“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
September is National Recovery Month. it’s a time to recognize that recovery is possible in people with addiction and/or mental illness and to celebrate those seeking it and the millions who are in recovery. This celebrating can bring hope to those who continue to suffer. This message of hope is not just for the individuals with the disease, but also for the countless moms, dads, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, and friends who love them. Loving someone with the disease of addiction and/or mental illness is hard; very hard. In our zest to focus on those suffering from these diseases, many don’t recognize how every corner of the family and friend’s lives are also affected.
Isolation, confusion, anger, depression, and fear are often seen. Frequently family, friends, and co-workers take on many of the responsibilities the loved one once had; they become exhausted, stressed, and spiritually empty. Even people who are not so close to those suffering from addiction and/or mental illness can be touched through employee absenteeism, poor services, and the general instability surrounding them. This is not to place blame, but rather to help others realize how the hope of a better life and world involving addiction/mental health needs to spread. When one’s life is adrift in this chaos, “hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (Hebrew 6:19). Hope can be everything.
A definition of the word transition is movement from one state to another. When applied to people, transitions result in changed relationships, routines, assumptions and/or roles. They can be sudden and unpredictable such as being fired from your job or an accidental death. Or they can be predictable such as your child graduating from High School. Lastly they can happen from a non-event; when something was expected to change but failed to happen i.e. being left at the altar.
Transitions are not easy given they involve one’s heart, sense of purpose and/or identity. The process of moving through change can be painful and erratic consisting of a two step forward and one step back type of dance. People who love someone with an addiction become quite familiar with this routine.
Living each day waiting for the other shoe to drop is a miserable way to live. It doesn’t have to be that way. No matter what happens to your alcoholic/addict, your life can get better. It involves reshaping how you think and building a personal foundation that cannot be toppled by others. Deciding you no longer want to live in pain and chaos is a good place to start. Help is out there you just need to take that first step.
“Transition isn’t pretty, but stagnation is hideous.”
When talking about recovery from addiction, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services) provides the following definition: 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.
I’ve been in the enviable position to have spent time with a variety of people in solid recovery. What I’ve learned from these wonderful folks is, no matter one’s recovery path there are themes that are seen in all.
The commonalities in their recovery are: Education, so one can gain understanding, skills and insight into the dynamics of their personal situation. Brutal honesty, with self and others. Courage to keep trying, no matter what. Kindness to self and others, including fixing past mistakes and damaged relationships. Making time to spend with healthy supportive people and a sense of humor.
Although the above is focused on addiction and/or mental health recovery, it applies to pretty much anyone. Taking the time to look at yourself, work at being the best person you can be along with developing and living a solid value system is likely why recovering folks can be some of our best human beings.
Parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents, consider this. You enter the space of a child or adolescent who is on a smart phone, ipad, tablet, computer, x-box etc…… and you try to engage them in conversation. The response you get may be something like urghh. You try again and with great effort they tear their eyes away and will perhaps give you a short vague sentence and are clearly annoyed. The next thing you know they have moved to a different room. You now realize your beloved child is not spending much time with his peers, is not getting out of the house much and is irritable when you ask them to stop playing. What’s happened to the sunny, happy, talkative child you used to know?
Recently an article came out talking about the negative effects of digital games. It explains how video games and the technology involved is so arousing it raises dopamine levels in the brain. Brain imaging has shown the cortex is affected similarly to drug use. So it makes sense why this lovely child is more interested in being “plugged in” than interacting with people, reading or being outside, it’s more stimulating and “feels good”. A long time ago a cocaine addict explained his experience to me like this: when he was using, life had the sharpest colors imaginable and the surround sound was the best anyone could buy. When he wasn’t using it was like being in an old black and white movie with a fuzzy picture and no sound. That might not apply to all but it does help one understand the difference between real life and what is at ones finger tips. Given the technology today it can be hard for regular people, ball games, books or mothernature to compete with the color, action, realism, excitement and sound of these fast moving games.
Yes there is some debate about this, however when a person continues to do something that is affecting other areas of their life negatively it needs to considered. Clearly the internet, technology and all involved with it is a crucial part of our lives. So what do we do? Get informed. Limit the time kids are on-line/playing video games. Talk to them of your concerns and get them outside, interact with others, develop other hobbies or leisure activities, be involved with them, and be a good role model. As a grandparent I am going to try hard to do this and my grandchildrens’future gifts will not be video games, rather they will encourage (I hope) things such as swimming, reading, fishing and doing things as a family.
Wondering what to do? Check out material from the Lost and Found Library or talk to Beth at 218-287-2089.
Kardaras, N. (2016, August, 27). It’s digital heroin: how screens turn kids into psychotic junkies. New York Post. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/
Rosenblum, A. (2016, September/October). Warped reality. What will it mean when millions of people play-and kill- in virtual reality? Psychology Today Magazine. (Volume),
Did you know that a higher percentage of attorneys and physicians struggle with problematic drinking behaviors than the general public?
According to a study by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation of 12,825 licensed attorneys and judges from 19 states, 21% to 36% of those surveyed qualified as having problematic drinking behaviors. In comparison, about 15% of physicians have problematic drinking and, according to this article, about 7% of Americans have an alcohol use disorder. In addition, 28% of those practicing law were experiencing mild, moderate or severe depression, 61% had experienced anxiety during their career and 11.5% had suicidal thoughts.
These findings support what we at Lost and Found Recovery Center have known for years, that some of our best and brightest people seem to suffer from alcohol use disorder. The individuals that families talk about or we have the privilege to meet often share the following characteristics:
they are very bright,
they care about others, particularly animals and children,
they will be the first to give you “the shirt off their backs” and
they seem to have incredible innate talents such as creativity, the ability to figure things out or can just fix things.
Is it no wonder that our esteemed professions, such as the law would attract these folks? One of the sad comments from this study was that only 7%of those who needed treatment actuallyreceived alcohol/other drug services or treatment.
Why don’t they get the help they need? The reason given was, “Lawyers don’t seek help for their behavioral health problems because they fear someone will find out and it will discredit them and possibly affect their license.”
Once again, the stigma of alcoholism/addiction freezes people from getting into recovery. From the above statistics one can easily see that some of our most learned people can have this disease; people who went through years of advanced study to provide services we all need.
As one respected colleague who is in recovery says, “I’m not the old me I’m a much better version of the old me.”Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a world where all who are affected by alcoholism/addiction could get the help and support they need so they too could be an even better version of themselves?
Lost and Found Recovery Center in partnership with reGROUP: Peer Advocates for Addiction Recovery offers individualized professional counseling support along with peer coaching and telephone support. Confidential, non-judgmental, honoring all pathways to recovery. Take action today to create a new tomorrow. Call 218-287-2089, firstname.lastname@example.org, for help for you or a loved one.