Sobriety can be funny

“Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery,” by Dana Bowman of Lindsborg was recently named to the 2016 Kansas Notable Books List.

McPherson Sentinel, By Patricia Middleton, Staff Writer

Dana and her childrenBottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery,” by Dana Bowman of Lindsborg was recently named to the 2016 Kansas Notable Books List. The list honors 15 books either written by Kansas authors or about a Kansas-related topic. A memoir about her path to sobriety as a mother of two young children, Bowman’s book is a humorous look at a serious topic.

Born and raised in Overland Park, Bowman’s father was a recovered alcoholic who warned Bowman she statistically had a 50 percent chance of succumbing to alcoholism.

Bowman thought her odds were good, as she gained a college degree in teaching and went through her 20s and early 30s without participating in the binge drinking and partying other young adults did.

“I was always kind of a go-getter, graduated top of my class,” Bowman recalled.

Bowman became an English teacher; then married and moved away from her hometown. The changes and pressures of a new job, new relationship and a new city combined to cause stress in her life that sent Bowman looking for relief in glasses of wine and martinis, which she justified having to relieve her stress, and telling herself it was “sophisticated.”

“I really leaned on that glass of wine at the end of a long day of teaching,” Bowman said.
Bowman marked her behavior up to not liking her job, being lonely, having a hard time adjusting to married life and homesickness.

Bowman and her husband then moved to Lindsborg and had two children, born 18 months apart. While she was pregnant and nursing, Bowman did not drink, but she battled postpartum depression after each birth. She would be consumed with anxiety and dread and rewarded herself for making it through another day with a glass of wine.

“Alcoholism is very patient. It was slowly increasing every day. A glass, two glasses, a little more every day,” Bowman said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in a study published in May 2013 that 73.1 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 44 were current drinkers. Of those adults, 31.3 percent said they had drank excessively (more than five drinks in a single day) at least once in the past year.

Bowman said her increasing dependence on alcohol was easy to hide. She never drove while drunk and rarely suffered blackouts.

“That’s the tricky part, because when you don’t get arrested or pulled over, there’s nothing to tell you to cut it out,” Bowman remarked.

Bowman said alcoholism has affected her family for generations. In 2014, Bowman’s older brother, Chris, died of liver failure as a result of alcoholism.

Bowman did not want to live in misery anymore. Although she knew would have to give up drinking, it took six months from the moment she realized her life had to change until she would be ready to get help. As Bowman drank what would be her last glass of wine, her legs gave out from under her and she phoned her husband, finally admitting she had a problem.

“It was a very spiritual experience,” Bowman said of her collapse. “God doesn’t do that with all alcoholics….he really cleared the airways for me to hear him.”

Bowman started going to a 12-step program and turned her passion for writing into an outlet to stay sober and to share her feelings, with humor lacing the stories of the real struggles she was enduring. At first, her posts on momsieblog.com focused on her postpartum depression, but Bowman realized she wanted to chronicle her journey of recovery and reach out to other mothers in the same situation to encourage them.

Bowman published the article “As a Mom in Recovery, How Do I Explain My Addiction to My Kids?” for a recovery website. The piece was picked up by The Huffington Post, who also produced a video interview with Bowman.

After that experience, Central Recovery Press called Bowman and asked her to write a book about her recovery. She asked if they were joking. When she was assured of their sincerity, Bowman poured her experiences into “Bottled.” Bowman said the book was easy to write but that the consequences of going public with her story, especially while living in a small town, were daunting.

“We really put ourselves out there and we do that hard thing for the good of ourselves and others,” Bowman said. “I wanted other moms to see that this is a disease and that yes, it’s shameful and embarrassing … but only if we hide in our houses and keep drinking.”

After the book was published, Bowman said people responded to her positively, relishing her irreverent style. Bowman ends each chapter of “Bottled” with a top 10 list counting down such items as “Top Ten Annoying Recovery Slogans That Actually Work.”

“I hate that word, ‘sober,’ I’m a funny person,” Bowman said. “I felt like sobriety was going to be this really gray life. It’s not.”

Bowman is planning a second book and is speaking of her recovery around the country.

“As moms of little kids, we are isolated,” Bowman said. “Drinking is a really easy out for a lot of moms.” Explaining her addiction to her children, Bowman uses examples that they can understand, such as wanting to watch TV all the time.

“I want my children to mainly know the word ‘recovery’…we’ve had some discussions about why mommy goes to meetings and alcohol,” Bowman said. “I want to talk to them about what addiction is…alcohol is not bad, but alcohol with Dana is bad.”

Bowman now writes, reads, runs and takes her children to swim lessons; activities that keep her from taking another drink.

“It’s been a tough road…not always pink, fuzzy unicorns, recovery is really hard,” Bowman said. “There are still days where I have massive social anxiety…it will always be a part of who I am and will always be there.”

This article first appeared in the June 23, 2016 issue of the Mcpherson Sentinel

This article first appeared in the June 23, 2016 issue of the Mcpherson Sentinel

 

 

 

 

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Why Rape is Not a Woman’s Issue

by Lara Naughton

I was kidnapped and raped on a warm July evening in a tropical forest beside the Caribbean Sea. Like so many experiences, this one was heavy with complexity and contradiction, nature’s lush beauty juxtaposed with a brutal act of human violence, one thing out of place with another. I was on vacation, and the man who raped me pretended to be a cab driver. It didn’t occur to me to question my safety when I hopped in his vehicle expecting to be driven to my cabana in a small fishing village not far up the road. I believe in people’s true good nature, even his, but that day he was so disconnected from his own worth and well-being that he was capable of harming me.

