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Destination: Recovery

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Pulling Ourselves Out Of Issolation and Loneliness

Posted on November 18, 2018 at 7:02 PM Comments comments (0)
Alone no more.
"We gradually and carefully pull ourselves out of the isolation and loneliness of addiction and into the mainstream of life."
Basic Text, p. 37
Many of us spent much of our using time alone, avoiding other people-especially people who were not using-at all costs. After years of isolation, trying to find a place for ourselves in a bustling, sometimes boisterous fellowship is not always easy. We may still feel isolated, focusing on our differences rather than our similarities. The overwhelming feelings that often arise in early recovery-feelings of fear, anger, and mistrust-can also keep us isolated. We may feel like aliens but we must remember, the alienation is ours, not NA's.
In Narcotics Anonymous, we are offered a very special opportunity for friendship. We are brought together with people who understand us like no one else can. We are encouraged to share with these people our feelings, our problems, our triumphs, and our failures. Slowly, the recognition and identification we find in NA bridge the lonely gap of alienation in our hearts. As we've heard it said-the program works, if we let it.
Just for Today: The friendship of other members of the fellowship is a life-sustaining gift. I will reach out for the friendship that's offered in NA, and accept it.
Corresponding page Sixth Edition
Basic Text, p., 37
This is our road to spiritual growth. We change every day. We gradually and carefully pull ourselves out of the isolation and loneliness of addiction and into the mainstream of life. This growth is not the result of wishing, but of action and prayer. The main objective of Step Seven is to get out of ourselves and strive to achieve the will of our Higher Power.
If we are careless and fail to grasp the spiritual meaning of this step, we may have difficulties and stir up old troubles. One danger is in being too hard on ourselves.

What Is Dry Drunk Syndrome?

Posted on April 22, 2018 at 11:56 AM Comments comments (5)
Many know the answer to the question “what is dry drunk syndrome?”, but sometimes the family members or close loved ones do not.
So what is dry drunk syndrome? It is when an alcoholic is not drinking, yet they are still exhibiting the same behaviors they did while drinking. For example, a dry drunk can be someone who is a violent person while drinking, but remains violent even after the drink has been removed. Though the alcohol has been removed, the family is still experiencing chaos, if not even more so than before.
There tends to be more arguing and turmoil, much to the dismay of the family. How can this be when the drinking has stopped? This occurs when the alcoholic is not working a program of recovery. Many times the family is perplexed because they think that the drink problem has been removed, so all of the following negative characteristics should be gone, too. Why does dry drunk syndrome happen?
The disease of alcoholism centers in the mind of the alcoholic and is followed by a physical allergy.
This means that in no way are we ever able to safely consume alcohol. When the mental craving is followed by the actual taking of a drink, the allergy kicks in. This makes it virtually impossible for us to stop unless we either run out or pass out. Because the disease centers in our mind, the simple removal of the substance is not enough to create a balanced mind. We must commence on a path of vigorous action in the form of a spiritual program.
When someone is in the midst of dry drunk syndrome, it is because they are not working a program that removes their defects of character. Our defects, along with an array of other attributes, are what tend to propel us into alcoholic drinking in the first place. Sure it is great to remove the drink, but working a spiritual program of recovery is actually so much more than just not drinking.
It teaches us how to live and behave with others in mind.
Our selfish and self-centered way of thinking is replaced with a need to be of maximum service to others. These things are not achieved by merely putting the drink down. They are achieved by proper treatment, a program of recovery such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and staying plugged into the recovery community.

