THANK GOD FOR THE PROGRAM OF A.A.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly…all of it.  Please don’t white wash A.A.  If Alcoholics Anonymous was perfect I would not fit in.

THANK GOD FOR THE PROGRAM OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS!

I truly believe that if it were not for AA I would not be sober or sane today. This is my anniversary month and I want to express how grateful I truly am for the program. Please, Gainesville AA; gratitude is a state of mind and a feeling not an action. I will not go “gratituding” (if gratitude were an action word the ing would be correct.)   I will express my gratitude by doing some 12th step service work. Ok yes this is one of my pet peeves about Gainesville AA.    The PIRATE DICTIONARY by which they feel they can redefine parts of the English language.   Leave it to a bunch of addicts to assert the audacity to refute the scholars and masters of the English language.

However I am making a point here. In spite of all the little errors and cultish beliefs of AA members the program works. In spite of the fact that my own sponsor has stalked her boyfriend to the gates of insanity. In spite of the fact that most AAers are working hard on smoking themselves to death with cigarettes, still I salute you. And in spite of the fact that the majority of members reek of codependency the program still works!

The 12 steps are still ordained of God and set down as a solution for the sick and suffering. In spite of the fact that Bill W. spent countless years suffering from depression and engaging in infidelity.  THE PROGRAM WORKS AND IT HAS SAVED Mine AND COUNTLESS LIVES.
The question that I personally had to ask myself as I stumbled into the rooms was “What do I need and can I get it here”. That answer was yes these people obviously knew and know how to stay sober and I desperately needed that.

So, I hung in there with that character defect ridden sponsor as she took the time to spoon feed me the solutions I so desperately needed.  And I watched as she kept herself sober by the 12 Steps of AA.  And she picked up her own 10 year medallion years ago. I hung in with years of meetings and worked the 12 steps over and over year in and year out until I knew and worked recovery as a way of life. I taught others, I made suggestions and I shared in countless meetings, jails and rehabs.

I had a knack for speaking and I could present the steps like a pro. In AA you can learn and practice public speaking in front of hundreds of listeners free of charge.  I loved it!  I didn’t come to AA looking for perfection I came looking for a solution to my self destructive life patterns.

So, now as I approach my tenth year sober without a hit of crack cocaine, or a shot of heroin I still balk at the cultish dogma.   And I sometimes sneer at the non-empathic beat-downs going on between members. I look on as my brothers and sisters that I love stay sober and do a little bitching themselves about certain aspects of the program.

One of the most brilliant counselors and longtime members in the program that has helped thousands upon thousands by his knowledge and ability to characteristically share wrote a book called “The Lies Told in AA”. Does that mean that he will walk away from the program because it is now full of imperfect people? HELL NO!

We must get outside help where we can, where we fit in. People do get sober in church, I did that myself one time for several years BUT the thing is, I never really fit in there like I do in AA. Church people are very much like program people.   As a matter of fact church people appear to have that same empty black hole in their soul that they must fill with God to be OK.

We AAers have that in common with the church folks.  Best if you are trying to stay sober to go to church, AA, AND THERAPY.  Go in spite of the imperfections that are part of the human condition.

Go and get your psychic change my friend because you have earned your seat and its empty and waiting for you. So thank you AA , therapy, church and my own Higher Power for saving my life so I can engage in my own character defects, growing old, and the joys of life that sobriety has most definitely brought me.

THANK YOU ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS AND GOD

On Buprenorphine in Recovery?

(Buprenorphine facts are taken from physician desk reference and the Suboxone.com website and the pamphlet that Subutex/Suboxone distributes.   And other various research reference sites online. )

FINGER POINTING AND FALSE COMPARISONS

It has come to my attention that the belief systems running through NA and even AA are that if your on any kind of pain drug from your doctor or even a rehabilitation maintenance type drug such as buprenorphine then your “not clean & sober”.  What I want to do here today is take a fair and balanced look at this issue and define what sobriety or clean and sober really is.  I also want to take a look at each of a few drugs and point out the differences in how they do affect a person trying to rehabilitate from an abusive and addicted lifestyle.

