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Resolve to a Healthier You – One Decision at a Time – This New Year

The One Decision at a Time Resolution

Are you one of the millions of people finalizing your new year’s resolutions today? According to a recent study, nearly half of resolutions are about self-improvement; staying healthy is one the most common New Year’s resolutions. However, only 8% of people who make them actually keep their resolutions. Worse yet, most resolvers abandon ship within the first six months.

Here’s the problem — whether the resolution is to drink less, eat less, smoke less, do fewer drugs, or quit anything, there is a huge chance of perceived failure. Once the “do less” resolution is broken, so is the spirit, and the result can be the exact opposite of the resolution. A new year full of drinking more, eating more, smoking more, or doing more drugs may ensue.

Rather than saying “why bother?” – try this – The One Decision at a Time Resolution. Instead of making a finite new year resolution on January 1, how about making an ongoing commitment to an overall lifestyle change? This doesn’t have to start at 12:01am either – it can start right now! Those who make a commitment to themselves are positioned to radically change the course of their lives — for the better.

Resolve yourself – one decision at a time – to get healthy and strong – physically, mentally and emotionally. The “how” may seem like the hard part, but it all starts with a commitment to yourself – on a daily basis.  Do you want to feel better? Do you know that something needs to change to achieve that end? Are you committed to trying new things in order to feel healthier? If you said yes, then read on. You have made your commitment!

Now, start with this … Simply ask yourself this question many times throughout your day — especially when faced with ANY situation:
“How will this decision contribute to my health?”

Then, think about if your possible decision will contribute positively or negatively. If it will contribute positively, then you can move ahead knowing that you are taking one small step toward achieving your healthy lifestyle. If it will contribute negatively then you are faced with another choice — how badly do you want a healthy lifestyle? If you are committed – like you agreed to earlier in this post – then you want it pretty badly and will need to remind yourself of that. Think about what decision would be the healthier one, and choose that route. You will be glad you did.

Repeat after me: “How will this decision contribute to my health?” Say it as often as you can and follow up with the positive decisions.

Living a healthy life ups your odds of having many more new years to celebrate. Rather than waiting until midnight on new year’s eve — start right now. Is what you are about to do next going to contribute to your life positively? If yes, then go for it. Ask it all day, every day … Is that donut / cigarette / shot / pill going to contribute to your life positively? Then you decide how it will impact your daily commitment to health.

The best part of One Decision at a Time Resolutions is that if you make a decision that you regret (and chances are you will because no one is perfect), there’s no need to wait until next new year’s day to start over — simply start over with the next decision. Don’t get down on yourself. The good thing about decisions is that there is always another one a minute away. Start the tally now by seeing how many positive, healthy decisions you can make in a row. Resolve to a healthier you this new year – one decision at a time.

Live healthy and prosper — and happy new year!

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The High-Functioning Addict—Hiding in Plain Sight

By: Michael Plahn

The High-Functioning Addict is a term used to describe an individual who may appear to have a very productive, seemingly manageable, and in some cases an almost idyllic life…on the outside. However, it is as if he/she is living a secret dual-life. One of productivity, maybe even marked with high-achievement, while the other is a life of escape through alcohol, drugs, and/or other addictions (that the addict’s family may be oblivious). This person is able to succeed in their life well enough to where the effects of their addiction(s) has not impacted the life they project to others. This article is written about alcohol and other mind-altering drugs, but other addictions may apply.

According to an article by Kristen McGuiness: Are You a High-Functioning Addict? published on the Huffington Post website, The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported in a 2007 study, that claimed 19.5 percent of all alcoholics(nearly four million people) are of the “functional” subtype.

Every high-functioning addict whom I have ever met in Recovery admits to having excruciating dark times that other addicts also report. However, my experience, both personally and professionally, is that career success and wealth can delay or even prevent the initiation of the Recovery process. Career and personal successes, wealth, power and ego-inflation stemming from an impressive title or elite social circles can actually defer the emotional and spiritual pain that is typically involved with an addicted individual’s willingness to seek help. An addict’s type of career can even seemingly promote over-indulgence and make certain behavior (as long as it is not egregious) acceptable, if it is for the good of the firm.

Some high-functioning addicts have the means to take extraordinary measures to keep the pain away. This is exemplified by one Recovering addict, who asked to remain anonymous, who stated, “I knew an eight-figure guy who bought a new car every two months to get enough juice to keep the pain away; it actually worked for a while.”

