Coming soon the 2018 LifeRing Annual Meeting, click here for more information

Tag Archives: drugs

Coming Into the Home Stretch: A Holiday Primer

You Can Survive Christmas too (2)

 

Well friends, one week it’s Thanksgiving, the next week it’s Christmas, and suddenly another year has gone by, you know? And as joyful and as much fun as coming down the home stretch can be, even if you don’t celebrate it it can also be a painful, stressful bee-yatch, so take heart – LifeRing won’t abandon you now, either!

Here, then, is a reminder of all the ways we’ll be here for you throughout the remainder of the holiday season:

Our chat room will be open at all hours, and with ginormous thanks to him, meeting convenor Tim S. will be hosting the online Dual Recovery meeting on both Thursday the 24th (Christmas Eve) and the following Thursday the 31st (New Year’s Eve) at  (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 you feel less alone or anxious.

Finally, sometimes you just need a few words of humor and wisdom to see you through, so here’s a list of 10 Funny and Heartwarming Quotes to Help You Survive the Holidays.

In the meantime, we wish you safe, healthy, peaceful and warm holidays, and whatever you do, DD/UNMW and you’ll be alright. 🙂

~~

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!

~~

 

 

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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Links For a Week!

Hi friends. I’ll be heading off to Colorado to try my hand, for the fourth time, at skiing (yipes) and thus will not be around to post anything for a while, so! I thought I would leave you with a weeks’ worth of delightful links to chew on.

And a-waaaaa-ay we go!

 

*Do you live in Northern Ireland? Are you looking for support there, including in a face-to-face meeting? Look no further – LifeRing Northern Ireland is there! For more information, please visit their website and/or Facebook pages:

www.liferingni.com/

www.facebook.com/LiferingNi

*This article’s been all over the web for a coupla weeks now (link to follow), but I still feel compelled to offer my two cents on it. Therefore, please enjoy the following mini rant from me:
  • I find this article overly simplistic in it’s “discovery” of the “real reason” for addiction, A). because yes, while finding a better “room” in which to spend one’s time helps immensely, 2). Some scientist isn’t in charge of controlling your drug habit or changing your environment – you are. And, let’s face it – I’m sure rats have some choices to make in their lives, but given the choice between rooms, how many of them would or do voluntarily go to another one to begin with?
  • I also find it interesting that so many posting in the comments boiled the article down to being the reason why AA is the perfect example of finding a better room, whereas I see ANY recovery group being able to provide the same supportive experience. LifeRing certainly did for me.

Anyhoo, any thoughts on this one?

www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addiction

*Today marks the one year anniversary of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death from a drug overdose. The  performances he would’ve given will be missed for years to come, but here’s an excellent, spot on synopsis of each of the roles he played throughout his career:

thedissolve.com/features/career-view/890-the-epic-uncool-of-philip-seymour-hoffman/

*Mini-rant, part deux:

An in depth, well-researched and well-written article about the state of heroin addiction treatment in America. In many ways, this article reiterates what I’ve believed for a long time about addiction, which is that if it is a disease (and of course for many that’s entirely debatable), then why is it not being treated medically, as all other diseases are? For example, can you imagine treating mental illness, diabetes, or even cancer with, in large part, a spiritual solution? I know I can’t, and I also know that works well for some, but not for all. I think this article accurately demonstrates why:

projects.huffingtonpost.com/dying-to-be-free-heroin-treatment

*With that, the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has changed its definition of recovery, and SAMHSA (the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration) has redefined recovery, as well – all of which bodes well for secular and other recovery treatment resources:

www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/the-addiction-therapists-guide-to-change-in-the-21st-century/

*Finally, eine kleine recovery humor – I would highly recommend the South Park clip at the top of the first page:

recoveryhumor.com/

Have a good one! 🙂

~~

 

Philip Seymour Hoffman: A caution, about triggers

Philip Seymour Hoffman, via Slate

Science writer Seth Mnookin has a very good piece about Hoffman’s death.

First, there’s the scary part. Now, in recovery, we want to grow to the point where fear isn’t our primary motivator, but, we should still have a healthy fear for addiction. That’s why this scary part is of the “healthy fear” type:

I cried when I heard about Philip Seymour Hoffman. The news scared me: He got sober when he was 22 and didn’t drink or use drugs for the next 23 years. During that time, he won an Academy Award, was nominated for three more, and was widely cited as the most talented actor of his generation. He also became a father to three children. Then, one day in 2012, he began popping prescription pain pills. And now he’s dead.

Why he started back, we don’t yet know, and maybe never will. But, he did.

And, contra some recent columns that tout how much “moderation” may be able to help people, it usually doesn’t. Hoffman’s addiction progressed until he died with a heroin needle in his arm, and heroin dangerously “cut” with the narcotic fentanyl. (Updated, Feb. 13 — Although fentanyl from new “cuts” of heroin was under suspicion at the time this was written, none was found in Hoffman’s case.)

Mnookin goes on, to reveal his own background:

My first attempt at recovery came in 1991, when I was 19 years old. Almost exactly two years later, I decided to have a drink. Two years after that, I was addicted to heroin. There’s a lot we don’t know about alcoholism and drug addiction, but one thing is clear: Regardless of how much time clean you have, relapsing is always as easy as moving your hand to your mouth.

He got and stayed sober after that, but later got “reminders” himself. What we might call “triggers”:

Being back in Boston was a visceral reminder that there’s an important part of my past that isn’t on the bio page of my website: From 1995 to 1997, the last time I’d lived in the area, I’d been an IV drug addict. Living here again made me acknowledge that past every day: The drive to my son’s preschool took me within blocks of the apartment that I’d lived in during those years; my route from his school to my office went past the free acupuncture clinic where I’d sought relief from withdrawal pangs. One afternoon, I looked up and realized I was in front of the emergency room I’d been taken to after overdosing on a batch of dope laced with PCP. I did a double take and looked to my wife, but, of course, that wasn’t a memory we shared. We met in 2004, when I’d been sober for more than six years.

One truism of addiction science is that long-term abuse rewires your brain and changes its chemistry, which is why triggers (or “associated stimuli,” in scientific parlance) are major risk factors for relapse. But these changes can be reversed over time. Walking past the apartment where my dealer used to live didn’t make me want to score; it made me feel as if I was in a phantasmagoria of two crosshatched worlds—but I was the only person who could see both realities.

Give the whole thing a read. It’s worth it.

And, although Lifering has no formal “program” of recovery, talk like Mnookin’s is why many in Lifering talk about the issue of “triggers.”