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Guest Blogger: Charlie Baulm on Artists in Recovery

artists in recovery

Artists in Recovery from Addiction:
How Creativity Can put a Spin on Getting Clean and Sober

by Charlie Baulm, guest blogger

When we think of artists in recovery from addiction, we often think of the ones who have been painfully obvious in their downfalls. The Philip Seymour Hoffman types are an all-too-blaring representation of addiction unchecked, and many of us just assume that almost every artist in Hollywood and beyond is struggling with some kind of substance abuse issue.

The thing is, lots of really amazing artists who used to believe that their creativity stemmed from their use of substances choose to get clean and sober, and they find that they not only succeed with the help of being creative, but they are often even better at their jobs than they were when they were actively using or drinking.

Pushing the Limits

Let’s look at Eminem and his journey. He’s proud of his recovery from an addiction to prescription drugs, and he should be. While his popularity began to soar, the pressure of becoming a world famous rapper, combined with the way that these drugs made him feel mellow and pain-free played a significant role in the development of his addiction.

When, in 2007, he overdosed on methadone, it shook him to the core. Marshall Mathers was really scared. Scared enough to get started on a recovery journey complete with steps, sponsors, and rehab. That was in 2009. For this star, addiction actually smothered his creative abilities, and it wasn’t until he was clean and sober that he began writing again, and he’s done it with a zeal that amazes many.

Demi Lovato is another star who has taken her recovery from an addiction to drugs and an eating disorder and turned it into fuel for a stunning comeback in her career. For her, looking back at who she used to be is a bit embarrassing, and more than enough to keep her living clean and sober.

She admits that she was difficult to work with, and even while having a sober companion, she continued to use for quite some time. At 18, she entered rehab, but that didn’t end her battle. A fear of losing people she loves drove her to finally surrender to treatment and recovery, and it’s kept her going since.

Demi also admits that food is still a huge struggle for her. It’s something that she still struggles with, and something that she may always struggle with. She admits that even at 8 years old, she was using food as medicine, and the battle with emotional eating – and purging – has been going strong ever since. Even today, she talks about how much her relationship with food affects her everyday life.

True recovery is helping Lovato to learn more about herself than she imagined, and it’s giving her power to be more than just a victim of her addiction. It’s helping her to be a voice for recovery, and it shows in her music.

Even famed horror writer Stephen King has had his struggles with addiction, and it wasn’t just to one substance. In fact, some report that thanks to his combination of alcohol and other substances, he was able to write some of the most nightmarish novels ever experienced.

His addiction story lasted decades, and has said was the product of a terribly painful and poor childhood in which he suffered anxiety and nightmares that helped fuel some of the most frightful characters to his stories.

However terrifying his nightmares, his life became just as scary when he found that if he didn’t overcome his addiction, he would lose his family. When he finally did finally start overcoming his addiction, he found that he struggled with terrible writer’s block, which was even more crippling.

Time and the patience of his wife helped King to get back to storytelling of a different, gentler type of tale. While he no longer uses drugs or alcohol to fuel these stories, he still uses the art of storytelling to deal with his many fears.

We All Know Addiction Knows No Boundaries

As a society, it seems that we almost expect that almost everyone in the spotlight will use some kind of substance to help ease the stresses of maintaining a perfect outward face. It seems like it’s never much of a surprise when another star admits that they are struggling with an addiction to something, but still, the scandals that erupt as a result of these confessions can be career-ending. On the other hand, they can be what helps artists to become a better version of themselves, as we’ve seen so many times.

For some reason, so many of us believe that the “average person’s addiction,” is somehow different than the addictions of the rich and famous. We mourn the losses of great stars like Prince, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson. We pity those who we live close to that lose their lives to addiction and shake our heads.

However, we all know that addiction knows no boundaries, and neither does recovery. People who aren’t so famous find that being creative in treatment and recovery can be a tremendous way to overcome their addictions. In fact, the many types of arts are becoming a common treatment for people working on living clean and sober because, very simply, they work.