No doubt he harmed himself, too. He may have been the perpetrator and I the victim, but we were the only two people in the remote jungle where he drove me, and we both experienced his violence. He must have had the insane notion that hurting me would somehow soothe him, but of course that never works. Rape stems from hurt and causes more hurt which breeds further hurt. Our rape culture is a cycle of suffering for both survivors and offenders, in different ways, yes, but there’s also shared pain. When I finally made it to my cabana that night, it was hours later, and I was forever changed. I’ve never seen my rapist again, so I can’t know with certainty, but I believe he must have been changed too.

My rape threw me into a different orbit, and spun me around and around what I thought I knew about sexual violence. Once I regained a sense of equilibrium and assessed the ways I was altered, I recognized I had two new convictions. One: Rape is not a women’s issue. Two: If we want our rape culture to dissolve, we have to attend to the pain and suffering of men.

When I was in the jungle with my rapist, I couldn’t run or fight. Compassion for him was my only defense.

After I was raped, I was sensitive to the literature and dialogue about sexual assault. It suddenly seemed odd that rape is considered a women’s issue. My rape affected me profoundly, but I’ve never felt it’s my issue. Rather, I was on the horrible receiving end of his issue.

It’s true that in the United States, one in six women will experience a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. Put a name, face, and narrative to each of those women and the statistics become not just horrifying but heartbreaking. These women are our sisters, friends, cousins, classmates, colleagues, dates, doctors, professors, on and on. I’m in that number, and, though I hope not, maybe you or a woman you know are too. But sexual assaults aren’t limited by any category, including geography, age, race, income, education or gender.

Across the world, people of all genders are raped and all genders rape. Men, however, make up the overwhelming majority of people committing sexual assaults, and women the overwhelming majority of their victims. All victims who experience a sexual assault, including rape, deserve to be acknowledged, cared for with resources designed to help them move from trauma to well-being, and given a safe place in the judicial system free from blame and shame. But those measures are reactive to the issue — they’re not the issue itself.

Victims and potential victims should not be handed ownership of the rape issue. Vulnerable groups should not be expected to solve, fix, eradicate, heal, reveal, reverse, prevent, cure, or combat the problem. Survivors shouldn’t receive the blow then have to stop the fight. People will stop getting raped when men stop raping. Men are the only ones who can cease the abuses they themselves commit.

There are, of course, men who are actively working within their communities to dismantle the mentalities and behaviors that lead to rape. At the same time, it still appears that rape is being primarily addressed by women, for women. We’re enraged, scared, betrayed, fierce, and brave. We strategize about protecting ourselves. We plead, preach, teach and protest. But we haven’t, and likely won’t solve or dissolve the rape culture because rape begins and ends with the issues that are trapped in men like toxins.

We know what happens with disease: it grows more pronounced, spreads its pathology to otherwise healthy parts of the body until the problem is so severe it can’t be ignored. The same is true with rape. It’s a global epidemic. Too many men are unwell, but they either don’t recognize the warning signs, or they don’t know where to get help, or they’ve never been taught to pay attention.

I wonder what would happen if we, all of us, shifted our attention to men and held them accountable, not with blame but with compassion. Compassion is recognizing someone’s pain, wishing for it to be relieved, and being willing to help.

When I was in the jungle with my rapist, I couldn’t run or fight. Compassion for him was my only defense. His emotional agony was so palpable it was clear I needed to attend to his needs if I wanted to get out of the situation alive. He didn’t have the skills to deal with his pain so he was trying to expel his pain through violence toward me. Under the dark sky of the jungle, as I listened to my rapist rant about the troubles of his life, as I counseled him, held his hand, and prayed over him, I watched his anger calm. It didn’t happen immediately and I didn’t walk out of the encounter untouched, but I walked out alive.

What, then, if we apply compassion on a much larger scale? What if we start asking men what is hurting so many of them, and then be truly willing to listen as they investigate their pain and complexities, their power and powerlessness, their anger, disappointments, fears, strengths, hopes and insecurities? What if we place rape — the issue — back in their hands, then simultaneously hold them accountable and offer support as they do the hard work of moving in two directions: toward understanding the root cause of sexual violence, and toward finding an effective solution.

I’ve rarely experienced deep lasting change as a result of someone telling me how wrong I was, how terrible or flawed. I seek people in my life who can help me see my greatest potential and support me as I reach toward my higher good. What happens if we agree to be this for each other, even when it’s difficult? Maybe especially when it’s difficult.

Just as hurt breeds hurt, compassion expands upon itself. I believe if we’re willing, we’ll find there’s room for compassion in hard places, including at the center of rape.

Lara’s memoir The Jaguar Man debuts July 12 via Central Recovery Press.

This article first appeared in the June 29, 2016 issue of Bustle magazine.

This article first appeared in the June 29, 2016 issue.

JAGUAR MAN is available now

THE JAGUAR MAN is available now

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What we learn from our pets

By Dan Mager, author of SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED

Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of our furry family members

A growing body of research suggests that interacting with animals improves our health and well-being. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the presence of pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and feelings of loneliness, and increase opportunities for exercise, outdoor activity, and socialization (http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/). People and animals have been living and bonding with one another for millennia. Often, that bond is direct and extremely powerful, providing emotional benefits in addition to those related to physical health.

Increasingly, animals are used for therapeutic purposes in the form of pet therapy, also referred to as animal-assisted therapy (AAT), and animal-assisted activities (AAA). AAT is a formal approach utilizing interactions with pets to help people reach specific treatment goals, whereas AAA involves less structured contact between specially trained pets and people in settings such as rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and hospitals.

The recent proliferation of “emotional support” animals is further evidence of how pets can be coping resources that help people better tolerate distress and maintain emotional balance. Among the elderly, pets can provide connection, social support, and a sense of purpose. Pets can help children develop empathy and compassion, as well as a sense of responsibility. For those that struggle with serious disorders like addiction, pain conditions, chronic and even terminal illness, pets offer unmitigated presence and a unique source of comfort.

