FORGIVENESS

In his book “Is Human Forgiveness Possible?” Theologian John Patton examines the New Testament story in which Peter asks Jesus of Nazareth, “Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers: “No, not seven times; I say seventy times seven times.” (Matt. 18:21–22)

Patton comments: Peter’s question seems to say, “Please give me a rule so I don’t have to keep dealing with this. How can I know when enough is enough? I want to know what to do instead of having to come to terms with the whole history of our relationship.” Jesus’ response to the question says in effect, “I am unwilling to give you a way out of a continuing relationship to your brother.”

For the opposite of “resentment” is forgiveness, recognized by centuries of spiritual thinkers as “the endpoint of human life.” Forgiveness is “given,” and not only in English; the French say “par-downer,” the Spanish “per-donar.” That is because, in the words of D. M. Dooling, a student of mythic spirituality: “Forgiveness belongs to the divine. It is God’s act: something other, something that is not ours; and unless we can acknowledge this, the word is only ‘a noise we make with our mouths.’ ”

Forgiveness is not ours to give, but ours to receive. We cannot create it; we can be certain only that it is beyond us, in the sense of beyond our control, beyond our ability to will it into existence.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection

New Beginnings – Genesis

When God began to create, the world was gloomy and in disarray. So God sent forth the Divine spirit, giving it light and order. Genesis 1:1
The new beginning. We read this chapter every year at the start of our Torah Cycle. It may be the most read paragraph in the entire book, by people of all Christian and Jewish faiths. It is where everything started, but is it?
If the world was already “gloomy and in disarray”, might it be that there had been a previous world or maybe several. It could be that lack of success in getting the world in a proper state caused The Power of the Universe to begin over and over again to make something satisfactory, not perfect but good enough to carry-on.
If that be, please indulge me, it would seem consequently that our obligation as creations of this Power is to be as good as we can be and do the right thing. Our Sunlight of the Spirit rested, satisfied that this Creation was good enough to be continued. It makes since that we were created without perfection, as is the world we inhabit.
Maybe, after many tries at perfection, God decided that humans were better off not being perfect; with creativity and kindness could fashion a world to live and love in.
The reality of this concept is a chance to live life on life’s terms. To experience a Spiritual Renewal, marveling at the miracle of creation. It gives us the opportunity every day of our lives to begin again, knowing that we were created into an imperfect world we should not expect perfection from our self or others.
We have only to be thankful, that there is no such thing as failure if we emerge like a newborn to renew our spirit and trust The Power of the Universe. Each day we continue on the journey begun thousands of years ago to renew our life with the strength we were given to succeed.
We can’t fail if we begin again as we were taught.

Can I Stay Away From The First Drink?

The first question I have to answer is; Can I stay away from the first drink?

“So, it seemed to me the answer to this thing lies in do I believe I’ve got it and do I believe it can kill me? If the answer to that is yes, then it doesn’t matter a damn whether it is a physical disease, a spiritual disease, an emotional disease, a mental disease, or a combination of all of them. The fact remains I’ve got to buy whether or not I think it is a killer disease. If the answer to that is yes, then comes the last question, and that is … Would I rather live than die? And, if the answer to that is yes, then you’re finally up against it. You’re up against will I, can I, stay away from the first drink? Can I stay away from the first drink? I had answered this many, many times before and so have all of you. We’ve all stayed away from the first drink for varying lengths of time. I stayed away once for a year and-a half with no trouble at all. So I knew I could stay away from the first drink.”

“I separated the state of sobriety from the state of my soul, from the state of my health, from the state of my finances, from the state of my job, from the state of my love life, if any. I separated it from the state of everything. I simply made up my mind that I would rather live than die, and if I had a disease, I would have to stay away from the first drink, and I knew that if I took all this other stuff from it, if I took the “be a better person” business off of it, I would be able to do it. That night I made a very simple decision and I now know it was the first authentic, 24-carat decision I had ever made in my life, because the minute I made it, I knew I’d be able to do it.”