Having a high-functioning person with elevated status (be it a celebrity or someone respected in a professional community) come forward about his/her struggles and subsequent Recovery is rare. Anonymity has been synonymous with most successful Recovery. Instead, we hear about the horror stories, PR nightmares, and tragedies of celebrities and professional athletes.

However, recently Chicagoans were privy to a very public admission of a struggle with addiction. A letter was posted on the WGN-TV website, written by evening news anchor Mark Suppelsa, where he admitted to having a problem with alcohol and was voluntarily entering Hazelden’s Center City, MN location for treatment. He returned a month later, as planned, and received overwhelming support from viewers, fans, colleagues, and management at WGN. The brief letter defined a very secretive high-functioning individual who was finally ready to seek help.

I am an Addiction Recovery Expert and someone who was once a high-functioning addict who understands that a high-achieving addict has tremendous responsibility. At LifeSkills Authorities, LLC. (“LSA”), I help families and self-referring individuals find appropriate help for addiction, depression, anxiety, and related issues. While it may be obvious to others and recommended by professionals to take an extended leave of absence, at LSA we look at each situation individually to find the most appropriate and realistic solution for the afflicted individual and those affected by their affliction to begin the Recovery process.

Without professional help and a well-designed and appropriate plan that is respected by the bright high-functioning person, the request to seek help usually stops abruptly. If you want a positive outcome and a plan that will help a high-functioning addict begin to recover, contact LSA now to learn about The LSA Pre-Treatment Solution and our other individualized approaches to solving our clients’ concerns.

LifeSkills Authorities, (LSA) helps individuals and families who suffer from the effects of addiction, depression, mood disorders, chronic pain and/or aging issues. LifeSkills Authorities is unmatched in its role as an objective advocate that creates a customized plan and blueprint for recovery.  This personalized solution ends the needless suffering and brings about healing and positive change for the afflicted individual, family, and loved ones.  LifeSkills Authorities is based in the Chicagoland area and serves clientele nationwide.

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Disturbing trend for 50-59-year-olds – Baby boomer addiction soars

Disturbing trend for 50-59-year-olds: illicit drug abuse more than doubled from 2002 to 2010, Baby Boomer addiction | http://t.co/Q7rnEqAP

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Study Shows Depressed People Surf Web Differently

Surfing the web has become a daily ritual for most of us, whether it be a necessity for work, or a way to kill time.  But what we do online may offer up clues to our emotional well-being, according to this column from the NY Times.   A study was set up to research how people spend their time online, be it watching videos, emailing, playing games, or downloading and sharing files – to get a clue about people’s psyche.

In the study the questionnaire clued researchers in that 30 percent of participants met the criteria to be called depressed.  This isn’t a stretch considering national averages place 10-40 percent of college students as at some times depressives.  Missouri University of Science and Technology researchers then watched how these students – depressed and non – used the internet.

What did they find?  That the depressed group behaved online in a different way than their non-depressed peers.  The depressed folks tend to have a tougher time concentrating (a symptom of depression according to the National Institute of Health) and switched tasks more frequently.  They also checked email more frequently (leading to or resulting from higher anxiety?) and shared files (such as movies and music) more frequently.

The next step with this data is to create a software application that parents, universities or others could install to track users’ online behavior and send an alert when patterns appear that indicate depression.   The thought being that this could help with kids who are already under treatment need an added measure of security.   What happens with this research remains to be seen, but is in no way a replacement for mental health professionals.

How do you spend your time online?

LifeSkills Authorities helps individuals and families who suffer from the effects of addiction, depression, mood disorders, chronic pain and/or aging issues. LifeSkills Authorities is unmatched in its role as an objective advocate that creates a customized plan and blueprint for recovery.  This personalized solution ends the needless suffering and brings about healing and positive change for the afflicted individual and family.  LifeSkills Authorities is based in the Chicagoland area and serves clientele nationwide.

 

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Deaths Increasingly Due to Heroin in Lake County

The statistics are alarming.  In Lake County the number of overdoses due to heroin are increasing at levels leading many to declare a “heroin epidemic” in Chicago’s northernmost county.

The consequences of heroin addiction are alarming, as the percentages of Lake County deaths that involved heroin is on the rise. In 2011, 84 cases investigated by the Coroner’s Office were a direct result of substance abuse, 82% of those were accidental overdoses and 35% of deaths were people under the age of 30.

