Immediate Recovery – Part Three

Going Crazy

Going Crazy

Change can make you feel as if you’re going crazy. It’s more likely you’re just very stressed out, fearful, or need better structure. If you’re working a quality program, things will get better, day-by-day. These negative feelings will go away within a few months. If not, seek additional help.

A mentor-type person brings vital knowledge, intelligence and support.

Mentor Role

A mentor, sponsor, or coach is a guide who has experienced a similar journey to the one you need to go through or has a lot of knowledge about how to successfully approach recovery. They’ll be there for you in hard times, ready to answer any questions you have. This approach can develop into a solid friendship, but at the first hint of sexual or romantic interest, immediately get a new mentor, as your relationship with your mentor should be undiluted. This shouldn’t be an issue with a professional, due to ethics. Choose a mentor you can trust, but feel free to re-evaluate their efforts month-by-month to confirm they are well-suited for you. When re-evaluating your relationship, ensure you are basing your assessment on actual conduct, and not your own fears or biases.

Reality Testing

Your internal map is your image of outer reality. Although it’s true you create your own reality, there are some limitations. A table is a table, no matter what you choose to believe. Develop and use your observing self.

To ensure your internal map is in-line with actual outer reality, check your internal map against the internal maps of trusted others. Ask for their feedback regarding their perceived outer realities, and compare it with your own. Get a second or a third opinion. This will give you valuable perspectives regarding reality that may be difficult to develop on your own.

Spiritual reality testing can come from praying, meditating, and talking with your Higher Power. Trust your spiritual experiences and allow yourself to follow the guidance that comes from them, but reality test all important decisions.

Check your reality with your

Note: Be careful of extreme people and extreme beliefs. This is a difficult part of life, but in general, go with moderation. Extremes tend to cause more problems than they solve, and sometimes they cause big problems. It’s difficult to have perspective in extreme situations. Instead, ask several trusted, emotionally uninvolved others for feedback.

Thriving Beyond Addiction Workbook

It's in Your Hands: Habitually Advocate for Nourishing the Disciplines for Success!

The companion to my book, the Thriving Beyond Addiction Workbook, gives you an opportunity to explore yourself, your addictions, and your issues in-depth. Use it to develop strategies and tools for recovery and to help clarify what Your Recovering Future will be. The worksheets cover most aspects of recovery. Using the workbook is a positive commitment. It’ll help you work through problems, clarify goals, and set up a solid foundation. The quality of your recovery will be equal to the amount of effort you make. The people that achieve and maintain quality recovery do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to achieve it.

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Immediate Recovery Work – Part Two

Thriving Beyond Addiction Support Groups

Support Groups

At first, you’ll be in a state of neediness and find the support of your core group of friends and family invaluable. Along with normal needs, you will have new recovery needs. Assume your using acquaintances and even using friends will disappear.

Your support group is your lifeline; stay in close, daily contact!

Seven is a good number of people for a core support group. It’s good to be in contact with at least one person everyday. Early recovery is a time to affirm current positive friendships and renew old ones, especially people who understand recovery and with whom you can share feelings and talk through difficult situations. Very likely, during addiction, substances and behaviors replaced people, numbing your needs in an attempt to overcome personal pain. Now you will want to have supportive people around you to meet your emotional, social, and physical needs.

Accountability Partner

You and your accountability partner will support, encourage, and carefront (a loving type of confronting) each other about achieving tasks and goals. Your accountability partner may be the only one you can rely on for the truth. You both must be totally honest with each other.

See yourself in the future, engaging with your closest friends.

Connecting With Others

In recovery, you will need to replace the friends with whom you practiced your addiction. With new friendships that support your recovery, you can begin to heal and learn how to be emotionally available. You’ll want to listen and open your heart to the needs, wants, and experiences of others. Ask questions, listen, and have a dialogue. Show your interest, understanding, and empathy through your response to them. Then share your experiences and pay attention to their feedback. Do they show interest and match your deep level of sharing?

Observe how people relate to each other. You may want to adopt some of their relational styles. If you still have trouble with relationships, pay attention to how you interact with others. Ask yourself why you shy away from relationships, and listen for the answers. It might be your fear of being embarrassed, ridiculed, or rejected. Choose to move past your negative feelings and take positive action.

Emotional Support

Recovery is about change, which takes emotional energy. Feelings will need to be felt, understood, and dealt with. It’s important that you have friends who are understanding of your ups and downs, as emotional support is vital to your healthy development.