The Brain Chemistry Of Overcoming Addiction

Posted on March 24, 2018 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (2)
The Holy Grail of addiction science is to fully understand the neurological structures and processes that cause addiction and shape addicts’ behavior.
Traditionally, this task was left to psychology, which laid down the core theories based on the symptoms displayed and the behavior exhibited. This is analogous to determining the likely issue with a malfunctioning car based on the sounds emitted from the engine or how it reacts when you push the brakes.
Advances in imaging technology — notably through the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) — have enabled scientists to delve deeper into what’s going on inside the brain and develop a robust understanding of the neurology and biochemistry of overcoming addiction. This is like popping open the hood and seeing what’s really going on with the engine.
The brain — broken down
The brain can be split into three sections, based on its evolutionary history. First, you have the brain stem (the reptilian brain), which controls core functions like breathing and the regulation of temperature. This was developed during the earlier stages of human evolution, and is shared with reptiles. Then the limbic system (the mammalian brain) developed along with the first mammals, and controls emotions and the motivation for your behavior.
This makes the limbic system central to the development of addiction, as does its role as the connection between the brain stem and the neocortex, which is the typically “human” part of our brain that is only shared with other higher primates. The fact that ours is much more developed is what separates humans from the other species on the planet in terms of intelligence. The various structures in these three parts of the brain, and the interplay between them, determine who we are.
Addiction and the reward system
The “reward” system of the brain is the area hijacked by addiction. This is an important region for the brain because rewards are what motivate us to continue to take necessary action. The neocortex may enable us to ask complex questions about the reasons for our behavior, but the lure of the reward system’s neurochemical of choice — dopamine — is enough to ensure we continue to eat food and reproduce. In response to these vital activities, the brain releases dopamine into an area of the limbic system known as the nucleus accumbens, which gives us a feeling of pleasure and thereby establishes some motivation to complete the action again.
Drugs of abuse, and activities such as gambling which are known to be addictive, also stimulate the release of dopamine into this area. This creates a pleasure much more powerful than the natural dopamine surges produced by the brain, and effectively short-circuits the reward system, providing a “shortcut” to the dopamine we’re all motivated by. The reason that only roughly one in10 people is susceptible to addiction is thought to be related to genetic or environmental factors which alter the reaction of the reward system to a behavior or substance that stimulates the release of dopamine.
However, the strong grasp of addiction isn’t explained through this pleasure-seeking mechanism of the limbic system alone. In fact, the interplay between dopamine and another neurochemical, glutamate, is thought to contribute to learning related to seeking a reward. The brain effectively “learns” that the best way to get a hit of dopamine is to take a certain substance or repeat a behavior through these two neurochemicals. The person remembers the positive experiences associated with the drug or activity, and in times of stress this motivates the individual to take the substance or repeat the behavior.
Since the limbic system underpins the motivations and emotions of the entire brain, the higher-level functions of the neocortex can’t easily overcome that desire. The intelligent portion of the brain may be aware of the negative consequences of continued use, but its underlying motivation still comes from the reward system of the limbic region. In other words, behavior is determined by the desire to take the substance when an individual is addicted; always driven by the memory of the pleasure it initially created.
Developing drug tolerance
The change that occurs within the brain during addiction causes the development of tolerance. Because the brain is unequipped to deal with such an onslaught of dopamine, it reduces the sensitivity of the reward system. As explains, this is analogous to turning down the volume on a loudspeaker when the noise becomes unbearable. As a result, the impact of the drug or activity is reduced, because the dopamine it stimulates no longer has as notable an effect. However, the learning process (associating the drug or activity with pleasure) is long established, so the individual still continues with the behavior, often to greater excess in order to achieve the same dopamine hit.
Ultimately, this means the brain is literally dependent on the substance or activity for its feelings of pleasure. The reduced sensitivity to dopamine means that the naturally produced quantities have very little effect, which contributes to a generally negative mood during times of “withdrawal” (when the substance isn’t taken). This is the final piece in the puzzle that makes drug or process addictions such a challenge to break. The brain has to re-adjust the structure and activity of the reward center yet again before some form of normality is re-established.
Overcoming addiction
These factors mean that overcoming addiction is very difficult indeed, and explain why relapses are so common. The brain’s ability to restructure and adapt, however, means that it is wholly possible, and moreover that it gets easier as you go along. The more the brain “unlearns” the association between the drug or activity and pleasure, the more it restructures itself and the more its naturally produced pleasure chemicals have an impact. Deeper understanding of the neurology of addiction may lead to a medical treatment for addiction in the future, but for now, it shows us that overcoming addiction is achievable.

