Tag Archives: Sobriety

Overcoming an old taboo — let’s talk about suicide

Many recovering alcoholics or addicts may have a suicide attempt in their pasts, either while clean and sober or else while under the influence. In years past, it was considered taboo to have survivors talk about their attempts, for fear this might be a trigger. In fact, aside from talking, survivors often were shunned.

Now, the nation’s leading organization of counselors, the American Academy of Suicidology, thinks it’s time to change all of this. Other organizations are thinking the same, it seems:

“We as a field need to hear these stories,” said John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “and not just to study them but to ask how they found a way to cope and connect: What did family and friends and doctors do that helped, and what did not?”

Lifering is a volunteer-based organization, above all in its convenors of its meetings. We are not professional counselors. However, if you are in recovery, and have a suicide attempt as part of your past, we encourage you to work with a counselor who is aware of the latest professional discussion on counseling in this area. And, as always, we encourage you to do whatever works best for  you to maintain and strengthen your sobriety.

The psychology of quitting, and quitting drinking

Getting sober means quitting, quitting drinking. In the “can-do” and “rugged individualism” that seems part and parcel of American society, the idea of “quitting” often has other attendant psychological issues. Like, if you quit something, that means you were a failure. You didn’t do something successfully.

And, that can be seen as applying to the need for sobriety, too. A person “failed” at being a successful drinker. We even have semi-jokey stereotyped statements about people “not being able to handle their liquor” and similar.

The book, “Mastering the Art of Quitting” has nothing specific to sobriety. But, as a self-help book that isn’t overly laden with blind-rosy optimism, and that talks about goal strategies and similar ideas, a person embarking on the journey of sobriety can surely mine nuggets from this issue, not only about sobriety itself, but, for many people, earlier life issues that may have contributed to eventual addictive alcohol drinking or drug use.

The good points of this book are that it says we shouldn’t be afraid to quit something. Nor should we see shame or a sense of failure in doing so.

Personality factors that affect this, strategies for planning quitting, etc., all get discussed.

On Counting Sober Time

countingA member of the LifeRing board of directors writes about the issue of ‘counting the days’ since one’s last use of alcohol or other drug:

It was helpful for me to tally the years from birth to about 35 and include them in my sober time, an idea I kind of gleaned (perhaps taking some liberties with the intended concept) when I read Empowering Your Sober Self shortly after finishing an intensive outpatient program a couple of years ago, at age 55.  In hindsight, I would say it was helpful not so much in terms of thinking of those 35 years as “sober time” but as “what was I doing, and enjoying doing” during that time. 

I went to a knitting workshop by Canadian knitter Sally Melville some years ago, shortly after I moved to Salt Lake City. I was feeling very alone, and cuddling up every night with Mr. Smirnoff at the time.  In the workshop, Melville talked about her life’s work and her realization that she was doing what she loved doing when she was a girl/young woman: designing, drawing, creating, and, she noted, “playing teacher.” While that idea struck me at the time, it wasn’t until I was thinking about “what I was doing, and enjoying doing” between say, age 10 and 35 that I started to get a better picture of which threads of my life I wanted to pick up and start weaving together again in my recovery life. 

It was that concept, more than accumulating sober time, that helped propel me through the first months of recovery, and still, quite frankly, keeps me going today.  When I lose track of “ideas and creative works I want to produce and weave together in new and meaningful ways,” I end up in the weeds. Not, these days, with Mr. Smirnoff, but with the shell of the woman he left behind. She’s not nearly as much fun to be with (for me, or anyone around me) as the woman-with-dreams-and-ideas that require abstinence to accomplish, but aren’t the product of having such-and-such number of days, months, or years of sobriety. 

– Mahala Kephart

Drunk Drivers Not the Only Danger on the Nation’s Highways

We all know about the dangers of drunk driving, and about the draconian penalties imposed on drivers who test above a certain level for the presence of alcohol in their blood. The level considered “impaired” has dropped considerably over the years and may drop again to a level that catches even relatively small amounts of alcohol. No right-thinking person argues against the need for strict rules.

But it’s interesting to note how slow to respond our society is to other forms of impairment, often just as dangerous. It has become common for the use of cell phones while driving to carry a relatively small penalty, although so-called “hands free” devices are acceptable despite proving to be almost as distracting.

A recent article in the New York Times — see it HERE — discusses the possible effects from the wide-spread use of sleeping pills such as Ambien on one’s ability to drive safely. In some, the lingering effect of the sleeping pill taken the night before are as pronounced as moderate alcohol consumption.

Interestingly, while searching for an image to illustrate this article, I googled “driving impaired,” which seemed like a blanket term. Hundreds of images were found, virtually all of them dealing only with alcohol impairment. Society seems to be in, well, denial about the dangers of other sorts of impairment.

— Craig Whalley