Welcome To The Official Fellowship Hall Blog
There are many benefits to consistently attending meetings throughout your recovery. Here are a few reasons to encourage you to stay the course:
- Make new friends
It’s not unusual to outgrow some of the relationships you had when you were using. You may find that most of the people around you are your recovery friends who understand your challenges. Attending meetings will give you an opportunity to build new friendships with those who share goals similar to yours.
- Learn how to conquer cravings
Cravings are normal. Everyone who has engaged in addictive behavior in the past will experience uncomfortable cravings during recovery. The good news: cravings will subside if you work your plan. Recovery meetings can help you learn new coping strategies in a supportive environment, while you determine what works best for you.
- See your Higher Power at work
With so many distractions, it can be difficult to see a Higher Power at work in your life each day, but when you hear your friends share their personal miracles, it becomes easier to see the ways your Higher Power is at work.
- Have people to hold you accountable
There is a long list of to-dos when it comes to living a life in recovery. It can be overwhelming but having a community to help hold yourself accountable is important. Connecting with your peers at meetings allows you to have people who can check in with you and help you stay on course. Support from others in recovery is essential, providing insight and understanding that friends and family might not be able to give you.
- Know you’re not alone
In active addiction, it’s not uncommon to isolate yourself from friends and family. But in recovery, you come to know that you are not alone. Meetings can give you a sense of belonging and an opportunity to stay connected to a vital support community.
Attending meetings can help you prevent the occurrence of a relapse, see the miracles in your life and provide you with the opportunity to give and receive from others. Be encouraged to find your closest meeting and get involved. It can make all the difference.
Oftentimes, when we talk about addiction, we discuss the addict themselves. Certainly, much of treatment program centers around substance abuse, mental health, and emotional and physical recovery of the addict, but there is another important element to observe and consider. The role of the family in the addict’s life is crucial. The family, good or bad, is part of the individual’s very core foundation. Family experiences and observations throughout life can condition and impact the mental and physical health of the addict, and ultimately influence recovery, relapse, and self-ideals.
In addiction, there are six distinct roles within the family. Either a spouse or child can take on these particular roles, thereby establishing patterns within the family to affect not only the addict, but those around them. These individual roles are often adopted, unknowingly, to make sense of a chaotic situation. Almost as a coping mechanism, these roles allow each individual family member to take the spotlight off the addict in an attempt to reduce stress within the home. These behaviors, however, actually do the opposite – intensifying anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. This fractured and false sense of family ultimately leads to resentment and irreparable damage to the family unit.
The first of these roles is, of course, The Addict. This is the center of the family in so much that the addict draws attention from everyone else, often having the rest live on pins and needles anticipating his or her next move, failure, relapse, or worst of all — death. The addict affects everyone around them by manipulating, hurting, and lying. They are aware of their role within the family, and often can see the destruction, however the addiction trumps all, destroying the trust, security, and sometimes safety of those in the household.
The second is referred to as The Enabler. This is the family fixer – the peacemaker. They often cover up what’s really going on and try to create a happy, peaceful home. It may seem as though they’re burying their head in the sand, but this role is actually more active and powerful than that. The enabler empowers the addict to continue their behavior by not challenging it, addressing it, and sometimes shockingly, helps the addict in convincing others no addiction exists. We can be led to believe that the enabler assumes this role to appease the addict, but in fact, the enabler often wants to prevent social embarrassment on personal failure by shielding the world from what is happening in the home.
The third is The Hero. The hero tries to create a life of normalcy in their own way, often by striving for perfection, and through their hard work and personal accomplishments tries to create the image that nothing is wrong. The hero is your typical A-type, often the oldest child, patching together a broken home through tremendous effort. In this false sense of perfection, the hero hopes to influence the addict with a show that all is okay. Heroes typically go full speed ahead trying to accomplish and conquer. All this in an effort to satisfy themselves and fill a tremendous emotional and family void. The hero often suffers from anxiety, and later in life, can see the manifestations of this lifelong role come to the surface as stress-related illness.
The words treatment, rehab, addiction, and addict pack a powerful punch. Sometimes so powerful we are crippled into never saying them.
