Friday, May 31, 2024

85 Years

Today, as I celebrate my 85th birthday, I am struck by a profound realization: this milestone wouldn't have been possible had I not embarked on the journey to sobriety back in 1991. As I reflect on the blessings and joys that have graced my life over the past three decades, I am filled with gratitude for the decision that altered the course of my existence.

Had I not chosen sobriety, I would have missed out on the countless precious moments that have enriched my life. From witnessing my children grow into remarkable individuals to welcoming grandchildren into the world, each experience has been a testament to the beauty of sobriety. It's not just about the milestones, but the everyday joys that I might have overlooked in the haze of addiction—the simple pleasure of a warm cup of coffee in the morning, the serenity of a quiet evening spent reading by the fireplace.

Sobriety has gifted me with a newfound appreciation for life's intricacies—the delicate dance of sunlight filtering through leaves, the gentle rhythm of waves crashing against the shore. These are the moments that I cherish, the moments that I might have missed had I not chosen to embrace sobriety.

But perhaps the greatest blessing of all is the opportunity to be present—to truly engage with the world and the people around me. Sobriety has allowed me to forge deeper connections with loved ones, to mend broken relationships, and to cultivate a sense of peace within myself.

As I blow out the candles on my 85th birthday cake, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the life that I have been given, for the second chance that sobriety has afforded me. And as I look ahead to the years to come, I do so with a heart full of hope and a soul brimming with gratitude for the blessings that continue to unfold each day.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Dangerous Dance: Anger and Relapse for Alcoholics and Addicts

In the journey of recovery from addiction, there are numerous pitfalls that can threaten one's progress. Among these, anger stands out as a particularly treacherous adversary, capable of derailing even the most determined. For alcoholics and addicts, anger not only jeopardizes their emotional well-being but also places them at a heightened risk of relapse.

At its core, anger is often a response to perceived threats or injustices. Whether it's frustration over past mistakes, resentment towards others, or internal turmoil, anger can easily become a destructive force if left unchecked. For those in recovery, who are already grappling with the challenges of overcoming addiction, anger can amplify feelings of vulnerability and trigger a cascade of negative emotions.

One of the most significant dangers of anger in the context of addiction recovery is its potential to erode coping mechanisms. Many in recovery rely on healthy strategies such as therapy, support groups, and mindfulness practices to navigate the complexities of sobriety. However, when anger takes hold, rational thinking often takes a back seat, leaving us vulnerable to impulsive behavior and poor decision-making. In this state, the temptation to seek solace in alcohol or drugs as a means of escape can become overwhelming.

Moreover, anger can fuel a sense of entitlement or justification for relapse. Rationalizations such as "I deserve this drink after what I've been through" or "Nobody understands my struggles anyway" can easily take root, leading us down a perilous path towards substance use. In the grip of anger, the rational mind is clouded, and the consequences of relapse seem distant and inconsequential.

Additionally, anger can strain relationships and support networks, further isolating individuals in recovery. The breakdown of communication and trust with loved ones can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and despair, creating fertile ground for relapse triggers to take hold. Without a strong support system to lean on during moments of distress, many turn to alcohol or drugs in a misguided attempt to cope with emotional turmoil.

In conclusion, the relationship between anger and relapse for alcoholics and addicts is complex and multifaceted. Recognizing the role that anger plays in undermining recovery efforts is crucial for safeguarding against relapse. By cultivating self-awareness, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and seeking support when needed, one can navigate the turbulent waters of anger and emerge stronger on their journey towards lasting sobriety.

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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Memorial Day

This week we celebrate those who gave their lives in service to our country. We honor them with parades and other ceremonies. And it's only fitting. There's no greater sacrifice than for one to lay down their life protecting our country.

Like many, I used to get Memorial Day and Veteran's Day confused, not clear about the difference. Memorial Day honors those who died while in service. Veteran's Day honors all those who served, living or dead.

At TLC and all over our country we deal with many whose lives were changed forever by their service. Many of those with us today suffer from loss of limbs, PTSD, homelessness. And for many of them alcohol or drugs are the only answer for their painful memories. Others simply escape by taking their own lives.

