Tag Archives: Addiction

Late Night, with Jimmy Falling

 

Drunk in a Forest

 

Every once in a while I’ll see or hear something about someone’s drinking that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, a phenomenon interesting to me because while it could easily be mere physiological speculation on my part (i.e. neck hair stimulation it isn’t scientifically quantifiable, and therefore doesn’t mean jack squat), there’s also a deep level of knowing which hovers beyond my control somewhere around the pit of my stomach (i.e. my gut) that I can’t ignore.

Whatever you might think about that, please try to believe me when I tell you that I don’t suffer from some twisted sense of schadenfreude where I hope people are alcoholics or addicts because I’m a little Sober Sally who thinks she knows everything, including what is best and right for everyone else, and enjoys lording her superior self over all she surveys  – I don’t. I wouldn’t wish addiction on my worst enemy – and I really, really disdain some people, OK? – much less on someone I either don’t know or do know and actually like.

Every once in a while, though, as an observer with personal recall of certain experiences, I can sometimes discern the handwriting on someone else’s wall, and shiver at what I find there.

Such has been the case with Jimmy Fallon, the newest, most popular host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show”, a fellow I’ve adored since his days on “Saturday Night Live” (you can see some of his “Best of” sketches here if you can hack the stinkin’ T Mobile ads. My apologies). Not only is he warm, accessible, incredibly versatile, and genuinely hysterical, not to mention cute as a button, to me he’s the best reflection of everything I loved about growing up in the 80’s, from the comic sensibilities and musical influences to the explosion of popular culture we were exposed to through such mass mediums as Mtv, from then on through to the internet in the 90’s and beyond.

But as links in this recent EW article attest, he seems to have become somewhat…accident prone in recent months. Accidents that have had explanations attached to them that seem a little, well, I don’t know… kinda sorta like explanations abuse victims give when someone inquires about the visible bruises, cuts, bandages, scratches and/or other injuries on their bodies. “Oh, can you believe it? I tripped over our cat and fell down the stairs” scenarios are certainly plausible enough to buy once or twice, but after a while, when there are no stairs anywhere in this person’s general vicinity and they don’t have a cat,  these tales more practically serve as A). reminders of further need for the victim to cover their injuries up much more carefully in the future and 2). cues to the inquirers to shut up and mind their own damned business. 

This is especially true when it applies to people who don’t fit our ideas or expectations of what someone with a “real” problem looks or acts like. Someone too smart, talented, and  successful, who looks too well and is too much of a family/people person with way too many friends in high places and far too powerful to have these sorts of…issues.

No, those people with the black eyes are easy to spot a mile away, and isn’t it too bad for them? Such a shame they can’t pull themselves together… These people are too likable and way too great for their peers and superiors not to back them 100%, even if the things they say seem a tad misconstrued. And hey, Jimmy hasn’t hidden anything about his little gravitational scrapes. If anything, he’s been most upfront about them and shared them for all the world to see. 

So, he tripped over a rug and nearly severed a finger. So, what? You’ve never tripped over anything and ended up in the hospital before?

So, he tripped again at a Harvard Lampoon event and injured his other hand. What do you expect – it’s the fucking Harvard Lampoon!

So – to recap, in a slightly redundant way – he nearly cuts off a finger on one hand, injures the other hand, and then he chips a tooth while trying to open a bottle of pain medication, but you think the guy’s got a drinking problem?! Get outta here…

Even though a large percentage of the internet fancies itself way too perceptive for its own good (and no one else’s), apparently I wasn’t the only one having a Maalox moment over all of this, so NBC executive Bill Greenblatt felt he had to go out of his way to assure everyone that Jimmy doesn’t have a problem, OK? He just likes to party a little, that’s all. He’s fine. (Except saying someone’s “fine” is usually the best indicator of their un-fineness.)

Most interesting to me, and the point of this random rumination, is the fact that the same scenario plays out day after day, year after year because believing somebody who appears to be worthy of all the reasons we like/love/respect/admire them is an alcoholic is just way, way too awful a thing to contemplate. If it was true, not only would it mean they and their lives are screwed up in a way we’ll never understand forever, it would force us to have to think differently of them in a way that simply wouldn’t be right. It would be almost like trying to convince yourself they’re a murderer or something equally horrifying –  I mean, you have to be a really, really bad, fucked up, amoral idiot of a person not to be able to handle your shit, or to continue drinking if you can’t handle it. We know this. So how in the hell could you allow yourself believe that about someone like Jimmy? (Or your Mom, Dad, spouse, sibling, kid, friend, beloved co-worker/employee/employer/superstar. Yourself?) No one with a heart or a brain would do that to somebody, would besmirch them in such an egregious way. 

