How Secondary Gain Fuels Alcoholism

While you may not know it by this name, secondary gain exists in alcoholism, whether we like it or not. Secondary gain plays a huge role in addiction, and, can be a significant contributor to denial and likelihood of relapse once sober.

Simply put, secondary gain equates to: what specifically alcohol is achieving for you, personally, as a “side-benefit”. If they go unchecked, these side-benefits can later morph into the main reasons we’re using alcohol at all.

But, there are ways to understand these underlying factors in our addictions, and undo the damage done. Let’s take a look.

While denial exists to protect our access to the coping mechanism called alcohol; secondary gain is more like – “what benefits am I getting from alcohol, that I may not have thought of?”….and what issues do those point me to?

How Secondary Gain Fuels Alcoholism

Consider the key questions:

  • How has alcohol served me?
  • How has alcohol not served me?

What has alcohol helped me do? What feelings does it help me achieve, that I’m unable to achieve  in other ways? What situations does it help me cope with, and what feelings am I running from, in those scenarios?

I could be drinking because…

  • When I have a drink, I feel “more worthy” or “good enough” again.
  • When I have a drink, I feel more important or respected
  • Or, when I have a drink, I feel more lovable, accepted…. or like “what I say matters”.

At one point in our lives, having a drink was ONE way to cope, but for the alcoholic in us, it quickly became the ONLY means to cope, because of these secondary benefits it gave us.

So we’ve learned over time, a survival strategy belief, for instance:

  • “the way to feel good enough again, is to drink”
  • “the way to feel worthy again, even in the face of outside stressors, is to have a drink”
  • “the way to feel like I matter again, is alcohol”
  • “the way to feel competent again, is to drink”

It’s clear therefore, that we’re using alcohol as a means to quell the underlying self-esteem beliefs, like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m not important”, or “I’m not acceptable”.

Do you recognise these underlying themes in yourself? In your behaviours when stressed?

Now, if we address these underlying core beliefs, therapeutically, (instead of with alcohol) is it clear  to you that there would be much less need to even turn to a coping mechanism at all?

These are the core elements of self – the highly individual, person-centered elements, that we must understand about ourselves, beyond the group support mechanisms such as A/A, N/A, mutual aid support, etc. Often these are discovered and explored in private rehab settings, such as the folks over at alcohol rehab Scotland.

These elements of secondary gain are the underlying drivers behind the addiction – that sit underneath the addiction. It is the fear of these underlying issues surfacing, untempered, that then drives the patterns of denial, and keeps us in the cycle of addiction, without ever truly understanding *why* we feel the way they do.

Bar Counter

So…How to break the cycle of alcoholism using this understanding?

  • Using the questions above, take the time to consider what secondary advantages alcohol could be giving (or have given you previously) in your life
  • To help this along, try to identify common patterns in your trigger situations, “I always turn to alcohol in _____ situation;” “I always feel like a drink when ____ happens”. What might you be trying to avoid, or gain, in these situations?
  • What feelings does alcohol bring to the fore in these situations, that weren’t there before? What does alcohol help you feel in these situations?
  • When you *do* have a drink, what does it make you/get you/get for you?
  • Now consider the mirror opposite – e.g. when you’re tempted to drink, and you don’t drink, what feelings surface at that point, that weren’t there before?
  • Now using your answers from the above, fill in the blanks: “What makes me ________ is drinking alcohol”; and “The way to feel _________ is to drink alcohol”
  • Usually, the blanks in the above are your core issues and core beliefs which need attention, to change the pattern of the addiction in your life.
  • Finally….stop blaming yourself for the small relapses – but instead – use them to help you truly know yourself, and your addiction, better. Examine what led to the binge or relapse, what you were trying to cope with at the time – and understand that these moments point you to the underlying issues – and as such – are a huge help in overcoming alcoholism in the longer term.

Often times the issues revealed from this exercise are deep core issues, self-esteem blocks, or specific traumas from the past, that need professional mental health assistance.

Just as in our step work, they require us to face our issues directly, accept responsibility for them, and accept that we have a human tendency to choose a negative behaviour over a positive one, whilst in the darker clutches of addiction.

But moving through these issues, getting the third-party help and fellowship we need, and making consistent progress, no matter how little, will ultimately result in us simply no longer needing the coping mechanism we once did….because the underlying truth has been faced.

