Sponsorship in AA

See I felt that I could get everything I need from the meeting. He explained to me that going to a meeting and attending it was only a fraction of the part of staying sober. He said that sobriety is a 24 hour a day deal. He made a key point is telling me that my way of thinking stinks. My best thinking got me to that meeting trying to stay sober. He explained to me that I have to stay in touch with someone who has been doing what I was trying to do – for many years.

He told me that if I did not seek help then I would end up trying to handle everything on my own. To be honest, I felt this man had some other motive. I couldn’t understand why he would spend all this time trying to explain sponsorship to me. I just spent a month in drug rehab and I was going to meetings and I felt like I was doing enough.

I was waiting a few weeks and then I went to a step series. They were talking about the importance of sponsorship and working the steps. They told me after the meeting that I needed a sponsor to help guide me through the steps. I was starting to feel less and less comfortable on a daily basis. Perhaps this man was right that I could not handle life on my own and I needed help. Perhaps I was at the point where I had to either work the steps and take the program of recovery to a new level, or just try something else. While walking to my car I bumped into that man again. He asked me how I felt and I was honest. He told me that all I have to do is call him. He offered to help me work the steps. His name was Jim. This was a decade ago. I am still sober. Jim has since passed away but I have a new sponsor. Since then I have had the honor of working with several guys who were once confused and new to the program as I once was.

See I felt that I could get everything I need from the meeting. He explained to me that going to a meeting and attending it was only a fraction of the part of staying sober. He said that sobriety is a 24 hour a day deal. He made a key point is telling me that my way of thinking stinks. My best thinking got me to that meeting trying to stay sober. He explained to me that I have to stay in touch with someone who has been doing what I was trying to do – for many years.

He told me that if I did not seek help then I would end up trying to handle everything on my own. To be honest, I felt this man had some other motive. I couldn’t understand why he would spend all this time trying to explain sponsorship to me. I just spent a month in drug rehab and I was going to meetings and I felt like I was doing enough.

I was waiting a few weeks and then I went to a step series. They were talking about the importance of sponsorship and working the steps. They told me after the meeting that I needed a sponsor to help guide me through the steps. I was starting to feel less and less comfortable on a daily basis. Perhaps this man was right that I could not handle life on my own and I needed help. Perhaps I was at the point where I had to either work the steps and take the program of recovery to a new level, or just try something else. While walking to my car I bumped into that man again. He asked me how I felt and I was honest. He told me that all I have to do is call him. He offered to help me work the steps. His name was Jim. This was a decade ago. I am still sober. Jim has since passed away but I have a new sponsor. Since then I have had the honor of working with several guys who were once confused and new to the program as I once was.

My intervention experience

I’ve never met another recovering drug addict or alcoholic that doesn’t count themselves lucky for having a family that cared enough, in the face of a lot of terrible behavior, to get them the help they needed through an intervention. I’ve been involved in two interventions, one was for me, and I was a participant in a friend’s…and although this sounds funny to say, I don’t know which was tougher on me.

I think that in some ways the apprehension of the event is worse than it ever is, and everyone feels better after getting an opportunity to speak the truth, and speak from the heart. An intervention is what finally got me into treatment after years of destructive drinking, and too many failed attempts to quit or cut back. The intervention was planned by my family and friends and run with the help of a professional intervention service, and really left me with no alternative but to accept the treatment they had arranged for me.

They say that admitting the truth is the first step to recovery, and I think that’s true, but what I believe that really means is admitting it out loud to those close to you. This may not be true for everyone, but I knew I had a problem, and I knew I couldn’t beat it on my own; but I could just never seem to ask for the help I needed, and I just couldn’t seem to stop drinking.

Although a lot of the things I heard at my intervention were painful, it was almost a relief for me to know that I couldn’t keep on as I had been, and that faced with the love and concern of my family and friends, I would have to get help. Obviously everyone is different, and what I felt and how I reacted won’t necessarily occur in another intervention; but after speaking to a lot of recovering addicts about their experiences, I’ve never met a single one who regrets what their family did, or blames them in any way for the confrontation.

An intervention is an expression of love, and is generally only considered once things have gotten pretty bad. If you’re wondering if an intervention may be necessary for a family member or close friend…then it probably is! It’s normal to feel apprehensive about doing an intervention; you just need to remember that you are doing it because you care and because you really want to help. It won’t be easy, but in the long run it’s the best thing to do.

You may want to run your own intervention, but getting the advice of a professional is always a good idea. My sisters did when they planned my intervention, and said that without the help and guidance offered by the service they may never have gotten past the family quarrelling in the planning stages. An intervention is tricky, and can be an emotional mine field, and an impartial expert can help to keep things on track, and always keep things moving in a positive direction.