Would they?

So, is Jimmy one of us? I have no idea – before now I didn’t even know he drank much. But even if he isn’t, and truly, I hope not, I’m still left with a simple question: If someone doesn’t have a problem, then beyond all the obvious reasons (he’s NBC’s better-than-Jay Leno, 21st-Century-Johnny Carson, late night gravy train they’ll want to be riding ’til doomsday – oh, and Johnny drank and smoked, y’all!), um…why go to the trouble of publicly announcing it?

Oh, and what’s up with this “Dry January” crap?

~~

 

New LifeRing Meeting in Walla Walla, WA!

Your future is created today

LifeRing is pleased to announce there is a new meeting in Walla Walla, Washington, beginning on January 6, 2016. This has been in the works for a while thanks to the meeting’s convenor, and just goes to show that desire + persistent diligence = getting good stuff done! Check out the information below:

When: Wednesdays at 7:00 PM

Where: First Congregational Church, Fireplace Room 3rd Floor, 73 S Palouse Street, Walla Walla, WA 99362

Convenor: Tim K.

Contact Information: liferingww@gmail.com

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

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Hitting the Toggle Switch: Tools for Triggers

Eckhart Tolle Quote

 

Friends of the Blog, I cannot stress to you enough the vital, powerful, and user-friendly importance of the following exercises, shared with us and created by our San Francisco Convenors. Please have a good look see at it, put yourself in place of where it says “I”, and by all means, tell us what you’ve found out here in the comments, as will I!

:) Bobbi C.

For Every Trigger There is a Toggle

Most of us have experienced a Trigger—something that generates an immediate and overwhelming desire to have a drink or take a drug. Usually it’s some kind of sensory experience, like the smell of limes, or hearing a sad song, or talking with a specific person. Sometimes it’s a place. These Triggers are echoes of the past—your Addict Self trying to get back some control.

How can I get around such a powerful force? It begins with my Sober Self being fully aware of my personal Triggers. If I know them, I can anticipate and prepare my response. If I can’t avoid them, I can plan for them. That’s where Toggles come in—they can be a counterbalancing force to the Trigger.

Begin with Self Knowledge: Know My Triggers

  • What is the trigger? A smell, a sound, a person, a place?
  • What feelings does it create?
  • How long will it last?

For example, a trigger might be smelling lime juice because I used to drink vodka-limes. The smell causes a deep, immediate desire to drink, and lasts for a short anticipated time.

Create My Toggles

  • Imagine a sober opposite that will temporarily disable the Trigger.
  • Imagine a sober feeling and attach it to the Toggle.
  • Practice the Toggle until the Trigger disappears.

In our example, I might imagine a lime tree that reminds me of my garden, and think about the peace and happiness I feel while enjoying the garden until the craving passes (and I know it will pass eventually—a powerful understanding by itself).

Anticipate and Practice

  • What Triggers could be coming up this week?
  • Imagine them happening and practice the Toggles
  • Create a list of Triggers and their opposing Toggles
  • Notice the transition as Triggers become Toggles

With practice and repetition, my Toggles will override and become a natural and healthy, habitual, unconscious reaction to the Triggers, something I am fully aware of and don’t even have to think about.

Tell us about your experience

Do you have Toggles that work for you (maybe by a different name)? If so, please share!

— Prepared by San Francisco Conveners

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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.”
~~

 

 

 

On LifeRing’s 2015 Annual Meeting: Hope for the Future

So, here’s the deal. Even though I’ve been involved with LifeRing since the very beginning of my sobriety in the Fall of 2007, this is the first year I’ve attended its Annual Meeting and Congress. Not because I haven’t wanted to go of course, but because, well, hanging out in enclosed spaces with a bunch of people I don’t know has never been my forté.

So why go this year, then, as opposed to, say, never?

