Monday, July 9, 2012

Vacations, Family Get Togethers & Staying Sober & Clean

     Summer vacations and family get togethers are great times to be had by all.  Or are they? We all look forward to them and build them up in our minds to be something really special. The problem comes when we have a little too much family time or the expectations of the summer vacation were set too high.
     So, let's start with the," Too much family time." Sitting in a car for long periods of time causes stress for everyone feeling trapped inside.  The same is true for long plane rides with children.  Planning ahead helps but doesn't always solve the problem. You can go through all of your games, toys, snacks and videos quickly with some children.  Then what? Getting children involved in the solution seems to work well.  As a parent we don't always have to have the solution for our children.  They appreciate being apart of the process of solving a problem.  Getting to meetings once we arrive to our destination is vital.  It may seem a little strange at first.  Why in the world would I go to an AA meeting or a NA meeting when I am on vacation?  Well, because we all go a little stir crazy when we are out of our element and our routine.  Some of the best meetings I have been to are ones we attend while on vacation.  For starters, it's nice to walk into a room full of strangers and instantly feel that they automatically "know" you. They know how you are feeling, they know your stress, and they have a simple solution on how to get back on track.  It's a comforting feeling of readjusting your attitude. After the meeting, we usually feel balanced and refreshed. If you find an "open meeting", which you can find on our Powell website under the topic "Support", then you can even bring your spouse and children to the meeting.  I never felt comfortable leaving my children in a motel room alone so they always went with us.  It was just another experience that we all had together and could talk about in the future.  As my children reached their teenage years, people at meetings thought they were the alcoholics and we were their support team.  We got lots of laughs out of those experiences.  It never hurts a child to learn first hand what goes on in a meeting.  When a child is at a meeting, most members try to use appropriate language and tell appropriate stories. Children will make up in their heads what an AA meeting is all about if they do not have the opportunity to experience it first hand and it could be frightening to them. Telling the children ahead of time what all is covered in a meeting helps them understand the process. Remember genetics are apart of this disease so the chances of them becoming alcoholic or involved in drugs are high if one of their parents are diagnosed with the disease.  Wouldn't you rather they grow up with the information they need in order for them to know where to turn when they are adults?
     I am the only sibling out of 5 that admits to being an alcoholic; therefore when we all get together  liquor is overflowing and wild times are to be had.  I can plan on it.  It happens year after year.  In some ways it is sad to me.  I wish they had the life I have without drugs or alcohol. What I have learned is that they all have their own journey.  They'll get it or they won't.  I simply have to take care of myself and my sobriety when I am around them.  I've been told by my older brother that I am no longer any fun. I've been told that I am really not an alcoholic. I've watched huge family get together's turn into fun parties for the first half of the night and then turn ugly. But isn't that how most alcohol fueled evenings go? They are good to a point and then it's downhill from that point on.  That is when I need to leave and not be apart of the chaos.  My husband and I usually attend an AA meeting before the big drunk... that way we are armed with AA tools to bring to the family party. With this foundation under us, we know we can only participate for a period of time and then we must go and take care of ourselves and our sobriety.  Nothing is wrong with this and most of the family doesn't even know that we have left the party.
    So, in the end, it all works out.  It takes planning and forethought. I am always proud of myself when my vacations are over.  I made it through yet another vacation without a drink and I am proud of my behavior. I took one step at a time and handled what came my way. I know you can as well. Take a little AA with you and prepare and plan ahead. Happy trails to you!
The following blog was written by Greg Kayko. This is posted with his permission. He writes a daily blog on sobriety.  You can find his blog at: http://www.reneweveryday.com/blogs/sobriety-junkie/relapse-a-means-to-one-end-or-another-part-ii/

Relapse — A Means To One End Or Another

Jun 01, 2012
Whenever I have the honor of telling my story to a large group of people in recovery —after I've expressed my gratitude and announced my sobriety date — I usually open with something like this: "I took my first drink at 11, I came to my first meeting at 31, I'm 52 now and 13 years sober. Do the math and you’ll see, I'm an AA retread."

