I attended The Catholic University of America. As a freshman on Halloween I was ecstatic to dress as a pregnant nun. There was something powerful about being so “out there” with something that could be viewed as so shameful. I wanted people to be uncomfortable with their own judgments. Now, years later I am deeply troubled by the constant shame I see working as recovery coach and interventionist. From the man mortified that his place of employment has uncovered his past history of abusing pain pills, to the mother who refuses to be seen at an Alanon Meeting for support with her daughters drug addiction, shame proliferates in the world of addictive behaviors. Guilt is different; it is feeling bad for wrong behaviors, and can actually keep us aligned with doing the right thing. But shame is part of how we ended up drinking, drugging, eating, or passing down unhealthy family legacies in the first place. In the words of Brene Brown, “ I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.” I was not embarrassed to ask for leave from my place of employment so I could go to treatment. I had a drinking problem. This was my truth. I was seeking help to fix the problem; there is NO shame in that. I want people to start recognizing shaming behavior in themselves and as they interact with others. If you have shaming tendencies, follow Brene Brown, and start to free yourself and the people around you!
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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.
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.
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...
I wanted to share this very basic (but very awesome!) article on understanding addiction and how it creeps up on so many unsuspecting people. No one wants to admit they are a drug addict or an alcoholic. I realized a long time ago that these labels, and the confusion about what they meant to me, were preventing me from being brutally honest with myself and getting the help I needed. There are so many types of addiction that this article could be talking about. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of alcoholism or is dealing with drug abuse or other addictive behaviors, call us today at 774-329-4393.
Understanding How Drug Addicts Think: The Progression of Addiction
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.