alcohol abuse

11 Lessons Learned in 11 Years of Recovery

Originally published on  Workit Health ; republished with permission on  Shatterproof .

Originally published on Workit Health; republished with permission on Shatterproof.

The year was 2007. Phones were clunky and the opposite of “smart.” iPods were relatively new, MapQuest directions were printed, Amazon.com was a bookseller, Senator Barack Obama prepared to hit the campaign trail, the new ABC show Grey’s Anatomy was taking the country by storm, and Laura Silverman (aka yours truly) checked herself into an intensive outpatient program for alcohol abuse after six years of heavy binge drinking.

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The year is now 2018. Phones are pocket-sized computers. Amazon runs the world (and you can access it from your phone, natch). Former Senator Obama is now former two-term U.S. President (miss you, Barry!). Grey’s Anatomy is still around. And Laura, our protagonist, celebrated 11 years of continuous sobriety on July 14th.

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Switching over to first person now that I’ve set the stage for you. Without further ado, here are some nuggets of wisdom, lessons, and tools I use in over a decade of recovery - in meme and GIF form. It is 2018, after all ;)

1. I’m sober, not boring.

I go to concerts and sing loudly on karaoke nights. I date. I bowl. I play with my nephews. I go out on girls' nights to fancy dinners. I ice skate and rock climb and dance (like Elaine from Seinfeld).

And I wake up the next morning blissfully hangover-free. It feels fan-freakin-tastic.

2. Personal growth is necessary - and (sometimes) painful.

 

One of the things I have to work on daily is my need to people-please. Being bullied for years as a kid tore down any self-confidence I had; all I wanted was to be liked by you. To be your friend. To not be at the bottom of the social barrel.

But now? I still fall prey to wanting to be liked (even at 35 years old! I see it happen the most via social media). And I have to actively take a part in my daily recovery by knowing I’m whole and enough and beautifully radiant, inside and out, just as I am. With or without your approval. That’s personal growth. It sure ain’t easy.

3. Move that body!

Walking in nature, practicing yoga, hiking, weight lifting, busting a sweat. Releasing those endorphinsand feeling accomplished.

Honestly, the best way to get out of my head is to turn on some tunes and go for a walk outside. I always feel on top of the world and more peaceful in and post-workout...

I go to concerts and sing loudly on karaoke nights. I date. I bowl. I play with my nephews. I go out on girls' nights to fancy dinners. I ice skate and rock climb and dance (like Elaine from Seinfeld).

And I wake up the next morning blissfully hangover-free. It feels fan-freakin-tastic.

4. Exercise that brain!

Mental health is just as important as physical health. They are very much intertwined.

Exercise makes me feel more positive and happy and empowered. Feeling those feelings boosts my mental health, and makes me more inclined to want to continue taking care of my physical body.

This is why I love yoga so much. I get to amplify my physical, mental, and spiritual health. #NamasteSober

5. #MocktailLife

Gone are the days of just water or soda. (Those are still viable options.) Just the other night I had a delicious ginger/coconut/passion fruit NoJito . And it was glorious. I like to feel glamorous and holding a drink (especially in early recovery but even well into now) can give me more confidence on a date or at a work event. Booze-free, full of flavor, no consequences.

6. Take things one moment at a time.

To get anywhere with my sobriety, mental health, spiritual health, and just, well, life, I have to take things, as they say, one day at a time. Thinking in terms of “forever” will inevitably stress me out.

That doesn’t mean I can’t have goals or ambitions. But there’s no sense in agonizing over the future or regretting the past. Staying present is what it’s all about.

7. Stay grateful.

A daily gratitude practice—whether it’s just a mental acknowledgment of what I’m thankful for or writing a list—is crucial.

They say the sign of true gratitude is not in having what you want, but in wanting what you have.

8. Smile.

I love smiling. Have you seen my smile? It’s radiant if I do say so myself.

That doesn’t mean I’m always happy. If you’re always happy, how can you be grateful for true happiness? (see #7.) But I find that even a fake smile can turn into a real one; and a real smile is infectious.

If you can use your smile and aim it at a stranger, and they do that to another, and another, and another... imagine the impact a small, simple act of kindness can have on the world.

9. Surround yourself with love and support.

 

No matter if you choose a program (12 step, SMART, Refuge, LifeRing) or trail blaze your own path, find a support system of friends, loved ones, and professionals that works for you.

If you want or need it, don't be afraid to ask for help. Reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness.