  • 2009: 88 deaths from substance abuse; 34% (30) involved heroin
  • 2010: 92 deaths from substance abuse; 37% (34) involved heroin
  • 2011: 84 deaths from substance abuse; 42% (35) involved heroin

The Lake County Coroner’s Officeshows that drug abuse deaths have occurred throughout the county, including Lake Forest, Highland Park, Deerfield, Hawthorn Woods, Buffalo Grove, Riverwoods, Libertyville, Mundelein, Gurnee and Grayslake.

 

LifeSkills Authorities helps individuals and families who suffer from the effects of addiction, depression, mood disorders, chronic pain and/or aging issues. LifeSkills Authorities is unmatched in its role as an objective advocate that creates a customized plan and blueprint for recovery.  This personalized solution ends the needless suffering and brings about healing and positive change for the afflicted individual and family.  LifeSkills Authorities is based in the Chicagoland area and serves clientele nationwide.
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How Addiction Changes a Child’s Role in the Family – Scapegoat, Hero, Super Enabler, or Disappearing Act

We are thrilled to have a guest post from Ken Powers, co-author of We Codependent Men We Mute Coyotes.  Below is an excerpt from his book as it pertains to childhood roles that persist when addiction is present.

Post by: Ken Powers

We will begin at the beginning and flesh out the codependent disease process as it relates to childhood with some concepts long accepted among program people about the roles typically played by children in dysfunctional homes. What follows will answer the question most often asked of professionals when they work with the families of addicted loved-ones. “But how did this happen to our family?” We, like all writers on the subject, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sharon Wegscheider; whose work Another Chance first described these roles in 1981. There have been many courageous writers, who led all three of us to our insights, but by far the most influential has been Melody Beattie, whose works are not just present in our home libraries; they are worn, torn, dog-eared and annotated after years of re-reading. The following section is provided as a brief summation of our understanding to describe predictable roles of children from addictive homes.

The Class/Family Clown draws attention away from the pain and dysfunction at home by entertaining others. This child is “cute.” He or she is always truly immature, but plays up the immaturity to draw attention away from the big people who are the dangerous dysfunctional addicts. Inside this child is filled mostly with insecurity. The following quote from the work From Survival to Recovery describes this child beautifully.

“To diffuse the battles that often raged around us, or to divert our parents from their attacks on one another or other members of the family, some of us learned to entertain. We tried to blunt family crises with jokes, stories, musical performances, or even comedy revues. We became quite talented and popular with our classmates. Society rewarded us with the laughter, applause, and attention, but in time we found that even when we desperately wanted to shed it the mask would not come off. We felt driven to perform and talk compulsively even when we were exhausted or needed comfort ourselves. Intimacy was difficult for us to achieve, because tender or passionate moments prompted us to joke or wisecrack.” (Survival, P.15)

The Scapegoat Child acts out, gets into trouble, and gains attention while deflecting attention away from the addicted parents. This child is constantly in trouble. There is open defiance of authority, with anger the favorite escape. This child is most likely to sport an outrageous personal appearance utilizing whatever is currently ‘in’ at the time in social circles. At the beginning of the 21st century this typically includes various body piercing, tattoos, the so-called “gothic” look, or maybe brightly colored spiked hair.  This child will also at any cost defy the family to the point to where schooling is affected and may even become suspended, expelled, or drop out all together.  The ultimate goal of this child is to do the direct opposite of any authority figure.

The Hero Child is the child who fantasizes that if he or she accomplishes enough, then the whole family will be ‘Ok’ and look ‘normal’ to the outside world. This child is overly conscientious, conforms to all rules from authority, and constantly strives for approval and acceptance from everyone, especially adults. In spite of being a high achiever, the hero child always feels inadequate.  This child will also be the members of the family who will try to make sure harmony is present within the family at the cost of his/her own emotional needs.

The Super Enabler is the child often closest to the addict emotionally. This child is the family ‘workhorse’.  Typically if a daughter, this child assumes the household chores left undone by both the addict and the codependent parent. If a son, this child is constantly trying to protect his mother if the addict is his father. Either way, inside he or she typically has low self-esteem, and there is much unexpressed anger. The favorite fantasy and role is that of the martyr, and this child is the one most likely to be presented to members of the medical profession because another favorite attention-getting device for the super enabler is hypochondria.