For the sake of the uninitiated in the room, I'm usually quick to clarify that it isn't necessary to relapse. In fact, I'm sponsored by a man who has been sober more than 30 years and never taken a drink since the day he walked through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous. Well, whoopee for him, I say. That hasn't been my experience. I spent nearly eight years stalking sobriety before I finally surrendered to it. During those eight years, I put together as few as three days of sobriety and, surprisingly enough, as many as three years. The only good thing that happened during those eight years is that I kept coming back, again and again and again. Mainly because all of you planted the seed deeper and deeper each time I left and returned.
This year, where I live, we had an unseasonably warm March and with it a seeming rash of relapses. I don’t think we had any more relapses than usual, and I certainly don’t think the weather had anything to do with it. (Real alcoholics don’t drink because the weather is good or bad; real alcoholics drink because the weather is what it is.) Nonetheless, in a tight-knit recovery community like the one I live in, news of a relapse (too commonly minimized as a "slip") and speculation about the causes travels fast and prompts community consternation.
Where my experience comes in handy is when someone relatively new decides to drink or use again. Usually, within days of the news that they've "left the program," someone will ask me, "What should we do?" This is not flattery. They don't ask me that question because I'm so wise in the ways of recovery. They ask me because they know I've been there. The underlying question is, "Hey, you got drunk a lot when you first came around. What could people have done that would've made a difference?"

The sad but true answer is "nothing." I'm a real alcoholic. In the absence of a well-maintained spiritual defense, there's little that can stand between me and the insanity of the first drink. When an alcoholic decides to drink (and the decision to drink is a conscious, if not always premeditated, choice), those left behind, especially those who are also relatively new to sobriety, often forget or dismiss the most primal fact of recovery: That we are powerless over alcohol ... our own addiction to it as well as that of others.
By the same token, I do remember the lasting impression of the calls and visits I would receive in the early stages of my lapses. Phone calls or visits in those first few days from those who truly cared sometimes brought me right back to a meeting — and if not immediately, then usually within days. It’s been my experience, however, that if the alcoholic doesn’t come back within the first week, he or she probably won’t come back for a good long while.
All we can do at the outset of a relapse is extend our hand and love up our brothers and sisters in recovery. If the still-suffering alcoholic refuses the hand, all we can do is hope we’ve planted a seed that will grow into a burning desire to live a sober life and move on to the millions of other still-suffering alcoholics who do meet the only requirement for membership in Alcoholics Anonymous: a desire to stop drinking.
In her May 19, 2012, RenewEveryDay.com blog post, “Baby Chicks — Carry the Message, Not the Alcoholic,” Ashley Dane (Follow Your Bliss) opens with this stupendously apt analogy:
"I was thinking the other day of something I heard about years ago. It was a story about how important it is for a baby chick to fight its way out of the egg. It is quite a struggle, and the impulse for any kind-hearted person would be to help the little guy out. So someone did that, and the baby chick died shortly thereafter. Apparently, the struggle to emerge activated necessary muscles that the chick would need for survival outside the egg. It needed to strengthen its neck muscles with the pecking and squirming, its little legs with the kicking and scratching. It is the same for us. We develop muscles and skills in our emerging process in recovery that are critical to our survival in sobriety. That is why they say to carry the message, and not the alcoholic - if we carry the alcoholic, they may not gain the musculature they need for the future. It isn’t always easy to know the dividing line between being of service, and being an enabler for other negative behaviors."
Ashley Dane goes on to talk about the errant desire to chase after the unwilling. It’s a post well worth reading.
So, when someone I know or, even more painfully, when one of the men I sponsor and genuinely care about leaves the program to drink, I call (once, twice, maybe three times) to remind them my door is open. And then I remind myself (again and again) that I’m as powerless over their drinking as I am over my own in the absence of a solution.
I remind myself that the only requirement for membership in Alcoholics Anonymous is a desire to stop drinking. I remind myself that I can’t instill the desperation that awakens that desire, only alcohol can. I remind myself that far more people need help than want it, yet we can only reach the wannabes. I remind myself, finally, that they will either drink their way back when the pain is great enough, or drink themselves to the gates of insanity and death. Ultimately, relapse is a means to one end or the other, but it is always a means to an end.

Relapse — A Means to One End or Another, Part II

Jun 15, 2012
My sponsor loves to remind me that trying to understand irrational behavior with a rational mind is futile. Relapse, by definition, is irrational (and when repeated often enough presents itself as certifiably insane). Think about it: Most of us do arrive at treatment or the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous kicking and screaming. It's the last place we want to be. It's also usually our last hope. The pain has become too great (or the law too persuasive), and we say, "Uncle." We admit defeat. We admit the problem is bad enough that, despite our pride and prejudice (we are not like those people in there, right?), we do the unthinkable: We ask for help.