By Allen Reid McGinnis
The Rest Of Your Life

Beyond Sober by Stephen Doty

Published on Mar 29, 2014

Before you go to AA or therapy, try to quit on your own with this method. It contains 12 reminders for staying sober. It has already worked for others. You will go to a place where the use of alcohol has no appeal or place in your life, so it ceases to be an issue. You will move ‘beyond sober.’

Join others who have simply quit and are glad of it: Al Pacino, Bas Rutten, Chris Weidman, Gary Oldman, Joe Namath, Robert Downey, Jr., Jada Pinkett Smith, Joe Walsh, Donald Trump, and the millionaire DJ called Avicii (Tim Bergling) quit before the age of 25.

This video is designed to be a reminder, to watch once a week or so, to keep you on track. Robin Williams went off track, for example, after he quit initially. He was not ‘beyond sober,’ but you can be: a place where alcohol is no more tempting that a bottle of bleach or any cleaning product under the sink.

Conventional treatment by alcohol-addiction counselors is marred by widespread “myths,” as exposed by a professor of psychiatry at Stanford recently who calls himself an “addiction-treatment professional” too, so he knows it from inside the system. He says these myths include (1) that addiction is a “brain disease” (2) that drinkers have “no capacity for self-control” and (3) that “Among the most enduring of these myths is the idea that no one can recover from a drinking problem without our help… National research surveys have shown repeatedly that most people who resolve a drinking problem never work with a professional.” -Dr. Keith Humphreys WSJ 15 Aug 2015: C3.

So be suspect of counselors who just repeat second-hand opinions that they memorize. They may mean well, but they have no real knowledge of what they say whenever they repeat such myths. This video was based on actual experience, by contrast, with no esteem for any of those three myths. The touchstone for this video is the facts of actual experience.

“The Biology of Desire,” by neuroscientist Marc Lewis, was released since this video was made. He agrees that “addiction” is a bad label, since drug use is really just the normal process of “habit formation.” Just as those habits are learned, others may be learned to take their place. He gives examples of people who have beaten addictions to drugs through new habit formations and identities. The book was reviewed in WSJ 7/22/15: A13. The words addiction and disease are misbegotten, misconceived, misleading and tossed around by mindless imitation, despite being enablers for drinkers who use them as a shield – “It’s an addiction, a disease.” Ask what purpose that serves in the dialogue? It is designed to absolve them of all responsibility for their habit and to ask you not to blame them for continuing to drink forever. It is an excuse, a lame excuse, founded in bad words for the facts. Don’t play their cultist, dogmatic game. Drinking is a habit that can be changed by adopting new habits.

Regarding drugs that may help you, the Betty Ford Clinic now uses naltrexone (Vivitrol) and acamprosate (Campral). Some doctors also recommend varenicline (Chantix) and disulfiram (Anatabuse). These pills have various effects on various people.

Find the video on YouTube.com Titled Beyond Sober

Not Just One Way To Stay Sober

By Sarah A Benton MS, LMHC, LPC

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-high-functioning-alcoholic/201509/not-just-one-way-get-sober

There are many views and opinions about what is needed for alcoholics to maintain long-term sobriety/recovery. There are therapeutic coping skills, the medical model, evidence-based research, 12-Step model, SMART Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, alternative treatments, wilderness therapies, spiritual/religious practices and more… The good news is that there are many resources and ways for individuals to receive support and to get sober. The downside is that individuals may become overwhelmed by options. Each of these recovery models can be applied on a continuum—ranging from moderate to strict to fundamentalist.

In my personal and professional experience, I have observed clients and loved ones acquire sustained recovery in differing ways. It has also been interesting to see how they have found ways to apply different recovery principles and coping skills to suit their beliefs, personality and lifestyle. For some, an extreme and strict framework has been needed and for others, a moderate approach has been more appropriate.