Some of it has to do with becoming LifeRing’s “blog mistress”, some of it this year’s venue in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah – not only does LifeRing have a fantastic presence there, but I also have family I hadn’t seen in far too long there – and some of it the need for an extended road trip with my hubby and fellow sobrietist Rich from our home in California through some of the Southwest’s gorgeous canyonlands on our way to and from SLC.

But I digress. This is my take and report on the conference, and here’s the real deal, Holyfield:

Recovery in America is changing, my friends, and all for the better as far as I’m concerned.

Friday afternoon consisted of checking out the Meeting venue and greeting some of our fellow attendees. Mahala Kephart, LifeRing Board Member and one of the main reasons we have the presence in Salt Lake that we do, was this year’s event planner and coordinator extraordinaire, and from the moment she greeted us as we walked in the door of the Marriott Library on the University of Utah’s lovely campus, I knew it was going to be a great weekend.

LifeRing Annual Meeting M Nicolaus 2

The LifeRing Annual Meeting was held at the Gould Auditorium in the Marriott Library on the campus of the University Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo courtesy of Dan Carrigan

The bulk of the meeting was held in the Gould Auditorium inside the Library, an open, airy, well-lit and yet still intimate-feeling space. The Friday afternoon Meet and Greet was a casual, low-key affair that actually made it a pleasure to meet some of our fellow attendees, many of whom like us had also traveled from afar, such as LifeRing Colorado‘s delightful Kathleen Gargan.

Joseph Mott, M.D., in the center, talks with fellow LifeRingers Kathleen Gargan, on the right, and Mahala Kephart, on the left.

Joseph Mott, M.D., in the center, talks with fellow LifeRingers Kathleen Gargan, on the right, and Mahala Kephart, on the left. Photo courtesy of Tim Reith

On Saturday morning we arrived in time to hear Kevin McCauley, M.D. from The Institute for Addiction Study speak about his personal experience as an addict as well as his professional experience in becoming a part of the addiction treatment solution. It was heartening to hear a physician say that more needs to be and can be done to give addicts the best chances possible to get and stay clean, whether it be through using medication like naltrexone to quell drug receptors in the brain or by giving patients a choice in which recovery group to attend, such as…LifeRing!

To say Dr. McCauley’s talk was refreshing would be an understatement, particularly when what I’m used to hearing from pretty much every practitioner involved in the medical community is something akin to what Dr. Drew Pinsky – accepted as the medical “expert” in the field of addiction medicine – has to say about the necessity of the 12 Steps in recovery, without which “…recovery is not possible.”

Next was a fascinating and informative talk given by Peter Gaumond, SAMHSA Recovery Branch Chief, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, about building and giving voice to an inclusive and engaged recovery community, including those involved in the “alternative” recovery movement such as LifeRing. He spoke about the significant changes needed to our current drug control policies, such as offering addicts treatment as opposed to mandating prison sentences.

Gaumond also spoke about newly acquired information, such as studies which showed the need for using different language when talking about addicts and addiction. A study they’ve recently done showed that when people are described as having a “substance use disorder” as opposed to being described as “substance abusers” or “drug addicts”, the public’s perception of them – and how they should be treated – was significantly altered. People with a disorder are deserving of and should be given various and sundry treatment. Substance abusers, however, should be thrown in the slammer for as long as it takes to get it through their thick skulls that they should just…say…no.

Très intéressant, no? He also touched on the fact that the U.S.’s new Drug Czar, Michael Botticelli, is himself a person in recovery as opposed to, say, your garden-variety governmental policy wonk.

The final speaker of the morning was our own Martin Nicolaus, J.D., co-founder of LifeRing and author of its principal texts “Empowering Your Sober Self” and the subject of his talk, the “Recovery By Choice” workbook. His demonstration of the dichotomy between the “Addicted self” versus the “Sober self”, and the role the workbook can play in helping one empower their Sober self was enlightening, entertaining, and informative. The talk was a privilege to listen to from the man himself!

LifeRing Annual Meeting M Nicolaus

Martin Nicolaus at the podium speaking about how to empower your sober self by using the “Recovery by Choice” workbook. Photo courtesy of Dan Carrigan.

After a delicious lunch buffet, people not used to early mornings capped off by warm, full bellies such as my husband and I (a coupla night owls who typically arise somewhere around mid-morning and most usually consider a fruit smoothie a complete lunch) felt compelled to skip the early afternoon sessions to go back to our hotel close to University and take a nap.

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