This week we should take a moment to reflect on the monumental sacrifice our veterans have made - both the dead and the living.

If it weren't for them we wouldn't have the freedoms we enjoy today to pursue our lives as we choose.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Liberating Path to a Fulfilling Life

Living a clean and sober life is a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It's a choice that opens the door to countless benefits, transforming not only our physical health but also our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. In a world often clouded by the allure of substances, embracing sobriety can lead to a life filled with clarity, purpose, and fulfillment.

One of the most profound benefits of living clean and sober is the restoration of mental clarity and focus. Free from the haze of intoxication, individuals find themselves better able to concentrate, make sound decisions, and pursue their goals with unwavering determination. With a clear mind, opportunities once obscured by substance abuse become attainable, paving the way for personal and professional growth.

Moreover, sobriety fosters authentic connections and enriches relationships. By prioritizing sobriety, individuals cultivate genuine bonds built on trust, respect, and mutual support. They no longer rely on substances as a crutch for social interaction but instead engage fully in meaningful connections, fostering deeper intimacy and understanding in their interpersonal relationships.

Embracing sobriety also nurtures emotional resilience and stability. Rather than seeking solace in temporary highs, individuals learn to confront and manage their emotions head-on, developing healthy coping mechanisms to navigate life's challenges. Through therapy, support groups, and self-reflection, they gain valuable insights into their emotional triggers and patterns, empowering them to lead more balanced and fulfilling lives.

Furthermore, sobriety opens the door to a renewed sense of purpose and passion. Freed from the grip of addiction, individuals rediscover their interests, talents, and aspirations, reigniting their zest for life. They embark on a journey of self-discovery, exploring new hobbies, pursuing long-neglected dreams, and embracing opportunities for personal enrichment and growth.

On a physical level, living clean and sober leads to improved health and vitality. Without the harmful effects of drugs or alcohol, individuals experience enhanced energy levels, better sleep quality, and a strengthened immune system. They reclaim control over their bodies, adopting healthier habits and lifestyles that promote longevity and well-being.

In essence, the benefits of living a clean and sober life extend far beyond the absence of substances. It's a transformative journey that empowers individuals to reclaim their lives, unlock their full potential, and embrace a future filled with hope and possibility. By choosing sobriety, we embark on a path of self-discovery, healing, and renewal—a path that ultimately leads to a life of meaning, joy, and fulfillment. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Becoming Responsible

As a recovering addict, I know all too well the challenges that come with staying clean. It's a constant battle—a daily choice to resist old habits and make healthier decisions.  But there's one key factor that has made all the difference for me: taking responsibility for my behavior.

For years, I blamed everyone and everything else for my addiction. I was trapped in a cycle of denial and excuses, never once stopping to consider the impact of my actions on myself and those around me. It wasn't until I hit rock bottom that I realized the only way out was to own up to my behavior and take control of my life.

Learning to take responsibility for my behavior was a game-changer. Instead of playing the victim card, I began to acknowledge the role I played in my own downfall. I accepted that my addiction was a result of my choices and actions, and that only I had the power to change course. It was empowering yet daunting, but I knew it was the only way forward.

With this newfound sense of responsibility came a shift in perspective. I started to see my addiction not as a curse but as a challenge—an opportunity to grow and become a better version of myself. I sought out therapy, support groups, and counseling to help me navigate this new path. And slowly but surely, I began to see progress.

Taking responsibility for my behavior meant holding myself accountable for my actions. I made amends to those I'd hurt, I learned to set boundaries and say no to temptation, And most importantly, I prioritized my physical and mental well-being. It wasn't easy, and there were setbacks along the way, but each hurdle only reinforced my commitment to staying clean.

Today, I can proudly say that I have over 33 years in recovery, and I owe it all to the simple yet profound act of taking responsibility for my behavior. It's a lesson that has not only kept me sober but has also transformed me into a stronger, more resilient individual. 

If you're a recovering addict struggling to stay clean, remember this: it all starts with owning up to your past and shaping your future.

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Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Power of Gratitude

 I was at a twelve-step meeting the other day where the topic was gratitude.