Art Therapy Has Been Proven to Help Recovery

When it comes to art as a form of addiction treatment, it has been shown to have many benefits. It helps when coping with feelings of shame and fear. It allows those in recovery to get in touch with their emotions, and eventually encourages the ability to talk about what they’ve been going through. It’s a form of communication that requires no words but speaks volumes. These benefits are perhaps why, once in recovery, artists who had been struggling with an inability to create due to addictions seem to flourish in ways they haven’t been able to in ages.

No matter whether the recovery transformation takes place in one of the best drug rehabs in the US, or it is something quieter, and less structured, the healing power of creativity and art in one of its many forms cannot be denied or ignored.


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Charlie Baulm is a writer and researcher in the fields of addiction and mental health. After battling with addiction himself and finding sobriety, Charlie aims to discuss these issues with the goal of reducing the stigma associated with both. When not working you might find Charlie at your local basketball court. 

Guest Blogger: Katie DePaola of Inner Glow Circle & Bo's Effort

Katie is an inner and outer beauty with a spirit that sparkles. 

 
   Meet Katie .   Isn't she lovely?

Meet Katie.  Isn't she lovely?

 

She's believes strongly in empowering other women in her work as founder of Inner Glow Circle, a life coaching collective and program -- and is a steadfast advocate for mental health. Working to end the stigma of mental illness is one of her family's goals in their non profit foundation, Bo's Effort, which celebrates the life of Katie's brother, Bo.  According to the family, Bo "was a one-in-a-million" kind of guy and he was living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder most of his life.  Bo died of an accidental overdose at only 20 years old.  As advocates for recovery (from mental illness, addiction, or both for those of us with co-occurring), we know that turning to substances can often come with the territory of having a mental illness.  Self-medication. 

But it doesn't have to.

It's by recovering out loud, being allies and advocates for awareness and change -- these are ways we can have a truly lasting and positive impact on future generations to come.

I've had the pleasure of spending time with Katie on multiple occasions and I think she's just magic.

xoxo,
Laura


WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE DIES...


You're different. For a moment. For a year. For many years.

A loss like that is the most disorienting experience in the world. The world crumbles around you, as you stand frozen asking, "How?" "Why our family?" "Why me?"

And then again, but in a different sense, "Why me?" "Why was I left behind?" This new reality feels like a responsibility you weren't ready to take on.

"You were here, just yesterday." You say to him or her, to the trees, to the sky. "Where did you go?" "Are you coming back?"

You walk into the house. And right before you ask if he or she is out with friends, still at work or school, you swallow your words. And you remember.

"You're not here anymore. Please come back. I miss you."

People say it never goes away. The pain. The grief. The heartache. I say it's ever changing. There is collateral beauty. It can even shape you into a better person, if you let it.

And yet, there's a part of you that wishes you could die of a broken heart, just so you could be together again. But you stay. And you make promises to your loved one, to the trees, to the sky.

"Next time...when we get to do this thing over again, I promise I'll be better. I'll hold you more. I'll never call you names. I'll kiss you every night. I'll be better. We'll be better. And then maybe you'll stay a little longer. Next time..."

May 23 marks the two year anniversary of my brother's passing. He was 20 years, 2 months and 1 day. Thanks to our amazing friends, family and community, we're hosting our 2nd golf tournament and dinner (May 22) to celebrate his life and raise money for mental health. Bo died of an accidental overdose, peacefully at home. He simply went to sleep and never woke up.

 Said golf tournament - I wish I could go but someone has to work...

Said golf tournament - I wish I could go but someone has to work...

I spent a lot of time with his girlfriend after he passed. It was my way of keeping him alive a bit longer. I asked to know everything. What was their love like? Why did she fall for him? Was he a good kisser?

She said the night before he died, he was so happy. He took her all over the backyard to look at the stars from different views. He was a child of the universe, and when I heard that story, I thought, "Wow, he must have known he was going home." I felt an unexpected sense of peace. It's a peace I believe we can all receive if we allow ourselves to be okay with what is.

   Bo and his family.

Bo and his family.

