• relapse quote
    Self Inflicted Wounds Self Inflicted Wounds

    Self Inflicted Wounds

Self Inflicted Wounds

If we did autopsies on relapses, the most prevalent listed finding would be: Relapse due to self inflicted wounds.  Self inflicted wounds occur when we focus the considerable self destructive weapons in our arsenal, to hurt and maim, our oldest, truest friend, ourselves.  One addict explains, “I got all up in my head,” preceding the damage report. Who hasn’t observed a friend having a world class pity party, on his way to acting out. These are the self inflicted wounds. Many deal with issues not of their own making, unrequested trauma, genetic or cultural issues not of their choosing. These […]

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    Recovery, It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over Recovery, It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

    Recovery, It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Recovery, It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Yogi Berra taught us all that it ain’t over til the fat lady sings!  The process of recovery has a similar final act. To the general public, the term “recovery” is seen as “someone who is trying to stop using alcohol or other drugs.” (NCADD)   It then follows that the process of recovery is accomplished when we stop using.  Achieving the thing we call sobriety. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently undertook to quantify what the process of recovery might look like.  Their work yielded this definition:  “Recovery is a process of change whereby individuals […]

  • walking
    She walked through it… She walked through it…

    She walked through it…

She walked through it…

I visited with a friend the other day and she surprised me.  She had a very traumatic childhood and had struggled to manage her emotional life as an adult.  Rage was her number one tool of empowerment.  The rage gave her a sense of power but left her without friends or partners, she chased them all away. As we talked she recounted a story to me that in the past would have ended in rage that she handled in a very healthy way.  I marveled at her new skills and couldn’t help asking how she had accomplished it.  She said, […]

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    Sometimes it takes all we have, even our lives. Sometimes it takes all we have, even our lives.

    Sometimes it takes all we have, even our lives.

Sometimes it takes all we have, even our lives.

This letter to the editor from the Austin Chonicle tells an all too familiar story. Our addictions require an accounting, a settling up. They come at a cost, sometimes we don’t have enough to lose and our life is also required. It is one of the great tragedies of our times, and also, one of the realities. On Sunday, my friend of 24 years, Debbie, died in St. David’s South Austin Medical Center from a cocaine-related heart attack. She was 53 years old. Thirty-eight years of heroin, cocaine, and pills had taken their toll. She always thought it was OK […]

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    Remember the Rose Remember the Rose

    Remember the Rose

Remember the Rose

The great American psychologist Albert Ellis once said, “Self-esteem is the greatest sickness known to man or woman because it is conditional.” Indeed, the finding of a healthy self-esteem is the greatest mental health challenge many face in their lifetime. Individual worth (and the self-esteem that is harvested from it) is not situational and should not be established by comparison, evaluation or an individual’s last great or terrible accomplishment. Those are the conditional elements Ellis was referring to. They are often not within an individual’s control. “Life happens” as the street therapist would say. Russel Seigenberg, Ph.D., of Logan, Utah, […]

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    Acceptance is Still the Answer Acceptance is Still the Answer

    Acceptance is Still the Answer

Acceptance is Still the Answer

Acceptance is the answer, still. I was reminded yet again this week, of the importance of bringing acceptance into our lives. Without it, recovery escapes us. As a client rehearsed to me his struggles with his relationship to his wife, it became very clear to me that his struggle was not with his wife, but with his own acceptance of  her and her personality. (In other words it was not about her, but about his stuff.) In AA’s Big Book Chapter, “Acceptance was the Answer,” the writer states, “when I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, […]

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    Not all Putts Fall Not all Putts Fall

    Not all Putts Fall

Not all Putts Fall

Anyone that imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed.  the fact is most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise …The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.  (Gordon B Hinckly)

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    Make yourself available for recovery… Make yourself available for recovery…

    Make yourself available for recovery…

Make yourself available for recovery…

One of the requirements for recovery or the healing from an addiction, is that we make ourselves available for it. On the physical level, we have to be present for meetings, counseling, reading, all of the activities that help gain understanding and build skills.  AA’ers often take on the 90 meetings in 90 days commitment, putting themselves physically in the way of recovery, placing themselves in a place where recovery is known to occur.  They are then available for recovery. The concept makes sense, but many addicts find reasons to resist.  They avoid meetings because it will be embarrassing to […]

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    Disarming the Triggers Disarming the Triggers

    Disarming the Triggers

Disarming the Triggers

In the history of the recovery world, when the term “trigger” (an event or situation that causes acting out,) was brought into the lexicon, recovery helpers quickly adopted the concept. Everyone was talking about triggers and what to do about them. It got to the point that a recovery conversation didn’t go very far without triggers being brought up.  Many thought they now understood addiction because they understood triggers. Some addicts even learned to use them as an excuse for addictive behavior, “While I didn’t intend to act out, when I saw that picture it just triggered me.” I don’t […]

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    Mood Management Mood Management

    Mood Management

Mood Management

“My mind is a bad neighborhood that I try to not go into alone.” While Anne Lamott’s humorous adage makes us smile, she does identify a significant problem for many: The moods found in the ‘hood’ of our mind can challenge our mental health, well-being and happiness. They are pretty hard to totally avoid — the blahs, the blues, icky moods. All are vulnerable. As psychcentral.com puts it, “Everyone experiences the blues because of troubling events such as the loss of a loved one, job difficulties, money problems, family issues or illness.” In some situations, like the grieving process, experiencing the […]