Now gratitude is brought up frequently at 12 step meetings, and anywhere recovering people gather. After all, gratitude is the fuel that drives recovery and when we lose it our recovery might go along with it.

But at this meeting, one person who shared had a different perspective on gratitude.

It was an older gentleman and he said we not only should be grateful for the good things in our life but that we should be grateful for everything in our life. Because he added, if we're only grateful when life's good then we're going to have a lot of time where we won't have any gratitude.

After all, he said, he never experienced much growth when things were wonderful. It was only when he had challenges – whether financial, physical health, relationships or whatever – and met the obstacles and moved on that he experienced growth. And once he went through some of these tough times he realized he had more ability and strength than he knew he had. And therefore he kept growing and was able to take on bigger and bigger challenges.

As I reflected upon what he was saying, I recall many articles that I've read where people talked about overcoming the challenges in their lives. They usually say that once they got on the other side of whatever they were facing they were bigger and better human beings because they survived the experience.

I left the meeting realizing that gratitude is something that I should apply to whatever I'm facing because the experience is an opportunity for growth.

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Monday, May 13, 2024

Navigating the Complex Terrain of Relapse

In the journey of recovery, relapse often stands as a formidable obstacle. For those engaged in 12-step programs, relapse can evoke a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from guilt and shame to frustration and despair. However, understanding relapse as an integral part of the recovery process can offer valuable insights and pave the way for renewed commitment and growth.

One of the fundamental principles of 12-step programs is the recognition that addiction is a chronic condition, characterized by periods of remission and relapse. This acknowledgment shifts the focus from viewing relapse as a failure to recognizing it as a potential learning opportunity. It invites individuals to explore the underlying triggers and patterns that contribute to relapse, fostering self-awareness and personal growth.

Moreover, relapse serves as a stark reminder of the insidious nature of addiction. It underscores the importance of ongoing support and vigilance in maintaining sobriety. In 12-step programs, members lean on each other for support, drawing strength from shared experiences and collective wisdom. Through open and honest communication, individuals can find solace in knowing that they are not alone in their struggles.

At the same time, navigating relapse requires a delicate balance of compassion and accountability. While it is essential to offer empathy and understanding to those who have experienced a setback, it is equally crucial to encourage accountability and a commitment to recovery. This involves identifying triggers, developing coping strategies, and recommitting to the principles of the program.

In the face of relapse, it is essential to remember that recovery is a nonlinear journey. Setbacks are not indicative of failure but rather opportunities for growth and resilience. By embracing the principles of 12-step programs and leaning on the support of fellow members, individuals can navigate the complexities of relapse with courage and determination.

Ultimately, relapse in 12-step programs is not the end of the road but rather a detour on the path to recovery. It is a reminder that healing is a lifelong process, marked by both triumphs and challenges. With perseverance, self-reflection, and a supportive community, individuals can emerge stronger and more resilient on their journey toward sobriety.

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Friday, May 10, 2024

Changing our Life

Recovering from drugs and alcohol can change our life in big ways. First, our health gets better. No more damaging our body with harmful substances. We feel stronger, more energetic, and happier.

Then, our relationships improve. No more hurting loved ones or pushing them away. We can rebuild trust and connect more deeply with friends and family.

We start to see things more clearly. No more foggy brain or feeling out of control. Our mind becomes sharper, and we can make better decisions.

.Money becomes less of a worry. No more spending all our cash on drugs or alcohol. We can save up for things we really want or need, like a vacation or new car. Our emotions stabilize. No more rollercoaster of highs and lows. We can handle stress and tough times without turning to substances to cope.

We find new hobbies and interests. No more wasting time on getting high or drunk. We discover activities that bring joy and fulfillment, like hiking, painting, or playing music. Our self-esteem grows. No more feeling ashamed or worthless. We start to believe in ourself again and see our worth beyond addiction

Overall, recovery brings freedom. No more being controlled by drugs or alcohol. We can live life on our own terms, with purpose, joy, and a sense of peace.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Embracing the Now

Life rushes by, pulling us into its whirlwind. Yet, within this chaos lies a hidden gem: the present moment. Here and now, amidst life's tumult, lies a treasure trove of joy and opportunity waiting to be savored. Every moment is a gift, fleeting and precious.