The Disappearing Child is typically played by children in addicted households. To avoid the pain of the chaos and conflict in the living room, which seems to be where most of the drama occurs, the disappearing child finds predictable ways of escaping.   One way is to adopt another family altogether. This is often another family on the same block where the child has formed a trusting friendship with a playmate and that playmate’s family has created a welcoming safe home. Throughout childhood this home is where the disappearing child heads right after school after checking in with Mom, Dad, or an older sibling. Here is where the disappearing child ‘hangs out’, where snack foods, and meals, TV, easy banter, and acceptance are always available in endless supply. The disadvantage, or possible advantage, of this escape is the loss of closeness with others in the nuclear family. The advantage, besides avoiding dysfunction, may be life-long friendships formed and maintained with these really special neighbors, unless of course the process is interrupted by a family crisis or constant moves by the nuclear family. This phenomenon of constantly relocating, or “the geographical cure” will be explored more fully in another chapter.

Another escape for the disappearing child is to retreat to his or her room. Here solitary hobbies like building models or playing dolls are favorites. Modern kids plant themselves in front of the computer playing video games, or escape with TV. Another solitary favorite is reading. Reading as an escape mechanism is often demonstrated by either or both parents, and of course, the school system routinely rewards students with the uppermost reading abilities, so there is reinforcement for reading throughout childhood. Therefore, this becomes the easiest escape or behavior of the disappearing child.

One disadvantage for reading, along with the other solitary activities, is weight gain. Every generation before this one assumed that childhood would include thousands of hours spent out of doors engaging in sports and games that were active. Inactivity juxtaposed with constant snacking on convenience foods results in obesity. We needn’t belabor the magnitude of the obesity problem among our children, but looking deeper into the stone, current all-time high rates of addiction among parents cannot help but contribute to this national crisis.

Finally, there is the ultimate disappearing act…the one that happens deep inside the imagination. Here children retreat to whatever world they can conger, often complete with imaginary playmates. Taken to extreme this can lead to psychosis. This is seen most evidently in the electronic media with which we all must react if we are living in one of the developed countries during the twenty-first century encourages both inactivity and isolation. Drive through neighborhoods throughout America after school and count the number of children out-of-doors playing with other children. Chances are there are significantly fewer than what most of us experienced in our own childhood.  This is where the disappearing child literally removes him or herself away from any outside human contact ever becoming more isolated from reality.  This is due in part to the fact that the true reality in which this child lives is extreme and often unbearable.

Read more in Ken’s book, We Codependent Men We Mute Coyotes, available here.

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CDC Reports: Binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a whopping one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, and on average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight. Find out what your community can do to prevent binge drinking.

New estimates show that binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink, about 4 times a month, and on average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time.

As reported in this month’s Vital Signs, the CDC found that those who were thought less likely to binge drink actually engage in this behavior more often and consume more drinks when they do. While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month. Similarly, while binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more, the largest number of drinks consumed on an occasion is significantly higher among binge drinkers with household incomes less than $25,000—an average of eight to nine drinks per occasion, far beyond the amount thought to induce intoxication.

Adult binge drinking is most common in the Midwest, New England, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii. On average, however, the number of drinks consumed when binge drinking is highest in the Midwest and southern Mountain states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), and in some states— such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina—where binge drinking was less common.

Binge drinking is a dangerous and costly public health problem.

  • It is important to consider the amount people drink when they binge and how often they do so.
  • Most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics.
  • More than half of the alcohol adults drink is while binge drinking.
  • More than 90% of the alcohol youth drink is while binge drinking.

Binge drinking costs everyone.

  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 80,000 deaths in the United States each year.
  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006, or $1.90 a drink, from losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses.
  • Binge drinking cost federal, state, and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006, while federal and state income from taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink.
  • Drinking too much contributes to more than 54 different injuries and diseases, including car crashes, violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. Over time, binge drinking also can lead to liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic health problems.
  • The chance of getting sick and dying from alcohol problems increases significantly for those who binge drink more often and drink more when they do.

What you can do.

  • Choose not to binge drink and help others not do it.
  • Follow the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on alcohol consumption; if you choose to drink, do so in moderation— no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Pregnant women and underage youth should not drink alcohol.
  • Support effective community strategies to prevent binge drinking, such as those recommended by the CDC Community GuideExternal Web Site Icon.
  • Support local control over the marketing and sale of alcoholic beverages.
  • Support the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years.
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More older adults getting eating disorders

Read the full article here at the Chicago Sun-Times.

 

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are typically thought to be diseases of young women and men. But researchers are finding that the personal demons that drive a young person to an eating disorder may linger into adulthood.