Now, let’s be realistic, there’s much more to maintaining abstinence and long term recovery than just these issues….but, when we add this self discovery to the bigger picture of mutual aid support, sponsorship, and other mental health care tailored to individual needs – then recovery can feel much more realistic, and one degree more achievable. And that can make all the difference.

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8 Tips For Staying Clean In Early Recovery

Many people think that getting clean is the hardest part and while that may be true in certain cases, especially when it comes to drugs such as heroin which can have an intensely hard detox process, however very often the hard part is in early recovery. The drugs have completely left your system and you are no longer physically craving the drug but facing life on life’s terms and learning how to cope with every day situations is tough. In addition to facing every day situations you will also need to face the music when it comes to all the consequences of your addiction. This is the reason why many addicts get clean and then relapse again after just a few short months.

Once you have come off your drug of choice the hard work really begins. Here are some tips for staying clean in early recovery:

8 Tips For Staying Clean In Early Recovery

Go To Meetings

If you got clean through a 12 Step program make sure to go to meetings regularly – as often as you possibly can. In the 12 Step Program they talk about attending 90 meetings in 90 days and this is a great idea. It may seem like a lot of work and it may be a strain but it will really help you to stay clean.

There are also SMART recovery meetings that you can attend. You may have gotten clean through a church program – speak to someone there are find out if there are regular support meetings you can attend.

It doesn’t matter how you got clean – what matters now is that you stay clean and doing it alone is hard and chances of relapse are high. Find some sort of support group or meeting and make sure to go regularly.

Being in a group and healing mind, body and spirit together is important for your recovery according to Sunspire Health Texas that offers addiction treatment in Texas.

Get A Sponsor

Find someone in recovery that has good clean time that can help you and support you in your recovery journey. Being able to talk to someone that has a strong recovery and understands where you are at in your recovery will be a lifesaver.

Talking regularly to your sponsor will help to keep you on the right path. Your sponsor will be able to give you some excellent insight into your process and will also be able to give you some great advice on how to cope with the various situations you will find yourself in when you are clean.

Things which non-addicts take in their stride every day without a second thought may seem like a mountain to climb for you. A good example of this is getting a job – how to cope with job interviews, how to explain the long periods of employment and how to explain the many jobs you may have been fired from. You may even have a criminal record and many companies ask you whether you have a criminal record.

These things can be incredibly tricky to navigate through.

Support group

Go For Counseling

Yes it may seem like an overkill but a counselor and a sponsor are not the same thing. For starters a counselor is a trained professional that has helped many other people overcome obstacles in life.

Chances are high that you have some underlying issues that you need to work through, especially if you have not gone for addiction treatment. If you want the best possible chances of staying clean and rocking your recovery then having regular counseling sessions is highly recommended.

As per Desert Palms that offers addiction treatment in California – addiction is treatment is tough but you will learn about the process of addiction and the reasons why you keep using. You will learn healthy coping techniques and stand a much better chance of long term recovery.

Stay Out Of Romantic Relationships

One of the fastest ways to relapse is to get into a romantic relationship too soon. In early recovery addicts are not able to cope with emotional highs and lows very well at all.

In addition to that addicts are often looking for something outside themselves to make themselves feel better. Take away the drugs, alcohol and other crutches an addict usually makes use of and a relationship may be one of the first things an addict tries to make themselves feel better.

It is important to learn healthy coping mechanisms and to keep things as stable as possible for at least the first year of recovery.

There are often jokes in movies about first getting a plant and if after 6 months that survives get a pet. After a year if our plant and pet are still alive and if you are still clean then you are ready for a relationship. It may be done in a joking way but stick to this.

Recognize Your Triggers

Through meetings, chatting to your sponsor and sessions with your counselor you will start to recognize your triggers. When you can recognize your triggers you can start to deal with them in a different way and not revert to your usual and destructive ways of coping.

Being in recovery is about learning healthy coping mechanisms and then implementing those instead of using.

Plan For Festivities

Your first birthday, Christmas, Valentines, New Years Eve, Easter and many other special occasions will be times that will most likely be uncomfortable and trying for you. Make sure to have a plan in place for each of these occasions.

This is also where being part of a recovery community such as the 12 step program really comes in handy. There will be sober events and meetings held at these times to support you and help you get through them sober.

If it is your own birthday make sure to chat to your sponsor and counselor to ensure that this is a safe time.

People, Places and Things

Hanging out in your local pub to get a lemonade is not the best idea – trust me on this I tried it and it always ended up badly for me. Likewise hanging out with your using friends will always lead to trouble.

