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Hope Springs Eternal In Connecticut

Hey, everyone!

Just thought you should know that we’ve become an important part of what I’ll call “Springtime for Conferences”, the time of year when flowers bloom and people get together to talk about the important stuff of life – stuff like…recovery.

That’s right – in addition to our own little shindig coming up next weekend (more on that in another post a little later), I’m rather pleased and inspired to tell you all about LifeRing’s attendance and presentation at the Multiple Pathways of Recovery Conference, held by the CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery), a leading recovery advocacy and support services community organization, at the Mystic Marriot Hotel earlier this month on May 2nd – 4th  in Groton, Connecticut.

The reason for my feelings of inspiration is that, as the conference’s name implies, its purpose is to broaden the recovery umbrella under which all manner of recovery pathway everywhere are included, accepted, and respected by one another, healthcare and treatment providers and practitioners, and the public in general – something I’ve been personally longing to see since my recovery in LifeRing began. Thus, imho, the vital importance of LifeRing’s inclusion under that umbrella cannot be overstated.

Anyhoo, our involvement started with Cindy, LifeRing’s Northeast Regional Representative and meetings organizer at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, CT, who got the information about the conference and in touch with Chiara, CCAR conference organizer, and we went from there.

Cindy, Chiara, and Njon

Cindy, Chiara, and Njon Weinroth

The conference introduced the concept of “one size does not, in fact, fit all”, which included groups from the faith-based Celebrate Recovery! to 12 Steps to secular groups like ours, SMART Recovery, and WFS (Women for Sobriety), and to yoga and fitness programs, by featuring speakers, workshops, and presentations throughout, including LifeRing’s presentation given by our own Njon Weinroth!

CCAR Njon

Njon demonstrates LifeRing’s principle of growing one’s “Sober self” (the “S”) to take over where the “Addicted self” (the “A”) had previously been running the show.

Byron Kerr, LifeRing’s Board of Directors Chair, and longtime LifeRinger Ewa C. also attended, gathered valuable information from the conference, and along with Cindy and Njon made significant contacts with other attendees.

Ewa, Cindy, Njon, and Byron

                    Ewa, Cindy, Njon, and Byron

 

Ewa shared her notes on the genesis of the concept of multiple pathways:

“The conference opened with a video of William L. White, author of “Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America”, and who has worked in the addiction fields since 1969 in a variety of roles.

Bill White set the stage for further discussion of multiple pathways of recovery. He described recovery as being a fundamental transformation of a person–substance relationship. He pointed out how important it is to look at the language we use to talk about addiction and recovery, e.g. the need to change talk about pathways ‘to’ recovery to pathways ‘of’ recovery, saying this shifts the focus from the ‘addiction story’ to the ‘recovery story’.

I liked what he said about the need for ‘clinical humility’ in the treatment of addiction: the need to keep our ideas and ideology on probation.

Finally, he talked about how single pathway treatment has dominated the addiction field for way too many years and that the concept of multiple pathways into and out of addiction is very provocative and that is it time to move from a so-called ‘program’ to an ever-expanding menu of choices.”

Yay!

Our group was particularly impressed with Tom Hill, Senior Adviser on Addiction Recovery from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) who also served for 3 years as Director of Programs at Faces and Voices of Recovery and gave a very inspiring talk.  He spoke about the need for fluency across treatment options within the recovery and treatment community and how impressed he was with the passion in the room.  He mentioned LifeRing two or three times – using specific language from Njon’s presentation.

“It was enormously encouraging to hear Tom Hill state that the recovery community must respect ‘all pathways’ of recovery. He mentioned all of the pathways on an equal basis,” said Byron.

Tom Hill, SAMHSA

                                 Tom Hill, SAMHSA

 

Byron also met one of the founders of In The Rooms – a virtual recovery resource with 29 different recovery communities that offer video meetings of all ilk.  SMART and WFS are members, and it seems to be a place LifeRing should be available as well.  Note the LifeRing books on the table!:

Byron and an In the Rooms co-founder

        Byron (L) and an In the Rooms co-founder

So, as you can see, it seems altogether we made an impact there! And one that will help us continue widening the crack in the opening behind the curtain of recovery that has been closed to us, and to the addicts who need us, for far too long.

Look out, recovery – here we come!

Thanks so much to everyone who attended the conference, and shared their pictures and experiences of it with us!

 

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Making Plans: A Thanksgiving Survival Kit

I'm Not A Turkey

 

If next Thursday will be your 1st Thanksgiving Day clean and sober or your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 20th, then you might be looking forward to it with anticipation, dread – and possibly both, with a dose of anxiety added in for good measure. While we hope it will be a most pleasant holiday for you, it still comes laden with multiple stresses and people determined to mix alcohol along with their bird, so it’s good to have a plan in place to keep your Sobriety Priority above all else (and pass the gravy, please).