10 Defeating Attitudes in Early Sobriety and How To Combat Them

Posted on January 26, 2018 at 8:54 PM Comments comments (0)
Getting sober is one of, if not the hardest thing that us addicts will ever have to do. The journey to long term recovery is a hard one, often bumpy and filled with difficult personal and emotional challenges. Here are some thoughts and belief systems that commonly come up for us amongst early sobriety to be aware of, watch out for, and discard when they creep in!
1. The Non Sober People Are More Fun
Addicts in general, myself included spend our time trying to do WHATEVER we can to “feel good” in the moment.  Sometimes life is not going to feel good and that is when we do not know how to handle it. That being said, the guys and gals that are goofing off, not working on themselves and acting out in negative self-defeating behaviors may appear to be having more fun…but talk to them when they relapse, get arrested, or end up back in treatment or at a 12-step meeting getting another new comer chip and ask yourself if that looks like fun? No judgment here, the thing is nothing changes until something changes and you must do things you have never done to get where you have never been period – simple as that.
2. I Am Not Ready To Be Sober Yet
You have hit your bottom once you have quit digging. Some people lose everything, die, get locked up.... Some other people end up realizing it much quicker and don’t lose much. They can see where their life is heading and make the effort to change it quicker. So please don’t let your mind give you this excuse; it’s not true!
3. This Won’t Work For Me
Here is the thing…how can we know something that we don’t know…we can’t. Just because my mind is telling me that I know something does not mean it’s true. Find a mentor that has been where you’ve been and be open minded to having a new experience. Do what they say and great things will follow.
4. I’m Unique and Worse Than Everyone
This one always gives me a laugh because I can relate so strongly. Almost every addict I’ve had the pleasure of working with at one point or another experiences this thought. I have found out that I am not special or different and when I look for similarities instead of differences I can relate to some people I would never have expected to be able to.
5. I can do this on my own
In my experience this was not true. However, I will say if you truly believe that you can give it a try. If it doesn’t work, then try a treatment center and entering into a 12-step program.
6. Thinking The Answer is on the Outside, Not on the Inside
I need to quit smoking, get a job, enroll in college…TODAY !”. Relax, Rome wasn’t built in a day and we have to crawl before we can walk. You do not have to conquer all of your problems today. Keep it simple and make small realistic goals for yourself and overtime the upheaval and redemption of your life will be astonishing! Give yourself some time to really work on you in the beginning the rest will follow.
7. I Don’t Deserve A Better Life
This is not true for anyone – ever. Period. There is a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us. Take it easy on yourself, learn to forgive and love yourself. This is a process that is difficult and takes time but I promise you can do it and we will love you until you love yourself!
8. Nobody Cares About Me Anyway
I felt this way coming into recovery and what I found was the exact opposite. It was amazing how many people put their hand out to help me when all I did was simply become willing and ask for the help.
9. I’ve Tried Everything And Nothing Has Worked
No one has tried everything. There are variables to consider here. For instance, something I may have “tried” could work if I changed my perspective, applied myself and engaged in it with an open mind if I was closed off the first time. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective.
10. I will control my use… it will be different this time!
If you are really an addict or alcoholic your own experience is the best test here.  Did you ever “just do one”?  Were you able to easily stop all substances at once at any time without any difficulty?  If you’re truly an addict or alcoholic all you have to do is be honest with yourself and reflect on your experience to see that this not true.  You’re not alone here we have all fallen victim to this way of thinking and it keeps us in addiction much longer than necessary.

Suffering and Addiction

Posted on September 4, 2017 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)
We all have tragedies, pain, and suffering in our lives. We can use these as an excuse to use alcohol or drugs. Eventually this can lead to more tragedies, pain and suffering. There are millions of reasons to use. But using drugs and alcohol compromises who you are and who you can be. If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow.