Being in recovery means a new way of life and letting go of the people, places and things associated with your using and your old way of life. Yes this is tough to do but it is essential if you want to make it with your recovery.

Reading and Drinking Coffee

Take Up New Hobbies

Your life up until you got clean was filled with destructive habits and things that did not benefit you. Chances are that you did not participate much in any healthy hobbies. Now is the time to take up something new. It is all very well cutting out the bad things in your life but you need to fill those gaps with something new.

Taking up hiking, reading or crafting will give you a healthy way to spend your time.

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Addiction and Treating The Underlying Causes Of Destructive Behaviour

It is a misconception that addiction is all about the drug. Many people believe that once an addict is clean from a drug the hard part is done and dusted and the process of staying off the drugs is easy. This could not be further from the truth. In most cases for an addict the easiest part is getting clean from his drug of choice and the hard part is staying clean and learning how to live without his drug of choice.

Yes it is true that some addicts struggle with getting physically clean from their drug of choice and depending on the drug the addict may need a medically assisted detox. This can make the process of getting clean tough, however the real hard work begins when the addict is considered sober and then has to face life and reality without drugs.

Addiction and Treating The Underlying Cause Of Destructive Behaviour

Trauma and Addiction

According to studies two thirds of drug addicts that seek treatment report being sexually, physically and/ or emotionally abused during childhood.

When a child is growing up his circumstances and experiences will certainly impact his physical and psychological development. Very often these issues are not resolved during childhood and unless dealt with as part of the addiction recovery process these issues will continue to add to the addict’s self destructive behavior.

There is also a link between PTSD and addiction. About 50 – 60% of people that suffer from PTSD have addiction problems, the reverse is true too where. Anyone that has gone through a very traumatic event, like rape, often suffers from PTSD and/ or other psychological problems.

This much is clear – the relationship between substance abuse and trauma is closely intertwined. Click here to find out more about trauma and addiction treatment.

Childhood abuse alcoholism

Trauma During Addiction

Now while it is clear that trauma and addiction are closely linked showing that trauma may contributing to addictive behaviors there is another side to it. While an addict is in active addiction there are countless more traumatic moments. Some severe and some not so severe but still traumatic.

Addicts are well known for wrecking their own lives and the lives of those that they love. Someone that is normally a calm and loving person yet addicted to drugs, may become aggressive and abusive towards his family.

It is simply not possible for an addictive to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Love relationships will be destructive and toxic and most likely with a partner that is also an addict.

Losing a job, losing a home, getting a divorce and being arrested are all terribly traumatic things to happen to anyone and chances are that if you are an addict you have done every single one of these, often more than once.

Very often an addict has a dual diagnosis which means that he suffers from a mental disorder as well as the addiction. This is hardly surprising since going through so much trauma will inevitably lead to things like anxiety, depression, PTSD and more. Drugs and alcohol can also change the chemistry of the brain to even further complicate matters.

Individual Counselling session

 The Importance Of Dealing With Underlying Issues

Focusing on the causes of destructive behaviors is essential during the process of recovery from addiction. Treating the cause of the destructive behaviors and not just the symptoms will help addicts to achieve and maintain long term recovery.

In order to prevent relapse it is essential for addicts to receive trauma counselling to deal with unresolved issues.

Family therapy is also vitally important to recovery from addiction. Family relations will no doubt have suffered damage during the course of addiction. Very often the addict is not the only person in the family that has suffered from trauma and these family patterns will have destructive effects if they are not addressed during therapy.

Very often family members of the addict are addicts themselves, or codependents that are enabling the addicts behaviour.

The addict needs to not only deal with the underlying issues surrounding his addiction, but also be taught new ways of coping with emotional pain, stress and anxiety that has resulted from trauma but also from every day events, so that he can cope with life in a healthy way when leaving treatment for addiction.

When the addict recognizes and understand the triggers and reasons behind them that drive him to use he can start applying the healthy coping skills learned in treatment to help prevent relapsing. Click here to read more about relapse prevention.

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Getting Through My Miscarriage (Mostly) Sober

This year started off so well for me. I even wrote a blog on Wealthy Affiliate titled 2018 Is Going To Be Amazing because business was coming in and I was feeling so positive. 2018 was going to be the year it all came together for me. I could feel it!