You need to remember that an intervention is only the first step to healing, and while it is an empowering experience for the family, all the pain and suffering caused by any addiction won’t be erased overnight. Very rarely do interventions fail, and even when the addict won’t accept help right away, they’ll usually come around with time. Have some planning sessions with the participating members, include a professional, and remember that you’re only doing this because you care.

Stay strong, say what you need to, and the rest is ultimately up to the addict. Alcoholism and drug addiction never gets better on its own. If someone you love is suffering with addiction, think about whether they might benefit from an intervention leading to treatment. I know it saved my life!

I’ve never met another recovering drug addict or alcoholic that doesn’t count themselves lucky for having a family that cared enough, in the face of a lot of terrible behavior, to get them the help they needed through an intervention. I’ve been involved in two interventions, one was for me, and I was a participant in a friend’s…and although this sounds funny to say, I don’t know which was tougher on me.

I think that in some ways the apprehension of the event is worse than it ever is, and everyone feels better after getting an opportunity to speak the truth, and speak from the heart. An intervention is what finally got me into treatment after years of destructive drinking, and too many failed attempts to quit or cut back. The intervention was planned by my family and friends and run with the help of a professional intervention service, and really left me with no alternative but to accept the treatment they had arranged for me.

They say that admitting the truth is the first step to recovery, and I think that’s true, but what I believe that really means is admitting it out loud to those close to you. This may not be true for everyone, but I knew I had a problem, and I knew I couldn’t beat it on my own; but I could just never seem to ask for the help I needed, and I just couldn’t seem to stop drinking.

Although a lot of the things I heard at my intervention were painful, it was almost a relief for me to know that I couldn’t keep on as I had been, and that faced with the love and concern of my family and friends, I would have to get help. Obviously everyone is different, and what I felt and how I reacted won’t necessarily occur in another intervention; but after speaking to a lot of recovering addicts about their experiences, I’ve never met a single one who regrets what their family did, or blames them in any way for the confrontation.

An intervention is an expression of love, and is generally only considered once things have gotten pretty bad. If you’re wondering if an intervention may be necessary for a family member or close friend…then it probably is! It’s normal to feel apprehensive about doing an intervention; you just need to remember that you are doing it because you care and because you really want to help. It won’t be easy, but in the long run it’s the best thing to do.

You may want to run your own intervention, but getting the advice of a professional is always a good idea. My sisters did when they planned my intervention, and said that without the help and guidance offered by the service they may never have gotten past the family quarrelling in the planning stages. An intervention is tricky, and can be an emotional mine field, and an impartial expert can help to keep things on track, and always keep things moving in a positive direction.

You need to remember that an intervention is only the first step to healing, and while it is an empowering experience for the family, all the pain and suffering caused by any addiction won’t be erased overnight. Very rarely do interventions fail, and even when the addict won’t accept help right away, they’ll usually come around with time. Have some planning sessions with the participating members, include a professional, and remember that you’re only doing this because you care.

Stay strong, say what you need to, and the rest is ultimately up to the addict. Alcoholism and drug addiction never gets better on its own. If someone you love is suffering with addiction, think about whether they might benefit from an intervention leading to treatment. I know it saved my life!

Kids and Drugs…Don’t Ignore the Signs of Abuse

Photo: Jaypeg21Finding out my 14 year old niece had been experimenting with drugs was shocking, and although she has sworn she won’t use again…how can we as parents know that our kids are safe from drugs?

Her Rights to Privacy?

I’ve decided that her privacy rights are less important than ensuring that she is drug free, and although it’s never fun or pleasant to invade someone’s personal space, if that’s what it takes to keep her safe, then that’s what I’ll do.

The years of adolescence are a period of transition and often a period of experimentation; and this is of course simply the normal progression and maturation into adulthood. But this willingness to experiment, coupled with a perception of immortality, makes the likelihood of trying and potentially abusing drugs very high.

Most kids don’t do drugs, a lot do but never have a problem, and a small percentage of kids will sadly suffer the devastation of addiction, at a time of life that can be tough enough as it is. You want to be there for your kids, but as they age and separate in their quest for autonomy, it can be increasingly tough to feel confident that you really know your kids, and more importantly, know what they’re up to. All you can do as parents is to educate your kids about the dangers and keep on the lookout for any of the warning signs that may point to drug abuse; and should anything indicate drug use, be ready to take the steps necessary to protect your kids. You want to trust you kids and give them the personal space they crave, but if you’re concerned about drug use, it’s better to have them seething as you search their room, then possibly let them continue on the road to destruction.

