Be Yourself in Recovery

My name is Carl and I am a person in long term recovery from mental health and addiction. Ever since I was in High school I always wanted to be the so called “cool guy.” When I was around 18 years of age I thought it was cool to be a bad boy. The kind of person who goes out and uses drugs, gets into trouble, steels and gets into fights. I thought if I become this kind of person I would be respected by my peers. So for about 4 years I was living that lifestyle. I tried crack-cocaine for the first time when I was 21 years of age and was instantly addicted. At first I thought it was cool to use drugs but I found out that living a life of addiction will lead to misery and heartache. Their was a time I almost committed suicide because I was so fed up with my addiction. Luckily, someone was there to save me and bring me to the hospital to get treatment. After this experience I then realized that living a life of addiction isn’t cool at all. It can lead to incarceration, hospitalization and even death. I started my recovery process after I left the hospital by going to NA meetings, seeing a recovery coach and focusing on my career. I have now been clean for about a year and 10 months and June 15th 2018 will be my 2 years clean date. My advice for everyone and anyone would be to not try to do something or change yourself Just to impress others. Do the right things and most importantly be yourself. Do what makes you happy and people will love you for who you are. Even if they don’t, who cares! As long as you love yourself that’s all that matters. I love me today.

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Coping With Stress In Recovery

Now here’s a topic I can relate too and experience on a daily basis.  Stress can feel like it’s just a regular part of my life.  Sometimes it can be outside influences and other times I think I may be the cause of it.  Either way, I have to find positive and effective ways to manage my stress.  I need to find ways to relieve stress, especially in recovery, or else it might lead me back to my old behaviors.  Everyday I try  to take care of my husband and sons’ needs the best way I know how.  I make sure the laundry and shopping is done, the dinner is ready, the house is clean, my son’s homework is completed, the dog is walked and so on….On top of that I have to make sure that my personal tasks and goals are met.  With all these responsibilities, stress can take a real toll on a person’s life.  Even when things get done it seems that other issues or emergencies tend to pop up.  I have friends that tell me “Oh why don’t you just make the time for yourself.” That can be difficult when there never seems to be enough time in a day.  I realize that everyone has their own way of coping with stress, but what works for some doesn’t always work for me.  For example,  exercise or going to the gym was okay for a while, but honestly it really wasn’t my thing.  I did find some ways that does help me with stress.  I learned how to take a step back, close my eyes for a moment and just breath.  This was a great way for me to stay calm and relaxed.  I also speak positive things over my life to create the an energetic atmosphere which helps me feel better.  Animals are  really great to have when you’re stressed.  How can I get angry or sad when I have a bundle of cuteness next to me! 🙂 Since, I’ve been in recovery I’ve noticed that I’m constantly keeping busy.  I constantly remind myself that self care is very important!  Volunteering at CCAR Young Adult & Family Program and the awesome young adult peer groups they hold has become a great way for me to communicate and unload.  I love the advice and feedback I get from other recoverees and volunteers. I get a sense of understanding that you can’t always control everything in life.  I am wondering if anyone else out there in recovery world has any other suggestions or ideas regarding how to relieve stress?   Please feel free to share this is a judgement free zone!

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, so I found a couple poems about addiction that I am going to post on our blog over the next couple of weeks. There are many famous writers who battled with alcoholism and drug abuse; Stephen King being one of them. “The master of horror and cocaine, King churned out thousands of pages of work year after year.” His family staged an intervention and showed him how his habits were getting out of control. Another famous writer is William S. Burroughs. Most famous for his book titled Junkie, Burroughs was a heroin and opioid addict. Finally, more fitting for this month, is Edgar Allan Poe. The greatest poet of the nineteenth century, Poe died in mysterious circumstances. It’s almost certain that his addiction to alcohol didn’t help him (drugabuse.com.)

 

Clean and Sober

By Janet Mullaly

Staying clean and sober

is the way i want to be,

but it is not so simple

as you can plainly see.

For some of us it takes some time

to master all the steps,

to recognize our problems

even harder to accept.

Patience is a virtue

in fact it is a must;

So ill believe in higher power

and in him Ill put my trust.

A spiritual awakening

is what its going to take,

if its clean and sober

my life I wish make.

Commitment in Recovery

Hi everyone! Today I want to talk about commitment in recovery. You may be asking, “What does this mean?” For me,commitment in recovery is about taking responsibility for my self and my actions when it comes to my recovery.  When  I first got sober, I was hesitant to commit to anything for fear of failure. I was scared to make commitments to anybody. So the best I could do was make a commitment to myself.  At first, my commitment was to just stay sober for “today” or even just the next hour. As time went by, and my time in sobriety got longer, I was able to make other types of commitments. I committed myself to going back to school and finishing my degree. I started seeing the future play out and committed to living a sober lifestyle. I remained responsible for myself and my actions and realized that even just small gestures went a long way. What I mean by “small gestures” is that even just promising somebody I would meet them at a certain time- actually showing up at the designated time was a huge success for me. In my active addiction I was far from responsible and couldn’t make a commitment to save my life-figuratively and literally. Today I am able to hold myself accountable. I believe I am a better person because of my commitment to my recovery. Commitment in recovery does not have to be huge goals or a goal that you will never be able to reach. It is all about moderation. Setting goals that you know you will be able to accomplish, even if you need to set a goal to “get through the next twenty minutes”- once you get through the next twenty minutes you have a accomplished that goal and will feel better about yourself.