Bo continues to do work here every day through his foundation, Bo's Effort. Last year alone, we raised nearly $100K to help provide better programs for kids and adults like Bo who struggle with mental health and often, substance as a result. Bo was an amazing kid, a bright spirit who made people laugh every day. Perhaps he knew his time would be shorter than most, so he chose a family who would tell his story and carry on his message to help others. We consistently get messages from people who say Bo helped them, their sister, their child. Connect with the right doctor. Find the right help. Get on the right medications. Stay clean. Get their life back.

My brother is a miracle worker, and that part is not sad to me. That is an honor. If you feel moved to donate, Bo's foundation gives to NAMI and AAMC every year. AAMC has begun planning for a phenomenal mental health facility and needs our support now more than ever.

I will continue to give, support and show up, because it eases the pain of missing him. Somehow it makes the pain worth something.

Don't sit back. From the depths of my heart, I urge you to do what you can to turn your pain into purpose. Of course, it's not everything, but it's something.

Guest Blogger: DeAnna Jordan of New Method Wellness

It's been FOREVER since I wrote something for the blog, and today's post is certainly no exception.  Please welcome DeAnna Jordan, clinical director of New Method Wellness and person in long-term recovery.  I should note that this isn't a sponsored post by a rehab or treatment center, even though its author works at one.  I'm just happy to share a well-written, bite-sized piece in the hope that if you or someone you love is struggling with drinking, that you find help.  There's a fantastic list of resources right here.

-Laura


Are You Drinking Too Much?

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"It's happy hour--I'm only going to have a couple beers."
"I'm not an alcoholic--I only drink wine with dinner."

These are some of the most common phrases that stem from drinking. Typically, people who binge drink, don’t even realize they are binge drinking.  According to the CDC, more than 38 million adults binge drink an average of four times a month. So, how do you know if you are an alcoholic?

Coming to the conclusion about one’s alcohol abuse can often be a messy and confusing path. The most important question I ask my clients struggling with accepting their alcoholism is, “How often are you thinking about drinking?” We then can delve deeper into a series of questions that aim to create a conscious awakening:

  • Do you frequently feel compelled to drink?
  • Does alcohol, the thought of alcohol or the planning of your next drink occupy most of your energy and focus?
  • Have you wanted to stop drinking, but find yourself with a drink in hand just a short time later?
  • Have you sacrificed other activities that you enjoy because you plan to drink or were drinking?
  • Do you find that you need to consume more alcohol to get the same effect you once had?

While the questions above only spark the conversation on alcoholism, these questions can help identify the most common behaviors in a person’s alcohol dependency. These questions are not medically-approved, nor are they an official test for determining alcoholism, but they will guide you as you observe your drinking habits.

The only person who can determine whether you are an alcoholic, an alcohol abuser or a social drinker is yourself; no one can answer these questions for you. If you take an honest survey of yourself and your drinking habits, you can determine whether you have reached the point of alcoholism and only then can you receive the help you need. Doing so will teach you how to move through life without the aid of alcohol, allowing you to reconnect with your loved ones and to rekindle your desire to live another day.


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DeAnna Jordan serves as the clinical director at New Method Wellness where she supervises a team of caring, well-trained clinicians who provide continued support throughout a client’s stay at New Method Wellness. Jordan has over 20 years of experience working with clients in recovery and is a marriage and family therapist (MFT), specializing in the maintenance of healthy relationships. As a result of her expertise, Jordan has been featured on “Dr. Phil,” “Jane Valdez-Mitchell,” National Geographic’s “Taboo,” and has been published in Elle Magazine as well as The Huffington Post.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from University of California in Irvine, Jordan did post-graduate work at Centaur University where she graduated in the top of her class with a CAADAC certification in Centaur’s chemical dependency program. Following her time at Centaur, Jordan received her masters in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and is a current PhD candidate, studying depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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As a recovering addict, Jordan brings a breadth of personal recovery experience to her clinical leadership and believes a comfortable, structured and supportive environment is an essential part of maintaining long term sobriety. In addition to her passion for recovery, Jordan is extremely involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). As a current Woman of the Year candidate, Jordan is campaigning to raise funds for LLS blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors. 