Facing Death

Posted on August 22, 2017 at 7:02 PM Comments comments (0)
"Often we have to face some type of crisis during our recovery, such as the death of a loved one..."
Basic Text, p. 98
Every life has a beginning and an end. However, when someone we love a great deal reaches the end of their life, we may have a very hard time accepting their sudden, final absence. Our grief may be so powerful that we fear it will completely overwhelm us - but it will not. Our sorrow may hurt more than anything we can remember, but it will pass.
We need not run from the emotions that may arise from the death of a loved one. Death and grieving are parts of the fullness of living "life on life's terms." By allowing ourselves the freedom to experience these feelings, we partake more deeply of both our recovery and our human nature.
Sometimes the reality of another's death makes our own mortality that much more pronounced. We reevaluate our priorities, appreciating the loved ones still with us all the more. Our life, and our life with them, will not go on forever. We want to make the most of what's most important while it lasts.
We might find that the death of someone we love helps strengthen our conscious contact with our Higher Power. If we remember that we can always turn to that source of strength when we are troubled, we will be able to stay focused on it no matter what may be going on around us.
Just for Today: I will accept the loss of one I love and turn to my Higher Power for the strength to accept my feelings. I will make the most of my love for those in my life today.
Shared via JFT App , Copyright © 2007-2017, NA World Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Power of Love

Posted on August 10, 2017 at 11:48 AM Comments comments (14)
"We begin to see that God's love has been present all the time, just waiting for us to accept it."
Basic Text, p. 46

God's love is the transforming power that drives our recovery. With that love, we find freedom from the hopeless, desperate cycle of using, self-hatred, and more using. With that love, we gain a sense of reason and purpose in our once purposeless lives. With that love, we are given the inner direction and strength we need to begin a new way of life: the NA way. With that love, we begin to see things differently, as if with new eyes.

As we examine our lives through the eyes of love, we make what may be a startling discovery: The loving God we've so recently come to understand has always been with us and has always loved us. We recall the times when we asked for the aid of a Higher Power and were given it. We even recall times when we didn't ask for such help, yet were given it anyway. We realize that a loving Higher Power has cared for us all along, preserving our lives till the day when we could accept that love for ourselves.

The Power of love has been with us all along. Today, we are grateful to have survived long enough to become consciously aware of that love's presence in our world and our lives. Its vitality floods our very being, guiding our recovery and showing us how to live.

Just for Today: I accept the love of a Higher Power in my life. I am conscious of that Power's guidance and strength within me. Today, I claim it for my own.


Posted on July 16, 2017 at 2:21 PM Comments comments (0)
Recently my mother was experiencing an anxiety attack. In spite of the fact she takes medications for these, they continue to happen. Not knowing what else to do, I suggested we pray together. My prayers are often inarticulate and cumbersome at best, however she instantly calmed down. It's such a simple thing, yet often praying is our last resort instead of the first. My thought for any skeptics is, what have you got to lose? My husband often shares how he was getting ready to make meth after being clean for 6 years. He prayed for God to take away his cravings, and instantly lost the desire to continue making it. I would hope others wouldn't have to be going through dire straights before turning to God for help, but often that's the only way we discover God's grace and love for us. 

Resistance to Change

Posted on June 25, 2017 at 4:49 PM Comments comments (5)

"Many of us cling to our fears, doubts, self-loathing, or hatred because there is a certain distorted security in familiar pain. It seems safer to embrace what we know than to let go of it for the unknown."
Basic Text, p. 34
We have often heard it said that "when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, we will change" Our fear can keep us from growing, afraid to end relationships, change careers, attend new meetings, begin new friendships, or attempt anything out of the ordinary. We stay in situations that are no longer working far longer than we have to simply because what is familiar feels safer than the unknown. Any change involves overcoming fear. "What if I'm alone forever?" we might think if we consider leaving our lover. "What if I find out I'm incompetent?" we may wonder when we contemplate changing careers. We may balk at attending new meetings because we will have to reach out. Our minds manufacture a hundred excuses for remaining right where we are, afraid to try something new.
We find that most of our pain comes not from change but from resistance to change. In NA, we learn that change is how we move forward in our lives. New friends, new relationships, new interests and challenges will replace the old. With these new things in our lives, we find new joys and loves.
Just for Today: I will release the old, embrace the new, and grow.

Treating the Addict

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 11:47 AM Comments comments (0)
In the Philippines drug offenders are "sentenced" to a rehab facility that houses up to 10,000 people. Doesn't this make more sense than incarcerating addicts? I don't know anything about the facility, but I'd like to see addicts get the help they need rather than punished for their disease.