The relationships we have with our pets have a purity untarnished by the complexity & ambivalence that usually accompanies our relationships with other people, including the people we love and to whom we are closest. As a result, the presence of pets frequently has a calming influence, increasing feelings of relaxation and decreasing stress.

This topic came up as I process the very recent passing of my dog, Sammy (a fourteen year-old chow mix), and reflect on the qualities that made her and my connection with her so special. She was adopted from a shelter when she was about a year old for my daughter’s 11th birthday. During the intervening 13 years, Sammy lived in 6 different houses and 4 very different household configurations across 2 states, as her human family system evolved from intact biological family through divorce and remarriage. She had been living with me for the last 6 years, since my daughter (now age 24) went away to college.

I invite you to consider the possibility that dogs—while to a great extent creatures of instinct—are remarkably spiritual beings, and when our minds and our hearts are open we can potentially learn a lot from them. Many of the world’s spiritual traditions embrace the value of: 1) Maintaining an attitude of positive regard for others (and for oneself) that is as unconditional as possible; 2) Being present-centered—keeping our focus in this moment—rather than allowing the continuous automatic activity of our thought processes to pull our attention back into the past or push it into a future. Sammy was the epitome of these practices.

She was the embodiment of what Carl Rogers, the founder of Client-Centered Therapy (the humanistic approach that undergirds most contemporary forms of counseling) termed, unconditional positive regard.  Unconditional positive regard is the absolute, unqualified respect for and appreciation of others. According to Rogers, we instinctively value positive regard, his overarching term for attention, nurturance, affection, and love.

Generally, our capacity for extending unconditional positive regard to others is a function of the extent to which we have experienced it ourselves. Unfortunately, for most of us, the positive regard shown us by other people was usually attached to various conditions of worth. Growing up, our parents, teachers, peers, and others, gave us positive regard only when we demonstrated that we were somehow “worthy,” rather than because it was necessary for healthy emotional development, and that we deserved it simply by virtue of our humanity.

Many of us have had the experience of getting positive attention, affection, and love, if—and sometimes only if—we behaved to the satisfaction of others. And since these standards are generally disconnected from individual needs and differences, many people—especially children—find themselves unable to meet them, and in turn, subjected to emotional rejection and abandonment. Repeated experiences of emotional rejection and abandonment can be traumatic, contributing to deep-seated feelings of inadequacy; of not being good-enough, as well as increased potential vulnerability to a variety of psycho-social-spiritual difficulties, including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and addiction.

In contrast to positive regard contingent on external expectations, unconditional positive regard sends the clear message that we are good enough, exactly as we are. The highest form of unconditional positive regard is unconditional love—love free of all qualifications. Sammy, like my other dogs before her, helped me better understand this concept. She was the incarnation of unconditional love & positive regard. In my process of ongoing learning, growth, and healing, I hope to become as good a person as Sammy always believed me to be.

Sammy was also state-of-the-art in being present-centered, that is—staying in the moment—this moment: right here and right now. Sammy was simply present, looking forward to whatever this very moment might offer. There are many ways in which staying in the moment with conscious awareness and acceptance, yet without judgment—also known as mindfulness—promotes health and healing. Present-centeredness provides sanctuary from the poisonous prison of the past and fatalistic fantasies of the future. It bestows respite from past resentments, as well as freedom from anxiety related to future unknowns.

Of course, different kinds of pets have different lessons to teach us. If dogs are built to help us better appreciate unconditional positive regard and present-centeredness, cats are designed to offer us ongoing opportunities to practice patience, tolerance and acceptance. I’ve heard it said the primary difference between dogs and cats is that, while dogs have masters, cats have servants. My cat, Delia, is no exception to this.

Having a connection with animals and having pets as part of one’s family and life helps people learn to be more kind, compassionate, caring, altruistic, and loving. My relationship with Sammy improved the quality of my character and (perhaps ironically) enhanced my humanity. As it became clear that her health was on an unavoidable downward trajectory, I made it a special point to take more time and make more effort to be present with her and love her the way she loved me. And, at the end, I was there, holding her and loving her; giving to her some of what she so naturally gave to me and to our family. As Will Rogers expressed it so eloquently, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went”.

Copyright 2016 Dan Mager, MSW All Rights Reserved.

Click to purchase your copy now.

Click to purchase your copy now.

This article first appeared on Dan Mager's Some Assembly Required post

This article first appeared on Dan Mager’s Some Assembly Required post

Posted in Addiction, Addiction & Recovery, Author News, Blog, Family & Addiction, Personal Development, Uncategorized, Wellness | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Five Questions for author Diane Cameron

diane cameronDiane Cameron: Witnesses the effects of trauma daily in her job as development director for Unity House, a service organization based in Troy, but she also has personal experience with such trauma through her own family. She has documented that story in a new book, “Never Leave Your Dead,” in which she writes about her stepfather, Donald Watkins, and his fight with post-traumatic stress disorder. Watkins was a decorated U.S. Marine who was among a group known as the China Marines, many of whom were captured by the Japanese at the beginning of World War II and held as slave laborers until the end of the war in 1945. Cameron will read from the book at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 28, at The Book House in Albany and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 24, at Market Block Books in Troy.

1 What did you learn as you wrote this book that you did not know about your stepfather?

I learned that the “nice elderly man” that my 70-year-old mother had married was one of the surviving Marines from a crucial period of American military history. I learned that he had a scary past and an indomitable spirit of survival and resilience. I learned that he had post-traumatic stress disorder long before we ever had words to diagnose or describe it.

2 After writing this, do you feel he was a traumatized veteran? A victim of abuse in the mental-health system? A criminal? Mentally ill? Or just eccentric?