What is the cure?

Firstly and foremost I want to say, and this trumps anything following that I have written.  You have to feel if you want to heal.  Therefore in recovery we must be able to do the steps with our entire emotions invested in the process for it to work.  When we stop drinking and drugging there is a natural process of emotions in us that surface in perfect order.  Stuff comes up from the past that we have ignored or stuffed down  and repressed by using drugs and ignoring our emotions.  If we are still numbing ourselves out we won’t be able to heal 100% by addressing our underlying issues and processing those issues.

ALCOHOL AND DRUGS ARE BUT A SYMPTOM OF AN UNDERLYING ISSUE OR SICKNESS

Emotional disorder- is the inability to process our feelings.  We, I tend to stuff down and put into denial my intense feelings of FEAR in the form hurt, anger, betrayal, abandonment, rejection, and the big one inferiority.

First I want to point out that addiction is due to underlying causes such as emotional and mental disorders.  Some people think the disease is in our  DNA and hereditary they may be right.   But I believe it’s a learned behavior and the sex, drugs, gambling, food, alcohol are a solution to our deep fear, anxiety, and depression.   The drugs eventually stop working and our cure becomes lethal to us.  If we were emotionally balanced we wouldn’t need the steps the program or even God until our death…then we better have a relationship built with a Higher Power that can deliver us from death because we are all headed that way dope or no dope.

PEOPLE GET INJURED, SICK AND NEED PAIN MEDICINES FROM THE DOCTOR

We can be so sick or injured that if we don’t take our medicine our quality of life will be way worse than if we don’t. We mustn’t judge others for taking pain meds.   Come what may some day karma may tap us on the shoulder with some excruciating and chronic pain from a sudden injury.  To thine own self be true.  We are not martyrs.

I think if a man does have to take pain meds he has a better chance at recovery if it’s later rather than sooner.  Once you have six years under your belt sober I personally believe we don’t think with an addict mind anymore therefore we have a much better chance at following the doctors orders in sobriety.

 

WHAT IS CLEAN & SOBER?

Step One “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol (drugs) and our lives had become unmanageable.”

If there is an absence of un-manageability then ones life is manageable.  If there is an absence of powerlessness then there is no issue…is there?  Just like a gun can be used for a good purpose to protect our families they can also be used to murder and mame.  A product in and of itself is not evil it is mans use of that product which defines weather it is good or evil.  Even Heroin, morphine and cocaine  are used for good purposes in hospital settings.  And don’t think hospitals don’t use Cocaine I had jaw surgery and know better.  They put cocaine on a long q-tip and went from nasal to throat cleaning it out.

Heroin; some scientists proclaim is a much better pain killer than Morphine however due to the prejudices and stigmas attached to it they use Morphine instead.  If one labels an inanimate object “evil” just because someones use of it makes it evil that is called a prejudice.  We can be prejudiced in our minds over any people, places, and things.

If I am addicted to pornography then the computer is my evil catalyst where-as if a scientist posts the cure for cancer on his science blog and it is used around the world then the computer is a wonderful tool that saves lives.  These examples tend to apply to anything.  Chocolate cake at a 5 year olds birthday party is something he will enjoy and look back on all his life.  How his mother nurtured him emotionally with her positive attention.  And yet to the obese man a chocolate cake is the evil which can kill him.  Sugar is actually poison which WILL kill him.

Pot or Marijuana to some people is their evil.  They abuse it relentlessly.  Others do not.  Hear me OTHERS DO NOT.  Just because someone can’t take narcotics without abusing them doesn’t mean they can’t smoke pot responsibly.  Pot is a drug that can be used reasonably in recovery in my opinion as long as you are not smoking it abusively and soberly work the 12 step program with a sponsor.  Go to meetings 90 and 90 and all the other stuff suggested.

