Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Would You Rather Be Right, Or Would You Rather Be Happy?

An overpowering need to be right is born of perfectionism, pride and fear. Some people would risk a relationship, rather than admitting they were wrong, or that someonesoap else’s point of view might be valid – at least for that person. Those of us who carry around that character defect – and the writer is most assuredly in recovery from know-it-all-ism – are often (or often have been) so unable to admit that there are two sides to most things that we have been willing even to alienate loved ones: We’d rather be right than loved.  More…


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Antidepressants and PAWS

In reviewing today’s search terms, I found four listings that read “Do all antidepressants cause PAWS?”  I’ve previously gotten comments on the PAWS article indicating that there is confusion about this issue, and I’d like to lay it to rest here, if possible.

PAWS is caused by changes in our brains as they become addicted to alcohol or other drugs.  When the drug is withdrawn, there is a period of dysfunction while the brain repairs itself.  It begins two to three weeks after cessation of the drug(s), and continues for several months or, in extreme conditions, for up to two years.

Antidepressants (ADs) neither cause nor prolong Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).  Antidepressant medications act on different portions of the brain.  They will not trigger addiction, cause relapse or otherwise negatively affect recovery.  In fact, many recovering people benefit greatly from using antidepressants.   Depression is common in early recovery, and ADs can literally make the difference between successful recovery and relapse.

There are people in the rooms of AA, NA and some of the other 12-step groups who, with only the best of intentions, advise newcomers to stay off all drugs.  With due respect, they may know a lot about how they themselves recovered, but they are not mental health or addiction professionals.  If you are feeling as though life isn’t worth the trouble, or having feelings of self-harm, see a physician about getting on an antidepressant medication.

The life you save may be your own.

Note: Although they are not addictive and do not cause PAWS, ADs should not be stopped, once begun, without the supervision of a physician.  There is no withdrawal per se, but there can be a rebound effect leading to deep depression if they are not tapered off rather than quitting “cold turkey.”


Discovery Place — Residential Fellowship-oriented Recovery

I was recently contacted by Bill D., from Discovery Place, in Burns, TN, about including something about their facility on What…Me Sober?  I thought I’d publish it here, too, because … well, why not?

However, I was rather taken with the idea of Discovery Place (DP), after I twisted my head around what I now consider to be irrelevant 8th Tradition issues.  (See the afterword.)  Since I have contacts in the Nashville area I was able to reach out and learn that DP is well-regarded in the recovery community, and so I figured I’d make this exception to my rule.  I’ll let Bill explain it:

Discovery Place Inc 3Discovery Place opened its doors in 1997 as a recovery/spiritual retreat for men battling drug addiction and alcoholism. Founded by two men with long-term sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous, Discovery Place formulated programs around the principles contained in the Big Book. Every DP guest undergoes the 12 step process by receiving instructions in one-on-one and small group settings. Our primary guides, all of whom are in recovery, play the primary role in guiding guests through the steps. We also utilize the services of volunteers from the Middle Tennessee recovery community to enrich and supplement our guest’s road to recovery.

Our main campus is located on 17 acres of beautiful country farmland just outside Nashville, TN, in a small Discovery Place Inc (1)town called Burns. We have found this scenic, open environment lends inspiration and provides a restorative element to men badly burned from years of alcohol and drug abuse. The long-term recovery program campus is located close to our main campus in Dickson, TN. This campus serves men who have decided to extend their stay at Discovery Place past 30 days. Our LTR house can accommodate up to 6 men and offers beach volleyball, a driving range, ping pong, billiards and a patio with brick fireplace for night meetings.

I believe our organization is unique in two regards: staff and community. All of our staff, with the exception of our accountant, are in recovery. Almost all of them were introduced to a sober way of living at Discovery Discovery Place Inc 1Place. Because they completed at least one of our programs, staff members are in a unique position to identify and relate to guests. Over the course of their stay at Discovery Place, many guests form close bounds that continue after commencement (graduation). Many guests choose to stay close to our facility in one of the Dickson area recovery homes and live with their fellow DP alums. In many ways, we are a sober fraternity. Many guests also decide to begin volunteering at Discovery Place as soon as they commence, which is an option available to them. These facets of DP seem to work in tandem to create a flourishing recovery community. In addition to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, this might be why so many of our men pick up year or multi-year medallions.

So, that’s that, and hopefully someone will find their program interesting and perhaps useful.  Bill has assured me that their residents are encouraged to get “outside help” for issues if needed, and that opportunities abound for recreation in the area.  In fact, he was delayed getting this article to me because he was off on their annual White Water Rafting weekend.

http://www.discoveryplace.info/

Now, a word about the 8th Tradition issues.  I have no problem with them, and neither do the folks at Discovery Place.  That said, it’s none of my business anyway.  I have my own problems, and if they’re getting along with the AA groups around Nashville, I’m good with it.  (If they weren’t, I doubt they’d have stayed around as long as they have.)

All of the above being the case, I am not going to host a forum on 8th Step issues here.  If you have a problem with the way DP handles the Traditions, feel free to contact them.  Traditions rants will not be published here. This site is about recovery, not AA politics.


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Something Similar — Straight Talk About Going Home After Treatment

Here’s an excerpt and link to an article I just posted on another site.  Perhaps someone will find it useful.

The comedian Dave Gardner used to remark, “Folks are always saying, ‘Let’s do this again!’  But friends, you can’t do anything again!  You can do something similar!”