Across the 20 years that I spent researching Donald Watkins and the China Marines, there were times in which I believed each description was true. When I first met him, I thought Donald was elderly and eccentric. As I learned his history, I understood that he had committed two terrible crimes, but that he was also both victim and survivor of psychiatric abuse. Donald’s was one of the first cases in the United States to test our mental health system, ultimately leading to deinstitutionalization and from there to our current system of services. And, of course, under and around all of that, Donald was a decorated and traumatized United States Marine.

3 What contribution did men like your stepfather make to helping those who suffer from combat trauma today?

Donald, and his fellow pre-World War II veterans, fought and suffered within our military and healthcare systems to preserve and demand recognition, dignity and better services for all veterans. They suffered greatly but paved the way for those services. As Marines, they did not leave their dead, even at home and even late into their lives.

4 How did this book help you deal with your personal struggles with family abuse?

Through the many years of researching and writing Donald’s story, I came to better understand my mother’s struggles with addiction and mental illness. I could see her behavior through the lens of traumatic injury. And I was able – watching her in that late-life marriage – to appreciate her most admirable qualities, one of which was her ability to recognize Donald’s heroism and redemption.

5 What message do you hope readers take away from ‘Never Leave Your Dead’?

I hope that readers will appreciate that trauma is always a long story and that, while we are rightfully saddened by the injury caused by trauma, there are also gifts and strengths on the far side of many traumatic experiences. We can never be glib about this part of trauma, but there can be spiritual and psychological growth when trauma is recognized, accepted and treated.

— Mark Robarge

Available now!

Available now!

This interview first appeared in the 5/11/16 issue of the Troy Record

This interview first appeared in the 5/11/16 issue of the Troy Record

 

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Addictionblog.com reviews IRRELATIONSHIPS

Dysfunctional addictive relationships: Are you hiding from intimacy in addiction recovery? (BOOK REVIEW)

Have you ever yearned for love, even made sacrifices for it, and still felt distant from your partner and/or deeply unsatisfied?

Once in recovery from addiction, some of us need to start from the beginning…and learn how to undo years and decades of dysfunction. What if there was a book that could help guide you?

If you want to advance your understanding about healthy relationships, drop your defenses and get honest with yourself, then a book called “Irrelationship: How we use Dysfunctional Relationships to Hide from Intimacy” is definitely for you! This new title can transform you .. from the inside-out. How?

Check out more right here. Then, ask your questions about the book or the key concepts in the comments from at the end. If you leave your question, we’ll try to respond to you personally and promptly.

What is “Irrelationship” about?

IRRELATIONSHIP is a book that breaks down common ways that we sabotage intimacy through patterned behavior. In this transformative guide, the authors identify the widespread dysfunctional dynamic they call “irrelationship”- a physical defence system two people create together to protect themselves from the fear and anxiety of really relating.

The authors of this book bring together a great deal of information from many ares of psychology and psychiatry, along with years of practical experience, to help readers understand:

How do you get into irrelationship?

How do such relationship affect your life

Most importantly, how is it possible to break free and create a real relationship?

This book is a model for living well, specifically with mutuality and compassionate empathy in all relationships- personal, professional and public.

What will you learn from this book?

This book has five sections that build on one another:

Part One: Introduces the basics anatomy of irrelationship and helps you build acceptance and patience with yourself as you explore the ways you undermine your chances at love and intimacy.

Part Two: Profiles the key players of irrelationship. It explores how anxiety drives you into routine and reveals the isolation and frustration of trying to maintain safety inside a dysfunctional system.

Part Three: Explores the core reasons irrelationship developed in the first place and discusses familiar pitfalls that result from staying stuck in the irrelationship pattern for long periods.

Part Four: Introduces the DREAM Sequence of recovery, outlining the five-step process of recognizing and escaping irrelationship.

Part Five: Offers guidance and support for staying on track in recovery.

These five chapters along with exercises called “Toward Positive Change” welcome you to the process of recovery by learning you how to live a life of fulfillment and true connection with others.

Why Do We Recommend This Book?

A big part of addiction recovery is inner growth. And that growth comes with time and awareness. However, most addicts really need to work on some core elements in life, including:

  • current relationship troubles
  • past family of origin issues
  • patterns of dysfunction
  • relationship addiction

We like this book because it traces the origins and development of patterns that start well before we even begin to use alcohol or drugs. Often, addiction is a way to deal with the disappointment or failure to connect with others. In this way, when we can explore our relationship patterns … we can really start to heal ourselves!

This book provides readers with techniques for finding their way out of unsatisfying connections with others. Relationship addiction can come after drug addiction. But it can also be avoided. And when we are a part of genuinely fulfilling relationships, our lives are that much better in addiction recovery!

The three experienced psychotherapists present a clear examination of recurring love relationship problems and how to solve them. You reader, are in good hands.

Wondering where you can find “Irrelationship – How We Use Dysfunctional Relationships to Hide from Intimacy”? Click here to order a copy today.

About the Authors: Mark B. Borg, Jr., Ph.D. is a community psychologist and psychoanalyst, founding partner of The Community Consulting Group, and a supervisor of psychotherapy at the William Alanson White Institute.

Grant H. Brenner, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice, specializing in treating mood and anxiety disorders and the complex problems which may arise in adulthood from developmental childhood trauma. He works from a humanistic and integrative perspective, recognizing that each person requires an comprehensive assessment and individualized treatment plan, and that often different types of treatment are sometimes necessary to explore before finding an approach which works.

Daniel Berry, RN, MHA has practiced as a Registered Nurse in New York City since 1987. Working in in-patient, home care and community settings, his work has taken him into some of the city’s most privileged households as well as some of its most underprivileged housing projects.

Click here to buy a copy

Click here to buy a copy

This review first appeared in the 3/18/16 issue.

This review first appeared in the 3/18/16 issue.

