This time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.
We all have triggers. It might be a situation or an emotion; a sight, sound or smell; a holiday or a time of day. Something that our brain learned over time to associate with our addictive behavior, and that it needs to unlearn as we start to break that connection. For me, it was cocktail receptions. They weren’t the only situation I associated with drinking – far from it – but they were one of the toughest. At the end of a long day at a conference, having watched what felt like 11,000 nearly-identical presentations in a row (and gulping down way too much coffee in order to stay alert) those clinking glasses and twinkling lights exerted a powerful pull. And the few times I ‘slipped’ after I quit (fortunately, one-drink slips) were at cocktail receptions. After the second time it happened, I knew I had to confront the situation…by avoiding it. Continue reading
I Want It, and I Want It Now!
by Alina Boie, M.S.
We live in a world full of instant self-gratification and we have little patience to wait or delay access to our “treats”. Almost everything nowadays is at a click of a button – literally! It is so difficult to say no to those appealing coupons and “must-have-it” deals. Everything around us attempts to help us get what we want faster – instantly, if possible. We want faster cars, faster computers, readily available food, easy access to the movie we want to see, appliances that work without problems, etc. While this may appear as a very appealing benefit of the modern society, it also undermines our ability to manage our frustration, when we do NOT get what we want immediately. Continue reading
I recently heard an interview with a man who’d quit drinking four years earlier after decades of heavy drinking. “So basically I’m now an emotional 17-year-old, since I started drinking when I was 13.” This feeling of emotional immaturity rings true for many people who have given up addictions. When I quit drinking, I didn’t feel like an adolescent—I’d been successful in many areas of my life even while knocking back too much wine—but neither did I feel quite like a grown-up no matter what my birth certificate or my mirror claimed. Continue reading
[first posted December 31, 2013]
Playing the tape to the end
Listen to the audio version
I’m walking down the same street I’ve walked down hundreds of times before. Nothing’s changed. It’s the same street. Same stores. Same liquor store, one that has never interested me before because it’s filled with things I can’t have, or rather, let’s say, things I choose not to have. But something is different this time. This time, I really notice the liquor store. This time, I hear a scotch bottle whispering my name.
Well, then, “beam me up, Scotty.”
I see myself walking into the store, picking up a couple of bottles of scotch and two bottles of wine, paying for them and walking back out onto the street. I have been feeling kind of down lately, maybe bored, frustrated, but nothing new has happened that has thrown my life into a tailspin. I’ve just suddenly fallen into a trance and decided to get drunk.
I go home and take out my favorite scotch glass and fill it to the brim. I make a toast to the ether and take a small taste. Continue reading
[repost from the Center for Motivation and Change website]
Every wonder what it means to be a balanced person? Does it mean being in control all the time? Being calm all the time? Able to handle anything? Moderate in all things? Able to stay composed when everyone else is falling apart? Being someone who manages to always eat right, work out, spend time with friends and family and manage a work life?