Overall, making a commitment to yourself should be the top priority. It can be a commitment to anything in your life to make yourself better in some type of way. So long as you hold yourself responsible. And remember, sometimes life happens and we fall back or slip up. Just remember, “Never quit. If you stumble, get back up. What happened yesterday no longer matters. Today is another day so get on track and move closer to your dreams and goals. You can do it!”

My Collegiate Journey in Recovery

Hello Everyone! I am an intern at CCAR Young Adult & Family Program.  I am currently a student at college and will be graduating this year with an Associates in Human Services. In contribution to National History Month for women, I would like to talk about being a student while in recovery and some of the challenges that I faced.  I am proud to say that I have 9 years of clean time and will continue to work my recovery.  According to the Betty Ford Institute, alcohol and drug abuse is widely recognized on college campus.  I have seen and also been influenced by drugs and alcohol when attending school. It was very tempting for me to meet up with my fellow peers, ditch classes, so we can have some drinks and maybe something more.  That was when I first started school 13 years ago, and there wasn’t much talk about recovery. I had no connections in terms of obtaining resources.  I was ashamed to talk to someone. Of course there were guidance counselors, but I felt guilty about seeing them. I felt as though they would only look down upon me or stereotype.  I eventually dropped out of college because the addiction took over my life.  Since I’ve been back after those years, I have noticed that there are more support groups and other services around the school.  I see flyers posted with all kinds of information about recovery and addiction. This is so important and should be available to the college students. There has been more incidences of underage drinking, alcohol related assaults, accidents, emergency room visits and deaths affecting college students.[National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIAA,2007] College can be difficult and challenging especially we as students experience various life transitions and stressors.  All this can increase our risk with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use.(www.mental healthamerica.net) I can empathize with students who are in recovery because I understand the triggers that we may come across. I think it is important to build a supportive network of peers and to easily access support services at all colleges. Back then I wish I knew about CCAR because I really believe in the values that CCAR stands for and its mission. I find that is also helps my recovery when I stay involved and advocate on the behalf of CCAR. When you’re in recovery there should be a place on campus where we can feel safe and comfortable with other peers in recovery.

Women in Recovery

This month is Women’s History Month!  I would like to give thanks to all of the women, past and present, who have played a role in the recovery community. So, I would like to highlight a couple of important women who have made a difference in recovery. First, I would like to talk about Lois Wilson. Lois is the cofounder of Al-Anon which is a support group that helps family and friends of addicts. Before Al-Anon was even in the picture, she was married to Bill Wilson who is the cofounder of AA. Bill was an alcoholic but Lois stuck by him through it all, losing their house, losing his job, to the point where Lois was the breadwinner and was working in department stores. Lois never gave up on Bill because she loved him more than anything. After Bill started AA, he suggested to her that she should start a group with a similar 12 step program to help families and friends of alcoholics. Anne Smith, wife of AA cofounder Dr. Bob, had been holding groups for wives and families from the beginning but had no formal structure. Lois took on this challenge and made a difference for so many people. For me, being an ally in recovery and volunteering at CCAR Young Adult & Family Program, I know firsthand how important Al-Anon is and how much it helps those family members and friends who attend the meetings. It is important for us to find support with other people going through the same thing and Al-Anon gave us that outlet.

Another woman who has played a key role in recovery is Marty Mann. Mrs. Mann was one of the first women to join AA and she is the founder of NCADD, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Marty Mann was a woman who seemed to have it all, money, friends, good looks, and a great job. But alcohol came in the way of that and she lost it all. In 1939 she become sober thanks to AA, she was there after she was committed to a sanitarium because of alcohol. She wanted to think of a way to help other alcoholics, one day she rose from her bed with this idea, “a plan to teach people the facts about alcoholism. A plan to remove the stigma surrounding it, so people could face it unashamed and unafraid, armed with the weapons of knowledge and able to take constructive action.” She got in contact with Bill Wilson for help, and also E.M. Jellineck who was one of America’s premier researchers in alcoholism and Dr. Howard Haggard of Yale Center for Alcohol Studies. And in 1944 the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism was founded. It had three main messages; 1. Alcoholism is a disease and the alcoholic is suffering from Substance Use Disorder. 2. The alcoholic can be helped and is worth helping. 3. Alcoholism is a public health problem and therefore a public responsibility. These ideas are still universally accepted today.

These two women alone have opened so many doors for people in recovery and have educated those who needed to be. In my opinion, these women are pioneers for the things we still do today. It gives me joy to know how much women have played a role in recovery and how much a difference they have made to this community. There are even more women today that are making a difference, I chose to talk about Lois Wilson and Marty Mann because I feel like they have laid the groundwork for the work that is still being done today. So, thank you to all of the amazing women out there who are making a difference!