HYPOTHETICAL:  MARIJUANA

Say Johnny smokes some weed at night and then he goes during the day to meetings and works the steps.  He is also seeking God with his heart and getting group therapy.  He doesn’t smoke pot during or before his recovery appointments.  He has stopped crack smoking and every other hard drink and drug he was doing.  Please don’t tell Johnny he is not sober he is doing great and so much better than he was.  He is a father to his children he is home at night.  And don’t forget he has been on dope pretty much all his life.  Having a cushion to keep his rage in check till he can work through his emotional issues is a plus.  Don’t ask Johnny to go on anti-depressants just so he can be legal.  Pot works for Johnny and is soon to be legal where he lives.   Do you think that smoking cigarettes is a healthy recovery thing to do?  Yet cigarettes are accepted among NA and AA members and don’t cancel out your recovery.  Why would pot cancel -out your recovery if Nicotine doesn’t?  Why would we judge Johnny as “not sober”, he doesn’t smoke cigarettes which are a drug also.  Cigarettes are an unfair status-quo in the rooms.  Cigarettes will kill you quick and are far more harmful than Marijuana if it’s smoked occasionally and not abusively.  Most cigarette smokers smoke way too much but yet they are considered sober.  And they are sober just not perfectly sterilized sober.  Bill Wilson our co-founder of A.A. died from cigarette addiction as a matter of fact in the form of He died from emphysema and pneumonia.  Why am a telling you this?  To point out that even the best of the best have secondary addictions.  For me it’s the internet and food.  None of us are truly qualified to harshly judge others.

BUPRENORPHINE (SUBOXONE, SUBUTEX)

I have know people that used buprenorphine when they started recovery and weaned down and people who have had to start med well into their tenth or more year.  Firstly if your on Suboxone which is buprenorphine and Naloxone combined don’t bother shooting it.  The Naloxone is only effective for relatively 20 minutes just long enough to block your rush and initial effects.  When the Naloxone wears off your drug works the way it is supposed to so as to reduce pain or cravings.  Secondly they have developed both Suboxone and Subutex (both buprenorphine) with a ceiling…if you take more than 3 pills don’t expect to feel the fourth one BUT you can still OD on them.   you just won’t get any higher than if you took 3. YOU CAN NOT GET ANY HIGHER ONCE YOU HAVE HIT THE BUPRENORPHINE CEILING.

Thirdly don’t expect Buprenorphine to get you high like an opiate the scientists have developed this PARTIAL OPIATE AGONIST so it won’t have the effects of a full blown agonist or “NARCOTIC”.  Put simply the chemical Buprenorphine does go to your opiate receptors. However, picture your receptors with a closed door in front of them.  When you take an opiate the door swings wide open and your receptors are drenched with the effects.  With partial opiate agonists such as Tramadol or Bubrenorpine the door to your receptors only opens half-way so the receptors only get half as sedated.

METHADONE

Methadone works to keep Heroin addicts off the street, keeps them from having to steal and rob to get heroin however it is very strong and will stop the natural process of healing and recovery.  So if methadone is used in the beginning of recovery it should be a temporary thing to ween off of eventually.  Then it can be considered progress.

ALCOHOL

Alcohol is a drug.  If you can sit down and drink 2 or even 3 drinks and stop every time.  If drinking doesn’t make you want to use crack or shoot dope etc. then your obviously not an alcoholic.  Personally I don’t know nor do any of the people I have asked know one dope fiend who is not also an alcoholic.
So as a rule if you want recovery you will have to stop drinking.

Bottom line we do the best we can.  If we are working the 12 step program and our lives are manageable then we are clean and sober if we have not picked up our drug of choice and abused it basically.

“NOT ONE ALCOHOLIC OR ADDICT WORKS A PERFECTLY STERILE PROGRAM WITH NO VICES”

Whether it be food, sex, sick relationships, gambling, cigarettes, weed, non-narcotic pills, wrath, violence, serial killing, wife beating, every addict in recovery tends to fall back on some vice or another.  We all humans commit sin of some sort.  We are human and I think we were created imperfect.  Perfectionism will beat us down if we don’t get it in check.  We will never be perfect and it is futile to struggle with ourselves relentlessly in a cycle of guilt and self-floggings that originated in our first addiction.  When we get into that cycle we go to a meeting.  “MOVE A MUSCLE CHANGE A THOUGHT”.   WE MUSTN’T JUDGE OUR OWN INSIDES BY OTHER PEOPLES OUTSIDES OUR FELLOWS ARE SELDOM TRANSPARENT.