Posted in Addiction & Recovery, Addiction News, Alcoholism, Blog, Family & Addiction, Mental Health, Personal Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Drug Courts and the Restoration of Dignity

pat-oconnorBy Peg O’Connor

Drug courts are better than incarceration.

Drugs courts stand at the intersection of law, medicine, economics, politics, and public policy. That intersection just keeps getting busier for reasons the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health make clear. Nearly 25 million people in the United States meet the diagnostic criteria for addiction.  24.6 million people or 9.4% of the population ages 12 and over have used illegal drugs including marijuana. Given these facts, it isn’t surprising that the highest number of arrests in 2014 were for drug violations. Of the 1.5 million arrests, the vast majority were for possession. There were also more than 1.1 million arrests for driving under the influence (DUI).

The first drug court was implemented in Miami-Dade County Florida in 1989 as an alternative to incarceration. Since then, more than 2600 drug courts have been established in the United States. While there is significant variation between drug courts, they do all share a foundational assumption: drug use and addiction primarily drive the criminal activity. Address the drugs and the criminal activity will dissipate.

Where there is a pre-adjudication drug court available, an eligible defendant is given the choice to stay within the regular legal system or divert to drug court. If she successfully completes drug court, the charges against her will be dropped. With a post-adjudication drug court, one must first enter a plea and then participate in drug court. In both scenarios, the defendant has choice about her participation at the start of the proceedings. People in drug courts always have choice about their participation; they can request the judge to execute the sentence instead of continuing with drug court. Finally, participants in drug courts exercise choice everyday about meeting the particular obligations of drug courts to go to treatment, submit to UAs, seek or keep employment etc.

Some might object that choice in the context of drug courts is illusory. The objection boils down to something quite basic: having to make a decision when you’re caught between a rock (prison) and a hard place (drug court) isn’t really a choice. It is coercion. The coercion continues within the drug court program. Not meeting a requirement or expectation will result in increasingly serious penalties, the final of which may be serving the original sentence. It doesn’t really count as a choice if not picking door A gets you tossed in Door B of the slammer.

I’m sympathetic to and partially in agreement with this objection especially when one considers the racist and classist dimensions to the War on Drugs where people of color and poor people disproportionately are caught in the legal system. (For sure, we need serious revision of our drug laws and sentencing guidelines, which might reduce the sheer number of drug offenses. That’s a different argument for a different time.)

My intent is to argue that drug court is the much better option for individuals who are caught in the legal system now. Prisons offer very little rehabilitation of any sort. Yes, there are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings but for a host of reasons, these don’t work for many people. Prison forecloses opportunities while a well-run drug court provides opportunities for people to increase their options and choices.  A drug court team comprises a judge, police officers, prosecutors, probation officers, and mental health and treatment professionals along with court administrators and court reporters. Treatment is mandatory along with regular drug testing and counseling. There is regular contact with members of the drug court team. There are consequences for failing to meet obligations and rewards for fulfilling them well.

Supervision may be a necessary but not sufficient condition for recovery in the beginning. Fear of sanctions can be an important source of motivation but it will never be enough. Yes, drug court provides supervision and sanction, but it also provides something equally important that founder of the Salvation Army identified in another context. General Booth considered “the first vital step in saving outcasts consists in making them feel that some decent human being cares enough for them to take an interest in the question whether they are to rise or sink.” The sentiment of “saving outcasts” is troubling in a double sense. No one can save another and “outcast” is a very negative judgment. However, addicts are in some senses outcasts especially when they are also facing criminal charges.

What interests me is that it sometimes takes another’s having interest in me before I can even have an interest in myself. People who struggle with drugs and alcohol often lose interest in our own well-being. We may not even be able to take an interest in whether we rise or sink; it may simply not matter. Our dignity is in tatters and any sense we are decent people has long left the scene. In many ways, we need to borrow or lean on the decency that others show us because we cannot generate it for ourselves yet.

The members of drug court teams I’ve met are decent individuals even if at times they are skeptical. They show their interest, care and concern by building relationships with participants over the course of the program. They come to know their families, histories, fears, and aspirations. They may help with very practical tasks such as finding housing or employment or getting to a doctor’s appointment. They share in the accomplishment of a new job or a promotion. Members of a drug court team are able to be reliable reporters on how far a participant has come and perhaps how far she still needs to go. At times, they provide the interest in whether one rises or sinks when a person cannot generate it for herself.

Drug courts help to restore the dignity, decency, respect, and well-being to its participants by giving them the opportunities to make choices, take responsibility, learn from mistakes, hold themselves to higher standards, fulfill obligations, and build relationships with other members of drug court.  All of this is necessary for drug court participants to recognize that not only do they have something to lose but they also have everything to gain. This doesn’t entail that there will not be struggles and hard times but it increases that chances that one will be better equipped to handle them.

Peg O'Connor is the author of LIFE ON THE ROCKS. Available now.

Peg O’Connor is the author of LIFE ON THE ROCKS. Available now.

This article first appeared on Peg O'Connor's "Philiosophy Stirred, Not Shaken" blog.

This article first appeared on Peg O’Connor’s “Philiosophy Stirred, Not Shaken” blog.

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Out of the Woods: Valentines Day in Recovery

diane cameronBy Diane Cameron, author of OUT OF THE WOODS

Even after all these years of recovery I catch myself having expectations for Valentine’s Day. How many resentments this day has caused: Dates, boy friends, husbands. Even knowing that Valentine’s Day is a commercially created day, the cultural pressure exists.

How do recovering people practice loving kindness for ourselves and others on Valentine’s Day? How does recovery guide me to make a Happy Valentine’s Day whether I am in or out of a romantic relationship? What does love really mean in the context of recovery?

One of the joys of being in recovery is watching other people grow. For me, it has been particularly moving to observe sober men as they change their lives and beliefs.