More and more middle-aged and older people are coming forward to receive treatment for eating problems that began in their youth and have been reignited by adult stress or personal crises.

That was the case with Alison Smela, 49, of Glen Ellyn. When she was 12, she was given a weight plan to follow over the summer because she was considered overweight. Smela said she went back to school thinner, and people noticed approvingly.

“I got all kinds of attention, and I liked that,” she said. “I equated losing weight with gaining attention.”

Controlling her eating also helped Smela feel better when things seemed too much to handle. “When life got tough, I always knew I could control the scale,” she said.

But as she grew more successful and climbed the corporate ladder, her anorexia spiraled out of control. So did her problem with heavy drinking.

“The more pressure I was under, the more titles I had, I wasn’t dealing with the pressures of the job and of life in a healthy manner,” she said.

When Smela turned 40, she said, she decided to receive treatment for her alcoholism. She’s now nearly a decade sober. But her eating disorder remained untreated, even though she knew she had a problem.

“I presumed alcoholism was more acceptable to society at my age,” she said. “Having an eating disorder wasn’t.”

She turned to the Renfrew Center, which operates a number of eating disorder clinics in the United States.

The center has seen a 42 percent increase in middle-aged female clients since 2001.

Unhealthy eating patterns adopted in adolescence or teen years often continue into adulthood, according to a University of Minnesota study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study, which followed 2,287 kids as they grew into young adults, found that more than half of the girls had unhealthy eating patterns that continued into their mid- to late 20s.

Eating disorders can be very devastating to the bodies at middle age, when osteoporosis, chemical imbalances and other health issues crop up more easily and have an even more lasting impact on health, experts say. “Older bodies do not have the plasticity that younger bodies do,” he explained. “They can’t tolerate the stresses and risks.”

The specific problems faced by middle-aged people with eating disorders prompted the Renfrew Center to create a separate treatment program specifically tailored to their needs, said Holly Grishkat, a senior director of clinical operations.

What drives someone in midlife to seek help for an eating disorder varies. For Smela, who was 46 at the time she first went to the Renfrew Center, it was her reflection, she said.

“The summer before I went for treatment, I started catching glimpses of myself in a mirror or reflection, and I was scared,” she said. “I saw my body as a whole, and it scared me.”

For Smela, a clear message for anyone suffering in secret is the fact that there’s hope.

“As a ‘seasoned’ woman living an addiction-filled life, I thought there was no way out,” she said. “I now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is.”

It is important for mothers to get help, said Dr. Ed Tyson, an eating disorders specialist in Austin, Texas.

“Having an eating disorder makes their children have a 12- to 15-fold greater risk of having an eating disorder,” he said. “They need to do the work and get better, or their children could be at risk.”

Gannett News Service

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SAMHSA announces a working definition of “recovery” from mental disorders and substance use disorders

A new working definition of recovery from mental disorders and substance use disorders is being announced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The definition is the product of a year-long effort by SAMHSA and a wide range of partners in the behavioral health care community and other fields to develop a working definition of recovery that captures the essential, common experiences of those recovering from mental disorders and substance use disorders, along with major guiding principles that support the recovery definition. SAMHSA led this effort as part of its Recovery Support Strategic Initiative.

The new working definition of Recovery from Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders is as follows:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.

 

Through the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, SAMHSA has also delineated four major dimensions that support a life in recovery:

 

  • Health : overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way;
  • Home:  a stable and safe place to live;
  • Purpose:  meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society; and
  • Community : relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

 

Guiding Principles of Recovery

 

Recovery emerges from hope:  The belief that recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future – that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.

 

Recovery is person-driven:  Self-determination and self-direction are the foundations for recovery as individuals define their own life goals and design their unique path(s).

 

Recovery occurs via many pathways:  Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds ? including trauma experiences ? that affect and determine their pathway(s) to recovery. Abstinence is the safest approach for those with substance use disorders.

 

Recovery is holistic:  Recovery encompasses an individual’s whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.

 

Recovery is supported by peers and allies: Mutual support and mutual aid groups, including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in recovery

 

Recovery is supported through relationship and social networks:  An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person’s ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.

 

Recovery is culturally-based and influenced : Culture and cultural background in all of its diverse representations ? including values, traditions, and beliefs ? are keys in determining a person’s journey and unique pathway to recovery.

 

Recovery is supported by addressing trauma : Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical and emotional) and trust, as well as promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration.

 

Recovery involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility:  Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery.

