lecture, "Addiction: The Sacred Disease." Dr. Peck's thesis:

At birth, humans become separated from God. Everyone is aware of this separation, but some people are more attuned to it than others. They report feeling an emptiness, a longing, what many refer to as "a hole in their soul." They sense that something is missing, but don't know what it is.

At some point in their lives (often quite young) these sensitive souls stumble across something that makes them feel better. For some it's alcohol; for others it's sugar, drugs, shopping, sex, work, gambling, or some other substance or activity that hits the spot. "Ahh," they sigh, "I've found what's been missing. This is the answer to my problems." They have discovered a new best friend -- their drug of choice.

Peck pointed out that the alcoholic is really thirsty for Spirit, but he settles for spirits. Alcohol is simply a form of cheap grace, as are all addictive substances. What we humans really long for is a connection to God ... alignment with the Holy ... re-union with the Divine. It is a deeply spiritual hunger -- a longing to go home again, back to Source.

But we're confused about what we're really hungry for, so we go looking for love in all the wrong places: a bottle of booze, pills, a cookie jar, a casino, shopping malls, a pack of smokes, the Internet, or the bed of a new hottie. We reach for anything to take the edge off, to smooth out life's rough spots, to help us make it through the night.

Anne Wilson Schaef says that addiction is a pandemic American disease driven by our high-stress culture. Chodron and Peck say that addiction is a human dis-ease driven by our existential angst.

Perhaps it doesn't really matter who's right. If you're addicted to something, or your loved one is an addict, all you want to know is how to get free from the grip of addiction.

Excerpt from The Huffington Post, 2010 by BJ Gallagher

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Surprising Truth About Addiction

By Stanton Peele, Psychology Today May 01, 2004

More people quit addictions than maintain them, and they do so on their own. That's not to say it happens overnight. People succeed when they recognize that the addiction interferes with something they value—and when they develop the confidence that they can change.

Change is natural. You no doubt act very differently in many areas of your life now compared with how you did when you were a teenager. Likewise, over time you will probably overcome or ameliorate certain behaviors: a short temper, crippling insecurity.

For some reason, we exempt addiction from our beliefs about change. In both popular and scientific models, addiction is seen as locking you into an inescapable pattern of behavior. Both folk wisdom, as represented by Alcoholics Anonymous, and modern neuroscience regard addiction as a virtually permanent brain disease. No matter how many years ago your uncle Joe had his last drink, he is still considered an alcoholic. The very word addict confers an identity that admits no other possibilities. It incorporates the assumption that you can't, or won't, change.

Every year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health interviews Americans about their drug and alcohol habits. Ages 18 to 25 constitute the peak period of drug and alcohol use. In 2002, the latest year for which data are available, 22 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 25 were abusing or were dependent on a substance, versus only 3 percent of those aged 55 to 59. These data show that most people overcome their substance abuse, even though most of them do not enter treatment.

How do we know that the majority aren't seeking treatment? In 1992, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism conducted one of the largest surveys of substance use ever, sending Census Bureau workers to interview more than 42,000 Americans about their lifetime drug and alcohol use. Of the 4,500-plus respondents who had ever been dependent on alcohol, only 27 percent had gone to treatment of any kind, including Alcoholics Anonymous. In this group, one-third were still abusing alcohol.

Of those who never had any treatment, only about one-quarter were currently diagnosable as alcohol abusers. This study, known as the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey, indicates first that treatment is not a cure-all, and second that it is not necessary. The vast majority of Americans who were alcohol dependent, about three-quarters, never underwent treatment. And fewer of them were abusing alcohol than were those who were treated.

These findings square with what we know about change in other areas of life: People change when they want it badly enough and when they feel strong enough to face the challenge, not when they're humiliated or coerced. An approach that empowers and offers positive reinforcement is preferable to one that strips the individual of agency. These techniques are most likely to elicit real changes, however short of perfect and hard-won they may be.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Asshole Block

I have been thinking of inventing an app to block texts from people you don't want to talk to. Last I heard, this is not possible.

So, in the mean time, I am adding this profile picture to my phone for the 2 remaining people in my life who still cause me grief on a regular basis.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Addiction is the number one public health threat in the United States today.

Over 23 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Substance abuse involves the repeated and excessive use of a drug or alcohol to produce pleasure or escape reality despite its destructive effects. Although legal substances such as alcohol and nicotine can be and are abused, when we talk about drug abuse, we tend to think of illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin or misuse of legal substances such as prescription drugs or fumes from household products.

What starts as so-called recreational use of substances, can spill over into craving and addiction, with dismal consequences for the user’s wellbeing, his entire family and the community as well.

The line is crossed when the drugs become a necessity, when it controls the user. The individual is convinced that the drug is necessary to have a feeling of wellbeing or even just to get through the day. Craving for the drug of choice eliminates most other thoughts, and tracking down and use of the drug takes over. Nothing is more important than getting high, not work, kids, spouse, or family. Getting high, becomes so important that the individual is willing to sacrifice everything even as the problem is denied.

For many people whose drug of choice is alcohol, the path to addiction is slower and more insidious. Because alcohol is a legal drug and many people use it successfully, those who have problems with it often go unnoticed for longer periods of time. Frequently, the person who has a problem with alcohol will be able to continue drinking because they continue to go to work, & will argue that their ability to work proves that they don’t have a problem.