As a recovering drug and alcohol addict, I’ve always been confident that I’d know of any drug or alcohol use pretty quickly

I know how addicts behave, and I’m far too familiar with the effects of most drugs – but I guess I wasn’t as perceptive as I thought. My 14 year old niece (I’m her legal guardian) recently jumped out of the car after school only to have a bottle of Visine tumble out of her pocket onto the seat.

We both saw it, and although she tried to act nonchalant, I know that normal kids have no need for eye drops, and remember all to well hastily fixing my own eyes before walking past my parents when I was a kid. After a long and serious talk, she eventually confessed to using marijuana with her friends, and although adamant that it was no big deal, has agreed to stop using.

I know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that she will, but at least I now know she’s vulnerable to drugs and abuse, and I am going to be watching her pretty carefully for the next few years. Now if she hadn’t confessed to her usage, this would have left me in a very uncomfortable position. I don’t believe that she has a need for Visine other than to hide the symptoms of drug use, but I have no other solid evidence to confirm my suspicions. At this point, you can either accept them at their word, or invade their privacy to get concrete evidence one way or the other.

Not an easy or fun decision; but I know how destructive drug use can become, and as such I know what I would have done.

I thought I was safe

She’s a good student, and doesn’t display any of the normal and stereotypical behaviors of drug use, and so I thought she was in the clear. Everyone needs to talk to their kids about drugs, but just as importantly, don’t assume that simply because your child looks and acts the same, that they are not using drugs.

Anyone can fall victim to drug abuse, and sometimes behavioral changes, failing grades, and failing health don’t appear until the abuse has already become severe. It is far better to discover drug abuse in the early stages, and so parents must be vigilant and observant for any indications of use. With cheap drugs like meth and school-yard heroin now available, it wouldn’t take much experimentation to destroy a life full of promise, and although education helps, it’s not always enough.

Be there for your kids, and be aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate drug use. Teens value privacy, but you’ve got to keep them safe, and if you need to invade their personal space to ensure they’re drug free, then maybe it needs to be done.

Photo: Jaypeg21Finding out my 14 year old niece had been experimenting with drugs was shocking, and although she has sworn she won’t use again…how can we as parents know that our kids are safe from drugs?

Her Rights to Privacy?

I’ve decided that her privacy rights are less important than ensuring that she is drug free, and although it’s never fun or pleasant to invade someone’s personal space, if that’s what it takes to keep her safe, then that’s what I’ll do.

The years of adolescence are a period of transition and often a period of experimentation; and this is of course simply the normal progression and maturation into adulthood. But this willingness to experiment, coupled with a perception of immortality, makes the likelihood of trying and potentially abusing drugs very high.

Most kids don’t do drugs, a lot do but never have a problem, and a small percentage of kids will sadly suffer the devastation of addiction, at a time of life that can be tough enough as it is. You want to be there for your kids, but as they age and separate in their quest for autonomy, it can be increasingly tough to feel confident that you really know your kids, and more importantly, know what they’re up to. All you can do as parents is to educate your kids about the dangers and keep on the lookout for any of the warning signs that may point to drug abuse; and should anything indicate drug use, be ready to take the steps necessary to protect your kids. You want to trust you kids and give them the personal space they crave, but if you’re concerned about drug use, it’s better to have them seething as you search their room, then possibly let them continue on the road to destruction.

As a recovering drug and alcohol addict, I’ve always been confident that I’d know of any drug or alcohol use pretty quickly

I know how addicts behave, and I’m far too familiar with the effects of most drugs – but I guess I wasn’t as perceptive as I thought. My 14 year old niece (I’m her legal guardian) recently jumped out of the car after school only to have a bottle of Visine tumble out of her pocket onto the seat.

We both saw it, and although she tried to act nonchalant, I know that normal kids have no need for eye drops, and remember all to well hastily fixing my own eyes before walking past my parents when I was a kid. After a long and serious talk, she eventually confessed to using marijuana with her friends, and although adamant that it was no big deal, has agreed to stop using.

I know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that she will, but at least I now know she’s vulnerable to drugs and abuse, and I am going to be watching her pretty carefully for the next few years. Now if she hadn’t confessed to her usage, this would have left me in a very uncomfortable position. I don’t believe that she has a need for Visine other than to hide the symptoms of drug use, but I have no other solid evidence to confirm my suspicions. At this point, you can either accept them at their word, or invade their privacy to get concrete evidence one way or the other.