Early in recovery—just shy of two years and at that point where the fog is clearing –a man named Fred who was then in his late 50’s came to my home group one morning. It was his first day out of treatment and he was in pain. His “bottom” involved devastation at both work and at home. He was hurting. I listened as he spoke and I recognized his grief. Then, after the meeting ended, I watched as the men in our group surrounded Fred, they gave him phone numbers and insisted that he come to breakfast with them. I watched as the men taught him, and loved him.

Even though others in the group had had done that for me, it was then, with Fred, when I was just sober enough to understand what I was seeing that I recognized love in action. I hold that moment as one of my recovery treasures. That day I felt my heart open enough to want love to surround another person.

It makes me happy to see men change. To know that under different circumstances my father and my brothers might have changed too. To know that there is an endless supply of love in these rooms and that we are all changed by that love.

In early recovery I used to hear, “Let us love you until you can love yourself.” It felt like a puzzle, a bafflement. I didn’t think you could love someone into change. I mean, hadn’t I tried that all those years before with disastrous results? I know now that I didn’t really love; I was just trying to control someone or to make him take care of me. In romantic relationships, and sometimes as parents, we mistakenly try to love people into changing. And it generally doesn’t work.

But in our Twelve-step fellowships it does. Our friends in recovery can love us until we can love ourselves. And when we have learned to love ourselves, we can then truly love others. That changes the meaning of Valentine’s Day for me, and it makes it a special day of gratitude.

Diane Cameron is the author of OUT OF THE WOODS

Diane Cameron is the author of OUT OF THE WOODS

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Books to read in addiction recovery (18 MUST HAVES!)

From Addictionblog.com. CRP’S DARK WINE WATERS made the list at #3!

1. Recover To Live.

This book, written by Christoper Kennedy Lawford, is an excellent resource for anyone looking to understand general and specific conditions related to chemical and behavioral addictions. “Recover to Live” is a self-treatment guide aimed at those who are looking for help with alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, gambling, hoarding, smoking, sex and porn addiction. As a collection of expert opinions, it features conversations with the world’s top experts in addiction. The book, besides covering many types of addiction, also covers issues such as cross-addiction and the causes of addiction.

2. Believable Hope.

In his book “Believable Hope”, Michael Cartwright shares the five (5) essential elements you need to beat any addiction. Michael gives examples of his own experience with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as the experiences and methods he used to become sober, successful, a well-respected addiction recovery figure, and a pillar in the dual diagnosis addiction treatment industry. If you are struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, suffering from prolonged depression or weight gain, this book offers the methodology of five (5) core elements that have helped tens of thousands of people over the years.

3. Dark Wine Waters.

The story of author Fran Simone, PhD and her husband Terry begins happy. He is a loving, kind and supportive husband, a good father – yet he’s a drinker. But, unlike the angry, abusive kind of alcoholic, Terry is a highly-functioning one. Fran is in denial because of this, so she takes on a codependent behavior. “Dark Wine Waters” can help spouses of functioning addicts and alcoholics help themselves, find out if they are in a codependent relationship, give them hope by showing that they are not alone, and provide them with the needed strength to take action.

ALCOHOLISM RECOVERY BOOKS

4. The Couch Of Willingness.

This book is written from a different perspective and tells the story of an addiction treatment professional who got caught up in alcoholism. Written by Michael Pond and Maureen Palmer, “The Couch Of Willingness” testifies that addiction is a disorder that does not discriminate. Michael, a respected and successful man with a beautiful family, finds he can no longer cope with the pressure after two decades of helping patients with addiction. This book can help anyone who is struggling with alcohol problems relate to similar experiences, learn more on the nature of addiction, gather information, seek help and stay sober.

5. Expressions of Drunkenness (Four Hundred Rabbits).

People interested in the social, medical, and cultural aspects of drinking alcohol should pick up this book. The book approaches “drunkenness” and “intoxication” from a fresh and interdisciplinary perspective. “Expressions of Drunkenness” is a dense and fascinating look into how throughout history, humanity has used and related to one another (as well as self) via drinking alcohol. Taking past socio-cultural factors in mind, this book will advance your current understanding of the individual and collective meanings, purposes, and functions of drunkenness.

6. Sober For Good.

Anne M. Fletcher offers new solutions for drinking problems and communicates suggestions and advice from those who have succeeded. She has gathered hundreds of stories from men and women who have resolved their drinking problems, and writes about the different recovery paths fit for virtually everyone. “Sober for Good” offers alternatives to AA (in case you find AA not cut out for you), provides support so you can recover on your own and without calling yourself an alcoholic. In this book you can get inspired by the success stories of other people who have walked the same path.

DRUG ADDICTION RECOVERY BOOKS

7. What’s Left Of Us.

Richard (Richie) Farrell is the author and voice behind a wonderful and difficult story of heroin addiction and recovery. “What’s Left of Us” is a book for people in recovery, or for individuals who are not even addicts, but who want to understand and relate to what motivates people to use sex, heroin, behaviors or substances to dull the pain of life. This memoir tells you the true story of how low a man can get in life and how hard he needs to fight to escape the ugliness of hard drug addiction, desperation, violence and lies.

8. Recovery and Renewal.

We decided to include “Recovery and Renewal” by Baylissa Frederick in our reading list of books related to drug addiction, because the issue of dependency and withdrawal from prescription drugs is a big one.

In this book, the author explains how prescription drugs (more accurately sleeping pills, other ‘benzo’ tranquillisers and antidepressants) work, and offers a clear look into the side effects and possible withdrawal symptoms that might occur. The techniques described in “Recovery and Renewal” can help you through the acute stages of prescription drug withdrawal and make you less anxious while going through the process. We find this book to be an excellent desk reference for patients who’d want to know what they can expect from withdrawal and what they can do once it occurs, as well as for doctors treating the possible symptoms of prescription drug dependence.