For a time, we get clean and sober. Some of us even like it. Some of us love being sober so much we stay sober from the very start until the day they bury us (the sober minority). Some of us like it a whole lot, love it really, but after a while, for reasons beyond reason, we decide that — even though we feel so much better and our lives have gotten so much better and our loved ones love us so much more (or, at least, become much more willing to tolerate us) and we experience all these plusses and very few minuses — we decide that maybe we've overcorrected and we should test the waters that have bathed us in pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization just one more time. Why? Because maybe, just maybe (and especially given the volumes of brilliant knowledge we have gleaned nearly overnight about our condition and ourselves), maybe things will be different this time. Now that, to be sure, is the epitome of irrational thinking.

For those of us who make it back, one day the insanity of our relapse may present itself as a source of humor. I often laugh at the comic irony of my last relapse (which resulted in a 90-day drunk). I had been bouncing in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous for 18 months after once having stayed sober nearly three years. One morning, with about three months of sobriety under my belt and nearly two full weeks without a meeting (I planned to go later that day, I told myself), I went out to the pool at the apartment complex where I lived to enjoy my coffee and the morning paper. I was the first to arrive and grab a chaise lounge. Around 10 a.m. a young woman arrived with an inflatable raft and one of those ever-so-quaint 6-pack coolers. She parked her raft at the other end of the pool and slipped a bright silver can out of the cooler before jumping onto her raft. A Coors Light, the Silver Bullet, to be sure.

Now, I want to clarify before going on that I'm a guy's guy and A Coors Light holds about as much appeal for me as a glass of ice tea. Actually, I'd prefer an ice tea, and I'd be most appreciative of a Long Island Ice Tea before all else. (Let's get all the white liquors on the bar into one glass; that, my friends, is a touch of class.) But something in my mind told me that a Coors Light might not be a bad idea. If this woman could handle a Coors Light at 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning, then why on earth couldn't I? It really didn't make any sense. She couldn't have been a day over 25 and probably weighed 90 pounds soaking wet in a winter parka. I was a three-letter high school jock and a man who, at one time, could easily handle a fifth of the finest booze in the bar one night and still make it to work on time the next morning. Surely, I had not tried hard enough to make this drinking thing work.

And so, without another thought, and certainly without even a passing nod to my sponsor's phone number, I rose from the chaise (leaving my coffee cup, my towel and my newspaper behind because I'd be right back) and drove as quickly and directly as possible to the nearest convenience store where they sold beer, wine and spirits, and stocked up on all three, including a six-pack of my least favorite beer on the face of the earth: Coors Light. Less than 20 minutes after returning to the apartment, I had four of the watery beers down and two left to take out to the pool. No sooner had I repositioned my now mildly-buzzed ass in my previously reserved chaise lounge with the two remaining Coors Lights still in their plastic rings than my little inspiration came floating by on her inflatable pod of heavenliness holding, you guessed it, a bright silver can of Diet Coke.
Irrational minds see things irrationally, too.

I tell that story often at meetings mainly to establish that my Higher Power, for one, has a deliciously twisted sense of humor when it comes to playing tricks on an untreated alcoholic. And at that time, I was truly untreated and resisting everything about my sober life. Luckily, that relapse would lead to what I hope will remain my last surrender.

I wish all my stories of relapse could be so comic and ironic. Unfortunately they are not. About three months after that sunny summer morning by the pool in 1998, I returned to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. At the same time, two friends with whom I had both drunk and been sober for varying lengths of time, and who had also relapsed, returned to meetings. During the first six months of my sobriety, I drove one of them to a meeting nearly every day because his alcohol and meth habits had left him without a wife, without a job, without a car and living at his mother's house. The other, a woman whom I'd actually known in treatment five years earlier and drunk with on only one occasion because her drinking frightened me, refused to return to the same meetings we went to because she didn't wish to "be judged." I share these facts because, although all three of us made some effort to return to a sober life, only one of us survived more than six months.

The young man, not yet 30, would eventually shoot himself in the chest in the front doorway of his mother's house. A few days later I was a pallbearer at his funeral. A week or so after his funeral, the young woman, not yet 40, would drink a bottle of windshield wiper fluid after being released from detox and never return from the coma it drove her into. I served as a pallbearer at her funeral as well.  For reasons that made absolutely no sense, both had lost the one thing I was and am still able to find in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: HOPE.

It was at the young man's funeral that my sponsor (who also sponsored the now deceased younger man) first said to me, after I asked the questions why and what could we have done differently: "Don't try to understand an irrational act with a rational mind, Greg. If you stick around long enough, you'll see that some of us have to die so the rest of us can stay sober."