Not an easy or fun decision; but I know how destructive drug use can become, and as such I know what I would have done.

I thought I was safe

She’s a good student, and doesn’t display any of the normal and stereotypical behaviors of drug use, and so I thought she was in the clear. Everyone needs to talk to their kids about drugs, but just as importantly, don’t assume that simply because your child looks and acts the same, that they are not using drugs.

Anyone can fall victim to drug abuse, and sometimes behavioral changes, failing grades, and failing health don’t appear until the abuse has already become severe. It is far better to discover drug abuse in the early stages, and so parents must be vigilant and observant for any indications of use. With cheap drugs like meth and school-yard heroin now available, it wouldn’t take much experimentation to destroy a life full of promise, and although education helps, it’s not always enough.

Be there for your kids, and be aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate drug use. Teens value privacy, but you’ve got to keep them safe, and if you need to invade their personal space to ensure they’re drug free, then maybe it needs to be done.

The slippery slope to pain pill addiction

Pain pills are seductive; they feel so good, and because they’re prescribed…you feel justified to use and abuse. In rehab I learned that my story is depressingly common, and millions of people are hooked on a medication that is supposed to ease pain, not cause more.

If you’re an addict, and you’ve never abused pills, then you are certainly in the minority. A drug is a drug is a drug, and legal, clean and relatively cheap doctor prescribed pharmaceuticals can be an easy path to the high we all crave.

I’ve always been mostly a drinker, and through a lot of pain and suffering, plus a lot of help from my sponsor, I eventually got into recovery and had been sober for more than 3 years…until I discovered pain pills. I got injured on the job, and was prescribed tramadol and then later vicodin for the pain in my back. The combination of too much time at home, and legitimate pain pill needs led me quickly back to drug abuse.

I never intended to abuse the medications, and in retrospect, I should have informed my doctor of my history of abuse and asked for less addictive medications, but I didn’t…and for a while I had a whole lot of fun! I started taking only the recommended dosage, and it made me feel better, and it became increasingly easy to justify taking a bit extra and a bit more often, after all, I did have a legitimate need for the pills! That self delusion ended quickly, and after a couple of weeks I knew I was using far more to get high that for symptoms relief, but I just didn’t care…those pills felt too good. I didn’t need to hide my usage either, and family members never knew how much I was using, and never suspected a problem like I had had with drinking.

The problem began with my doctor, and after about 6 months, he became increasingly reluctant to continue prescribing the pills in the quantity I needed. He began prescribing gradually lesser amounts of the pills in an effort to taper down my usage, while what I really needed was ever greater amounts just to feed my increasing physical and psychological dependency. What began as a relatively guilt free, and rationalizable bit of fun, started to feel a whole lot more like a problem when I started to visit doctor after doctor, trying to get more pills; and enduring their sometimes incredulous expressions of disbelief as they prescribed small doses of medications.

I really started to feel like the junky I had become and it wasn’t fun anymore. The pills were never as pleasurable as they were in the beginning, and as my usage continued, my family started to grow increasingly concerned about my odd behaviors, and my seemingly never ending period of recuperation. I hated lying to doctors and knowing they didn’t believe me, and I hated that constant worry and stress about getting my needed supply. I tried to quit on my own, but the withdrawal was too tough, and I just couldn’t do it.

I eventually told my wife, who by this point was getting very concerned and suspicious, and she kicked my but right back into treatment, like I knew she would. Detox was rough, but I made it, and the classes and therapy helped my get my head back on straight. I thought I had beaten my battle with addiction, and had stopped going to meetings as a result, but I now realize that I need to be vigilant for life, or I’ll be back down where I started, an addict again.

The moral of the story is to be very cautious of pain pills, especially if you have any history of addiction. They feel too good, and it’s too easy to rationalize your usage. They take the pain away, but the pain they cause is worse than the initial problem ever was.

Pain pills are seductive; they feel so good, and because they’re prescribed…you feel justified to use and abuse. In rehab I learned that my story is depressingly common, and millions of people are hooked on a medication that is supposed to ease pain, not cause more.

If you’re an addict, and you’ve never abused pills, then you are certainly in the minority. A drug is a drug is a drug, and legal, clean and relatively cheap doctor prescribed pharmaceuticals can be an easy path to the high we all crave.

I’ve always been mostly a drinker, and through a lot of pain and suffering, plus a lot of help from my sponsor, I eventually got into recovery and had been sober for more than 3 years…until I discovered pain pills. I got injured on the job, and was prescribed tramadol and then later vicodin for the pain in my back. The combination of too much time at home, and legitimate pain pill needs led me quickly back to drug abuse.