10. Be proud of how far you’ve come, no matter where you are in the process of recovery.

In the wake of Demi Lovato’s relapse, I thought it was only right to pay homage to someone who fights on the front lines of mental health and addiction recovery daily. We have lessons to learn from her - and that’s that this is a process and we must always support each other.

Maybe you’ve slipped, maybe you’ve stayed sober or drug-free without one lapse; maybe you keep trying. This is a process and you should be proud of where you are, forging your own path.

11. My sobriety goes to 11 (years).

*Raises mocktail* Cheers!

 

10 Songs About Addiction via Talkspace

10 songs via Talkspace

Via Talkspace (Joseph Rauch, Staff Writer)

Shame, guilt, desire, regret — these are only a few of the emotions people experience when they are dependent on a substance. This anguish has been fuel for thousands of beautiful, moving, raw and intense songs about addiction. For many decades artists have used their lyrics and melodies to tell stories of relationships with drugs and alcohol. Their songs have satisfied the curiosity of the sober and eased the loneliness of those who are struggling with the mental illness.

For many decades artists have used their lyrics and melodies to tell stories of relationships with drugs and alcohol.
— Joseph Rauch

Rather than using subjective rankings to form our list, we thought about which songs most vividly describe the experience of addiction, how the illness can destroy lives and bonds. We looked for tracks that detail the mindset and behavior of someone who is falling into the void of substance abuse or realizing they have a problem (Keep in mind that recovery is the other side of the coin and deserves its own list).

Use our playlist to sympathize with those afflicted with addiction or remind yourself that millions of others carry the same burden. Here are our picks for songs about addiction (in no particular order).

Read more for Talkspace's top 10 song picks...

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. 

Ode to Wine (...and it's not what you think)

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I can still taste the juxtaposition.  

The cool Pinot Grigio, slightly dry, slightly sweet, fully refreshing—and yet warm as it melted down my throat, into my bloodstream, and settling in that happy place of Tipsy Land.  I was never the biggest fan of red wine, but don’t get me wrong, I can smell the tannins and earthiness and feel my cheeks get redder and my voice get louder just at the thought of that, too.  I could call it a one glass night—but that meant filling the biggest wine glass I could find to the very brim; sometimes, I could fit close to ¾ of a bottle into one glass.  Still one glass!, I’d tell myself.  I’d curl up on my bed, with that monster glass of wine on my nightstand, and as the tipsiness washed over and the generalized feeling of anxiety quieted down, the need for connection grew stronger, like a giant magnet.  And so I’d whip out my flip phone and play my favorite game: texting anyone, anywhere.  

Are you there, God?  It’s me, Laura.
At a Virginia Wine(o) festival.

At a Virginia Wine(o) festival.

It all sounds very romantic—to a point—in retrospect.  Quarterly wine shipments from the quaint vineyard near Charlottesville.  Wasn’t this the sign that I had arrived in Yuppyville?  I was a member of a wine club! (And a book club—which was really just an excuse to drink wine and wax philosophical about a book I had only read a few chapters of).  A bottle of white, red, rose, and some delightful seasonal treat.  I’d go through those bottles pretty damn fast.  And of course, I kept the empties in a trash bag in my bedroom.  Because hey, none of my housemates needed to know my rate of consumption.  It was a little secret I’d keep to myself, from myself, for myself, me me me.  Lest I be blamed for discrimination, I drank plenty of other stuff too—beer (I could take it or leave it, but who are we kidding?  I usually took it), rum and Diet Coke, a fancy cocktail or two (or three or four or five--count with me, everybody!), margaritas—oh, margaritas.  Or tequila shots.  Those never ended well.  Jello shots, vodka cranberry, etc. etc.  But I kept coming back to w(h)ine.  I had it; it had me.  We made quite the team.

If I’m giving you the impression of an isolated, lonely existence, that’s not the case by any means.  I was a social drinker too, life of the party, everyone’s drinking buddy.  Dancing on bars, chatting with strangers.  Up for anything with anyone.  It was a win/win for me.  I melted away my anxiety and persistent, nay, unrelenting OCD--and I became the me I wanted people to perceive.  Plus, I was (supposedly) having fun fun fun!  Until I passed out early.  Or threw up all over [insert furniture type, name of person, etc.).  Or had to be monitored with such a CIA-like vigilance so I wouldn’t go home with Guy X, Y, or Z (but I did, and many times at that).   