Another one of those disheartening clich├ęs that is so true as to become axiomatic. Some have to die so others can stay sober. If you stick around long enough you do begin to see it. And you become convinced that relapse is a means to one end or another.
 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A New Way of Thinking

     Boating, sand volleyball, waterskiing, swimming… it’s summertime folks…and you know what that means? It means that once we get sober, many of us will have to change the vision of what summertime means to us in the recreational areas of our lives.  Back in the day, summertime meant boating but with booze. I cringe today thinking that we used to drink and drive the boat.  Waterskiing was always part of the lake activity but again booze was associated with water sports.  Mowing the lawn… like I ever did that but people tell me all the time that they associate mowing the lawn with drinking, outdoor Bar B Q’s, outdoor patio’s at local bars and restaurants…you name it and liquor was part of the fun and part of the vision of summertime.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, drank at any chance they could.  Or did they?  I certainly thought they did and everyone I ran with certainly did and in fact it was a prerequisite to be my friend. I had never heard of the saying, “You attract people at the same level of dysfunction as you.” Wow!  No wonder I thought everyone drank, I was naturally attracted to these people. After many years of being sober, I can tell you that the vision is still the same…. I love to go boating, I love to play sand volleyball, and I love to swim in the lake, and Bar-B-Que. The only difference is that today I can envision all of those activities without the alcohol. It’s hard to believe but it’s true. That first summer without drinking was not easy. First of all, I had to find new friends.  Who in the world wanted to run around with sober people?  They were boring…or so I thought.  What I have found out is that AA is full of wild and crazy people (the kind that I am attracted to) but they lead a purposeful life that is drug and alcohol free and for the most part is not governed by drama. How could this be?  How could summer possibly be fun without the excitement and comfort of liquor? The answer for me was to find the right mixture of friends who simply wanted to laugh and have fun in sobriety. They work a good AA or NA program so they aren’t dragging their past into their present situations.  In turn this allows them to be present in the moment without constant drama and simply look at the world in a positive light. I couldn’t believe it! There was a time when I could no more see myself sober at a party, let alone comfortable and having fun at a party without the advantage of alcohol dominating my presence. Yes, I finally was comfortable in my own skin. It really helped, to go through the awkward stage of learning the social graces without liquor, to be around other people who had the same insecurities and problem as I was facing. This way, if I messed up, no one would be judging me. I never knew that while I was actively drinking. I became so dependent on the effects of alcohol that I literally was frightened to party without it. Who was I without it? That liquid courage made life easier for this insecure woman.
     You can imagine the surprise I had once I quit drinking and actually found some fantastic AA friends. Who would have known that in the very place I feared, AA meetings, resided my future friends? So now, sitting at my dining room table were 35-50 year olds who were emotionally at the level of 14-16 year olds.  Maybe that’s why we had so much fun? It was a bit awkward but totally fun. It took me some time before I realized why we were all around the same age emotionally; hence the reason we all got along so well. Our emotional growth was stunted by our drinking. You see, every time I entered a social situation from the age of 16, my age of onset, I simply drank to feel a part of the group and consequently, I had no need to develop any social skills because the liquor was doing the trick for me.  As a result of this behavior, once I quit, I found myself acting and reacting to social situations like I did back in high school and was scared to death to enter social circumstances without the support of liquor. Here’s what I did to conquer this fear. I invited fellow AA members, who were in the same boat as I was, over to our house and we went through this awkward phase together until we were comfortable in our own skin.  This meant for many months that the parties were over by 8:30 PM.  None of us could think of anything else to talk about from 8:00 PM on and the following half hour was so painful that we would finally call it a night by 8:30. This was foreign to me.  My husband and I would party until 3:00 AM on many occasions. Now it was 8:30PM… my goodness, this was craziness!
     Slowly but surely our social calendars were filling up with various AA functions. I must tell you that I was my own social director for many years. I knew that I could not rely on others to invite us to their gatherings because everyone was waiting for someone else to plan something, so I made up our own functions and had a ball in doing so. My vision of sober living gradually changed. What I have learned is that I need really fun and upbeat people, who don’t drink or do drugs, and I can have a good time anywhere and at any time.  Together we all can find something unusual, fun, and crazy to do during the summer months or for that matter anytime,  that does not involve liquor. Oh yes…life is good!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Speaking to the Problem

By David Kaptain, Manager, Powell CDC

Years ago I was working with a group to teens who were facing a variety of drug, alcohol, behavioral health and family problems.  We got to talking about what would happen if we could actually speak to a problem, such as Anger, or Addiction or Abuse.  One kid said "If we talk to it [the problem] it might slip up and give us the solution." 