I think about Gardner’s bit of wisdom when I hear people in early recovery talking about returning to their families and friends and “making it up to them.”  (This also brings to mind the idea of pushing toothpaste back into the tube.)  We say these things with the idea that we will be able to return things to the way they were “before” — if there ever really was a before.

That’s a lovely idea, but it’s not the way reality works.
Read more at Sunrise Detox Blog


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Will it be harder to recover if you don’t believe in God?

If we believe in a loving god who cares what happens to us, looks after us, and answers prayers, the peace that our belief brings will unquestionably be a great support in recovery.  On the other hand, if we believe that a god will take care of us simply because we ask, without our putting any effort into our recovery process, then it is quite possible that believing could hinder our recovery.  Likewise, if we were raised to believe in a harsh, punishing god who will make us pay for our transgressions, we may find that we are emotionally unable to deal with the implications and may so totally reject the “God Thing” (as many of us call it) that we end up throwing our recovery out with our religious beliefs.

[Please read the rest of the article before commenting.]

Read more…


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Safety Margins

I came as close to using drugs last night as I have in over 20 years.  My experience — totally unexpected — draws a line under the reasons that we have to keep our heads in the right place, have supports available, and the several other things involved in maintaining our sobriety.

Safety Margins – Sunrise Detox Blog


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Philosophy and Addiction

Peg O’Connor at the NYT writes:

I introduce the notion of addiction as a subject of philosophical inquiry here for a reason. I am a philosopher, yes, but I am also an alcoholic who has been sober for more than 24 years ― only the last four of them as part of a recovery program. I am often asked how I got and stayed sober for those first 19 years; it was because of philosophy, which engendered in me a commitment to living an examined life, and gave me the tools and concepts to do so. My training in moral philosophy made it natural for me to wrestle with issues of character, responsibility, freedom, care and compassion in both work and life.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/out-of-the-cave-philosophy-and-addiction/


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Hitting The Curve Balls

In our company, I’m the field supervisor.  I’m the one who has to go deal with things when the site supervisors either can’t handle them or aren’t available.  That happened to me this morning.  A call at 8:00 AM changed my day, and practically all the chores (and fun) I had planned for the day are trashed: the price you pay for being a boss.

As I was rushing through the things I had to get done, I was thinking about how easy it was, compared to the way I would have dealt with the same sort of thing when I was active in my addictions.

Read more at the Sunrise Detox Blog, then subscribe to its feed.


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Is A Medical Detox From Alcohol Or Other Drugs Necessary?

I received an email from a hard-nosed recovering addict/alcoholic who stated, in essence, that inpatient detox isn’t necessary, that he did it on his own, and that all anyone needs is a (little of this, little of that) to get through it just fine, and he knows a bunch of folks who did it that way, and…blah, blah, blah.  Read the rest…


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Why Do Addicts Keep Using Despite The Consequences? — Part 2

Previously we mentioned that the pleasure center is a portion of the brain over which we have no conscious control, and that it can be stimulated by a variety of chemicals — some of them produced inside our bodies and some that we introduce from outside.  We said that the pleasure center rewards us for activities that it interprets as contributing in some way to our survival, whether they be social interactions, exercising, or more prosaic things such as eating.  We also stated that these pleasurable feelings, when pursued too far or for too long can create problems.  Now we need to examine how that happens….

http://sunrisedetox.com/blog/2011/08/24/addiction-alcoholism-compulsion-2/


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Why Do Addicts Keep Using Despite The Consequences?

Early in human history, there were probably few alcoholics or addicts because the alcohol content available in fermented fruit was low, and plants that produced other intoxicating substances were relatively scarce. The development of agriculture made it possible to insure supplies of grain for beer production, and enabled organized farming of other plant producers of mood-altering substances. …

Read more at the Sunrise Detox Blog


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The Serenity Prayer And Me

From an article I wrote on a different site:

Many of us in recovery — especially early recovery — have difficulty with what we see as the “religious” aspects of the 12 Step fellowships.  Again, without getting into a discussion about religion versus spirituality, it has been my experience that those who are able to put such prejudices behind them, take from “the program” what fits for them, and allow others the same privilege, are the ones who are most likely to succeed.  Personal problems with concepts of gods and higher powers notwithstanding, it is quite possible to be a part of the 12 Step experience and not delve into religion at all.

Spirituality, however, is an absolute must, and certain concepts that have come to be expressed in terms of prayers and similar ideas are also critical to success.  Again, we need to read between the lines of those things and take from them the underlying thoughts and wisdom.  Sometimes we even need to show a bit of humility and go along with customs such as prayers at the beginning and end of meetings, understanding that those things are important for many people, and that participating does us no real harm at all.

One prayer that we need to take absolutely to heart is the Serenity Prayer…

http://sunrisedetox.com/blog/2011/04/07/serenity-prayer-recovery-addiction-alcoholism/


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Dealing With Pain In Recovery

It’s easy for alcoholics and other addicts to find excuses to use.  We come from a society where we take pills or other medication for every little thing — one that spends billions of dollars telling us that it is not OK to feel not OK.  Those are words that resonate subconsciously with all addicts.  We not only think that it’s not OK to feel less than wonderful, but that even when we feel good we need to try to feel better.  There’s a saying to the effect that “I drank because the dog ran away, then I drank because it came back.” Most people in recovery can relate to that.

via Dealing With Pain In Recovery |Sunrise Detox