Throughout the treatment, therapeutic and recovery process individuals learn many coping and relapse prevention strategies as well as life skills and spiritual principles intended to improve their prognosis and quality of “sober” life. I have often compared this process to a buffet, where an individual views all of the options, samples some things they may or may not like and then settles on what they prefer. In other words, “take what you like and leave the rest.”
In fact, the most effective way to maintain sobriety is to engage in strategies that are realistic and that an individual is likely to engage in long-term. As therapists, we can make suggestions, but it is important to view each individual as unique and to know that they will have their own journey that will allow them to experience what they may or may not need to change along the way. When treatment centers, addiction professionals, recovery coaches or spiritual leaders are only open to one way to view or to engage in the recovery process, it is important for individuals to be honest themselves about if that view is the right “fit” and if it is resulting in sustained recovery. If not, then there is always the option of integrating various pieces of that approach with additional strategies.

For example, George begins individual therapy with an addiction specialist and has been sober for 1 month. He expressed that he wants to learn different coping and relapse prevention skills and has decided to attend both Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A) and SMART Recovery meetings in addition to therapy and other self-care strategies (exercise, meditation, etc.). The therapist recommends that the client should only attend A.A. and not SMART Recovery and that he should just follow the suggestions of the 12-Step program and then he would not need these other parts to his recovery plan.

The problem: This addiction specialist seems to have experience with the 12-Step/A.A. model, but does not appear to be open-minded to other recovery strategies and models. It is possible to integrate differing recovery models and to find a plan that will work for individuals that suits their unique needs. There also may be parts of some self-help programs such as A.A. and SMART Recovery that may work in combination for some individuals. The strict version of either model may not be the best for all, and “fundamentalist” views on sobriety may turn some individuals away from ceratin approaches. Either way, if the therapist observes that an individual is having relapse issues, then the recovery plan and level of care should be revisited.

It can also be the tendency of those in early recovery to engage in “extreme” behaviors and struggle to find balance in their lives.

Therefore, it is even more important that these individuals strive towards an approach that will allow for consistency—recovery is a marathon and not a sprint! Not just one way to stay sober.

A Recovery Coach Answers Critical Questions

We see so much about addiction in the media and on TV, but many people have a lot of questions about sobriety, what it means and how it will change their lives. Here some answers anyone ready for a change needs to know.

What Is The Point of Sobriety?

Survival. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. The point of sobriety is ‘life over death’. Addiction is a chronic progressive disease that, if untreated, will end in death.

What Is Sobriety?

Sobriety is described as the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc.

What Is The Difference Between Sobriety And Recovery?

We can achieve sobriety by self-willed abstinence. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. The easier and undisciplined way, which is abstinence only, affords a less stressful lack of commitment. It does not involve much self-awareness or inner change.

Recovery is a planned change of lifestyle designed not only to prolong life, but also make it more joyous and free. If the point of sobriety is recovery; then we can have a quality of life with more enjoyment, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance

Questions To Answer When Making A Recovery Plan

We need to know some basic facts before working with a client as a Recovery Coach, the same facts suggested by The Bridge, a publication of the Addiction Treatment Technology Centers. These facts should be used to learn a plan, which the client will write him/herself based on what they have revealed about themselves and other facts of their lifestyle the RC must learn from them:

  1. Full substance abuse history as well as current use
  2. Age, gender, marital status, partner status (sexual activity) and educational status
  3. Occupation & Financial Status
  4. Culture & Ethnicity
  5. Medical, Psychiatric, Psychology and treatment history
  6. Self knowledge of substance abuse
  7. Readiness and Motivation
  8. Spiritual or Religious beliefs and activity
  9. Personal-finances, job, housing, family, support

Are There Alternatives to 12-Step Programs?

Yes. Some people are not comfortable in the beginning of their recovery journey with the 12-step approach, but may come to it later in recovery. Those who dislike the AA approach are especially vulnerable to relapse, as there may be no other place to go for ongoing support. But alternatives do exist and include the following:

• Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)
• A women’s group called WFS
• SOS a self-help program that does not include spirituality
• Life Ring
• Moderation Management

There are many ways to change your life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need someone like a Recovery Coach, especially if they don’t go to AA meetings, to get them back on track.
See Spotlight on Marc Dunn and find him at www.marcjdunn.com

Finding Inspiration In Recovery

By Kristin Reinink
Admissions Counselor
Sanfordhousegr.com

I remember sitting through my first AA meeting like it was yesterday. The first person to share was a seventy something year old man who announced that he was a “grateful recovering alcoholic.” He went on to explain that he had been clean for over twenty years and runs six miles a day. I thought to myself… these people make me sick.