This very insightful comment reflected an approach to dealing with addiction that has been around for a long time - talking about the problem and to the problem as if it is a thinking, planning, not-nice entity.  This process places the problem appropriately where it should be - set far enough away from the person to look at it clearly and objectively, and yet close enough to not ignore it, to address it and deal with it. 

Adults get this concept too - that you can think about and oppose addiction as the cunning, baffling, powerful thing it is. 

Check out this poem written by a man in early recovery and enjoy the way alcohol gets put in it's place!

Good-Bye Alcohol
by Randy
March 2012

You came into my life, a friend to me
All the harm you would do I was yet to see

I accepted you mind, body and soul
When all the time, ruining my life was your goal

When we were together I felt just fine
The trouble you caused was really mine

Possessions and jobs came and went away
You're always by my side, here to stay

Good times, bad times, day or night
Why did you have to start all those fights?

We would go out at night and end up in jail
By the next day I was alone - you bailed

We've been together many years
Most of which brought lots of tears

Problems in my life you helped send away
Only thing was they were back the next day

I know it's time we say good-bye
'cause one thing you taught me well was how to lie

The heartache, the misery, caused by you my friend
I want you to know, our friendship must end

Get out of my mind, my body, my soul
I am ready to set a new goal

With the power of prayer, a group of new friends
Maybe my life will start to mend

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Impact of Alcoholism


whiskeyDecades of research have shown that alcohol severely damages the brain, causing blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times and impaired memory. Alcoholism causes cognitive deficits in 50 to 80 percent of alcoholics. Interestingly, memory loss worsens when an alcoholic stops after a prolonged period of drinking, whether that involves binge drinking or continuous drinking as seen in chronic alcoholics.
Repeated periods of alcohol use followed by withdrawal seem to have the most significant impact on memory. Withdrawal isn’t limited to severe symptoms such as seizures associated with the sudden cessation of alcohol use after an extended period of drinking. It can be as subtle as the sweatiness and shakiness people often feel when they wake up after a night of drinking. If someone drinks every day and stops every night, they are going to experience withdrawal every morning. And that’s the kind of withdrawal that injures memory.
So when alcoholics say, “I don’t think my memory was this bad before I stopped drinking,” they are observing a genuine scientific phenomenon. Stopping drinking causes a toxic reaction in the brain that significantly worsens memory deficits. Of course, the answer is not to continue drinking. Research also shows that medication, alcohol addiction treatment and 12-Step recovery can minimize the effects of drinking.

The Impact of Alcoholism on Memory

As a result of animal studies, we know that alcohol-related memory impairments appear to be related to changes in the gray matter of the brain as well as changes in hippocampal volume, a structure specifically associated with memory.
When rats are placed in a cage with objects they’ve never seen before, they are attracted to the novelty. They sniff and paw at the objects to determine if they are of any interest. Once they learn what the object is, they lose interest. This is called object recognition.
When an animal is trained in a T-maze, it is taught to run down a structure shaped like a T. On one side there’s a reward, and on the other side there’s nothing. After a short time, the arm that has nothing is blocked so it can only go one way, and it goes directly to the food reward.

Ordinarily, if the block is removed, the animal will learn to check which side has the food. It will un-learn this pattern of always going to the side that had the food originally, check out the environment, and learn to go to whichever side currently has the food. In other words, the rat un-learns what it originally learned, and then it learns the new conditions.
One month after withdrawal, alcohol-treated rats showed marked deficits on both the object recognition and un-learning tests. When they were placed in the cage with the objects that should be familiar, they had no recognition. They behaved exactly the way they did when they saw the objects the first time.
On the T test, the rats had what we call perseverative errors. They didn’t un-learn where the food was. They kept running down to that one side because they assumed the other side was blocked. They didn’t seem to be capable of unlearning what they learned during the alcohol conditioning. And they made twice as many errors as the rats that weren’t treated with alcohol.
An extraordinary finding is that animals given nimodipine two weeks prior to withdrawal or as a single dose experience a complete reversal of the memory loss associated with alcohol withdrawal. This means that medication may play a role in alleviating the memory and learning deficits caused by alcoholism.