First, a friendly reminder to our face-to-face meeting attendees whose groups may normally get together on Thursdays, please check in with your meeting convenor to find out if the meeting will still take place on Thanksgiving Day – and convenors, please do your best to let your fellow group members know if yours won’t.

But never fear – LifeRing’s still here!

Our chat room will be open at all hours, and with huge thanks to him, meeting convenor Tim S. will be hosting the online Dual Recovery meeting on Thursday evening (6 PM Pacific, 9 PM Eastern).

We have several other online support venues available 24/7/365, so if you’re not already a member of any of them, please feel free to check our e-mail groups here, our Ning Social Network Forum here, and our web forum here. Even if you don’t feel like actively participating, sometimes just reading through posts new and old helps enormously.

Finally, here’s a great blog post that lists 15 excellent ways you can survive Thanksgiving and move on unscathed!

Whatever you do, DD/UNMW (Don’t Drink or Use No Matter What), remember you’re not alone, and take good care – you can do it!

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Keeper of the Month – September

Stay Calm

 

One of the most magical things that happens in LifeRing’s e-mail groups is that someone new(er) to the group who may be struggling or have multiple relapses under their belt might post something about how difficult it’s been for them, but how it’s so seemingly easy for others…

And then the group does what it does best, and post after post from other members who’ve been through much the same things roll in, and the original poster realizes they’re really, truly not alone, and that despite everything they’ve been through, there really, truly is hope for them, too.

This month’s Keeper is one such response from long-time group member Richard:

[Replying after another member told their story] “…my story is such that I can’t tell it even in the space you used. So here is the very truncated version for you and anybody else who might benefit.

 I’m one of those folks who drank to excess from the time I started. I was surrounded in my youth with lots of other big drinkers and drug-takers, and I managed to function (i.e.,get up and go to work, or school) most of the time, despite being out of control with uppers, pot, acid, always accompanied by lots and lots of booze.
 
When I turned 30, I had my first kid, and then a couple of years later had another one on the way. Until then, the big deal was the few times I had stopped for a week or two, just to prove I could do it. But I knew I needed help, and finally sought it, entering a rehab in the summer of ’84. I had to go back again in the spring of ’85, and this time it stuck for a decade.
 
I was directed to AA and found a home there, of sorts. My life improved significantly, although of course I still had a lot of  ‘issues.’ I remain grateful to this day that I was sober throughout much of my kid’s youth, despite having split with their mom after a few years.
 
Finally, nearly ten years after stopping, I decided (while on a business trip in the midst of a painful break-up), that going on a little bender ‘just this once,’ would be okay. After all, I had been in therapy most of the ten years I’d been sober, and told myself I had ‘grown’ so much that I’d have no problem resuming long-term sobriety. I lasted a couple of months, and then the drinking times started getting closer and closer.
 
So, I stumbled inadvertently into LifeRing 15 years ago, and started putting together some longish periods of sobriety, but I never seemed to hold onto it. Finally, in February of 2010, I began what is now by far my second longest period of sobriety, which is continuing.
 
I should stress that not everybody struggles, and I do have to say that I have no doubt that my extended periods of sobriety probably saved my life. I figure I’ve been sober over 20 of the last 31 years, just counting periods of longer than one year, plus I know I have around half a dozen six month stretches. Nonetheless, there is no substitute for continuous sobriety, at least not for me. Things don’t always get wonderful right off the bat, but you give yourself a darn good chance to get the most out of life. We all have learned that the other way is just fighting a losing battle against misery.”
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When Dehydrated Beans and Mystery Meat Just Won’t Do…

isn’t it good to know Taco Bell’s gonna start serving booze*?!

Ay, chihuahua**.

*Do not view (or go to Taco Bell in the near future) if pictures of alcohol trigger you.

**View if you like adorable pictures of sad chihuahuas.

Keeper of the Summer (July and August 2015)

What can I say, dear blog friends? It’s been a great Spring and Summer for me but in the interim the blog’s been far too neglected, and it’s time to fire her back up.

So, we shall  begin again with this simple, apt, and true to its word quote contributed by our own Dennis M. – who also contributed our last Keeper in June (thanks again, Dennis!):

 

Don't Nurture the Urge

 

To which I can only add, whatever it may be, whenever you know it’s unhealthy for you!

Hope you’ve all had a good one, and see you again soon! 🙂 Bobbi C.

 

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