 

 

Dating and Sex in Sobriety

NO RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE A YEAR SOBER..SO THEY SAY IN AA.  the suggestion has much merit but there are exceptions to the rule.

We can quickly destroy all our loving relationships due to natural knee-jerk reactions that fend off fear and the feelings that fear creates.  Some deadly knee-jerk solutions are blame, criticisms, hate, playing the victim or the oppressor anything that relates to putting down and condemning others to make ourselves feel better if even just for a short while.  There is no shortage of people to condemn including ourselves.  In the meantime we lose what our hearts really need and crave…to Love and to be Loved, to comfort and to be comforted, to understand and to be understood, to follow our conscience and to live guilt-free.

If you want to read  what Alcoholics Anonymous’ take on dating and sex is read page 69 from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Also here’s the link to the Narcotics Anonymous literature on the topic.

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt5.pdf

http://www.nawol.org/2012_ch16%20RELATIONSHIPS.htm

There are some awesome suggestions in both texts.  I feel obligated and inspired to write my own experience on the topic as an A.A. member since 2006.  My sobriety date is 04-15-06.  My name is Lori E. and I am a recovering drunk, heroin addict, crack-head, and co-dependent.  Given all of the things that I have recovered from including cigarettes I needed more than just A,A, to get better.

However without A.A. I doubt I would still be sane and sober.  I am the Chairman of the New Life Group in Gainesville, Florida.  I have done my share of taking meetings into the very jail I got sober in and the institution that taught me emotional healing.  Bridge House at Meridian Health Care.  http://mbhci.org/treatment-services/residential-inpatient-services/   saved my life and it cost me about $4 a day for 28 days if memory serves.  I do know at the time of my stay the government was footing  most of the bill.  They allow A.A. to bring meetings into inpatient on a regular basis including women meetings which at this phase of my sobriety are my favorite. Women open up on issues that are so pertinent to their healing that would otherwise be taboo in mixed meetings.  I remember they told us that only one out of the 30 patients in our group would still be sober after a year.  We proved them wrong due tothe excellent psychological therapy that we received from psychologists working there at that time.   There is a group of 5 or 6 of us who are pushing the 10 year mark of sobriety.  “Trauma in recovery” was the name of the therapy group.  And we had a “women’s issues” group also.   Out of the two therapists who saved our lives and taught us how to emotionally process (live with feelings) one has passed away and the other still works there.

SOBER RELATIONSHIPS and codependency

Three of the women that I got sober with including myself have been in long term healthy relationships that began during the first year of our sobriety in 2006.  Two of us are with men that have at least 7 more years sober than ourselves and we met these men in the program.  Technically that makes those two men 13th steppers but we can laugh about that now.   Thank god for the 13th step!  13th stepping is when a member with say a year or more sober preys upon a new and vulnerable member.  Technically this can be a very bad thing so I won’t make light of it without explanation.  I believe if we are over the age of 18 we are responsible for our choices and that includes when we are newly sober.

We women in my outpatient therapy group were dating early on but we took every action and choice that we made regarding our new relationships into the group for feedback and guidance.  We all spent at least a year in that therapy group 2 to 3 nights a week.   Since we had a support group we were not technically as vulnerable as your typical and newly sober woman.  Without that group I would not be in a mature and happy relationship today.  But it took allot of work on myself to change.  So two of us found our men in A.A. and the third women a total miracle because she found her husband in Bridge House.   Hers was what we call a re-hab relationship.  Re-hab relationships rarely last.  Usually what happens is the two people leave rehab and use drugs together.  Next they betray one another and the relationship ends in a total train wreck.  That’s the odds.