In a world of constant change, it's vital to pause and appreciate the richness of the present. Whether it's a hug from a loved one. The song of birds at dawn, Or a meal shared with friends, magic resides in each passing moment.

Yet, too often, we dwell on the past or worry about the future, letting the present slip away. Lost in thoughts of what was or what might be, we forget that the only moment we truly own is now.

Cherishing the present isn't about ignoring the past or the future—it's about fully immersing ourselves in the here and now. It's about relishing life's simple pleasures, being thankful for the blessings around us, and embracing each moment with open arms.

When we treasure the present, we become more mindful and aware. We notice the beauty and wonder in the world, finding peace in the present instead of chasing distant dreams. Moreover, embracing the now empowers us to live with purpose. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we're free to enjoy life as it unfolds - one moment at a time.

Let's not waste our time chasing illusions like drugs or alcohol, but instead, let's cherish this moment—to revel in its beauty, celebrate its joys, and embrace its endless possibilities. For in the end, it's not the destination that matters, but the journey—and the moments we choose to treasure along the way.

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Saturday, May 4, 2024

Raising Addicts

Spoiling children has become more prevalent in today's society. With parents often giving in to their child's every demand in order to avoid conflict. Or out of a desire to provide them with everything they desire. While it may seem harmless in the moment, the long-term consequences of spoiling children can be detrimental - with one of the most alarming being the potential for addiction. We see examples of this all the time when new clients enter our program.

When children are constantly showered with gifts, treats, and privileges without having to work for them or face any consequences for their actions, they can develop a sense of entitlement and a skewed view of the world. This can set them up for a lifetime of struggles as they try to cope with the challenges and disappointments that come with adulthood.

One of the most common forms of addiction that can result from spoiled children is substance abuse. When children are accustomed to receiving instant gratification and have never learned to cope with difficult emotions or setbacks, they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape reality and numb their feelings. Additionally, spoiled children may struggle with low self-esteem and seek validation from external sources Which makes them more susceptible to peer pressure and experimentation with drugs.

Spoiling children can also lead to addiction through the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms. If children have never been taught to cope with stress in a healthy way, they may turn to addictive behaviors such as smoking pot, drinking alcohol, or or using other drugs as a way to self-soothe and distract themselves from their problems.

In conclusion, while it may be tempting to spoil our children it is important to consider the long-term consequences of our actions. By setting boundaries, teaching resilience, and promoting healthy coping mechanisms, we can help our children develop into resilient and well-adjusted adults who are better equipped to navigate the challenges of life without turning to addiction.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

An AA Success Story

In the often tumultuous journey of addiction recovery, success stories are beacons of hope, illuminating the path for others to follow.

Meet Sarah (name changed for privacy), a newcomer to the realm of 12-step recovery, whose story epitomizes the power of resilience and determination. Sarah's journey began with a recognition of her need for change, a pivotal moment of surrender to her addiction's grip.

With trepidation mingled with hope, she stepped into her first 12-step meeting, greeted by warmth and understanding from fellow attendees who had walked similar paths. Here, she found a community that embraced her without judgment, offering unwavering support on her path to sobriety. Each step of Sarah's recovery was marked by both triumphs and challenges.

There were moments of clarity and revelation, where she unearthed the underlying causes of her addiction and learned to confront them with courage and honesty. And there were moments of doubt and temptation, where the pull of her old habits threatened to derail her progress.

Yet, through it all, Sarah persevered. Armed with the tools imparted by the 12-step program—self-reflection, accountability, and the strength derived from collective wisdom—she navigated the highs and lows of her recovery journey with grace and determination. She celebrated milestones, no matter how small, and leaned on her support network during moments of weakness.

Today, Sarah stands tall as a testament to the transformative power of 12-step recovery. Her success is not merely measured in days of sobriety but in the profound changes that have unfolded within her: the mending of broken relationships, the rediscovery of self-worth, and the newfound sense of purpose that guides her every step.In Sarah's story, we find hope renewed—a reminder that no matter how daunting the road ahead may seem, recovery is always within reach for those who dare to take the first step.

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