Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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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  When the drug is withdrawn, there is a period of dysfunction while the brain repairs itself.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.]

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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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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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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


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Detox And Treatment Pay For Themselves Many Times Over

There are still some who question the need for drug and alcohol detox and treatment, who feel that addicts and alcoholics’ issues are moral rather than physical and emotional, and that we deserve what life hands us. There is truly no way to argue such issues. Addiction has been accepted as a disease for half a century, and if folks choose to ignore that, nothing is left to say.

There are, however, good arguments for treatment and detox that have nothing to do with morality. Let’s look at some of them.

via Detox And Treatment Pay For Themselves Many Times Over.


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A Personal Note To My Loyal Readers

This is a permanent post.

New material is below this entry.

If you have been around here much, you will have noted that lately my posts have dropped off dramatically. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in Digital Dharma, but rather a matter of time constraints.

For about a year I have been writing a blog for a chain of drug and alcohol detox facilities. I took on the job primarily because it was a unique way to facilitate the spread of information and hope regarding addiction and recovery. Over the past few months it has turned into a sort of full-time part-time position, and my duties have expanded to writing informational material that will eventually be placed in such a way as to reach most everyone who contacts any of the facilities.

This is far more reach than I had hoped for Continue reading


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An Oldie But A Goodie…

It’s time to re-post this; one of my best, IMNSHO:

I was considering the way some of us in the rooms seem to think of ourselves, based on the way we talk. We say, “I’m not a bad person trying to get better, I’m a sick person trying to get well.” Then we continue talking about our shortcomings and defects of character. We say things like “I’m an alcoholic, and my problem is Bill.” (I don’t measure up; I’m defective; I’m a problem.) That is not an affirmation.

The language of 12-step groups is the language of seventy years ago–more like a hundred if you consider when the authors got their actual educations. We now know a great deal more about psychology than in the era of Freud and Jung. We also know a great deal more about addiction and alcoholism.

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