Even our wise counselor at Bridge House told us that from what he had seen people who get into relationships in their first year always relapse.  I remember in group one day Dr. Rand Maryowitz told us that he had never seen a relationship work that had started in the first year of sobriety.  Us women looked at each other reading one another’s minds we thought, “there is no way we are ending this relationship!  It feels too good.”  And it was good, the trick for me was to survive the crash of the fairy tale expectations which was one of my patterns of co-dependency.

I wanted to RUN AND BLAME

so many times when my feelings would get hurt and I felt he had wronged me.  That was me a runner and a blamer.  I was the victim.  Each time I felt that way I would call my new friends from group instead of running.  I would then realize one of two things, either my new partner had not wronged me at all or he had unknowingly done so and I just needed to communicate with him on an honest level and let him know how I felt and why I felt I was wronged.  Not so I could be “right” but so we could get to know each other and learn what one another considers disrespectful.  If you are with a partner that is willing to work with you and communicate at a core and honest level then you have a chance of gaining a life-long mate.  Soul mates     THE FACES OF LOVE

RULE NUMBER ONE- STOP BLAMING MY PARTNER FOR MY OWN FEELINGS AND MY  OWN CHOICES.

RULE NUMBER TWO- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR EVERYTHING IN MY OWN LIFE.  INCLUDING MY PAIN AND INSECURITIES

RULE THREE-LEARN WHAT TO DO WITH THE INTENSE FEELINGS THAT WON’T GO AWAY.

I had spent my whole life blaming others for my shit.  It took a strong support group, a good counselor, and A.A (the twelve steps to be precise) for me to make the transition into self-responsibility.   Here are some of the articles that talk about the solutions to relationship sabotage.  I really had no idea what a healthy relationship was until I got sober and allowed myself to be emotionally vulnerable and teachable.

The thing is we get hurt and betrayed then we put up walls that protect us from that happening again.  But unfortunately the instinctual walls of a sick addict push love out and bring fear in.  I had to learn how to be okay with me.  I had to let myself off the hook for all the mistakes of the past and make amends where I could.  I had to invite God into all the areas of my life that I had been shielding Him from.  Without a Higher Power the healing process does not have the supernatural punch needed for an emotional make-over.  Therapy, 12 steps and God.  Three ingredients to a super dooper recovery!  I know many people in A.A. have given up of intimate relationships.  Many times when they do give up then, finally they find their soul mate.  A partner cannot fix us.  They cannot process our feelings for us or build our needed self-esteem only we can do that by doing the next right thing.  And continuing to do the next right thing.  Here are some articles about relationships and what it takes to be a partner.

http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/2/sexual-inventory-pg-69-big-book/

http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/2/the-power-of-choice-clearing-the-wreckage-of-the-past/

http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/2/relationships-alcoholics-anonymous/

http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/2/sexual-inventory/

 

 

 

AA OLD TIMERS

 AA OLD TIMERS

& A LOOK A STEP 12

 

THE CARROT”

It’s the way of some of the AA old-timers to go to an extreme by denying that their emotions exist.  They confuse emotions such as anger or hurt with character defects.  A feeling is not a defect again I say it comes from our heart which is a place of truth.  Actions are the only things that come under the heading of “character defect” .  These old crotchety types will teach the new-comer that crying is self-pity and that expressing hurt from being wronged under any circumstance no matter how horrific is always a character defect in us

POET & SONGWRITER  JOHN MELLENCAMP          EXCERPT FROM “PINK HOUSES”

 “Oh but ain’t that America, for you and me

 Ain’t that America, we’re something to see baby

Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah

Little pink houses, for you and me,

oh baby for you and me 

Well there’s people and more people

What do they know, know, know

Go to work in some high rise

And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico

Ooo yeah”

What do we do after we have processed our painful traumatic pasts, we have a new set of friends in AA, we have let our feelings out, talked about them and the circumstances surrounding our feelings, (make no mistake it is vital we express both our feelings and the circumstances that surround them,) we wrote about same, identified & related with others about same, talked about our shame, and thoroughly worked our steps, we have reconnected with God YET we feel bored.   We feel something needs to be done, its as if the spark is gone from our recovery and all we do is work, work, work!  