 

Recovery is based on respect :  Community, systems, and societal acceptance and appreciation for people affected by mental health and substance use problems – including protecting their rights and eliminating discrimination – are crucial in achieving recovery.

For further detailed information about the new working recovery definition or the guiding principles of recovery please visit:  http://www.samhsa.gov/recovery/

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Sober Zombies…Recovery can be Miserable

By:  Michael Plahn

Addiction can be a terminal disorder.  The statistics for success typically focus on or involve abstinence.  I have known many many people over the years who have struggled with recovery from various addictions (some statistics show abstinence rates under 15%).  So, for a person who suffers from addiction to be abstinent (after following most of the well-known paths of recovery), is truly remarkable.  But, is abstinence all that matters?  Not if you are a Sober Zombie like I was a little over ten years ago.

I am open about my experience of being abstinent, but miserable.  I actually got worse when I stopped drinking and using drugs.  I was abstinent for over nine months, and precisely following the suggestions of a mentor in a well-known lay program, regularly meeting with my psychologist and psychiatrist, taking the medications exactly as prescribed, exercising 5-6 days/week, and living a moral life.  The result?  I was abstinent (which was miraculous), but to say I was miserable is a drastic understatement.  I was in so much emotional pain that I began to pray for the willingness to take my own life.  Thankfully I was not suicidal, but I was absolutely miserable with no hope of better days on the horizon.  I was, what I recently heard described as a Sober Zombie.

That was in 2000-2001 and I would have paid any amount of money, traveled anywhere in the world, and done anything someone told me, if they claimed to have a potential solution for me.  I was dead inside and desperate for help.  I spoke with my Psychiatrists and Psychologist, asked around, called physicians, tried to research, but I could not find an approach that seemed to offer me hope or a solution.  Eventually, I was even told by my Psychologist and Psychiatrist in joint meeting that they did not know what else to do for me…they had tried everything.  What the hell was I supposed to do after that session?!

Well, my story is one filled with grace and the intuition that a team of professionals, assembled in a holistic manner, might be able to help me.  As many know, this pain and desperation actually led to the birth of LifeSkills Authorities and our comprehensive approach to Recovery Coaching (although I sure didn’t know it at the time).

Through a series of events, I began personally assembling a team of qualified professionals (personal trainer, nutrition consultant, Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Internist, and a mentor), and stumbled onto a different path offering a different way to live in recovery.  I made it and live an amazing life now.  But, most who are like me 10+ years ago (fortunate and blessed to be abstinent, but utterly lost and hopeless), are likely in trouble.  Many who experience even close to what I went through in my first year without alcohol, return to their addiction of choice out of self-preservation or, tragically, have a much worse fate.

I was an extreme example of a Sober Zombie (this descriptor is so eerily spot-on).  Over the years I have known and still regularly see many miserable recovering people.  Some fly under the radar, accumulating year after year of abstinence and go about their lives with a sad quiet desperation.  While others are so miserable that they seem to have a mission to make everyone they encounter miserable too.  Do you know anyone life this?

If you are living with or know a Zombie who is trying to convert others to the ‘walking dead,’ please contact us now.  Most of these people have bravely fought addiction (and are among the small percentage who are still abstinent) and now accumulate months and years of ‘clean time.’  To their family, many physicians, and other observers (even those in the helping fields), they notice the obvious, the person no longer drinks, uses drugs, or has abstained from their previous addiction(s) of choice.  Since abstinence is such an influential barometer for success, Zombies may get a pass for dysfunctional behavior because they have not yet fallen back into their addictive patterns of old.  But, without help, Zombies will hone the skill of pushing away those who love them the most, sabotage careers, and alienate the friends or professionals who may be their only life-lines to a better life.  But, most importantly, Zombies can get to a point where they will argue that they know what is better for them…even more-so than the world’s experts.

So, what’s the future for a Sober Zombie?  Not good!!  Honestly, my guess would be that most return to a life of active addiction our of mere self-preservation to make the pain leave (even for a moment).  So, if you know someone you think may be miserable in recovery, please get them in touch with me personally.  The LSA Recovery Coaching advantage has been called, “A guardian angel for anyone suffering from addiction or related issues,” for a reason…we have the antidote for the Sober Zombie.  LSA’s Recovery Crisis and Recovery Care programs can turn Sober Zombies into vibrant, healthy, peaceful, and joy-filled examples of recovery…a life that should not be missed.  Contact us now to help yourself,  a loved one, or someone you know before it is too late.

 

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