As our disease progresses we find new and creative ways to support our active addiction. Our internal self-talk finds a way to rationalize why our using is “normal” and why we aren’t “addicts/alcoholics.” By doing this over a time we become internally conflicted with believing and therefore behaving in a way that does not align with our morals and values. This process is difficult because we start losing ourselves to our addiction. Our goals, dreams and ultimately our identity is slowly taken from us and replaced with a substance. Most alcoholics and addicts can show with this process and often have a hard time articulating how this process happens or happened.

When someone stops using and gets sober finding inspiration and gratitude can be challenging. The act of getting sober is scary and for many a last resort. Our behavior and thought process has revolved around our using. The motivation behind what we do, say and feel supports our addiction and continued use.

In my experience waking up in a detox unit after a five-year bender was not particularly inspiring. To be honest my disease continued to rationalize why I was not like all the others who had a “real drinking problem”. This thought process took time and patience. It involved accepting the help and guidance of others. Initially I found inspiration in treatment, from my peers, my counselors, mentors and books. I had to trust the process and I still do.

So what helped me find inspiration in recovery? Below is a list of suggestions and techniques etc. that helped me find and maintain sobriety.
• Create a gratitude list – Put a notepad next to your bed. If you are a morning person write a list of things you are grateful for in the morning; if you are a night person then write your list before you go to bed. If you are an over achieve do it both in the AM and PM. If you have a hard time knowing where to begin try making a gratitude list using the alphabet to offer as a guide. (Example: A is for AA Meetings, B is for Books, C is for my sister Chelsea and so on).
• Take in your five senses – Go somewhere quiet, if it helps close your eyes. And think what do I now see, feel, hear, taste and smell. It is easy to move through your day on autopilot. It is healthy to bring yourself back to the present moment and feel grounded.
• Remember – One Day at A Time. In early recovery this saying got me through tough times. Often I would even break this down further and tell myself “one hour at a time.“ Before I knew it my one hours were turning into days, my days into weeks, and weeks into month and so on. It made time doable and helped me do small goals.
• Get out into nature – This is very personal to me and I could probably write a book about it. However, finding the beauty in nature has enhanced the quality of my life…period. I remember talking to a very good friend and mentor who is also in recovery. At the time I was feeling stuck, it was winter and my attitude needed adjustment. I remember my friend saying “Don’t you enjoy skiing? When you are riding up the chair lift take a moment to really take in the beauty of the outdoors.” I have always remembered this advice. It is simple but has dramatically affected my outlook. This would be a good time to take in your five senses.
• Appreciate the small/simple things – It is easy to take life for granted. One of my favorite quotes “That breath you just took… it’s a gift” by Rob Bell really summarizes what I mean by appreciating the small and simple things. Another favorite memory I have that shows this was a time when I was facilitating a group at a residential treatment facility. One young woman in particular shared that she was grateful to see the sun for the first time sober in 10 years. This forever will be a perfect example of what I mean by finding gratitude.

Today, I am a little more than four and a half years sober. I am now the person who attends meetings and introduces myself, “Hi I am Kristin and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.”

Coasting Into Complacency

Written in 2015 by Marc Dunn

COMPLACENCY!!! Until recently I didn’t realize how much that word or thought scared me. I had heard many people share about the trap I could become ensnared in by not going to meetings, not staying connected to other recovering alcoholics in my support group and not practicing the principles in all my affairs. The message wasn’t that I had to do any of the above perfectly, but that if I didn’t stay close to my recovery, if I started to believe that I could go it alone and/or abandoned my spiritual routine then complacency would lead to relapse.

None of the signs caught my attention, maybe because they didn’t all happen at once. We deal with a “cunning, baffling and powerful” force that is patient and will creep back into our lives if we are not diligent about our recovery. At first, it was not attending meeting as often as I had for the previous 8+ years. I made excuses for myself: the messages were repetitive; the speakers were boring or less meetings worked for me. Then I stopped calling my sponsor regularly and thought I could solve all my own problems without input from anyone else. It was the classic mistake of sponsoring myself and not seeking my Higher Power’s will for me. It didn’t take long until I was skipping my morning meditation occasionally and not doing a 10th step before retiring for the evening. Never did I entertain the thought that I could drink again, but it probably wasn’t far away.

