Category Archives: Information

Sobriety, dual diagnosis, and personal OTC self-help

First, I want to make clear that this is just about my personal experiences, since Lifering is about personalized, individualized, self-empowerment, or self-help.

That said, let’s jump into what’s on my mind.

A fair percentage of people who eventually have addictive problems to drugs or alcohol are “dual diagnosis.” That is, they have some mental health issue connected with their addiction. Often it’s depression. Often it’s anxiety. Sometimes it’s bipolar disorder, occasionally schizophrenia.

For people that have “simple” depression or anxiety, and have been to a doctor before, for lower-level depression or anxiety, it’s tempting to self-medicate with over-the-counter items. For example, it’s a “commonplace” that Benadryl can help mild anxiety. Many people use St. John’s wort for mild depression. Beyond that, over-the-counter versions of lithium compounds, somewhat similar to, but not the same as, the prescription versions, are available. And more.

But, even over-the-counter medications aren’t risk free.

For example, prescription lithium has a narrow range of dosages. The non-prescription versions are presumably similar.

With St. John’s wort, there are studies indicating it can help with some cases of mild-moderate depression. There’s no “magic secret” as to why, though. The active ingredient is an MAO inhibitor, just like the first class of anti-depressant medications. Given that prescription MAO inhibitors come with certain warnings, like not combining them with aged cheeses, something similar might apply to St. John’s worth.

And, there’s the placebo effect. A lot of people swear by GABA, a natural neurotransmitter, to help with anxiety. However, GABA does not cross what’s known as the blood-brain barrier, therefore people are presumably just talking about a placebo effect.

Also, just as a prescription anti-depressant that works for one person might not work well for another, the same is true of these OTC self-helps.

A Lifering friend mentioned his doctor suggested he take a new OTC medication, which is GABA chemically linked to niacin, the B vitamin. He said it helped totally kill alcohol cravings, as well as some anxiety.

I decided to order it myself; it’s readily available online.

Well, my “sample size date” is only 10 days so far, but, I may discontinue it after another week.

While it’s not quite making me MORE anxious, I have had trouble falling asleep since then. I’ve had a couple of issues in my mind, but, this may be a contributing factor.

For me, the one time I went to a doctor with even more serious anxiety, it was anti-depressants that helped.

There’s nothing wrong with a prescription from a doctor, and there’s nothing magical about over-the-counter items. It never hurts to get professional advice.

3 New LifeRing Meetings Now Available!

My Tribe


LifeRing is pleased to announce 3 new meetings now up, running and available to anyone who wants to get clean and/or sober, and to find their tribe  - one in Connecticut, one in Massachusetts, and one based in Asia via Skype.

Craig W., member of LifeRing’s Board of Directors, says “All meetings represent great progress in expanding our reach,” and we look forward to their success and growth!

The information for each new meeting can be found below; the information for all of LifeRing’s meetings can be found here:

Greenwich, Connecticut Meeting

When: Mondays at 7:30 PM

Where: Greenwich Hospital, 5 Perryridge Road, Greenwich, CT 06830

Convenor: Cindy K.

Contact Information: E-mail: Phone: (772) 205-1289


Belmont, Massachusetts Meeting

When: Fridays, 6:00 – 7:00 PM – first meeting tonight, July 18th!

Where: McLean Hospital, DeMarneffe Cafeteria Building Room 117, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478

Convenor: Allen B.

Contact Information:


LifeRing Asia

When: Sundays, 12:00 Noon Bangkok, Thailand time (Saturdays, 10:00 PM California/Pacific Time)

Where: via Skype; add Skype ID liferingasia to your list of Skype Contacts

Convenor/Contact Information: Per LifeRing Asia’s website - “We are looking for conveners to help run meetings and we want to add meetings with times that fit your needs. Feel free to contact us.”


Congratulations to all meeting convenors and future members – we wish you the very best!



Smile! And Donate to LifeRing!

It recently came to our attention that has created a special feature whereby, when you log in to Amazon Smile! – which features all the same products, prices and services as the regular Amazon site – 0.5% of the price of any purchase you make will be donated to your charity of choice, and a still fledgling organization like LifeRing would be deeply honored and grateful to be that charity.

Here is a “How To” set this up in 4 easy steps – and please, don’t forget Step 4!

Step 1: Go to and log in using your current/usual Amazon account log in (or, create an account if you’re a new Amazon user):

Amazon Smile 6


Step 2: Select LifeRing as your chosen charity by typing it into the “Or pick your own charitable organization” box at the bottom of the next screen, and then click on the Search button:

Amazon Smile 1

Step 3: The following box with LifeRing’s information should appear; click on the Select button:

Amazon Smile 2

Step 4: Voila! You’re almost done and ready to shop, but this is the most important step you don’t want to skip.

You must enter and shop through the address or no donations will be made, so an easy way to do that is to install Amazon Smile’s one-click button (or a bookmark) on your preferred web browser to quickly get to the site (note: this option should come up automatically for you, but we’re still showing it here in case you need a quick link to get back to it).

Go to the following web address, and follow the simple instructions:

Amazon Smile 4

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!


Pain Killers

Opiate addiction What can one say about the painkiller epidemic in this country? One has the sense that it’s really  not all media-driven hysterics, that there’s something to it based on their own anecdotal evidence. It’s  been reported (although never confirmed), for example, that pain medication was the initial downfall of gifted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. After a glorious 20+ years of being clean and sober, he had some  sort of painful injury and started taking medically prescribed opiates, and then, like a lot of others when  the addiction embers were burning but the fuel supply ran out, turned around and poured gasoline on the  whole damned thing when he got back on heroin. We know the rest of his tragic story.

I have members of my own family who’ve struggled with opiate addiction, one of whom was spending hundreds of dollars a month they didn’t have to buy the pills on the street they couldn’t get from any more of their physicians, and one who, like too many others, turned to heroin at a certain point because it’s far cheaper, easier to get and does a masterful job. Several friends of mine have seen the same things happening to their family members, some of whom are still using. Others are mercifully clean. One young woman, barely into her 20′s and full of the promise of a life well-lived, is no longer with us, her bewildered loved ones left behind with longed for memories of better days mingling with interminable grief.

A lot of people felt it seemed ridiculous to be so upset over Hoffman’s overdose death in light of the fact that he was just one of many who’d suffered the same fate, but then again, just as many of them thought he’d made the “choice” to end up the way he did, so hey – he got what he wanted/asked for.

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Marijuana Is The New Alcohol

Is anyone really surprised to see this, or this? I’m not, nor will I be surprised to see all manner of marijuana-related incidents and accidents, hints and allegations on the rise  over the course of the next decade or so – too many people are convinced pot’s harmless, non-addictive and therefore “safe” to use under practically any circumstances…including while operating heavy machinery and/or firearms.

The fact that none of that is true is irrelevant. For one thing, it helps the legalization cause to play down any/all negative affects of marijuana. For another (and more importantly), people believe it, kind of like they believe(d) in the safety and efficacy of alcohol for many a moon – it’s really just a manner of how you use it, and we’re all responsible adults who can make appropriate decisions for ourselves…right?

For the habitual user, much like a lot of heavy drinkers I’ve known over the years (myself included), I suppose it’s also just a matter of learning how to drive, among other things, while stoned, but – and call me crazy here – along with further cultural acceptance and legalization of pot, I see new chapters of MADS (Mothers Against Driving Stoned) springing up all across the country in our future.

Drive safely out there, people.