Buddy System

A buddy system is when a pact is made between addicts to help each other through recovery. This can be very valuable, but it can also be destructive. If using the buddy system, team up with a motivated person(s) you are connected to (non-sexually) in a personal or emotionally way. Be clear with each other about expectations and limits. Set up specific agreements for dealing with and responding to difficult situations, such as style differences, personal issues, and the possibility of relapsing.

Social Support

You’ll benefit from a support group or fellowship to motivate you and provide you with healthy activities, especially when you’re easily triggered. Recovering communities (12-Step, your treatment program, a professional support group, or an Internet group) are some of the best social networking resources available to help you work through general and practical issues of addiction recovery. For example, you can take a person from a support group with you when you must attend an activity where triggers are expected, such as a food addict going to a restaurant or a drug addict visiting a neighborhood where drugs are easily available.

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Road to Recovery

 Relax, Gain Balance and Feel Stronger

After initiating recovery by addressing urgent issues, like detoxification and beginning abstinence, focus on the next level of tasks. As you move into each task, you’ll gradually relax, gain balance and feel stronger. Remember to breathe!

The Void

The Void

When you refrain from the behaviors you practiced in your addiction, a natural void will be created. To fill this void, load your life with positive experiences, like new people, places, situations, and activities. Don’t leave your voids empty, or it’ll fill up with whatever comes along, good or bad. Positive experiences will override the negative ones. Happy people need 3 positive experiences to every one negative one. Stay away from the negative, embrace the positive!

Your Approach

First, breathe and pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and what’s going on around you.

Second, keeping breathing and ask “Are my thoughts and behaviors supporting my recovery? What are my most important needs and how can I meet them?”

The effectiveness of your approach to recovery will be greatly affected by three factors:

  • Your beliefs about yourself, life, and recovery.
  • The level of your motivation and commitment.
  • The structure and strength of your approach.

Your awareness will help you build and strengthen your approach. Are your beliefs and thoughts about recovery accurate, healthy, and helpful? Are you connected with your motivation and commitment for recovery?

Recovery Contract

A contract is your commitment to do what is needed to be successful in your recovery and to rebuild your life. Signing a contract with yourself can finalize your motivation and commitment to starting and pursuing your recovery. Make your contract (tasks, goals, or milestones) clear, specific, measurable, and dated (start and end). Sign it in front of a support person. Keep it visible!

Consistent Recovery Focus

Consistent Recovery Focus

Throughout the day you need to remain focused on your personal reasons for recovery and on the positive aspects of life in recovery. This is vital to get you through triggers and cravings. A reminder strategy, such as the Red DOT Reminder Check-In System, can be quite useful in overriding negative triggers with positive cues to refocus on your recovery.

Daily Recovery Activity

From the moment you wake up each day, you want to visualize and act on your desire to build the quality life that you want, which is Your Recovering Future.    A daily recovery activity keeps you occupied and on track with your goals. Daily recovery activities include spending quality time with healthy family and friends, church, classes, sober dances, conferences focused on health and growth, and any other positive experience that offers you support in your recovery. Your daily recovery activity gives you a clear reason to stay clean. Plan a week in advance and don’t go to bed without having your next daily recovery activity confirmed.

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Maintenance & Abstinence Addictions

There are two categories of addictions:

  1. Maintenance Addictions: those behaviors that are necessary to sustain and enjoy life but have led to compulsions and obsessions. These can include food, relationship, and sex addictions.
    • The best approach to recover from maintenance addictions is to learn to engage in these behaviors without allowing them to become excessive.
  2. Abstinence Addictions: those behaviors that are life-hindering and not sustainable, such as drugs, gambling, dieting, tanning, etc.
    • The proven recovery method from life-hindering addictions is to abstain from all related substances and activities.

Both maintenance and abstinence addictions can cause physical cravings that are combined with rituals and other obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Knowing whether recovery from an addiction requires maintenance or abstinence is only the starting point. It isn’t recovery in itself.

Prove you can maintain by keeping your using limited for 6 months

Maintenance Addictions

Maintaining control of how often you engage in potentially addictive behaviors can be a struggle, especially when what you desire is unavoidable. For some of your life needs, like eating, intimacy, or working, abstinence is unrealistic. Therefore, you may need a lot of structure and support in controlling your cravings. If you’re unable to achieve moderation, find additional support and structure, and disengage from the behavior when possible. A good structure for moderation is:

  • A moderate level is one that is normal and healthy. Discover what a moderate level is for eating, shopping, sex, etc. Practice maintaining this moderate level with balance and consistency.
  • Just before you use, take a breath and ask yourself:
    • “What am I feeling?”
    • “What need am I trying to meet?”
  • Count and chart your daily use, and discuss any issues and your progress with your support group.
  • Continue practicing moderation until it feels really easy, usually after six months. Restart if you relapse.