9. Survivors Of Addiction.

By gathering the narratives of fifteen people in recovery, author Mary Addenbrooke provides an overview of how and why people become addicted, and explores what happens once the addiction is left behind. All in all, “Survivors Of Addiction” examines the healing process, by getting deep into the WHY’s and HOW’s of addiction recovery. If you are interested in rationally observing the minds of addicts, this book is for you. Easy to follow, these thoughtful and profound explorations into the voices of addiction recovery are an essential reading for anyone who wants to get their head around addiction issues.

BOOKS ON CO-OCCURING DISORDERS

10. Co-occurring Addiction And Mental Health Disorders.

In this handbook, author Mark McGovern informs and empowers those who are living with addiction and co-occurring disorders to choose their treatment path, and create a treatment program (along with a trained clinician) that can address their specific needs. Working with the right team and with an approach fit for your needs, you can set achievable goals, make positive changes, and build a support network of family and friends while in co-occurring disorders recovery. The handbook “Co-occurring Addiction And Mental Health Disorders” is written and designed to help people with co-occurring disorders thrive in recovery.

11. An American’s Resurrection.

As the full title of this book described “An American’s Resurrection: My Pilgrimage from Child Abuse and Mental Illness to Salvation”, here you will read about the author’s (Eric C. Arauz’s) personal turbulations from his life, fight with mania and addiction, and recovery. This inspiring story will get you closer to what is happening within the lives of the most misunderstood groups in America – the people suffering from addiction and other mental illnesses.

12. The Dual Disorders Recovery Book.

A book that can help people suffering from substance use disorders and an emotional or psychiatric illness to better understand the 12 Step program and help the addiction recovery process. It brings you closer to the ways substance abuse and mental psychiatric disorders are intortwined, while offering a very realistic and empathetic solutions for recovery. “The Dual Disorders Recovery Book” is based on science, but so well-written that it can explain even more complicated states of mental health problems even to people who are not afflicted with dual diagnosis.

BOOKS ON COMPULSIVE DISORDERS

13. Women and Problem Gambling.

This well-written piece by Liz Karter covers the issue of women gambling problematically. It’s based on the author’s own research and theories that were developed throughout her extensive practice. Reading it, you will have a chance to explore what may lead to problem gambling in women and how unhealthy relationships and lonely, troubled, or damaging lives can move women closer to the trap.

“Women and Problem Gambling” covers several aspects of the problem, starting from the role of the gambling industry, the role of society, as well as the relationships of women with themselves and with others. The goal is to give an answer to the frequently asked question about “Who is to blame?” from several perspectives. This book can provide valuable insight to families, friends, therapists, healthcare professionals, and to women problem-gamblers.

14. Don’t Call It Love.

A book about relationship dependency, co-authored by Dr. Gregory L. Jantz and Dr. Tim Clinton that aims to help relationship addicts recognize their unhealthy patterns and break the cycle of relationship dependency. Where does relationship dependence come from? And, what contributes to it? It is all answered in “Don’t Call It Love”.

The book includes comprehensive examples, check-lists, and facts that anyone can use to identify signs of unhealthy dependence in a relationship. So, if you keep falling into the same dead-end relationships again and again, search for another person to make you feel complete, or believe that you are not enough, this is the book that can help guide you towards the key to healthy relationships. In the end, “Don’t Call It Love” features a twelve-week personal recovery plan to get you started.

15. Out Of The Shadows.

A book that will help you understand sexual addiction. Written by the author and treatment pioneer Patrick Carnes, “Out of the Shadows” starts off by trying to explain sexual addiction to the reader. Many times addicts are not aware of the problem. Also, partners and loved ones may not understand how sexual experience becomes the reason for being and the primary relationship for the addict. The author walks us through the four-step cycle that includes preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior, and despair. The latest (3rd) edition of “Out of the Shadows” also covers the phenomenon of cybersex addiction, and in the end leads readers towards finding help for sexual compulsion.

BOOKS FOR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS OF ADDICTS

16. Raising Healthy Children In An Alcoholic Home.

Barbara L. Wood addresses strategies for raising healthy children in families with an alcoholic parent. “Raising Healthy Children in an Alcoholic Home” can be useful in many practical ways, as the author treats this subjects with empathy and a vast clinical understanding. The book offers a clear and sensible guidance on how to protect children from the harms caused by parental alcoholism. We recommend it to parents who are raising children in a family that deals with alcoholism, as well as to counselors, therapists, and healthcare professionals that are working with families struck by this issue.

17. Hope Street.

Describing an emotional roller coaster, author Amanda Andruzzi wrote her “Hope Street” memoir to provide insight into what it’s like to live with an addict and be a co-addict. Anyone dealing with a spouse or a family member suffering from addiction can relate to the situations described. Amanda’s writing will make you feel understood and let you know that experiences of feeling alone and fearing to leave an addicted partner can be much alike. In the end, this is a memoir about a frightening journey that inspirationally ends in her finding the courage and strength to overcome the issues and leaves the past in the past.

18. Why Don’t They Just Quit?

If you are a loved one of someone who’s an active addict or in recovery, it’s likely that life will take you to many unexpected turns and you will have to deal with many situations. Joe Herzanek’s “Why Don’t They Just Quit?” brings these much needed insights to families and friends, and offers practical solutions about co-dependence, dealing with a relapse, financing addiction treatment, staging interventions, letting go, and many other topics. This is one of the best reads for families of addicts, but also for anyone else who is wondering what addiction compulsion is and how recovery takes place.

Questions about books to read in recovery

Like our list and have already read some of the books we listed? Or, perhaps you have some other book-suggestions that have helped you or a loved one in recovery? We welcome you to ask your questions and share your feedback by posting in the comments section below. We try to get back with all legitimate inquiries in a personal and prompt manner.

Order DARK WINE WATERS NOW!