So, I tell my partner “Partner” I say, “I am bored and feeling unfulfilled because I must work, work, and work some more!”   He says to me; “partner, set your eyes upon the CARROT” .  He jogs my memory by his suggestion.  I had forgotten how valuable the carrot is for me emotionally and how it improves my attitude.  And so I do just that.  I work, work, work, and keep my thoughts on my up and coming “vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico Oh yea!   I pack my camera, my bathing suit, I buy a $3 raft and I am on my way!  Yaay!!  I have worked and I deserve a rest to reflect, revitalize, and remember how good life really is!

And yes, the next paragraph of the song by the way talks about “the pills that kill” but I shall save that for my next article on that and the choice of taking meds for pain, anti-depressants, psych meds etc. while in recovery.  If I can’t go to the gulf then I will go to the local springs or wherever I can get with nature and be refreshed.  I count my blessings and am filled with gratitude when I get close to God’s natural creations and then I do it all over again. 

Step Twelve work gives me a purpose when I share the solutions at meetings.  AAers need to talk about what is going on with them.  It is not our place to shut anyone down who needs to express their emotional pain. Recovery is about learning what to do with our emotions not pretending we don’t have emotions.  Staying in emotional denial feeds anxiety, fear, and secret-keeping.  We are as sick as our secrets and that includes secret emotions.  

It’s the way of some of the old-timers to go to an extreme by denying that their emotions exist.  They confuse emotions such as anger or hurt with character defects.  A feeling is not a defect again I say it comes from our heart which is a place of truth.  Actions are the only things that come under the heading of “character defect” .  These old crotchety types will teach the new-comer that crying is self-pity and that expressing hurt from being wronged under any circumstance no matter how horrific is always a character defect in us.  

Oftentimes alcoholics have been sexually and emotionally abused as children and have never had the chance to express the pain associated with the abuse.  Getting sober will always bring those deep pains to the surface so we need an outlet.  God gave us tears for a reason and crying is absolutely a part of the healthy emotional process.    We who have learned the remedy for addiction share the solutions for the newcomers pain in meetings and that is a twelfth step action.  

 We gain fulfillment by sharing in meeting however it can get old continually  being around negativity especially when we just want to enjoy life and stay on a positive train of thought.  Nothing wrong with taking a break from meetings when we know how to live the program.  

When we vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico we get to go to out-of-town meetings that are new and different.  That in itself is a positive change. 

And so we use the carrot as one of our survival tools for the good life  in recovery.

A THOUGHT: Yep acceptance is a part of healing. Where there is no acceptance there is denial., However denial is also one of the stages of healing. Denial keeps us alive until we are ready to face past traumas and process or cry them out…or scream…or write…or punch the bag.

 

OLDTIMER SNIP

Get Busy!

GET BUSY LIVING OR GET BUSY DYING

GRATITUDE & PRAISE

STEP THREE

http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/2/get-busy/
http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/get-busy/

 

 

TODAY I HAVE JUST ONE THING TO TELL MYSELF AND THAT I WILL SHARE WITH YOU….I HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE TODAY AND HOPEFULLY IN DAYS TO COME.GET BUSY LIVING OR GET BUSY DYING.I wonder to myself why so many days I choose seclusion and even isolation. Being alone is a good thing for some people…in moderation. I Love to be alone and have my time with God to worship freely.  I need to be alone sometimes just to cry when I feel the separation from my Higher Power. God dwells in the praises of His people.  It’s time for me to be among those praises in whatever form they take.

Praise in song, praise in testimony, praise by worship and reverence, we can even praise in silence. Also being among the energy of my Higher Powers people gives me joy and a feeling of belonging…yes it does.

Nature!  We must not forget what nature does for our soul.  This Earth was made to accommodate us humans not only naturally by sustenance but also spiritually.  So I soak up the nature again and again.

Today I choose life and one day my Great Master and Creator will call me home and my human hardware and software will be deleted, no more updates.  Maybe just maybe I will have learned enough and Loved enough to be the Spirit Guide for some important human who’s journey will have just begun.