I never intended to abuse the medications, and in retrospect, I should have informed my doctor of my history of abuse and asked for less addictive medications, but I didn’t…and for a while I had a whole lot of fun! I started taking only the recommended dosage, and it made me feel better, and it became increasingly easy to justify taking a bit extra and a bit more often, after all, I did have a legitimate need for the pills! That self delusion ended quickly, and after a couple of weeks I knew I was using far more to get high that for symptoms relief, but I just didn’t care…those pills felt too good. I didn’t need to hide my usage either, and family members never knew how much I was using, and never suspected a problem like I had had with drinking.

The problem began with my doctor, and after about 6 months, he became increasingly reluctant to continue prescribing the pills in the quantity I needed. He began prescribing gradually lesser amounts of the pills in an effort to taper down my usage, while what I really needed was ever greater amounts just to feed my increasing physical and psychological dependency. What began as a relatively guilt free, and rationalizable bit of fun, started to feel a whole lot more like a problem when I started to visit doctor after doctor, trying to get more pills; and enduring their sometimes incredulous expressions of disbelief as they prescribed small doses of medications.

I really started to feel like the junky I had become and it wasn’t fun anymore. The pills were never as pleasurable as they were in the beginning, and as my usage continued, my family started to grow increasingly concerned about my odd behaviors, and my seemingly never ending period of recuperation. I hated lying to doctors and knowing they didn’t believe me, and I hated that constant worry and stress about getting my needed supply. I tried to quit on my own, but the withdrawal was too tough, and I just couldn’t do it.

I eventually told my wife, who by this point was getting very concerned and suspicious, and she kicked my but right back into treatment, like I knew she would. Detox was rough, but I made it, and the classes and therapy helped my get my head back on straight. I thought I had beaten my battle with addiction, and had stopped going to meetings as a result, but I now realize that I need to be vigilant for life, or I’ll be back down where I started, an addict again.

The moral of the story is to be very cautious of pain pills, especially if you have any history of addiction. They feel too good, and it’s too easy to rationalize your usage. They take the pain away, but the pain they cause is worse than the initial problem ever was.

Scientists Learn Why Some People Are More at Risk for Addiction

Scientists have long been aware of dopaminergic changes in the brains of drug addicted patients, but no one really knew whether those brain differences pre dated and increased the likelihood of addiction, or were caused as a result of drug use through addiction. Researchers at the University of Cambridge now have the answer, and their findings are exciting addictions researchers considering the treatment implications of this new data.

Using animal subjects and PET brain scanning, researchers where able to identify statistically significant differences in the brains of animals that were later to prove more susceptible to cocaine addiction. The animals more susceptible to cocaine addiction had fewer dopamine receptors in a certain region of the brain, and this finding is consistent with "after" studies of drug addicted humans who also show this reduction in dopamine receptors.

While research is in the very early stages, scientists say that this discovery could prove ground breaking for the treatment of addiction, and that future recovery techniques may be far more effective and less intrusive than current techniques. Researchers also speculate that these brain changes will be seen not only with drug addiction, but with all sorts of compulsive and unhealthy behaviors, such as gambling and sex addiction as well.

When researchers have a better understanding of the gene expressions that indicate this brain sub set, prophylactic treatments may even be possible, minimizing the possibility of abuse in susceptible individuals before it occurs. Good news on the horizon for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

Scientists have long been aware of dopaminergic changes in the brains of drug addicted patients, but no one really knew whether those brain differences pre dated and increased the likelihood of addiction, or were caused as a result of drug use through addiction. Researchers at the University of Cambridge now have the answer, and their findings are exciting addictions researchers considering the treatment implications of this new data.

Using animal subjects and PET brain scanning, researchers where able to identify statistically significant differences in the brains of animals that were later to prove more susceptible to cocaine addiction. The animals more susceptible to cocaine addiction had fewer dopamine receptors in a certain region of the brain, and this finding is consistent with "after" studies of drug addicted humans who also show this reduction in dopamine receptors.

While research is in the very early stages, scientists say that this discovery could prove ground breaking for the treatment of addiction, and that future recovery techniques may be far more effective and less intrusive than current techniques. Researchers also speculate that these brain changes will be seen not only with drug addiction, but with all sorts of compulsive and unhealthy behaviors, such as gambling and sex addiction as well.

When researchers have a better understanding of the gene expressions that indicate this brain sub set, prophylactic treatments may even be possible, minimizing the possibility of abuse in susceptible individuals before it occurs. Good news on the horizon for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.