Whether we are the ones seeking, or in, treatment, or are family of someone needing treatment, the notion of sharing and discussing the topic of addiction is often silenced. Whether due to social repercussions, shame or guilt of not being able to help an addict, or the fear of failure and relapse, there are a multitude of reasons one may stay silent either as an addict or as their support system.
Staying Silent – The Addict’s Perspective
As an addict, silence can be one of the reasons we found ourselves on this path to begin with. Silence may be a part of our personality, certainly, but it may also be a coping mechanism that has prevented us from properly expressing and confronting emotions and feelings. We push the feelings down and replace them with substances to extinguish them. Silence compounds the issue, leaving us feeling isolated and alone.
Further, silence is detrimental to considering treatment as an option, especially because we have no one to support them. The process of choosing and entering treatment is something to be discussed, shared and evaluated. Silence can cripple us and often keep us from entering a program. Why do we keep quiet when we know we need help? Perhaps we fear we won’t be supported. Perhaps we’ve disappointed so many times we hesitate to even try again. Perhaps we doubt ourselves, and therefore can’t accept anyone else will believe in us.
Staying silent can also be detrimental to us in recovery, when it is absolutely crucial to be open and honest. Treatment programs are designed to peel away the layers that have shrouded the addict and drowned us in emotional, social and sometimes physical scars. By opening up – something very new for those in treatment — sharing sometimes-uncomfortable thoughts and feelings and then implementing the feedback outside the program are the crucial building blocks of recovery.
Lastly, silence can be destructive after treatment when we don’t know how to ask for help, even when we realize we need it. The path in recovery can be a lonely one – if we choose – especially if we have become used to not sharing. The complexities of addicted life are ongoing. Leaving treatment does not mean we can again become silent, going back to not sharing our journey, not sharing that we are sober. Being open about where we have been and proud of the work it took to rebuild not only changes us and moves us forward, but can begin to rebuild the relationships that crumbled under the weight of our past choices and behaviors. Support groups and aftercare programs, meetings and sponsors are all in place for a reason. So that we don’t have to live alone in silence anymore.
Staying Silent – The Family Perspective
In addition to the addict, silence can cripple their families and loved ones. It is common that an entire family will know or at least believe that a family member is addicted to substances of abuse. They will enable, excuse, and cover-up the addictive behaviors, thinking that somehow this approach normalizes the family relationship, or worse – convinces them the addiction is not real.
Further complicating the problem of staying silent is the guilt and pain caused when the family does not intervene as they see their loved one take the path of self-destruction. While not all addicts are willing to enter a treatment program, they’re secretly suffering in silence, needing the encouragement and understanding from someone willing to support them in taking that first step.
Silence may seem like an avenue of self-preservation – keeping your privacy and acting as if there’s no problem at all. But in reality, it can intensify addictive behavior. Silence does not allow for accountability or responsibility. By speaking up, allowing for support, and asking for help, one begins to break down the walls and start on the road to recovery.
Written by Jena Plummer, MA, LCAS-A, LPCA, NCC, EXTENDED TREATMENT COUNSELOR
Enabling and caregiving both involve a strong desire to love, help and nurture another person. These desires are amplified, often with a sense urgency and desperation, for those with loved ones in active addiction. The reality, however, is that many of the behaviors that seem “helpful” are actually quite the opposite. We can literally love others to death. Here we will differentiate between caregiving and enabling (which we can also refer to as “caretaking” or codependency), offering a more helpful approach to supporting your loved one in active addiction.
Caregiving is the act of giving care to another person who is incapable of giving it to themselves. For example, it is developmentally appropriate to tie a two-year old’s shoes (if they cannot). Enabling or caretaking, on the other hand is taking away another person’s ability to do something for themselves. When we get into a dynamic of enabling, we rob the other person of any opportunity to learn and experience the growth necessary to function on their own. This creates a mutual dependence that leads to more frustration and resentment for both parties.
When it comes to addiction, enabling adds fuel to the disease’s fire. If you enable your loved one in active addiction, these behaviors prevents them from experiencing the natural consequences of their own behaviors. Examples of enabling in relation to the addiction process include: giving money to an addict; repairing common property the addict broke; lying to the addict’s employer to cover up absenteeism; fulfilling the addict’s commitments to others; screening phone calls and making excuses for the addict; speaking for the addict or bailing him or her out of jail. It isn’t that these behaviors are “bad” or “wrong”, but it is clear they aren’t working to keep your loved one safe and sober.
To stop enabling isn’t easy. For many, the fear of a loved one losing his or her job, going to jail or overdosing is too much to create any lasting behavioral change. You may have to weigh consequences of short-term pain versus long-term misery in each case. However, the most important thing to know is that you do not have to make any of these decisions alone. Like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon provide space for those affected by the disease of addiction. Sponsors and other members of the community can help you navigate these challenging decisions, set boundaries that you are comfortable with and learn to enable your loved ones’ recovery instead of their addiction.
Addiction to alcohol and drugs affects one’s body, mind and soul. But the damage doesn’t end there. Families and friends also suffer as their loved one’s dependency progresses, stress builds, and communication starts to break down. Families need to recovery from addiction, too.
Family members and loved ones find ways to cope and adapt to the evolving lifestyle that addiction is shaping. It’s not uncommon for family members to feel imprisoned by this disease. As destructive, self-defeating behaviors increase, family members and addicts alike shift into survival mode, just trying to make it through another day of ever-worsening problems.
Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease, not a lack of willpower, not a moral weakness, not a sign of a weak character, not a result of life’s pressures, and not a symptom of another disease or disorder. Alcoholics and addicts drink/use because they have a disease. The bio-chemical changes in their brains create a physical craving for the chemical. This makes it very difficult for them to abstain from (to choose not to use) alcohol or drugs, especially if they don’t realize that they are addicted. You may have noticed the alcoholic or addict in your life trying to “control” their alcohol/drug use in a number of ways, not realizing that the disease is deciding for them, and indirectly, you. You cannot control the alcoholic/addict, their alcohol/drug use, or their disease.
People in recovery must be especially careful when taking any kind of over-the-counter (otc) or prescription medications. Many otc meds contain alcohol or other ingredients that could endanger their sobriety by triggering a relapse. Even physicians not familiar with addiction may prescribe meds that are not safe for the addict/alcoholic. People in recovery must be vigilant in protecting their sobriety. They must read ingredients, ask questions, and use much caution in using any kind of medication. If in doubt about a specific medication, contact your psychiatrist/addictionologist or another knowledgeable person for guidance.
Communicating with someone you love is not always easy. Too often, conversations end with disagreements, misunderstandings and even broken relationships. If you are struggling to communicate with a loved one suffering from addiction, here are some helpful guidelines that may get your relationship back on track.
Always start with “I love you”
It’s true that “I love you” is one of the most powerful phrases one can say to another. Although it is not enough to cure a loved one of addiction, letting your loved one know that you are coming from a place of love is the best way to start any tough conversation. It assures them that what you are saying is not meant to cause hurt feelings but must be said because you care deeply about them and their well-being. Make your communication direct, honest and most importantly loving.
Gary Keller, Founder of Keller-Williams Realty, wrote the best-selling book The One Thing: The Surprising Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. In it, he shares with readers his secret to success: Think big but focus on one specific thing at a time. He suggests that you ask yourself, “What is the one thing I can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?” By answering that question you will discover the most important thing on which to focus your time and undivided attention.
Starting a new life in recovery takes hard work and a long-term commitment. Developing good everyday habits can help you stay on track. Here are a few habits for success:
Each and every day, take a mental inventory of the things in your life that bring you joy or makes your life easier. No matter how big or small, finding something each and every day to be grateful for will help you find the good in even the worst of days and help you keep a positive outlook on life.
Mindfulness meditation has been proven to improve the chances of long-term sobriety for those in addiction recovery by giving you the tools to take life one moment at a time. Living life in the moment, allows you to experience less stress and anxiety, ridding yourself of worry and negative thought processes. Just 10-15 minutes of mindfulness meditation can make a marked difference.