It wasn’t like a freight train, but my emotional sobriety was tortoise-like moving away, and when I saw what was happening it scared the hell out of me (pun intended). I was coasting. The thought of drinking was not in my conscious thoughts, but who can tell when it will be. I realized that my alcoholism was patiently waiting for the weakness of my character to let it back in. The behavior was familiar and the memory of my last relapse was fresh.

Sobriety the first time around was not about recovery; it was based entirely on stubborn abstinence. My repeated attempts to drink less, change what I was drinking or sneak and lie about my excessive drinking had failed. Numerous appeals by my wife had fallen on deaf ears. Similar requests or pitiful looks of contempt by friends and family had not made a difference to me. Reluctantly in order to quiet the noise I began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The meetings were escapes from what I perceived as the harangue of others who didn’t understand. I was the one who didn’t understand. My self-centered absorption with myself was blocking me from any learning about alcoholism or any chance of finding a solution. Truth be told, I didn’t want another solution. It didn’t concern me yet.

For 30 months I attended meetings, burglarized the conversation of others, pretended to be in recovery and did all the superficial things you are supposed to do as a member of AA. Then it happened, I announced at dinner that it was OK for me to drink again. I ordered a glass of wine with dinner, beginning a 6-month relapse that almost ended in death.

My return was different, I was ready to surrender and willing to do whatever it took. I worked the steps, attended meetings several times a week, spoke with others about my recovery and theirs. And then I didn’t. The coasting began with giving up my service commitment, cutting back on my interaction with others, slacking on my prayer and meditation ritual. The biggest change was that I was sponsoring myself and not regularly doing a 10th Step.

It’s an interesting thing, this willingness, because willingness really is the key.  We come in here beaten and scared as only “the dying” can be, and we are willing as hell.  Then something happens.  We forget the pain, get a little arrogant, and then decide to follow the thought process that results in, “I’ve got this!”

There is conversation that two cowboys have from Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty that sums my lack of self-awareness, my thinking that I knew it all and that recovery can be had without constantly working it:

Augustus says, “You’re so sure you’re right it doesn’t matter to you whether people talk to you at all. I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice.”

“Why would you want to keep in practice being wrong?”

Call asked. “I’d think it would be something you’d try to avoid.”

“You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it,” Augustus said. “If you come face to face with your own mis­takes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day-that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”

More so than honesty, more so than open-mindedness, if I can remain willing to do the things that have been suggested in this “design for living.” If I “practice the principles in all my affairs” and walk toward sobriety the solution,, then I have a chance one day at a time to lead a sober, somewhat sane, life. And most importantly NOT become complacent.

Recovery and Sobriety

by Marc Dunn

Much is being written about addiction and recovery, many doctors and scientists are weighing in with their researched studies, and addiction counselors are adding their experiences to the onslaught of information. Occasionally an ex-addict or person in recovery will rush to the defense of whatever program it was that did or did not work for them.

As a recovering alcoholic/addict I am disturbed by the lack of perspective and first hand knowledge leading the discussions.

A new dynamic that has been introduced with more zeal lately is the elimination of addiction through medication. Not new in the sense it has never been tried but that it is the new cure. The opinion among those seeking a non-12 Step cure is that religion plays to big a role in 12 Step Programs and that scientists have developed medications that if taken as prescribed can cure addiction. One of the offshoots of this approach is that some are better off with a life of moderation rather than total abstinence.

The disease of addiction is a gradual deteriorative affliction that devastates entire families and will continue to do so unless the addict member takes action to live a life of sobriety: physically and mentally. It affects the person who is addicted, that person’s family and everyone who interacts with that person.