Eight years after my last drink (well, multiple drinks, really), all of that is still familiar—yet feels like a movie reel.  I remember it well, but it doesn’t feel like my life.  I can romanticize drinking because I’m so far removed from it—wouldn’t it be nice to have a glass of wine with dinner like a normal person?  I mean, normal people can leave alcohol still in the glass.  They get tipsy--the point where I usually was just revving up--and call it quits for the night.  Not me.  I did (and still do) look at unfinished glasses because why would you waste such precious nectar?  And so even if I think, with all this time elapsed since I last drank, that it might be safe, I  remember that it usually wasn’t a one glass of wine night.  Or maybe it would be, this time.  What would happen the next time I made myself a very public limit?  JUST TWO TONIGHT, YOU GUYS! Maybe I’d be wheeled off in an ambulance after being found passed outside of a bar I was forcibly removed from. (True story).  I had absolutely zero control; I was powerless over alcohol and yes, my life had become unmanageable.  When you think someone else will take care of you because you can’t be held accountable for your own actions, something’s not right.

So as much as I can wax nostalgic about my love affair with wine and its tipsy, deliciously tight embrace, all I have to do is remember why I got sober.  Because I can’t safely ingest alcohol. I’m not responsible when I drink; I’m not my own best advocate.  Sure, one night I could be fine, at a dinner party or happy hour or work soiree, living the good life.  But the next I might drink myself into oblivion and then god only knows what would happen.  I’ve already been to that casino; already folded my hand more times than I can remember.   That’s not a gamble I want to take now--or ever again.

                       B    arolo Wine Region, Italia--STONE COLD SOBER, BABY!  Circa 2010.

                       Barolo Wine Region, Italia--STONE COLD SOBER, BABY!  Circa 2010.

And that’s the best insurance I have for choosing sobriety today, and every today after that.  

Dave: "Sober Coach One"

Meet Dave.  A self-described "man on a mission," Dave's mission in life is to help others suffering from alcohol abuse/alcoholism.

Why?  Because he went through it himself.   He runs Sober Coach One, his online vessel for helping others .  No doubt some of you have already made Dave's e-quaintance, probably on Twitter (@sobercoachone).  If not, you better follow that guy because he's going places!  One last interesting tidbit: he offers unique advertising packages on his site for other sober bloggers, rehabs, etc. (he didn't pay me to say that either, for that matter).  Apparently Dave's got quite the readership so I feel pretty darn lucky to feature him.

Without further adieu, I'll let the man himself take it away...

Hello; my name is Dave. A Man on a Mission might best describe me.

After struggling for 27 years with alcohol abuse, I found freedom. I am compelled to share my insights, thoughts, and ideas with the hopes of helping others. My journey to sobriety has been anything but easy, but I eventually found freedom from alcohol. Along this journey I have also had the pleasure to meet some amazing people! Amazingly sober people who struggled with alcohol similar to me. I wasn’t alone. Unfortunately I have also grown to understand that there are literally millions of people “out there” struggling with alcohol and don’t know where to turn for help. I was one of them! That’s when I came up with the idea to create this web site; called Sober Coach One (www.sobercoach1.com) to help people who are struggling with alcohol; and the families. Sober Coach One is a supportive, private, confidential and safe place to get more information about alcohol abuse and how to quit drinking alcohol. 

My personal story is similar to most others who are struggling with alcohol. I couldn’t live with alcohol and couldn’t live without alcohol. And the more I drank the more bankrupt I felt inside. There wasn’t enough alcohol in the world to fill the gaping hole inside me. I pretended all was well in my life while secretly drinking to oblivion most of the time. When I’d sober up with a pounding hangover I would mentally beat myself up with painful shame, guilt, and remorse. I felt depressed, fearful, and anxious most of the time. I was in huge denial!

After 27 years of struggling with alcohol I have found freedom. Something I thought was impossible. In fact, for most people struggling with alcohol, the stats tell us only a few remain sober beyond 90 days. I was certainly part of those dismal stats for 27 years. I am sober today and thank God for that. I realized quitting drinking alcohol was only the tip of the iceberg. My alcohol abuse was a symptom of deeper rooted problems. Not dealing with these deeper rooted problems kept me looking for the bottle, even after many promises to stop drinking. I simply didn’t know how to cope with life without alcohol. Everything I did was somehow connected to drinking alcohol, even the good things.

Willpower was not enough to overcome my addiction to alcohol. It took time, tools, support and simple daily practices. I share some amazing information on my blog from people who have found freedom from alcohol. These are the things that will help you stay and live a sober life. It has worked for me.

My mission is to help people find freedom from alcohol. I would love to hear from you. I will actually answer your email personally if you send me a note. If you need some help finding resources or support, please let me know

Have a Sober Day!

Dave