Substance abusers are often the last ones to recognize their own symptoms of abuse, dependence and addiction. Even when they know they have a problem, drug abusers often try to downplay their drug use and conceal their symptoms. But if you suspect that a friend or loved one is abusing drugs, there are a number of warning signs you can look for.

Some behavioral symptoms include: Angry outbursts, mood swings, irritability, manic behavior, attitude change. Talking incoherently or making inappropriate remarks. Risky, secretive, or suspicious behavior. Deterioration of physical appearance and grooming. Absence from work or school or drop-off in quality of work or grades. Neglect of family responsibilities, money problems, or legal problems.

Physiological signs include: Frequent exhaustion or weakness, unexplained injuries and infections, blackouts, flashbacks, delusions, paranoia, withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, tremors, and sweating.

Pamela Egan, FNP-C, CDE is a board certified Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Clinical Specialist in Mental Health.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to Raise your Vibration

I wish I had read this 5 years ago!!

QUESTION: My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years and have 2 kids...almost like clockwork, every two years or so we have a huge falling out with him lying, cheating, drinking and heavy drugs. I love him but I'm not sure if I want to stay if this is what I have to put up with every couple years......but we have kids and 12 years of overcoming great obsticles together. For the life of me, I can not figure out what I am supposed to be learning here....forgivness for my husband or should I be putting myself first and protect myself from this happening again?

ANSWER: Allowing this to continue is not good for you, your kids or your husband. His abusive patterns absolutely will continue. Just look at your past with him for the answers in your future. The only way he will change is when YOU change, and put your foot down, and say no more! Love yourself and your children enough to not let this toxicity be a part of your life anymore.

The psychic pollution and stress that is emitted in the household through your husband's disrespectful and abusive habits contaminate everyone's energy field and living environment. Once you finally decide to set firm, yet loving boundaries with him, you may actually be the catalyst to his healing. Saying NO to him is loving! Allowing this to continue is abusive to you, and all involved.

Gather your from your backbone ~ not your wish bone, and put an end to this vicious cycle.....what we resist persists! Self Love, STRENGTH, setting appropriate boundaries are your lessons. Look for a pranic healer in your area to help him with the release of the addictive energies that make him crave substances and inappropriate sexual interactions. I also would advise you to NOT have sex with him until his energy is cleaned up and balanced. ~ Sabrina

Friday, September 7, 2012

Don't Argue When Angry

“If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put the fire out. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, September 6, 2012

So Beautiful, and True!

“In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete. I no longer chose to believe in old limitations and lack. I now choose to begin to see myself as the Universe sees me – perfect, whole and complete. The truth of my Being is that I was created perfect, whole and complete. I will always be perfect, whole and complete. I now choose to live my life from this understanding. I am in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. All is well in my world.” ~Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


“In the Buddhist teachings, the messy stuff is called klesha, which means poison.

Boiling it all down to the simplest possible formula, there are three main poisons: passion, aggression, and ignorance. We could talk about these in different ways—for example, craving, aversion and couldn’t care less. Addictions of all kind come under the category of craving, which is wanting, wanting, wanting—feeling that we have to have some kind of resolution. Aversion encompasses violence, rage, hatred, and negativity of all kind, as well as garden-variety irritation. And ignorance? Nowadays it’s called denial.”

~Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are, “Poison as Medicine.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Am

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am." – Sylvia Plath

Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gaia's Ghost

Round and round the blindfold of shame.
My sister's eyes from truth refrain.
Secrets spill from ruptured rims,
The lost echoes of voices dimmed.
Bruised by explanation.
Ingrained with each generation.
The cyclical sickness of domination.
But secrets spill like mother's milk,
The stained beauty of ruined silk.
And ignorance buys my sister's chains.
Furiously wringing out last night's stains.
Her hushed words beaten by the day.
The blindfold tighter round what she'd say.
So she bled the unsaid in silent seclusion,
dumb-founded and shrouded by dizzying delusion.
The evidence insufficient for my sister's grieving.
And she buries the thought of someday leaving.
She is here,
but uninhabited.
A skeletal blueprint, barely breathing.
But softly, slowly, from the ash of the unheard,
Gaia's ghost rises like a firebird.
"Here I am," her voice now loud,
incinerating to pieces the silent shroud.
"Here I am; now look at me!

Unblinded, babe to liberty."

( A dedication to the many mute victims of domestic violence and abuse)

By Stella Renee Morrow

Speak my name. Make me real.

"Forty-six million Americans live in poverty. And while there are some who are there because they made – and make – self-destructive choices, some who are there because of addiction to drugs or alcohol or because they are mentally ill, most of those who are there are not terribly different from anyone else, not terribly different from the delegates who will throng the Democratic convention this week. Granted, it is comforting to believe otherwise, comforting to believe the line separating them from you is Hulk-strong and neon bright, that their situation reflects some failing – moral, spiritual, intellectual – that you, righteous soul, do not suffer. Comforting. But then, self-delusion often is.

Life happened to them, same as it happens to anyone. And they deserve what anyone would want. Not a handout nor even just help, but first, an acknowledgement that they are there.

See me. Speak my name. Make me real."

By Leonard Pitts Jr., The Miami Herald

Full article below:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What Women Need

“Women need real moments of solitude and reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away” ~Barbara De Angelis

"Bliss of Peace 2" by Elisabeth Slettnes