Maintenance strategies do not only pertain to maintenance addictions. They can also be used in recovery from abstinence addictions.

Harm Reduction is a medical model maintenance strategy where the goal is to reduce the harm of using until abstinence is achieved. Relapse and even regular using is acceptable, yet total abstinence is the desired goal. This is a viable approach if you can’t, don’t want to, or won’t abstain – a decision that true addicts will usually regret.

Participation in an addiction moderation program for unnecessary addictions like alcohol is very questionable. Yet, if a person is rejecting recovery, moderation is better than full-scale use. However, harm reduction is not recovery, only a step towards it.

Abstinence/Maintenance is necessary to recover, but it isn't recovery

Abstinence Addictions

Abstinence is a no tolerance, black and white approach to addiction recovery and the easiest one for most people to achieve. Abstinence means giving up all undesirable or harmful substances and behaviors. In the beginning, this may be threatening and difficult for an addict, at least for the first six months. Avoid white knuckling it (toughing it out). You have support to help you through it. Use your resources to go after what you need and want.

A big benefit of abstinence from all addictive substances and behaviors is you stop chasing a reward that will never be satisfied (high, pleasure, energy, relaxation, relief, etc.). Remember, like maintenance, abstinence is necessary for recovery, but it isn’t recovery in its entirety.


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Medical Drugs to Aid Addiction Recovery

Alternative Methods

These additional tools are useful, of which a search can be conducted online:

  • Acupuncture appears to be helpful in treating the withdrawal symptoms of some addictions, especially when relaxation is needed, but the benefits of acupuncture only last a day. It is theorized that bigger needles are more effective.


Cranial Electrical Stimulant (CES)

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

  • A sauna aids in the detoxification of fat soluble drugs, such as marijuana or PCP, from the body.


Medical Model

The medical model is the use of medical drugs as a means of recovery. Medical drugs can also be used for detoxification, as prescribed by a physician. Ask for specific information from the physician regarding the type of medical drugs available. For health and legal reasons, you must be in the care of a MD to use the medical model.

Medications: Some medications directly reduce negative symptoms, while others lower the potential of returning to your addiction. Ask about the addictive properties of these medications, which should only be taken when needed. Some people consider these medications to be just another crutch. That’s true only if you don’t really need them.

If, during drug detoxification, your physical symptoms become significant or prolonged, get medical help immediately. Seniors need to be extra careful.

When using medications that stimulate neurotransmitters, your nutritional intake must be good for them to work.

Detox Medications

The following medications will help stop withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. They are also used to treat chronic pain. Yet, it can be very difficult to stop taking them if they are used for more than a few months.

  • Benzodiazepines are commonly used in detoxification; they are effective but very addictive.
  • Methadone is the purest, most addicting opiate. It should only be used for a brief detox from other opiates.
  • Suboxone is a highly praised detox medication, but it contains an opiate that’s pure and very addicting.

Support Medications

  • Antabuse blocks the digestion of alcohol after it’s in an acid state, but it causes a lot of stomach pain.
  • Baclofen appears to reduce the brain’s “Go” response from being activated by triggers.
  • Campral is known to reduce the craving for alcohol.
  • Naltrexone blocks any “high” from opioids and alcohol that is above normal.
  • Vivatrol, an injection, is an extended release naltrexone.
  • Zyban (Wellbutrin) reduces the desire for nicotine.

Medications for Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms

Anxiety: Non-addicting anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications can help suppress racing thoughts. Benzodiazepines, also used as a detox medication, are potent, making them both effective and very addicting. The newer, shorter acting benzos are harder to get off than the older, longer acting formulas.

Depression: There are several groups of anti-depressants. Most increase the level of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain, but none work as well as promoted. They work for the long-term about one-third of the time, with minimal side effects, but the withdrawal symptoms from some can be severe

Physical and emotional pain: Benzodiazepines and opiates are effective, but very addicting. There are several non-addictive medicines for physical and emotional pain, but all medications have toxicity.

Note: Some research questions the benefits of anti-depressant medication and Tryptophan. Abuse of over-the-counter and prescription medications is common, monitor your use.

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