Consider the following just about alcohol addiction (similar facts exists about all addictions):
• Alcohol dependence and abuse cost the US approximately $220 billion in 2005. For the sake of comparison, this was greater than the amount of money spent to combat cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).
• An estimated 43% of US adults have had someone related to them who is presently, or was, an alcoholic.
• 6.6 million Minors in the US live with an alcoholic mother or father.
• About 24 million US residents battle an alcohol addiction in a recovery program
• Greater than 50% of grownups in the US have had knowledge of someone in their immediate family with an alcohol problem.
• Around a quarter of all children experience some form of alcoholism in their families before they turn 18
• 40% of alcoholism is passed down through the gene pool, while the other 60% stems from unknown circumstances.
• 500,000 US Children ages 9-12 are addicted to alcohol.
• Studies show that the offspring of alcoholics have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics themselves than those whose parents are clean.

It is generally conceded by medical people who even patients seeking a strictly medication cure need a therapy, and only a select few can moderate their drinking for a lengthy period without relapsing into addiction. Another reason that gives rise to this discussion is the small number of people who recover in any treatment programs.

Medication as a cure for addiction is not new; it dates back to ancient times including our own 19th & 20th century flirtations with morphine, Valium, steroids and LSD. Even within the last 50 years doctors prescribed barbiturates and benzodiazepines for withdrawal symptoms. This often led to a new addiction or multi-addictions.

There are now three new drugs being used to break down alcohol and make it less effective, physically repugnant, cut hangovers and to block the receptors in the brain that create the pleasure from drinking/drugging. The data suggest that these medications do reduce the amount of drinking /drugging done by those taking them.

For those of us who are addicts there are two different ways of life: sobriety and/or recovery. All of us with the disease/mental health condition of addiction know this to be fact. We have lived it and can tell the differences.

What is the difference between sobriety and recovery?

Strictly speaking sobriety is the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc. Sobriety with recovery is much more; it includes lifestyle not just abstinence.

The point of sobriety is life over death. We can make it by self-willed abstinence, the easier and undisciplined way, affording a less stressful lack of commitment, or by the action of recovery, a planned change of lifestyle designed to prolong life and make it more joyous and free. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. But if the point of sobriety is recovery; then we are searching for a quality of life that includes peaceful happiness, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance, freedom and peace.

The first time I tried to stop drinking for more than a few days or weeks, it was by attending AA meetings and being stubbornly abstinent. I did it to get everyone off my back. My wife had threatened to divorce me and I thought this was the way to lessen the incessant feeling of being scrutinized every time I picked up a drink, which was often. It lasted about 3 years and I got nothing. My life did not get any better. It was a conniving attempt on my part to seem to be better. I would listen to old timers speaking of recovery and burglarize their conversations, repeating what I had heard as if they were my thoughts, pretending to have found some spirituality. It didn’t work.

I was out to dinner after about 30 months and without any premeditation said, “ It’s been 2 ½ years since I had a drink, I can probably have one with dinner.” The naïve responses were, “That’s great.” I was off and running for 6 months. The end came when I totaled my car in a blackout on the interstate, in the middle of the afternoon. Miraculously, I walked away without hurting myself or anyone else. My next step was to try recovery not abstinence. I found that they were compatible and my life could be better.

Addiction is a disease if left untreated has a predictable end, premature death. Addiction was defined as a disease by Dr. William Silkworth in the 1930’s and continues to be recognized as a disease of the mind or mental illness by the AMA and SAMSHA. This is commonly called the disease model, and is 100% part of all 12 Step programs and most treatment centers.

These reports and opinions lead to the conclusion that there may be medication to cut the effects of alcohol/drugs and even repulse the user from using them but they do nothing to change the mental health issues an addict faces. Those issues will drive him/her out again once they either stop taking the medication or just impulsively decide to use.

Addiction is more than a physical obsession and the alcohol/drug is only a symptom. Treating the symptom does not cure the disease.

There is a need for diversity of approaches to recovery; knowledge of cultural differences, mental health issues, fitness and nutrition well-being are all instrumental to being successful. The point is to open the door to a discussion of supplemental types of recovery help that may be available. If it is, as it seems to be, that medication, religious programs, addiction treatment centers and 12 Step Programs alone don’t work for everyone, what are the alternative solutions? What solutions are there for those who repetitively relapse because of their drug and/or alcohol addiction?

