Could the end of heroin prohibition and criminalization be one of the solutions to combating drug abuse and saving thousands of lives? There is staggering evidence that throwing addicts in jail without focusing on treatment is only exacerbating the current epidemic. But what happens when our own law enforcement officers are so disturbed by what’s going on day in and day out that they too are actually pushing towards a more compassionate approach to understanding addiction and getting people well? You get fascinating, spot-on editorials like this one by former New Jersey State Police Officer Jack Cole.
You may recall the 1990’s campaign “D.A.R.E. to Keep Kids Off Drugs” and the program that accompanied it. Ironically in the 6th grade D.A.R.E. play, I played the bad chick who peer pressured everyone into drinking and using drugs. I don’t know if anything would have been different had I known the magnitude of the mental health issues amongst my ancestors. One side of the family had a history of alcoholism and the other untreated eating disorders, which I now understand are virtually one in the same. I do know that for someone with a rebellious addict mind, programs like D.A.R.E. only made me want to experiment more. Some things like stages of alcoholism or drug addiction statistics were perhaps a bit premature for what I was ready to listen to at 12. I also know that had I understood the neuroscience of why drug or alcohol abuse in someone under 25 affects the brain in a drastically different way than that of someone older, it would have caught my attention. Neuroscience tells us that if you take someone with possible addictive tendencies and introduce them to substances at a young age, their brain will essentially light up those neuropathways which can lead to craving, addictive behaviors, and substance abuse. There is no longer room for the, “it won’t happen to me” denial, because the proof is in the CT scans. The brain science that aids us in understanding addiction continues to catch my eye today. We need to start being more specific with kids so they understand HOW they are harming themselves from the first time they touch a substance. Read some fascinating information here on The Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Adolescent Brain.
People dealing with addiction or recovering from addiction do not always consider the power of recovery language. The way we speak to each other within a 12 step meeting or support group is very different than the way we should speak with the rest of the world. As we have seen so much with bullying in recent years, words do matter. As an "addict" or an "alcoholic", it sounds like I am still in the midst of my disease. While there is no cure, I do believe I am in recovery which according to SAMHSA means, "A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self directed life, and strive to reach their full potential." Now who doesn't that apply to!?! So in my work as a recovery coach and as a sober companion, I do try to get in the habit of saying, "Hello, my name is Danielle and I am a person in long term recovery". Stay tuned for some resources on recovery language training. For more information on the importance of recovery language when dealing with addiction, read this new editorial in the journal of Substance Abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with any type of addiction, please give us a call at 774-329-4393.
This is the title of an op-ed piece that you can read here...
In my heart of hearts I believe this is the truth or at least a piece of it. Depression and any types of addiction go hand in hand. So what came first the depression or addictive behaviors? I believe they are both lying dormant and one can feed on the other at the same time or in either order. I look back at my pre-teen years and remember a scared and depressed girl, sometimes for no reason and no one knew. I was traveling the country on premier sports teams, crazy outgoing and president of the student council, but on the inside I was frequently sad or scared for no identifiable reason at all. But I wanted to be something big and in order to do that I had to push my limits. Alcohol and eventually drugs helped me feel invincible and survive in situations I would have otherwise found impossible. After nearly over a decade of surviving this way and wondering if it was normal, the addictive behaviors started getting the best of me. Although I believe the depression and anxiety probably came first, it is now the reality that I am truly dealing with addiction that causes me to become depressed if I am not physically, mentally and spiritually in a good place every single day. That sick part of my brain starts wondering, "Why am I like this?", "Will I ever be free?", "I can't live like this.", and on and on. If we relapse, we feed this sick part of the brain and it starts to take over our mind again. And sometimes, the sick part wins. Today I choose to focus on being mentally, physically and spiritually healthy so I can continue to grow the healthy parts of my brain.
When I was in treatment we had to write a letter to the people we loved most dearly as if we had relapsed. Since I don’t have children yet my nieces and nephews were a no brainer. This letter is what sealed the deal on the life I was committed to living and the changes I had to make no matter what. Please share. I hope it helps you in whatever you are struggling with today.