Guest Blogger: Jen Yockey of SOULFUeL

Ladies and gents, I think I've found my Sober Sister Soul Mate.  Seriously, reading Jen's piece was like standing in front of a mirror, a gentle and kind and beautiful mirror.  She has such a beautiful outlook on life and I got so much from her story.  Watch out for this one!  She's going places--who are we kidding?  She's already THERE.  If you can't get enough of her, don't you worry--she'll be featured as a RePro in the near future.

xoxo,
Laura


The Audacity of Recovery

au·dac·i·ty
ôˈdasədē/
noun
1.  the willingness to take bold risks.

Addiction. Recovery. Sobriety. Drugs. Alcohol. Shopping. Sex. Technology. Gambling.  A lot of buzz words these days and like some of our favorite quotes and sayings, I think they have been used so much that we have become de-sensitized to them.  We have stopped listening, hearing and feeling what these words truly mean.

Getting sober doesn’t mean quitting things.  It doesn’t mean the fun in your life ends and that you need to move to a monastery in Israel in order to find peace and enlightenment and recovery.  It also doesn’t mean that you *wanting* to get sober means that you are currently sleeping under a bridge, haven’t had a shower in weeks and everything you own resides in a shopping cart. 

Life is not black and white.  There is a lot of grey.  Labeling people and afflictions is our need to make things black and white.  Labeling people and afflictions can make it really difficult for people to truly recover or to get help in the first place.  Who wants to be labeled an alcoholic?  An addict? A gambler? A cheater?  Not me.  We are not a behavior, *I* am not a behavior.

What would it look like if recovering from an overuse of a substance was like recovering from strep throat?  You go to the doctor, you let them know your symptoms, they prescribe a treatment and you are on the mend.  No one says that you can *only* have medicine for 7 days or 28 days.  No one says you have to label yourself as a “strepthroater”.  No one says that you have to hide out at home and not tell anyone about your strep throat. No one says that you will never recover and that you should be afraid.  People aren’t ashamed to walk in to the doctor with strep throat.  *I* am not strep throat, I *have* strep throat.  I can recover from strep throat.  This is how sobriety and recovery is for me.  It is my story.  I abused a substance.  I don’t do that anymore.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  I have found the root cause of my wanting to do that.  I have recovered.  I have and continue to heal.

I have nothing against 12 step programs.   In fact, I credit those programs for my recovery foundation and I participated in these programs for the first 5 years of my sobriety. I got to a point, however, that I was able to start thinking for myself again.  I was able to trust my decisions.  I listened to that little voice inside of me instead of drowning it out with booze, drugs, men, over training, shopping, etcetera.  Little by little, I stopped being afraid; afraid that my “disease” was doing pushups in the backyard *waiting* for me, afraid of my past, afraid of relapse. 

I started loving my life.  I started investigating my core values.  I investigated my opinions on things; opinions and thoughts and “truths” that I had held on to for years that were no longer serving me.  I investigated words like co-dependency, boundaries and trauma.  I found ways to connect to myself rather than finding ways to distract myself.  I investigated and found peace with emotions and feelings.  I investigated Anger, Joy, Happiness, Sadness, Grief, Guilt, Shame, Apathy, Boredom, Confusion, Panic, Terror.  I investigated my past.  I investigated my “triggers”.  I investigated people.  I found some that I really connected with and I found some that I really needed to stay away from.

I found my inner athlete, again.  I found peace in yoga, meditation, and running.  I found that paying attention to my breath brought calm and less stress.  I found music and laughter and food and philosophy and hope.  I found others that were doing similar investigations; finding their way and sharing their knowledge.

There is hope and inspiration.  There is recovering and recovered.  There is sobriety born out of a love for life rather than a fear of what was.  There is an acceptance and a love and a knowledge of who each of us are.  There is self-awareness rather than denial.  There is a realization of truth rather than fantasy.  There is ownership of mis-steps and honoring *that* truth.  There are emotions.  There is joy.  There is sadness and grief.  There are tears. There is laughter.  There is the ability and willingness to be teachable and live with our eyes and hearts wide open.

