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Tag Archives: Sobriety

Guest Blog: Musings – What If Addiction Was Actually Treated Like a Health Problem?

Snap Out of It

Dear Blog Friends,

Craig W. has kindly given me permission to re-post the following musings he shared with LSRSafe, one of LifeRing’s  e-mail support groups which he wonderfully moderates, that so clearly describe what it might – what it should – look like if the medical community were to treat addiction as they would any other health problem.

Thank you, Craig!

🙂 Bobbi

Imagine, if you will, a time in the not-too-distant future …

You’ve decided to face the fact that you’ve developed a drinking/using problem. Your urges have become cravings and your ability to resist those cravings has steadily lessened. Your use is beginning to affect nearly every aspect of your life. You know it’s a problem that has to be dealt with. So you go to your doctor and discuss it with her.

 

The doctor has you fill out a questionnaire asking about quantities, frequencies, sleep, diet, etc. She gives you a prescription for blood tests and maybe a liver-function test. She hands you some informational pamphlets and schedules you for a follow-up as soon as the test results are available. At no point does she treat you as anything but a person with a distressing but manageable medical problem. It’s very much the same as a consultation with a primary care physician about, say, depression. Perhaps she suggests a supplement — vitamins, say — but otherwise you’re on your own until the follow-up.

 
You leave that appointment relieved to have spilled your secret but perhaps disappointed that no treatment was offered. Still, you know you’ve started down a path that might offer hope.
 
The follow-up appointment comes a week or two later. Your tests show nothing drastically wrong physically — maybe some early warning signs from the liver test and a couple of blood readings slightly outside the normal range. But nothing major. She asks if you’re still drinking/using and when you say, sheepishly, “Yes”, she gives you a referral to an addiction specialist. As you leave, she tries to reassure you that your decision to come in was the right one and that the condition is highly treatable. “You’re going to be fine,” she says. You have trouble believing that, but you do feel a bit of hope.
 
Two weeks later, you visit the specialist. Again there’s a questionnaire to complete, this one more detailed, covering any family history, asking about certain medical conditions that may seem unrelated and going into considerable detail about your emotional situation and your current life difficulties. You go through the usual pre-appointment routine and then the specialist comes in. You have a fleeting regret that you ever started this process.
 
But the doctor has a very good bedside manner and quickly puts you at ease. You notice immediately that there is no judgment and no condescension in his voice. He runs through some of the information from the questionnaire, mentions that he has looked at your earlier test results and says, “This is what I suggest we do …”
 

He mentions a drug useful for controlling cravings, and another one to reduce anxiety; he hands you a book to read, and he suggests participation in a support group and offers some pamphlets about various such groups, including both face-to-face and online meetings. “Many people,” he says, “benefit greatly from support groups. It’s up to you which group best meets your needs. You don’t have to use any group at all, although if you have difficulty quitting on your own, I’ll be reminding you that they can be a big help.”

He goes on to say, “I want you to meet with one of our counselors once a week for at least a month and then less often if you’re doing well. And you’ll see me regularly as well. You do need to understand that your condition is very likely permanent and that you will need to abstain completely from any recreational use of drugs or alcohol. If you were diagnosed with diabetes, you would have to give up, for the most part, making high-carbohydrate diet choices; with Celiac Disease, you’d have to give up any food or products that contain gluten; if you had a serious allergy to something, you’d have to avoid it permanently.

You do have what is in effect an allergy and you have to abstain from recreational use of mind-altering substances permanently. This may be socially inconvenient, but you’ll find that, as time passes, you’ll adapt without undue difficulty. Quitting your use will be hard at first, but will get easier soon. I’ll help you and, if you need more help, you’ll get it from a support group. We have other prescribed drugs that may help, as well.”

 

The doctor writes a prescription and hands it to you, adding”Millions of people share your condition; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. These drugs will help, but they can’t solve the problem by themselves. We can give a diabetic a drug to help them, but if they don’t change their habits it won’t work. Change is hard, but not at all impossible. Get the prescription filled today and take the first pill tomorrow. And then don’t drink or use! Take the anti-anxiety medication mid-day. The book will give you some ideas for how to change what has become a habit. Here is the phone number of a help-line — don’t hesitate to use it. I’ll see you in a week.”

Why isn’t something like this the practice in dealing with addiction? Isn’t the above procedure what happens with other chronic diseases that spring up during our lives? Take Type 2 Diabetes, for example, which can be caused or made much worse by, among other things, behavioral choices made by the sufferer. You go to the doctor and you’re offered a treatment protocol which will require serious behavior modifications on your part, and then you manage it together.

With addiction, the common protocol now is to be shoved into treatment programs, in-patient or intensive out-patient, that cost a fortune and/or cause enormous upheaval to work and family life in return for very poor results. Or they are pushed towards support groups which refuse to allow efficacy studies that might demonstrate their success rate or that simply don’t work for them.

Treating addiction in a medically sound way — why is that even a question???!!!

~~

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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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. 🙂

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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!

~~

 

 

Countdown to the Holidays in 3, 2, 1…

Happy Halloween

 

Well, here comes the holidays, starting with one of my favorites. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved Halloween, and not just because of the free candy but because you get to be someone else for whole day if you want to – and I always wanted to.

So does our Addicted Self – it gets to use all the holiday rituals, parties, get togethers and every other opportunity to get our favorite substance(s) of choice into the mix as excuses in which to do so. For people like us, that’s about as scary as it gets, and it doesn’t stop here.

The holidays are also perfect times to either give up on being clean or sober (because it’s hard) or on even trying to get clean and sober, because it’s even harder now than any other time of the year! Plus, we’d get to drink and use for another few months, and there’s always an advantage to that…right? Besides, we can finally get it together after the New Year…

But enough of all that. The holidays can be difficult for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, but in and of themselves they’re harmless, and can be some of the most wonderful times to enjoy life.

So gird your loins, dear friends, but remember this: it’s more than possible to have a little good, clean, real fun while you’re at it! 

You can, you know.  Honest. 🙂

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