Tag Archives: alcoholism

Keeper of the Month – April

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.

  You gotta do what you have to do

LifeRing’s major mission is helping addicts learn to practice “The Sobriety Priority“, which means making recovery the most important thing in one’s life. When done, everything one does or doesn’t do thereafter involves considering the impact upon their recovery, and making self-care and life decisions based upon those principles.

Sometimes people in early recovery have a difficult time wrapping their minds around what, exactly, this means or why it’s necessary. This month’s Keeper is a LifeRing “old timer” answering those very questions posed by a newcomer:

 

From my point of view, sobriety is about learning how to live life, in whatever permutation you choose it to take. The thing about it that’s always appealed to me is the very possibility of that, whereas when I was drinking alcohol my choices were extremely limited, usually to more of it, and less of pretty much everything else.

Most active alcoholics, contrary to popular belief, are able to hold down jobs, mortgages, marriages and families, hobbies and almost all other vestiges of daily life precisely because they smack of “normalcy”, and allow the drinker to point out to themselves and everyone else that, since they’re not sitting underneath a bridge somewhere, swilling things out of brown paper sacks (or some other horrific fate worse than death), then they must be OK.

Some are more or less successful at this depending upon to what degree they are willing to work to maintain operating under the illusion that they’re running the show, while shackled in chains.

When you sober up, one thing that happens almost immediately is that you begin to notice the detritus left scattered about from your own personal, slow-motion train wreck, all of which was generally observable the entire time, only you were too drunk to notice or care. Without the blinders of alcohol, it can seem overwhelming.

The part of your brain that’s responsible for the whole thing, conveniently, thinks the solution to seeing the light of day is to put the blinders back on, and carry on with the chief fallacy of every addict’s life–“You can’t deal with all this! It’s not a good time, not a good time at all. You’ve got this (insert adjective of importance here) to do right now, and once that happens, then you can think aboutquitting drinking. How about we wait and pencil it in for next Thursday?”

It seems, to me, that the real key to freedom, to life, is learning how to sort out the truth from the lies–reality versus illusion–and what of either we choose to believe. The reality is, the rest of your life can be a long time, but it won’t happen next Thursday, after the illusion of some other self-imposed condition has been improbably met. It begins when you begin it, and it continues if you sustain and build on what you’ve begun.

Since life is not an instant but begins (and ends) in them, and instants become moments, and moments unfold into days, all you can do is take them as they come; some days are better than others, but through continuous practice – and yes, some monumental effort – and often to your own amazement, you realize you’re able to point your life in the direction you want it to go for the simple reason that you’re finally able to lift your aim that high.

You may not find that out for a while, but there’s plenty of time for it, and anything else you’d like, if you’re willing to give it to yourself.

~~

 

 

 

The Essential Recovery Toolkit

Leonard Nimoy Quote 2

 

Hi Everyone,

Since I’ve been fiddling around while Rome burns (i.e. working very, very, slowly on new blog pieces), I’d like to direct you to a new page placed on our website today that, in my humble opinion, is truly the most remarkable collection of recovery toolkits I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Made up of real tools contributed by LifeRing members, including links to LifeRing-related tools here at lifering.org, it’s the perfect starting place for newcomers, go-to for those in early recovery, and a great refresher for those long-timers who can use one.

Please have a look-see at it here:

LifeRing Recovery Toolkit

Enjoy!

:) Bobbi C.

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.

Yet another “false dichotomy” story

Just a couple of weeks after the New York Times, in a column by a person pushing a book, presents a false dichotomy between Alcoholics Anonymous and science-based moderation as the only alternatives on the table, Slate does the same thing. And, it’s story author is a Slate staffer who doesn’t even have the excuse of publishing a book. You can comment on the page or Tweet Brian Palmer here.

The story’s good otherwise; Palmer knows the history of AA’s semi-official opposition to medical assistance for addiction, counseling and more. But, there’s not a single word in there about secular sobriety organizations. Only by people like us contacting people like Palmer to get the full story out there, can we get the full story out there.

And, whether Palmer’s analysis of AA is close to correct or not is not the primary point of this blog post. (That said, I do think he is broadly correct.)

AA vs moderation — false dilemma rears its head again

NY Times image

And unfortunately, it rears its ugly head in a New York Times op-ed, and even worse, it’s one of those New York Times op-eds written by an author who’s got a new book to plug.

Gabrielle Glaser thinks that she is saving many a woman with some degree of a drinking problem from the moralizing of AA. She gets right that, as well as noting that AA is male-focused, unscientific, and still largely rooted in the days of its founding.

She also gets right this:

Women increasingly need help, as their drinking has escalated. Women are being stopped more for drunken driving than they were two decades ago. They’re also the biggest consumers of wine, buying the larger share of the 856 million gallons sold in the United States in 2012. These women are drinking partly because alcohol is a socially respectable way to slog through the smartphone-tethered universe of managing demanding careers, aging parents, kids’ activities and relationships at once. And while it’s not healthy to pour yourself a third or fourth glass every night, it doesn’t mean you’re powerless to do anything about it.

But, she then says the alternative to this:

(T)he A.A. program offers a single path to recovery: abstinence, surrendering one’s ego and accepting one’s “powerlessness” over alcohol.

Can, and should, (often) be moderated drinking.

I put the “often” in parentheses because she does, at her website, albeit on a hyperlink whose linkage is broken, or was for me, abstinence-only alternatives to AA. Besides us, and the others, I was simply flabbergasted that, because her column was about drinking problems particular to women, she wouldn’t even mention Women for Sobriety in the column.

She then goes on to specifically tout Moderation Management, without noting, besides just founder Audrey Kishline, its own problematic history, lack of verifiable information, etc. This is a sad case of wanting to have one’s cake and eat it, too.

Next is this:

This approach isn’t for severely dependent drinkers, for whom abstinence might be best.

“Might”? Try “is.” Period.

Unfortunately, she got curt with me when I pointed out some of the above issues in an email. I have made multiple comments on the Times op-ed, my original ones being about the book itself, then responding to a couple of diehard AAers trotting out the classical “no true Scotsman” stance in saying Glaser wasn’t critiquing true AA, etc.

Her book is getting a number of unfavorable ratings on Amazon from people who are NOT diehard AAers, for a variety of reasons, so a few people are looking at the devils in the details.