Dear Lily, Macie, Hunter and Alexa:
I am sorry that I will not be there for you when you need me. I won’t be there for you on the days you just need someone to talk to. When you are hurting so bad and feel like you have no one, you won’t have me either. The sad truth is that Auntie Dani loves you guys so much but she just needed to always feel good instantly so she chose alcohol and a life of listening to her ego over loving you and herself and everything and everyone that ever meant anything to her. I am sorry that you may think you are less important to me because I chose these things over you. I want you to know that I love you all so much. You mean the world to me. I would do anything for you, almost anything, but I am sorry I can’t stop drinking. I wanted to be such a good example to all of you of the way to really live life…to find true happiness, love yourself and others, to be honest and caring, and maybe most importantly, peaceful inside. This is all I want for you but I couldn’t get it. I wanted you to see that enjoying the simplest things in life is what living really is. When I think of the four of you my heart and my eyes light up. I am so sorry that I failed you. My hope is that one day you will be able to learn these things on your own and live a life of true peace and happiness. I am sorry that I chose denial, instant gratification and superficiality over being a living example to all of you.
When I wanted to want sobriety but wasn't ready to give up the drink, a woman who had what I wanted looked at me and said, "You are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment." I never forgot it. There was something about her words that told me I wasn't all broken and that things might eventually be ok. For anyone who has ever dealt with addictive behaviors you know that there is no cure for addictive tendencies. It is daily work. I have the disadvantage and advantage of having to start my day off being mentally, physically and spiritually fit and without those factors in balance all bets are off. And I don't care what anyone ever threatened me with, death, drunk driving, the effects of drug abuse, etc., I wasn't going to be ready until I was really ready. I had to have that last drink. So Elizabeth Vargas, please don't feel like a failure. We are all doing the best we can with what we have at each moment. Thank you for being so public about your struggle to remind people that they too can do this! Read more about Elizabeth's return to treatment.
RealYou Revolution was invited onto the Wicked Sober Voices of Hope Radio show the other night to explain more about Recovery Coaching and how we got started! Attorney General candidate Warren Tolman also called in with an explanation of the work he plans to do in the world of substance abuse, treatment, and recovery. Want to learn more about the world of addiction and recovery and how we can help you? Then listen to this broadcast from August, 13th!
Synthetic Marijuana, also known as "spice," is sold completely legally as a potpourri in convenience stores and smoke shops. Frequently hidden behind the counter, your 18 year-old can buy this, or your younger children can acquire it as they would a pack of cigarettes from an older buyer.
Synthetic drugs are processed in a laboratory to mimic the chemical compounds in others drugs. By the time lawmakers go through the long process of making them illegal, chemists need only change one ingredient, repackage it, and sell the same chemicals in a convenience store near you. The scariest thing about synthetics is, because nothing about them is natural, any brain damage caused through even one use is completely irreversible!
I always made myself feel better about trying pot in high school by reading articles in High Times that reassured me that marijuana was all-natural and, in some cases, even good for me. Well, this is not at all the case with Spice. You need to be well aware of the dangers, and make sure your kids understand them, too. Permanent holes in the brain after even one use? Manchester, NH just dealt with 9 overdoses in one night and I can't even imagine the type of damage it's done to those who will be lucky enough to show brain activity again...
A Properly Trained Recovery Coach Can Reduce the Risk of Relapse and Help Addicts Save Money Long-Term
I frequently hear, "Why do people need a recovery coach, and why isn't their AA sponsor enough?" Addiction treatment can be extremely overwhelming to someone who wants to get clean, but being released from treatment is far more overwhelming. Leaving detox or treatment with the support of a professional who is is properly trained in guiding someone through the different stages of sobriety can make a remarkable difference. I believe every single person should have a therapist and a recovery coach: a therapist to work on issues from your past, and a coach who has been where you have been, and who can help bring you to a new level in the present and future. The article below not only talks about how recovery coaching can maximize your investments in treatment, but also about how it is now a critical tool in the recovery arsenal.
Recovery Coach Helps An Addict Resist Heroin's Lure
Despite the fact that many consider it harsh, I frequently identify myself as an addict. I am an addict because I want more and more of anything and everything that makes me feel good or takes me out of myself. For many of us, the notion of looking inward is absolutely terrifying. What will I see? What pain will I have to feel? What if I don't like what I see? Will I have to change things that are comfortable in order to grow? This is not just terrifying to people who have been battling an unhealthy dependency to alcohol or drugs. It is a basic human fear. In the beautiful video clip below, actress and model Amber Valletta comes out for the first time as an alcoholic and addict. While the entire video is heartfelt and enlightening, it's what she says in the last few minutes that remind me why recovery is so vital to our spirit; recovery from the basic struggle of being human and having past fears and painful memories. "Diving into dark places in myself that scare me or I feel ugly about is where the real growth comes from, from pausing, from being able to look within." This is a daily challenge, it has not become easy simply because I've started to do it. But it is where my real growth comes from – and I want to keep growing...
about the master coach
Danielle, the Founder & Master Coach of RealYou Revolution, is a woman in long term recovery with a passion for helping others overcome their own personal demons – whatever they may be.