Recovery Requires Willingness

September is National Recovery Month. As this month draws to a close, it might be helpful to examine the number one characteristic that many professionals identify as being the most important to ongoing recovery: willingness. But exactly what kind of willingness does recovery require?

– Willingness to change.

– Willingness to work hard at recovery.

– Willingness to try new things instead of repeating the same self-destructive activities.

– Willingness to turn it over to God and let him work in your mind, your life, and your actions.

Self-help author, Robert Anthony sums it up best: “Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.” Facing all of the changes necessary to maintain sobriety and long-term recovery can be a very scary thing to do, but if you are willing to work your way through the fear and keep changing anyway, then you have mastered true courage. And courage will get you through the hard part to a successful and positive life beyond addiction.

Today’s post is based on p. 191 of Past Tense: 365 Daily Tools for Putting Stress Behind You – for Good!  To enjoy more daily tools for creating a stress-free life, order your copy of the book today!

One Day at a Time

Anyone who is familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous has heard their slogan, “One day at a time…” It encourages a day-by-day approach to sobriety, letting people know that they don’t have to swear off their addiction forever, but to do so day by day until it becomes a habit and a permanent lifestyle change.

What might surprise people in modern times is that the idea is not a new one, but has been around since roughly 350 AD, as written by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, “Let us remember that the life we ought to be interested in is “daily” life. We can, each of us, only call the present time our own… Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow.”

People in every time and every place experience difficulties and challenges. It is easy to turn to drugs, alcohol, or food for comfort; but that solution only leads to further problems: addiction and its consequences. Instead, through AA and the wisdom passed down through time, there are a few steps we can take to help us through the hard times:

– pray for today, like Saint Gregory advised.

– let tomorrow take care of itself. If there is a problem brewing for tomorrow it will still be there when you get there. But you will be better rested and better equipped to take care of it if you have dealt with today in its proper place.

– refuse to get caught up in your own, or other people’s “what if?” thinking and torment.

– draw support from peers and people you trust who understand AA’s slogan, “One day at a time…” and will help you focus on it in your life from day to day.

– don’t become overwhelmed with fears or worries about the future. Focus your thoughts, your prayers, and your energy on dealing only with today and those challenges that are right in front of you.

Ask for guidance and help in dealing with one thing at a time… one day at a time…

 

PTSD and Alcoholism

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, has often been misdiagnosed or left undiagnosed for many years in many patients. When people hear about PTSD, they often associate it with returning war veterans because this is one of the main causes of PTSD. However, there are 2 other commonly recognized causes for PTSD:
– severe childhood abuse

– incarceration

While these are the most common causes of PTSD, therapists agree that any severe trauma can induce traumatic stress symptoms, including: sudden loss of a loved one, domestic abuse, personal violence such as rape or mugging, natural disasters such as devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires. If left untreated, one of the most common consequences of PTSD is alcohol abuse, as it is an inexpensive and readily-available means to relieve stress and deaden traumatic feelings.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found in a recent study to determine the best recovery results, alcoholic patients should also be tested and treated for PTSD. Participants in the study were divided into 4 groups:

– participants received PTSD medication and PTSD-specific behavioral/cognitive therapy

– participants received PTST medication and general therapy

– participants received a placebo and PTSD-specific behavioral/cognitive therapy

– participants received a placebo and general therapy.

Patients who received both PTSD medication and PTSD-specific therapy had only a 5.4% alcohol relapse rate, while those who received the placebo and general therapy had a 13.3% alcohol relapse rate. All groups had fewer alcohol cravings and fewer drinking days, but only the group receiving specialized medication and treatment maintained the highest recovery rate.

The bottom line is that getting help for alcohol abuse is always beneficial. But if there are any other problems that can be identified and treated simultaneously, the chance for recovery is even better!

Street Kids Using Inhalants: a Worldwide Epidemic

In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, how is it possible to have more than 1.6 million children and teens living on the streets? And what does that mean for children in less prosperous countries around the world? Current statistics indicate that there are approximately 100 million homeless children and teens around the world. These children are at high risk for many problems, including:

–          Serious disease and long-term illnesses

–          Abuse and neglect

–          Premature death

–          Slavery and violence

But there’s another epidemic stalking this vulnerable population. The journal, Addiction, recently published an article which reviewed 50 studies on street kids living in 22 different countries. The findings were consistent, regardless of country or continent of origin, age or circumstance leading to homelessness. Roughly 60% of street kids abuse some sort of substance. More surprising to researchers was the fact that the drug of choice for 83% of street kids who abused substances was inhalants- predominantly glue and paint thinner- due to easy access and availability.

The usual “gateway” drugs (marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco) were used in many countries, as well, but inhalants are not regulated or illegal, which eliminates one legal consideration and consequence. For this reason alone, many street kids identify inhalant abuse as “less risky.”

In terms of health consequences, however, inhalants can cause great harm, especially for kids living on the street. Some of the most common short-term effects include:

–          Hallucinations and delusions

–          Hostility

–          Impaired judgment

–          Unconsciousness

–          Heart failure and death

Long-term effects of inhalant abuse include:

–          Permanent disorientation

–          Serious damage to all major organs

–          Irreversible brain damage

Many children reported using drugs as a survival mechanism to help them cope with cold, hunger, and fear. Child advocates worldwide are hoping that Addiction journal’s study will be a “wake-up call” for policymakers worldwide, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization. 

Addiction treatment for legal professionals: is it really necessary?

In a recent News Democrat story, it was reported that a protest was held in St. Clair county, Illinois, calling for drug testing of all county judges. One judge claimed that the protest was wholly unjustified and politically motivated. While political motivation is likely, there was absolute justification for the public protest when another judge in the county died of a drug overdose several days after taking office and a third judge in the county is facing drug charges… as soon as he finishes rehab! 

Many may wonder if the problems in St. Clair county’s judicial system is an unfortunate fluke, or is it the tip of a deep, wide iceberg silently floating across our nation? If the recent article in The Wall Street Journal, titled, “Treatment resistant lawyers get a rehab center of their own,” is any indication, then the iceberg theory appears to be true. 

The program referenced in the WSJ article is a program at Hazelden, one of the most well-known and respected addiction treatment centers in the nation. Hazelden has developed a recovery program specifically designed for “attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals.” According to Hazelden’s statistics, nearly 1 in 5 legal professionals has an active substance abuse problem – which is twice the rate of both similar professional/licensed groups and the general population. Nearly half of all disciplinary cases in the legal field involve substance abuse, as well.

Clearly, there is a problem. But the Supreme Court (made up of the most powerful judges in our country?) prohibits drug testing as a requirement of an elected office, which would include most judges AND the individuals responsible for appointing all other judges. 

Protestors in St. Clair county have a valid concern. The individuals responsible for deciding people’s fate and futures need to be held to at least the same standards as their constituents, but is drug testing the best option? What other options exist? What do you think the answer is? 

Welcome Back!

Welcome to the re-launch of the ASC blog. In the coming months, you will find many articles and posts about all things related to drug testing, addiction, and recovery. It is our intent to keep you informed about current trends, provide information on recent developments in drug testing, and to answer any questions you may have. We will also post lifestyle tools for recovery at the beginning of each week. 

While ASC has some great ideas for this blog, we are open to your suggestions, as well. You, our readers, are critical to our success and we want to be sure to meet your needs and provide information for your success too. To that end, we hope you will check in regularly with comments, feedback, and questions. Comments are monitored and addressed daily, so please feel free to join the conversation often. 

Your turn: what topics would you like to see addressed here? What questions do you have about drug addiction, recovery, and testing?