I write all of this knowing that it may not be popular.  It may not “fit” with your recovery or sobriety narrative. However, it is my story.  My truth.  And when I first got sober, I needed to hear a lot of stories and truths.  Stories of experience, strength and hope. I needed to hear it from CEO’s and actors, teachers and lawyers, and construction workers.  I needed to hear it from those who lived high on the hill and at the homeless shelter.  One of the many nuggets that I took away from my 12 step meetings was to “take what I needed and leave the rest”.  My wish is that one person is able to see that there are many paths to recovery, that you can recover on your own terms.  This, however, does not mean that you do it by yourself. I know, for sure, that is not possible.   You will need help.  You will need guidance.  You will need people and connection in order to get your feet underneath you.  But you will learn to walk again.  You will learn to run again.  You will be able to trust yourself and others again.  You are not broken.  You have been on a path that may not be serving you anymore.  There are other paths.  Look around.  You have a choice to change the path you are on.  There are others waiting there for you.

The Audacity of Recovery.  The moxie to even *think* that you can recover.  The boldness for you to be you and find your own path & for me to be me and find mine; for all of us to find peace and hope and joy and to bear witness.  I can’t wait to hear *your* story of boldness and audaciousness and moxie.  Tell it, write it, speak it.  We all need to hear it.

 
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JEN YOCKEY is the founder of SOULFUeL Sundays and a graduate of Meadow DeVor’s Yoga Church Teacher Training.  In her words:  today, I am a Mom, a Wife, a Dog Mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a confidante.  I am a Yoga Teacher, a Master Life Coach, a Woman that is on a mission to be the best version of herself AND to help others do the same.  I KNOW that this is possible regardless of your past, regardless of what is happening at this moment.  You have more SUPER POWERS than you know.

Guest Blogger: Tyler Jacobson on Neurobiology of Addiction

Let me go on record and say that Tyler submitted a pitch to me well over two months ago.  As many of you know, I'm a procrastinator through and through.  So I thank our guest blogger Tyler Jacobson very much for his patience!  Now, on to brass tacks.  From time to time, we delve a little deeper into the science of addiction here at TSC.  

Without further adieu, here's Tyler...!  

xo, Laura


How a New Neurobiological Study Brings Hope to Those Ready for Sobriety

 

The idea that addiction exists in the brain as a disease is one that’s been around for decades, but recent studies have found evidence that supports this view.

By locking down the neurological contributors to impulse control habits, faulty decision making, and the like, we can identify exactly what lifestyle choices, habits, and biological processes add up to addiction and help those that want a change.

Ancient Addiction

For centuries addiction has been seen as a bad habit that can simply be beaten out of someone, either through sheer willpower or by punishing the behaviors feeding into the addiction. Where some people have found success with these, the method as a whole has proven to be a total failure as evidenced by the continuously growing number of addicts every year. However, when research follows the brain disease model, it has led to a number of improvements over both the treatment as well as the prevention of addiction.

What is the Disease Model of Addiction?

The disease model of addiction defines addiction as a disease with the following sources of origin:

  • Biological
  • Neurological
  • Genetic, and
  • Environmental

This then places the addiction on things out of the addict’s control, which has rattled the idea of addiction as being a behavior repeated by those with low willpower or no motivation to improve. When an addict relapses, it’s seen as a conscious choice rather than these other factors taking part. As much as this challenges our views of addiction, more and more government institutes are supporting the model.

Teens at Risk

Neurobiological research has shown that when viewed as a disease the onset of it is predominantly during the period of time when someone is going through some of the greatest changes to their brain and chemistry: adolescence. This is the time when prevention techniques are of the most beneficial to stop the addiction before it starts.

When Addiction Prevention Fails

Despite the best attempts, sometimes all attempts at preventing addiction can fail. When this happens, treatment based on evidence and research can go a long way in helping an addict overcome.

Our health care system already has a number of treatments including medication, such as is needed for patients with opioid-use disorders. Naltrexone and Acamprosate have helped with those suffering alcohol-based addictions. These medications help stave off the cravings and allow the brain to heal from the effects of the addiction and constant intoxication.

As research continues to dig into the nature of addiction, more treatments and therapies will develop.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine


Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and freelancer, with experience in writing and outreach for parent and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has offered humor and research backed advice to readers on parenting tactics, problems in education, issues with social media, mental disorders, addiction, and troublesome issues raising teen boys.

Connect with Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn