Traditional signs of alcoholism often provide too little information, too late. Every alcoholic is considered “high functioning” at some point in his or her drinking. For those who drink too much or are on the path, situational awareness can be virtually non-existent. Let me put that in street language for you, drunk people have been known to act like morons, thinking it is completely acceptable behavior in their “unrealities” of “Buzzville”. It’s a common phenomenon to hear someone in recovery relive mortifying drunk-a-logs while shaking their head in disbelief about the behavior they once deemed acceptable. These Live Tweets from a Modern Family Editor sitting behind a trashed airplane passenger are a perfect example. The tweets make me cringe and bring back way too many personal experiences. Apparently because the passenger seems to have a happening life (and a major arrogance issue) she thinks she can’t have a problem. WRONG. So before cheering on that token party animal in your crowd, you may just want to think twice about what they are struggling with behind closed doors, or the inevitability that’s to come.
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Because I was making a ton of money and life looked good from the outside, it was easy to tell myself the addictive behaviors weren’t that bad. The turning point came when I decided I deserved more from the world and the world deserved more from me. Although my life was “ok”, it was by no means enviable (especially on the inside) and I always believed there had to be so much more. One of the most valuable things I did was identify at least 4 women who had what I wanted. This list of wants included confidence, serenity, financial freedom, and happiness, just to name a few. I made little progress going into a 12 step meeting early on and comparing myself to all the people I either didn’t relate to or thought I was better than in some way. Humility has been a critical life skill, but that’s a whole other blog topic. What did work for me was going to different meetings until I could find that handful of women who I aspired to be more like. Something as simple as spending time with them, listening (and talking way less) to what worked for them in their life, and emulating more of their mindset and actions was the “fake it till you make it” strategy I needed. And guess what, you don’t just find them in a 12 step meeting, although it was easier for me to find people there with the serenity I was looking for, who also knew how to do something I was still figuring out. Instead of obsessing about what you don’t want to give up, obsess about what you want to become!!! I still make sure to always have that handful of exceptional people to learn from. I do that by meeting new people all the time and showing up fully present for my life. We are never beyond learning. To kick start your own admiration campaign, here are just a few Awesome Women Who Don’t Drink or Get High.
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Regardless of how much information we have on understanding addiction, some people seem to feel safer remaining in a state of denial. This makes sense because not having to change is EASY! As a recovery coach working with both addicts and their loved ones, I like clients to be armed with as much scientific information as possible leaving less room for opinion. Loved ones are constantly haunted with the question of how to stop addiction. Although it does not fix the problem, we do have plenty of information today on addictive behaviors and why people can’t just STOP drinking, drugging, or even eating. This fascinating explanation of a chemical in our brain called THIQ and how it works in the mind of an addict vs. someone without addictive behaviors may just make you feel some sanity today about why you can’t FIX your loved one or why you can’t get well on your own!
Tommy Rosen is one of my favorite people in the world of recovery and understanding how to overcome addiction. Tommy has really advanced the idea of a phased approach to recovering from addiction, which he terms “Recovery 2.0”. In this model, the first phase of recovery is putting down the drink, drug, or other harmful habit that has taken over your world. The second phase is working to move out of a state of “Dis-ease” with areas of your life. I strongly believe the majority of Americans are in this state even without substance abuse issues and this is why recovery is beneficial to everyone. The Huffington Post published this awesome and easy to understand article by Rosen, “How Is Yoga Beneficial to People on a Path of Recovery From Addiction?” It’s a must read if you care about bringing your life to the next level!
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As we continue to educate the general public about different types of addiction and how to overcome addiction, it is increasingly obvious that teen athletes are at high risk for substance abuse. While risk of injury and pain pills is a huge factor, there is also something about being a high school athlete and the atmosphere it can produce that makes these teens more likely to engage in partying. Perhaps it has something to do with competition and wanting to be the best, or the mindset that we are invincible, I don’t know. Being a great athlete gave me instant praise and gratification, a response I became all too comfortable with. After watching this important piece by WCVB on teen athlete addiction in Massachusetts, I remember that addiction and substance abuse is not so new to teen athletes, opiates and heroin have just made it more difficult to turn a blind eye to underage partying. We also know that underage partying increases the risk of addiction. Regardless, parents need to understand these risks to be in the best position possible for prevention.
Some people say the only thing they did was drink too much, too often, for too long. When I went into treatment the exact words I heard from numerous people in my life was, “the general consensus is that you overreacted”. My family knew I drank a lot but I don’t think they would have all classified me as an alcoholic. The only person who knew the real severity of the problem was my husband because he knew what happened behind closed doors. The Jellenick Curve is a great resource to understand the general progression of ones addiction. Be warned, the curve always reads left to right, it will never go right to left for more than a short period of time. What this means is once we drink enough to open those neuropathways that crave alcohol, it is very difficult (and many would say impossible) to ever completely shut them off. So many people have addictive tendencies and addictive behaviors but it takes a perfect storm to move into the final stages of alcoholism. We know enough today that many are fortunate to be able to stop well before they become the “homeless guy under the bridge with the brown bag”. Below are just a few of the initial signs that I was in trouble:
· Immediately wanting a drink in my hand at any function
· Frequently telling myself “Just one more”
· Thinking it was ok to drive after three glasses of wine-because its not
· Making excuses to drink, bars after work with coworkers, out to dinner, etc.
· Waking up the next morning with guilt about breaking promises to myself
· Always being one of the last ones to leave the party
· My husband starting to watch/comment about my drinking at gatherings
· Switching from hard alcohol to beer only, to wine only, then to hard alcohol only because it had less calories
For more information on how to overcome addiction of any kind call 774-329-4393.
One of my favorite gurus, Robin Sharma, has talked about his Forced Optimization Strategy (FOS), forcing ourselves into doing the things we need to do in the beginning of forming a new habit (when it is most difficult) instead of relying on willpower. As an example he suggests hiring a personal trainer 3 times a week to come knock on your door and get you working out. There is no way to fail here. I believe recovery coaching and sober companions are exactly the same. When you commit and invest in having someone who has battled and overcome addictive behaviors hold you accountable and help get you where you need to be, it is far more difficult to fail. I don’t care if you think you aren’t exhibiting the signs of alcoholism according to a survey you saw online. If there is something in your life that you feel is holding you back from reaching your highest potential, its time to get in recovery mode. I say it time and time again; everyone needs a therapist and a coach if they really want to live life to its fullest…one to deal with the past and the other to get you where you want to go. What are you waiting for!?!
The SAMHSA working definition of recovery is “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Everyone in the world is recovering some something if they choose to be, and I strongly believe that everyone should be!! As I have said time and time again, even if it’s not a drug addiction or alcoholism you may have a different way of distracting yourself from being completely honest and living your best life. AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! So, in honor of and as my official kickoff to Recovery Month, I am posting a list of some of the primary things recovery means to me and a recovery coach.
1. Not blaming others for circumstances in my life.
2. Being 100% available physically and emotionally for the people I love.
3. Alleviating chaos in my life.
4. Losing my keys 80% less frequently than I did before.
5. Consistently working on being a better human being.
6. Realizing that 99% of what others think of me is none of my business.
7. Eliminating the outer reach for inner peace.
8. Working to be in the present moment because it’s all there is.
9. Practicing (and yes it takes a hell of a lot of practice) self-love.
10. Approaching myself and the world with open mindedness and compassion.
11. Having a (no longer chemically fueled) blast.
12. Laughing and smiling as frequently as possible.
I have always wanted pink hair. In high school I knew my parents would never allow it, and then after 18 I heard if I dyed it getting a job would be virtually impossible. So now, I’m 34 with my own recovery coach business, showing the world how to freely be whom they really are, and I am still scared to have pink hair. “What if people think I’m not intelligent and professional enough? What if they don’t take me seriously?" And there you have it, that very paranoid, fearful, judgmental voice that got me drinking and numbing my feelings in the first place. What the HELL!? Why is it still there? I am so pissed off that I still have to deal with her! The truth is, while I have made so much progress, until we are dead, we are never cured from being human. And this is where I have to remind myself of the Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves posted below. Each day we are faced with decisions all day long. As humans the reality of an internal battle between love and fear is inescapable. I continued to choose fear over loving and trusting my true self and knowing that I will be all right if pink hair is how I choose to express myself. I remind myself that the people who have an issue with my pink hair is saying something about them and nothing about me. So I will be getting my pink hair extensions despite any fearful voices. I will feed love and I will feed recovery.
Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
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.