Alcohol Impairs Learning

When we think of memory, we tend to think of recalling events and experiences from the past. The memory impairment caused by alcohol is not limited to the past, but also extends to prospective memory, or new learning. Specifically, alcohol impairs the ability to learn complex, novel information. The more complex the information, the harder it is to learn, even after the alcoholic stops drinking.
Research shows that alcohol impairs contextual learning. In a recent study, researchers trained a rat to be afraid of a tone by putting it in a shuttle box, ringing a tone and then giving it a foot shock. After a very short period of time, the animal comes to fear both the tone and the box and modifies its behavior accordingly. The rat learns to be afraid of not just the proximate signal, which is the tone, but also the environment.
When the rats are pretreated with alcohol, they learn to be afraid of the tone, but they don’t learn to be afraid of the environment. Interestingly, binge drinkers behave like these rats. They fail to learn associations in aversive conditioning tests and they have much more limited learning. As a result, they are not able to avoid situations that are going to be dangerous or threatening to them.
Alcohol also impacts what is called state-dependent learning. Researchers have discovered that if an alcoholic learns something while in a drugged state, they are much less likely to remember it when they are sober. But if they are tested when they are high again, their performance matches what it was when they were trained. In other words, memory that occurs while under the influence translates very poorly when sober. There is little or no transfer of learning from a drugged state to a non-drugged state.
What that means is if something happens while drunk or high, the alcoholic is not necessarily going to remember it when they are sober. The person who drives their car into a tree may not remember how that happened. And it may not be what we call a blackout; it’s simply that learning is so impaired that the alcoholic doesn’t remember. They may walk into walls, stumble and fall, or get into fights, but their ability to recall the circumstances around those events is impaired because the memory does not carry over to when they’re sober.

12-Step Recovery Supports Memory & Learning

The 12-Step process evolved in response to what appeared to be helping other alcoholics. There’s tremendous experiential wisdom about how this process works. But how does 12-Step recovery help memory and learning?
Part of the 12-Step process involves the alcoholic retelling the story of what happened to them. One of the reasons that sharing is so important is that alcoholics forget. Alcoholics have specific deficits in avoidance memory. Even when they recover, they have difficulty avoiding situations that are painful or have negative consequences.
An alcoholic may go to a 12-Step meeting and question how many times they need to hear about someone relapsing and having terrible things happen to them. People who aren’t recovering alcoholics might not need to hear those stories very often. But recovering alcoholics need to hear them all the time because their ability to internalize the memory has been impaired by the drug.
A common saying in Alcoholics Anonymous is “one day at a time.” Most of us are concerned with what we are going to do the next month or year, even the next decade. Are we going to get that promotion? Will we get engaged to a boyfriend or girlfriend?
The focus on one day at a time is a response to the deficits in prospective and working memory that alcoholics experience even after they’re sober. These deficits in both short- and long-term memory interfere with logical planning and executive function, so that alcoholics struggle to remember what they’re supposed to do. They have trouble planning, and even if they plan things they don’t remember what it was they planned or why they wanted to do it. Approaching life one day at a time helps alcoholics function in spite of these impairments.
The whole support system of AA and related programs is organized around the Steps. Why are these Steps important? If alcoholics can’t plan, it helps to have a system that continuously reinforces what they’re supposed to do next. If there is a deficit in prospective memory, the alcoholic has a program that says first do this, and then do that. And each one of these steps is logically tied to how the alcoholic will get better, so they don’t have to remember. Twelve-Step recovery offers regular reminders about what to do next.
Among the many negative consequences of alcohol consumption and alcohol withdrawal are memory and learning problems. Twelve-Step recovery can help compensate for these deficits by reminding alcoholics what they have lost to the disease and the steps they need to take on a daily basis to hold onto their sobriety.
David Sack, M.D., is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine. Dr. Sack is CEO of Elements Behavioral Health, a network of addiction and mental health treatment programs that include Promises Treatment Centers and The Ranch. You can follow Dr. Sack on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/drdavidsack.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Wreckage of Addiction

Intellectually we know how bad alcoholism/addiction is.  Addiction ruins lives, devastates families and limits potential.  It also destroys individual talents.  Ever wonder what some of the world's more famous addicts and alcoholics could have done with their lives had they not been so devoted to this problem?

Take a look at this link for a compilation of photos and stories of addiction. Be grateful if you are in recovery, and be thoughtful if you are not.  Is addiction limiting your potential?

David Kaptain
Manager, Powell Chemical Dependency Center

http://t.co/PvkNd70H