Chemically Dependent People and the Four D’s

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you are not the person with a chemical addiction.  You are probably reading it because someone you know, love and care about may have one.  So, this article is intended to arm you with some knowledge to understand the disease better.

The first “D” is already mentioned.  Addiction is a Disease.  Many people think it is a choice and therefore can be turned off or on like a spigot.  Be assured this is not the case.  Perhaps the person had a choice at one time, but now, that choice has developed into a disease.

The second “D” is that of Denial.  A large part of the disease includes a self-deceptive mechanism that allows the addicted person to continue destructive behavior because “there is no problem.”  The addict believes this and continues onward.  Or, perhaps the denial shows up in the form of blaming others or events for their use of the drug of choice.  Regardless, denial continues until the users can no longer avoid the consequences of their actions.  Maybe they were fired, or lost their family or lost their home.

However, even these life-altering events don’t necessarily make the addict seek help.  Oftentimes, they go to the third “D,” Detour.

Detour is a behavior pattern by the addict that manifests by changing people and surroundings in an attempt to change the disease.  That is, they may change what they drink or change the drug they use.  They may change when they are using or where.  They may even attempt to go to AA or NA meetings to appear to be sincere about recovery.  Over time, though, the user and the people around him/her realize no progress is being made, so the addict goes to the next step.

The fourth “D” is Delay, which is a tactic to put off any attempt at abstinence or to postpone steps to regain healthy living patterns.  Examples:  “I’ll go to a marriage counselor, but I’m not going to a drug counselor.” Or, “I’ll go to the rehab near home (where my user-friends can visit), but I won’t go to the one 100 miles away (where I’ll be forced to face my habits with my fellow addicts and the counselors).”

The addict may even acknowledge he/she needs help…but not yet!

People with chemical dependencies are sick.  They will continue to be sick until these internal and self-deceptive practices cease.  Getting help through counseling can begin the healing process, so it’s of prime importance to begin counseling as soon as possible.   Tracy Crain can help you, your addicted loved one, and your family.  Reach out to her now.

5 Ways to Stay Sober While You Are Partying

Holiday celebrations oftentimes include indulging in treats and special recipes that only come around once a year.  They often also include activities with alcoholic beverages and/or access to drugs.  If you’re in recovery, how can you stay sober when the opportunity to fall off the wagon presents itself everywhere you turn?

Here are 5 ways to maintain sobriety in tempting times.  (These also work for non-holiday periods.)

  1. Don’t Feel Sorry for Yourself:  Avoid questioning and brooding about why you have a problem while others don’t.  It doesn’t matter why; it matters that it’s true.  Instead of looking at what you’re not able to do, focus on what you can do by pursuing positive personal goals (reading, going to school, practicing your faith).
  2. Help Others:  Inquire at your AA/NA gatherings about opportunities to do something special for your fellow-recovering men and women.  Perhaps organize a special celebration or give yourself as a “gift” as a sponsor to someone else.  Volunteer at a food kitchen to serve the holiday meal.  Visit the ill in the hospital or nursing home.  Knowing you make a difference in another’s life in a good way is a wonderful kind of high.
  3. Plan Your Own Party:  Organize a gathering of friends and/or family who are clean, and host them at your place or take them out on the town.  If finances don’t allow that, then invite one or two sober friends to enjoy a cup of coffee with you.
  4. Choose Wisely:  Avoid going to functions where you know alcohol/drugs will be available.  You’re already so far into your recovery.  Don’t tempt yourself unnecessarily.  You know there will be enough temptation out there without willingly walking into it.  If you MUST go, take a non-using companion with you.
  5. Be prepared:  Take the list of recovery support phone numbers with you so you can call someone immediately if you get a weak moment.

The motto of One Day at a Time is true, and eventually, one of those days will be a holiday.  Temptation can increase at these times if you let it, but you can keep yourself in hand if you recognize it and proactively plan something else ahead of time.  And as always, there are support people you can rely on for help.  Contact Tracy Crain.

The 6 Steps to Prevent Relapse

Relapse prevention for alcoholics, drug addicts or those recovering from other destructive, compulsive behaviors isn’t something to be taken lightly. That’s why it’s important to follow a prescribed plan to help prevent a relapse before it happens. If you have a plan in place, you can also get back on track quickly if you should relapse. That is why I have developed a 6 Step Plan that will help you stop a relapse in its tracks before it overwhelms you.

Preventing a Relapse – Step 1:

The first stage involves understanding your triggers and heeding the tell-tale warning signs. You should sit down and write out FIVE PERSONAL WARNING SIGNS that came up before you ever started using drugs, drinking to excess or falling into a pattern of compulsive behavior. If you know yourself and are honest about this step, you can safely catch yourself before you start feeling compelled to slip.

Preventing a Relapse – Step 2:

The second stage is to decide WHAT YOU WILL DO if these early warning signs present themselves. Sometimes, this can be thought of as “covering your bases” or establishing your support system. In some cases, the answer will be obvious. You could call your counselor or sponsor. However, what will you do if they are unavailable or your personal warning signs are showing themselves at an off-hour – in the middle of the night, for example? Some of your actions could include writing down what you are thinking or feeling and allowing yourself to explore your emotions without feeling consumed by them. You could also try doing something positive instead – something that will help you feel better about yourself and more in control like exercise or dancing. Perhaps there are friends who are willing to help you out during an off hour — someone who will spend time with you while you wait to get in touch with your counselor or sponsor.

Preventing a Relapse – Step 3:

The third stage is to write down and BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT SCARES YOU MOST in leaving treatment and being on your own after rehab. Sometimes, when we are honest with ourselves, we can learn a great deal about our own pattern of “self-sabotage” that can get in the way of our healing process. We can then get everything out on the table before it becomes a problem. This is a preventative step and is crucial to lasting stability.

Preventing a Relapse – Step 4:

The fourth stage involves a coping strategy for HANDLING THIS FEAR. This is a critical step to discuss with your counselor and your sponsor in order to break down any obstacles that may overwhelm you into small, manageable pieces. This is one of the critical elements of success – shining a light on your fears and really looking at them for what they are. Sometimes identifying what scares us and talking through it can make obstacles to positive change less scary and can really help us strengthen our coping skills.

Preventing a Relapse – Step 5:

Stage five is about FINDING SUPPORT GROUPS in your area that will help you feel part of a positive, supportive community. Support groups offer the chance to find others in your exact situation who can be there for you when you feel yourself slipping. Also, when you are part of a group, you will be able to offer others help when they need it and that can make you feel a lot better about your own sense of self-worth. When you get a better sense of self-esteem, this is a powerful weapon against potential relapse.

Preventing a Relapse – Step 6:

Finally, stage six is about really solidifying WHO YOUR SPONSOR IS and identifying your “home group.” Think of this as your go-to place to help yourself when you find yourself in trouble. Setting up who your sponsor and your home group is and making it official will give you the piece of mind you need to feel that help is around you when and if you need it.

If you are able to follow these six stages and take them seriously, you will be on your way towards a better sense of self and the potential to avoid a relapse. Obviously, all of these stages are important to discuss with a professional counselor and your sponsor. If you or a loved-one is suffering from an addiction, reach out and get professional help.