It is clear more than ever that no one program is for everyone. One avenue that needs to be explored is including alternative combinations of medication, therapy and spirituality. If we believe that the recovery solution must include a healing of the mind and spirit, then therapy and spiritual seeking is a must.

If 12 Step programs alone are not for everyone and people do get sober without them, what are the alternatives? It is also important to note that forcing a 12 Step program on someone from the onset may trigger a rebelliousness that precludes him or her from ever trying (which they may want to do after some time sober, as the fog begins to clear). One of the things we haven’t done very well in working with those seeking help is updating our approaches from the way they were done 50-75 years ago. It may sound like heresy, but the world has changed drastically; medical approaches are different and better. Much more is known about mental health and addiction as well as the treatment of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. They have certainly changed with improved results. Why would you go see a doctor today that was still examining and diagnosing you based on information he learned in the 1950’s? You wouldn’t.

The point is that there are other ways to change an addict’s life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need to be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need a change of lifestyle.

Recovery from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs is not easy. Most people do not succeed and the concept that one way works for everyone is outdated. The approach and implementation need to be multifaceted, there is not a one size fits all that works universally. Abstinence methods, and various forms of it, have been applied to recovery for more than 100 years in this country and our success rates are only moderately improved.

The Journal of the American Medical Association stated in its 2000 edition, “40-60 percent of people treated for alcohol or drug dependence relapse within a year after discharge.” And, if the anecdotal stories, are true,”80-90% of the people who show up at 12 Step fellowship meetings disappear after 6-12 months.”

Sadly the research about drug and alcohol addiction and our youth is even more disheartening. Research shows that anti-drug campaigns and school programs that focus on the dangers of drug use have not worked, and may even trigger experimentation. For parents and the nation, the facts are terrifying. 30% of teens regularly use marijuana, alcohol, and pills. 15% are addicted in high school. That means 15 out of every 100 high school students are at risk for death before their 20th birthday. And the numbers rise when students enter college.

The enormity of the problems addicts experience, both physically and mentally, and the quantity of human beings who have this disease has grown much over the last decade. As we understand more about it and learn the devastating long-term effect on the family as well, it is more urgent to get the message to as many as possible. If we are to arrest this disease and prevent it from further debilitating of our families we must take action. We can stop the spread of addiction within our own families. It can end with us. What greater gift could we give our children?

My daughter wrote the following about kids her age discussing their ”thing” because everyone has a “thing”, She would ask, “What’s wrong with you, tell me in three words what’s your deal”. She heard them say, “my parents are divorced”, “and my childhood sweetheart died “or” I was raped in college”. My daughter responded to her own question, “Alcoholic, addict father.”

Adult Children of Addicts have had their peace of mind stolen from them. If we are to approach addiction as a health issue and look for solutions to end the cycle of destruction it has caused for centuries then we need to look beyond abstinence, we need to look at the persons and their families that are suffering and seek multi-faceted solutions. Everyone will be better served if they are better educated about the benefits of recovery not just abstinence. The health and the health of loved ones, mental, physical and spiritual, will improve long-term and there will be less of loss of lives and more peace of mind.

We are on the precipice of a revolution of the mind, body and spirit and by becoming the faces and voices of people in recovery we can share a quality of life that includes peaceful happiness, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance, freedom and peace.

Daily Stress Relief

Looking for peace in your life and relief from the daily stress we all encounter? Try this short list of changes in your routine. It’s not comfortable at first but the more you do it the more comfortable it will become.

Add to your daily routine the following: If you miss a day or one of the steps don’t worry its OK, get back in stride the next day.

  1. Set aside 5-10 minutes each night before sleep to meditate, no digital devices and not TV. Let your mind unwind and be at peace before you fall asleep.
  2. Avoid red and processed meats and sugar. Chew your food deliberately and completely before you swallow, take your time. Meals are to be enjoyed not hurried like a race. Eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible.
  3. Do 15-30 minutes of exercise each day, even if it’s just a walk.

You can expand the timeframe, as you get more comfortable with your routine. Make time for your mind and body to grow in a healthy way.