Order DARK WINE WATERS NOW!

This list first appeared on the 1/30/16 issue of Addictionblog.com

This list first appeared on the 1/30/16 issue of Addictionblog.com

Posted in Addiction, Addiction & Recovery, Addiction News, Family & Addiction, Prescription Drug Abuse, Sex & Addiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating Gratitude – a powerful topic and the subject of today’s guest post by Fran Simone.

Fran (Frances) Simone, Ph.D., is the author of Dark Wine Waters, My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows, a memoir that illuminates the heartbreaking story of a marriage compromised by the husband’s alcoholism. She wrote it to help the millions of other family members whose lives are upended by a loved one’s addiction and to help untold numbers of people understand what it’s like to love someone with this brain disease. Fran is a professor emeritus from Marshall University, South Charleston Campus where she directed the West Virginia Writing Project, a statewide affiliate of the National Writing Project, University of California at Berkeley. Most recently she is a regular blogger for Psychology Today (online), Hazelden/Betty Ford (Recovery Matters), and Addiction Blog. To learn more about her work, visit her website, DarkWineWaters.com. She can be reached via email at darkwinewaters@gmail.com.

Cultivating Gratitude By Frances Simone (Guest Author)

January. A new year. A fresh start.   A time to shape up. Sadly our well-intentioned resolutions too often fall by the wayside. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 62 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions at some point in their lives. But only 8 percent are successful. In fact, January 17th has been designated “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day” because most of us cave in by then. . .

I’ve pretty much given up on my annual lose ten pounds resolution, but I did resolve to keep a daily gratitude journal in 2016. In fact, one of my Christmas gifts was a spanking new journal with blank pages waiting to be filled. I believe that a daily dose of gratitude will help alleviate some of the fear and negativity I’m experiencing because my son relapsed again during the holiday season.

Fear

When my thoughts rush into projecting tragic events in the future, I can be grateful for my twelve-step program that encourages me to take one day at a time. Today I’m grateful for the first snow of winter. No accumulation, just a light dusting covering bare tree limbs with a pale sun peeking through clouds. This evening I anticipate reading in front of a cozy fire. Stopping to write helps decelerate my racing thoughts about future smashups.

Self-pity

Yesterday I ran into a former co-worker. My friend, Don, wiped out his I-Phone to show pictures of his lovely grandchildren. Three girls and two boys who range in age from newborn to nine years old.   He was so proud of family: his grown three children with solid marriages and successful careers and those adorable grandkids. If I compare myself to my friend with his happy family I can sink into a hole of envy and resentment. Focusing on gratitude helps me dig my way out of that hollow space in my heart.

During this past holiday season, I fell into another pity trap when I received those annual brag letters from family and friends cataloging their grandchildren’s artistic and academic accomplishments, their sons and daughters’ job promotions, and their extended family vacations to exotic locales. I’ve never written one of these letters.

What would I say?

That my adult son has been in and out of rehab, has not been able to keep a job, and has stolen money from me when he relapsed during the holiday season. On the flip side I could have written that I’m grateful for my generous daughter and son-in-law who sent me lovely Christmas gifts and kept in close touch, for the support of my friends in my twelve-step fellowship who rallied when I needed them, for the wisdom of my sponsor, for the guidance of a gifted therapist, and for the love of my extended family and friends. Listing all of the above helps to tone down those “poor me” blues.

I don’t pretend that a gratitude journal is a panacea for all of the turmoil that family and friends experience because of their loved one’s addition. It’s one of many tools that help counterbalance bitterness, envy and resentment. . .

As the end of January approaches, I’m still at it. I plan to be among the 8% who follow through on their New Year’s resolution. Who knows I might even lose those extra ten pounds.

As the end of January approaches, I’m still at it. I plan to be among the 8% who follow through on their New Year’s resolution. Who knows I might even lose those extra ten pounds.

Fran (Frances) Simone, Ph.D., is the author of Dark Wine Waters, My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows, a memoir that illuminates the heartbreaking story of a marriage compromised by the husband’s alcoholism. She wrote it to help the millions of other family members whose lives are upended by a loved one’s addiction and to help untold numbers of people understand what it’s like to love someone with this brain disease. Fran is a professor emeritus from Marshall University, South Charleston Campus where she directed the West Virginia Writing Project, a statewide affiliate of the National Writing Project, University of California at Berkeley. Most recently she is a regular blogger for Psychology Today (online), Hazelden/Betty Ford (Recovery Matters), and Addiction Blog. To learn more about her work, visit her website, DarkWineWaters.com. She can be reached via email at darkwinewaters@gmail.com.

Fran Simone is the author of DARK WINE WATERS

Fran Simone is the author of DARK WINE WATERS

 

 

 

This article first appeared on this website on January 24, 2016

This article first appeared on this website on January 24, 2016

Posted in Addiction, Addiction & Recovery, Addiction News, Alcoholism, Author News, Family & Addiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A promotional video for SELF-ACCEPTANCE: The Key to Recovery from Mental Illness

With the rise of the recovery movement over the past thirty years, more hope exists now than ever before for people diagnosed with serious mental illness to live full, meaningful lives. Designed for use with groups as well as individuals, this workbook provides didactic information and guides users through questions and exercises to encourage increased awareness and acceptance of the self and the effects of mental illness. By actively responding to the questions, users can better organize their thinking and engage in behaviors that will improve quality of life.

Victor Ashear, PhD has worked with patients diagnosed with serious mental illnesses for over forty years. He worked as a clinical psychologist for nearly thirty-four years at the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Vanessa Hastings works as a technical editor/writer and marketing assistant for national firm SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA). Before joining SWCA, she served as the suicide prevention coordinator for her community.

Posted in Addiction & Recovery, Addiction News, Author News, Caregiving, Mental Health, Personal Development, Relationships | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment