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When the Doctor Is In… Treatment: When Helpers Need Help

September 1, 2021

When the Doctor Is In… Treatment: When Helpers Need Help

What happens when those who treat, support, heal, or educate need treatment, support, healing, and education of their own? This is a question that many professionals are negotiating when they enter treatment for their own experience of addiction disease. As we know, addiction disease does not discriminate. It is an equal opportunity illness which means that anyone— regardless of his or her professional successes— is susceptible to its emotional, physical and spiritual destruction. In working with lawyers, physicians, pharmacists, physicians’ assistants, counselors, executives, and educators there are some issues that arise for professionals that are (but don’t have to be) unique.

Look at what I have accomplished, how could I possibly be addicted?

For many professionals, the dissonance created from a lifetime of academic and professional successes in the face of addiction disease can be difficult to negotiate. At times, the unmanageability of addiction is glaringly obvious and has spread to a professional’s work life. This can include legal problems, complaints filed with the professional’s board, or job loss or demotion. In other circumstances, the professional has been able to keep his or her work life largely intact.  As professionals begin to expand their awareness of the breadth of their lives to include relationships, emotional and spiritual worlds, the impact of their addictive process becomes clear. Often professionals find that as they tend to the disruption addiction has created in these areas of their lives, their professional successes could not ease the emotional and spiritual wounds they have been carrying since long before they were addicted. By addressing this relational and emotional unmanageability, professionals find more meaningful and fulfilling relationships with patients, clients, colleagues, and family members that are mutually supportive of one another in both recovery and beyond.

How am I supposed to be the patient or client?

The old adage that “doctors (or nurses and healthcare professionals) make the worst patients,” holds a kernel of truth. As professionals make the transition from offering direction, care and/or advice, to being the recipient of such direction and care, it can naturally be a jarring and uncomfortable transition. Learning how to give oneself permission to not know and to be helped and cared for can offer professionals much needed relief from the pressure of high stress expectations. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable to support gives professionals permission to be human when often their professions demand perfection.  Many times, professionals find that they have looked to alcohol and/or drugs to provide them with the exact relief that is found through the acceptance of the support available in a treatment and recovery environment.

What if I see a patient or client in a meeting?

The more accurate question is not “if” but “when.” An entire essay could be written about all of the “what if” scenarios that can occur at Twelve Step recovery meetings. Shame says that patients and clients will “think less of me, avoid me, or stop seeing me if they see me at a meeting.” The reality is that the opposite is more often the experience. Patients and clients feel understood, seen, and heard by professionals with whom they can relate and see as equals. Many recovering people seek out professionals who understand addiction and the importance of recovery, as they feel safe to share openly about their history. 

How can I fit meetings into my work schedule – especially when I have been gone for so long?

This issue often involves a significant paradigm shift for professionals whose priority has been work and career— often at the cost of self-care and personal relationships. Many times, organizational and professional expectations compound this belief to the detriment of its employees. This reprioritizing can begin through external support (monitoring entities or restricted practice) and eventually become internalized to support long-term recovery efforts. Professionals, like others in recovery, can start with the acceptance that because of active involvement in recovery, aftercare and individual counseling, meetings, connections to others in recovery, a full life is available. It is because of the hard work that occurs during treatment that continuing to be in one’s chosen field is possible. By tending to recovery first, professionals are able to teach colleagues, patients, and mentors about the need to take care of self, first… and then others.

How do I talk with my colleagues about where I have been?

It depends. Working professionals returning to work after a lengthy and/or unexpected absence can feel internal pressure to either over-disclose or simply avoid the topic all together. It seems that the closeness and safety of the relationship really dictates the nature of the disclosure. Professionals who are involved with monitoring boards have access to a wealth of guidance and support that can be helpful in negotiating these conversations. At times, mentors who are also in recovery, are available to help professionals as they transition back to home and work, from treatment. This kind of peer support is invaluable. Many professionals find enormous and unconditional support from close co-workers and colleagues who have been gravely concerned unbeknownst to the professional in treatment. In other circumstances, keeping any discussion at all short and vague is best. For colleagues, asking “How are things going for you since I last saw you?” is always a good option as most people are happy to talk about themselves.

The path of recovery.

While some of the issues that professionals address in treatment are unique to their high pressure, success-driven careers, the solution is the same as for those who may be unemployed, under-employed or have low-stress, easy-going jobs: connection and vulnerability. These two experiences offer all recovering people a safe harbor to find self-acceptance, community, and humanness. A place to create a full and fulfilling life that offers joy and hope to all of those who seek it.

 Contributed by Mahala Motzny, Counselor

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

6 Strategies to Avoid Relapse Triggers

August 18, 2021

6 Strategies to Avoid Relapse Triggers

Protecting your recovery at all costs must be emphasized at every stage of recovery.  Because relapse starts well before a person picks up a drink or a drug, it is essential to understand what your relapse triggers are. You may ask, “What the heck is a trigger?”  A trigger can be described as a person, place, thing, feeling, or situation that leads to a thought that taking a drink or using a drug would be a good idea.

It the responsibility of the person in recovery to identify and know their own triggers.  A trigger prompts a thought, which if romanced, can become a craving.  A craving can become a relapse if action is not taking to deal with it. Smash that thought, play the tape to the end, and remember the pain you felt in active addiction.  Remember the H.A.L.T concept.  When you become restless, irritable, and discontent, ask yourself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?”  If so, these feelings could increase the risk of relapse.  Only you have the power to address these feelings with the recovery tools you now possess.

As it relates to personal relationships, we encourage people new to recovery to avoid triggers by focusing on developing healthy communication skills first.  It is helpful to learn to be emotionally intimate with peers before diving headfirst into a relationship rooted in physical attraction.  In early recovery, the newcomer is still developing healthy emotional coping skills.  Romantic relationships can distract a person and keep them from focusing on sobriety, which often leads to a quick relapse.  The newcomer is an infant in emotional sobriety, most have used alcohol or drugs to cope with emotions.

Living in recovery will give you a life worth living.  Here are six steps to help you deal with relapse triggers:

  1. Be aware of complacency, euphoric recall, and forgetting the pain that addiction has caused.
  2. Be conscious not to drift away from recovery. Regular AA and NA attendance is extremely important. It’s an easy and common mistake for people to reduce meeting attendance, stop calling a sponsor, or just stop going to AA/NA altogether!
  3. Talk about feelings openly in meetings and with a sponsor.  Most people will never heal what they do not feel.
  4. Remember, the brain chemistry has been changed.  You WILL be triggered at some point in time but don’ allow a trigger to be romanced into a craving.
  5. Remember to assess your motives for being around certain people or going certain places.
  6. Think before you drink or use.  The time to call that sponsor is before, not after!

Even with the best-laid plans to avoid relapse triggers and prevent relapse, the risk is always there. If you get caught off guard and slip-up, it does not mean that you are a failure and doomed to addiction forever. Recovery is still possible, but the sooner you act after a relapse the better.

Joe Peascoe, MS, CRC, LCAS, LPC-A

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

90 meetings in 90 days… It’s not just for newcomers

August 1, 2021

90 Meetings in 90 Days…It’s not just for newcomers!

By Caroline Tisdale, Fellowship Hall Counselor

If you’ve recently completed treatment, your counselor probably suggested you attend 90 meetings (AA or NA) in 90 days – and you probably wondered, “do I really need to go to a meeting every single day?” The answer is YES and here’s why:

  • 90 for 90 is not just for newcomers. We encourage newcomers to go to 90 meetings in 90 days immediately following treatment because you need connection and the fellowship of a 12 Step Program – it also really helps with finding a sponsor.
  • When you’ve done 90 meetings in 90 days – start over. Attending a meeting keeps you engaged in a constructive activity – if you’re not at work, or volunteering, or helping out your family, why aren’t you at a meeting?
  • 90 for 90 is a great way to gain experience, strengthen your recovery, and keep the hope going strong through interactions with lots of people who have good experiences to share.
  • 90 for 90 is a great way to recommit to your recovery when you find yourself feeling complacent. Maybe you’ve been in the program for a while, you’ve worked the 12 Steps, you’ve sponsored people, and you find yourself saying, “what else is here? What is my recovery about?” 90 for 90 can help.
  • 90 for 90 can be a life-saver when something significant is happening in your life. The people in meetings have experience and will offer support to help you navigate life changes.
  • 90 for 90 is for old timers too! Oldtimers go for the newcomers to share their story and help them get sober. If we want to stay sober and have a happy life, we are required to carry the message to other alcoholics and addicts. This is a fundamental tenant of the 12 Step Program. 90 for 90 is for everyone.

 

Caroline Tisdale (LCSW, LCAS, CSI, CCTP-II, RYT200) is a social worker by profession and this is her second career. She graduated in 2017 with a masters in social work from the Joint Master of Social Work Program between NC A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro after having had a long career in public health working in HIV/STD prevention. She is passionate about working with people experiencing addiction and assisting them with their healing process and starting the road to becoming the people they truly are. She is a licensed clinical social worker, a licensed clinical addictions specialist, a clinical supervisor intern, a certificate complex trauma professional, and a registered yoga teacher at the 200 hour level. 

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

We Are Family: Loving a Person with Substance Use Disorder

July 26, 2021

We Are Family: Loving a Person with Substance Use Disorder

 

How did we get here?

Many of us know the feeling of anxiety that we get when we are concerned about a loved one’s substance use. That feeling of fear often leads us to try to manage, “help”, or control the person we care about and their situation. We may step in to pay a bill for them, throw their drug away, or make excuses like “they just aren’t feeling well”. We believe, as family members, that if we provide a way out, the person we love in active addiction will take it. Unfortunately, the disease of addiction does not work that way. Our dear one’s brains have been hijacked by something telling them there is nothing more necessary to survival than the substance, and we end up enabling the drug or alcohol use to continue instead of making it stop.

Love, fear, and confusion are the greatest barriers to family and friends changing the way we interact with people we care about who are in active addiction. Eventually the addiction progresses, and we begin to realize that what we have been doing has not been working. Then we can start to look for another way. For family that means recognizing that the 1st step of AA applies to us as well, “Came to believe we were powerless over alcohol (drugs), and that our lives had become unmanageable.” After all, we have tried everything we can think of, and still the addiction continues.

Where do we go from here?

As we accept that what we have been doing is not working, we become open to trying new approaches. 12-step support groups exist for us as well! Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are places for friends and family of alcoholics or addicts to gain the serenity, courage, and wisdom we have been desperate for. These meetings allow us a space to hear other people share their experiences and offer strength and hope. Literature (books, pamphlets, and daily readers) from those groups is very helpful. We find comfort being in a room of people who understand what we are going through and are not judgmental.

Counselors specializing in co-dependency and/or substance use disorder are a great resource as well. Often friends or family put their needs on the back burner and neglect their own mental, emotional, social and/or physical health. As we begin to reengage in activities which are life-giving, we start to gain some perspective and feel better. The situations may not change, but our ability to recognize what we can and cannot do changes drastically.

We can ALL be in recovery.

We have been suffering through our loved one’s addiction, but we can start to heal and have hope- whether they enter their own recovery or not. In time we learn and use new tools such as: setting boundaries, reaching out for help, and stepping back from cleaning up the mess addiction leaves in its wake. These things demonstrate that we are no longer going to be responsible for another person’s illness. If our loved ones find recovery
too then we get to embark in a whole new relationship with them. Eventually we see that our time with them can have the honesty, compassion, and laughter we have missed. We can each find healing. The key is accepting that we can only find it for ourselves.  Then, we allow others the time and space needed for them to find their own healing as well. 

 Contributed Family Counselor by Heather Bland, MAEd, NCC, LCAS-A

 

 

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

Jamie Lee Curtis Opens Up on Her Drug Addiction and Recovery

July 7, 2021

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Jamie Lee Curtis shares her recovery story.

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

Expect a Miracle. Recovery delivers.

June 21, 2021

Expect a Miracle. Recovery delivers.

Every August, Fellowship Hall hosts a conference to celebrate recovery with hundreds of alumni from our treatment programs and their recovery allies, family members and friends who support their dedication and work to remain in long-term recovery.

This year, Mark D serves as the conference Voice, leading a group of committed volunteers in putting together the program for Conference, setting the theme, and giving their time and talents to pull the event together. This year’s theme, Expect A Miracle, is how Mark describes his recovery experience.

Mark can recall every detail of the moment he had his first drink, down to the color of the cup he used to steal the beverage from his uncle’s fridge at just nine years old. From that moment on, substances would hold a vice grip on his life for decades, until he would reach a point where he had nothing—and no one—left to lose.

As is usually the case, Mark was unaware that he was on his way to rock bottom. After a series of injuries, opiates entered his life – which led to an out-of-control spiral. “I came home one day and the electricity had been shut off,” Mark remembers. It wasn’t long before he had lost everything – his home, his car, his children, and his reality.

Family members attempted an intervention and after a month of avoiding them after the encounter, Mark took his las drink on December 17, 2015. It was after he completed treatment that Mark moved to Greensboro into an Oxford House. He was given the number of a Fellowship Hall alum, Jerry S, who welcomed Mark and took him to meetings for the next two weeks. “I dove in feet first. I loved AA from the very first meeting,” Mark shares.

With the help of his sponsor, Mark began volunteering at Fellowship Hall, driving guests to meetings and looking forward to attending conference each year. One thing he has learned since getting sober is that he expected a miracle, and recovery delivered with a wealth of new friendships, a new lease on life, and gratitude for friends, a home, a job he loves, and the opportunity to help others find the gift of being clean and sober.

Make plans to join us for this year’s conference and come expecting a miracle. The shared experiences and fellowship will strengthen and encourage you in establishing your recovery over the long haul. Register now for this year’s conference, August 6-9, 2021.

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

8 Reasons Socializing Sober is Better

June 7, 2021

8 Reasons Socializing Sober is Better

By Kelly Fitzgerald  from www.thefix.com 

When you’re used to taking shots before any social interaction, it feels weird when you show up anywhere sober. But I learned that it’s actually better this way.

Let’s face it, socializing is something that is historically associated with alcohol. If you’ve watched television, surfed the Internet, or even browsed your Facebook feed, you’ve seen advertisements from the alcohol industry—or pop culture sites in general—on what you should be doing on a Friday night, what you should be mixing your vodka with, and how you can meet good-looking people at the bar. It’s one reason it took me such a long time to try sobriety. I truly thought the only way to socialize was by going out for drinks or by eyeing up my next boyfriend from across the club while listening to “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

It took me a little while to adjust to life sober and socializing has been a big part of that. When you’re used to taking shots before any social interaction, it feels weird when you show up anywhere sober. Each event and situation that I participated in sober was a new learning opportunity, and they proved to me that socializing sober is much better than socializing drunk.

No. 1: It’s GENUINE

I was always the drinker who felt these deep spiritual connections with their drunk friends. I would meet someone at a nightclub in a bathroom at 2 a.m. and she would just get me. We’d be besties for the rest of the night. Sometimes these “friendships” lasted and we’d become party pals. I had tons of party pals, people who I could call on any day at any time and convince them to drink with me. Since getting sober, I’ve come to realize just how fake these connections were. It takes a lot more than sharing tequila shots to become close with another human. Sobriety has shown me that genuine connections are made with a clear head.

No. 2: It doesn’t entail a hangover

Socializing for me in active addiction always had a hangover attached to it. That’s because I didn’t know how to socialize without consuming alcohol. I won’t lie to you, I had a lot of fun on some days while drinking, but the price I always paid was a nasty hangover. No matter how much fun I thought I was having, the next day I paid for it. Socializing sober doesn’t require the social currency of a hangover. Today when I socialize, I get to wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.

No. 3: You develop connections that have substance

Along with drunk connections not being genuine, they also don’t have substance. When I got sober, I left a lot of friends behind because I realized we had nothing in common. What we had in common previously was drinking and drama. Once you leave that stuff behind, you realize you need to socialize with other people who have similar world views and goals. It’s easier to find people who share your views and goals when you are sober, understand what you’re looking for in this life, and go out to the right places and get it.

No. 4: You don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself

My drinking years were a long history of embarrassing situations. I know people who drink and aren’t alcoholics who have embarrassed themselves, at least a time or two, while indulging in alcohol. The beauty of socializing sober is that you don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself! Of course, it’s possible to make a mistake or do something silly while sober, but not to the extent that I used to do it when I was drinking. I can make the conscious decision to behave in a certain way while socializing instead of leaving it up to who I become during a blackout.

No. 5: You can remember all your conversations

Do you know how many times people confided in me and told me serious stuff while I was intoxicated? More times than I can count. Not only that, serious things in my life happened—surgeries, deaths, and other important events that I can hardly recall. It pains me to know that I can’t remember crucial details of my life due to my addiction. Now that I move through the world sober, I can remember all of my conversations, big and small.

No. 6: You might find new hobbies you love

Socializing sober has been advantageous because I’ve found new hobbies I never knew I liked. It’s a common misconception that you won’t have fun in sobriety and that socializing is hard. But the truth is, you find new ways to socialize. I’ve started CrossFit and have met new people through that community. Sobriety offers time to find new hobbies and new friendships with people who enjoy those hobbies.

No. 7: Friendship will be based on values, not booze

I never realized how my entire life was based around alcohol until I got sober. I thought I was drinking like any other 20-something party girl. It wasn’t until I looked deep within and examined my relationships, that I realized I sought out “friends” who could drink a lot, who liked to go to the same nightclubs as me, and had connections to get drugs. It might seem like common sense, but these are not the qualities that make up a good friend! Today, my sober friendships are based on real values like loyalty, honesty, and reliability.

No. 8: I have the choice to socialize or not

I never realized it until I got sober, but socializing became forced for me, meaning drinking was equated to socializing and socializing was equated to drinking. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I felt like I had to put on a face, be the life of the party, and act like I was enjoying and interacting with people no matter what. Now that I’m sober, I get to choose if I want to socialize or not—what a crazy concept. I also don’t equate socializing with drinking anymore.

Once I made the separation of drinking and socializing, it made sense to me why socializing is so much more enjoyable sober. You can be who you are and thrive in any situation. Of course, it took time to adjust to being a part of a crowd sober, making friends without exchanging shots of tequila, and knowing when I just want to stay home on a Friday night. But socializing has become one of my favorite things about being sober. All I have to worry about when socializing now, is being myself.

Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida whose work has been published on the Huffington Post among other sites. She writes about her life as a former party girl living in recovery on The Adventures of The Sober Señorita.

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

The Power of Passion: Discovering Your Hobbies & Interests After Substances

May 31, 2021

The Power of Passion: Discovering Your Hobbies & Interests After Substances

In recovery, eventually, the obsession with substances subsides. What fills up those spaces in your mind, aside from your recovery? This mental space, free from the obsession with drugs and alcohol, is the perfect place to fill with new hobbies and passions, which can help support your recovery in numerous ways.

Your passions are things that excite you, motivate you, and drive you to a purpose. Whatever it is that brings you joy and feeds your soul, seek those things out and do them often. Sobriety doesn’t mean that life cannot be fun or exciting – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Whether you lost your passions along the way during active use, or you never had the chance to discover them, they are living within you always.

The first step to finding what you enjoy doing is to try new things.

Attend a class; art, cooking, sculpting, writing, singing, dancing, you name it — even virtually they are available and just a simple internet search away. Youtube is also an incredible source of free information and instructional videos! Check out some different creators on the platform and note what does and does not spark your interest.

Reflect after each activity that you try.

Get out of your head and into your body for a moment. What are you feeling when you try these activities? Do you feel positive, warm, excited feelings? Do you feel much of anything at all? This is important to note in two ways: 1. This can lead you towards more activities and hobbies that you truly enjoy. 2. This is a great practice to increase your own emotional intelligence and understanding.

Use your search for passion as an opportunity to connect with others.

You might find that it is not the activity alone, but the shared human experience that you enjoy most. For many extroverted individuals, this is often the case! Reach out to your sponsor, those in your meetings, or close friends or family that support your recovery to go on this adventure of trying new things with you.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

In your pursuit of passion, like with anything else, do not be afraid to fail. Even if you are afraid, remember that often the most beautiful things live beyond the realm of our deepest fears. You have made it this far, so why not continue to try to find things that make you feel more like you.

Remember, passions and hobbies are a great place to begin as you get to know yourself and your personality again in sobriety. This is a great inner-place to turn to instead of feelings such as obsession, isolation, boredom, anger, depression, anxiety, etc. They can become a good outlet of expression for these emotions as well. Your passions can constantly change and develop, so be patient and don’t give up! Like the steps, you can go through the motions of trying new things over and over again, and you will only get better with time and repetition.

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

Helping Others, Why Sponsoring is Important to Recovery

May 3, 2021

Helping Others, Why Sponsoring is Important to Recovery

Step 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

At its core, this step reminds you to live your life by the principles of AA, and to also encourage others like you in need to discover the promises of the program. As you go through your recovery journey and work the steps, you will build the foundation for your life in sobriety.

However, you probably didn’t get to Step 12 by yourself. No, many individuals in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous probably helped you along your way. From sponsors, to home groups, to just plain peers and friends, the fellowship found in 12-Step Programs is focused on learning for oneself and going on to give back. As you have improved your life greatly, it is important that you help others who are suffering.

It can also be beneficial to your long-term sobriety and recovery. Here are some ways giving back and helping others can support your recovery:

Builds Self-Esteem

To put it simply, giving back never feels bad. To have the opportunity to listen to others and to genuinely relate to their strife like no one else can is a beautiful thing. Throughout your time in recovery, you have made mistakes, and you probably had to seek the counsel and wisdom of others to overcome obstacles or to bounce back when you’ve taken a wrong turn. As you learned, you built on your experience and knowledge along the way. Passing this on to someone else can instill a sense of leadership and mentorship within you, and can build your confidence in your own ability while helping someone else simultaneously.

Fills Idle Time

An enemy to those in recovery can often be boredom or idle time. No matter how far you are along in your recovery, boredom can lead to those familiar feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression from days of active use. Helping others by way of volunteering with or sponsoring other individuals in recovery fills up your time and gives you new connections to grab coffee with, go to meetings with, or plan other events with to keep your schedule full.

Can Prevent Return to Use

When cravings or thoughts about returning to use present themselves, it can be difficult to think clearly. You might find yourself glamourizing your past at times, struggling to remember why active use was so detrimental to your life.

Serving and helping others who are suffering may serve as a reminder to yourself when you were in the throes of the earliest parts of your sobriety and recovery, further reinforcing the importance of your dedication to a 12-Step Program and to your own sobriety.

Gives You a Sense of Purpose

Finally, helping others can give you a sense of purpose. Knowing that someone else might lean on you for support in their journey to stay well can make you feel a sense of accountability, a reason to get out of bed in the morning when that reason can be difficult to find or feel.

Helping someone else can make you feel needed, it can make you feel important…because you are.

Remember, helping others doesn’t have a requirement. Just showing up, living your life by the 12 Steps, being honest and open, and meeting all of those around you with love are the greatest acts of helping others that you could possibly participate in.

***

For more information, resources, and encouragement, “like” the Fellowship Hall Facebook page and follow us on Instagram at @FellowshipHallNC.

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

 

 April Showers Bring May Flowers, How to Get Through your “Lows”

April 19, 2021

 April Showers Bring May Flowers, How to Get Through your “Lows” (Depression/Anxiety)

When you were in active use, you probably used substances to numb your emotions. In recovery, you must learn how to master coping with these emotions instead of letting them be the master of you. Feelings are a difficult thing for all individuals to manage, but it is known that they are especially difficult for those in recovery.

Substances alter the chemicals in your brain, long after the periods of active use. Establishing an emotional baseline and managing the highs and the lows will be challenging, but not impossible.

Here are FIVE ways to manage your “low” moments while in recovery:

Pick up the Phone and Call…Before You Want To

Most of the time, you probably don’t want to “bother” others with your seemingly small problems. You might be annoyed with your family, angry with a situation at work, or suffering from lower-than-usual self-esteem. It’s easy to convince yourself that situations like these are minor inconveniences that aren’t worth calling your sponsor or friends in recovery about.

What you might not realize is, these situations, if left unaddressed, can build in your mind. As you work to suppress them, the negative emotions surrounding them can compound and become something much bigger than they ever needed to be—bringing you to a low point. Avoid this by being open with others. Call those in your support network when things are good, when things are bad, and when things are boring. You may find that as you begin talking, subconscious feelings come to the surface. Something you say might even help someone else without you realizing it. Call a friend today, before you’re in the low point.

Practice Self-Care

When you’re feeling low, basic tasks can become mountains to move in your mind. Getting out of bed and eating can be difficult in those depressing moments. Even if it is the very last thing you want to do, most of the time spending a small bit of time on personal hygiene (showering, a hot bath, brushing your teeth, a face mask, etc.), preparing a hot meal, and getting your body moving can be the very thing you needed to reset and to get to feeling a bit better.

Small actions of care for the self lead to big emotional changes. Practice repeated routines and actions each day to care for yourself. This might be a 30-minute walk, trying a new recipe, or sitting down with a cup of hot herbal tea in the evening. Do something for you, daily, to increase your feelings of confidence and self-worth.

Stay Spiritually Fit

Your mind can become clouded, especially when you’re feeling down. It can be difficult to think logically or to even think at all in those moments. Don’t forget to turn your problems, no matter how “small” over to your higher power as you understand it.

Meditation, prayer, mindfulness, yoga, and spending time in the sunlight can all be great ways to ground yourself and to combat the feelings of anxiety and depression that take over during “lows.”

Go to a Meeting

This may seem obvious, but don’t talk yourself out of a meeting. Usually, when you want to go the least is when you need to attend one the most. Feeling “low” isn’t just an emotional feeling, it can be physical and all-encompassing lethargy and lack of energy or motivation to do anything. You will always feel better after a meeting, so reach out to a friend in your network and let them know what you’re going through. If you need extra support, ask them to attend with you.

Seek Professional Help

Some “lows” cannot be managed alone. Be sure to be open with your small group, psychiatrist, doctor, and counselors about what you are experiencing. Professionals are trained to handle the emotional distress that you are facing far better than yourself or anyone else. There’s no way to know exactly what is causing your distress without talking with a professional, it may be related to your diet, sleeping habits, or other medical issues. Remember, being honest with those around you is always the best way to begin feeling better.

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For more information, resources, and encouragement, “like” the Fellowship Hall Facebook page and follow us on Instagram at @FellowshipHallNC.

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

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