Just two weeks later I found myself in hospital finding out that I was pregnant (huge shock here since I was sterilized), I was losing my baby and my life was in danger. I had an ectopic pregnancy, which is where the fetus embeds outside the womb. There is no chance the baby will be able to make it because it was in my tube and my tube had ruptured. I had internal bleeding and if they didn’t operate I would die.

Honestly I drove to hospital convinced that my appendix had burst and praying for anything else. Funny how you pray for something and then realize that the first option would have been so much easier.

Getting Through My Miscarriage (Mostly) Sober

If you have been following my blog or read my ebook then you will know that my addiction has taken me to some dark and ugly places. The thing is that this experience I went through less than 2 months ago was so intensely painful, it beats anything that I have ever been through hands down. I’ve been beaten, I’ve been abused and I’ve been raped. And I’m still standing… but this miscarriage brought me to my knees.

I didn’t want another baby, that is why I had my tubes cut when my son was born in 2013. But that doesn’t change how I felt when I found out I was pregnant. It was a shock, but it was my baby. Then I was losing it. Having that come at me out of the blue knocked me so flat I can’t even describe the feeling.

One of the big things for me being an addict is that I struggle to cope with intense feelings. My coping mechanism for so many years was drugs and alcohol that it can be very hard for me to sit with uncomfortable feelings and just feel them.

After my opI remember clearly lying on the operating table feeling the anesthetics stinging in my arm, about to knock me out. Tears rolling out of my eyes, wondering how on earth I got to this place. I was just feeling the shock and it felt like seconds later when I woke up vomiting and crying. It was done, my baby was gone.

A few hours after the operation a doctor came in to see me and he said he sees on my chart I am an addict and that I have been prescribed an anti-inflammatory and paracetamol, but he just wants me to know that if I do need it he has prescribed morphine. I was nauseas, emotional and in pain. I told him thank you, I will let him know.

I closed my eyes and I thought about the absolutely divine oblivion that morphine would bring me. All this pain would magically go away, I could block the events of the last few hours out.

It dawned on me suddenly that not once did I think about the physical pain while considering taking morphine, I didn’t care about the physical pain. I wanted my mind to be blotto. I wanted respite from the emotional and spiritual pain I was in.


When the doctor came back to check on me I asked him to please scratch out the morphine on my chart. I must not have it. It hurt just saying that to him. I was going to do this the hard way, the recovery way. Have I said yet how much I resent paracetamol? I’m not sure but really I do. When everyone else is getting all the good stuff I get paracetamol after an operation. That stuff doesn’t even work for a headache… but I will take them anyway and just hope that they do something.

A week after my operation I went to my GP for a checkup and he said I had a slight infection so I was put on antibiotics. He asked me how the pain was and I told him awful so he gave me some more meds. I barely looked at the meds, I was struggling to cope and I have had the same GP for nearly 7 years.

That was on a Monday afternoon. On the Wednesday afternoon at about 4pm I started feeling edgy, anxious and short tempered. I checked my watch to see if it was time for my meds… still a few hours till meds time. Then I started grinding my teeth…. and connected the dots. My husband was home early and I asked him to please check the medication. He came back to me and said it doesn’t look like there is anything addictive. But I knew. I could feel it. The hunger. I asked him to check everything in it online for me please.

I was too jittery and uncomfortable to do it myself. I was in the bedroom and I kept the door closed.

He came back and told me it has Tramadol in it. Geez I even published a blog post on my website about Tramadol. Forehead slap.

I couldn’t believe it had taken me 3 days to realize I was high. I felt so darn stupid. Then again I had been feeling dissociated a lot since the operation, so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I phoned my mother to let her know, just to be on the safe side. Who knows what might happen even though I have  years clean time behind me. It was a little scary. I looked up the withdrawal symptoms of Tramadol and it looked quite rotten but I had not been taking more than was prescribed and it was only 3 days of use.

I take Seroquel in small doses to help me with my insomnia and when I am struggling with my bipolar disorder or under a lot of stress I chat to my doctor and increase my Seroquel dosage for a while.

I got hold of my GP on whatsapp and let him know he gave me addictive medication and asked if I could double up my Seroquel for the night to get myself to sleep and he said that is fine, along with an apology.

Fortunately I fell asleep quite quickly and aside from feeling a little but ditsy for a couple of days I coped fine, thankfully.

Beautiful white and pink flowers

A number of people have told me that I should take this further with my GP but really this is as much my responsibility in my eyes. Every time I get prescribed medication I have always reminded my GP and when I ask the pharmacist for over the counter medication I always tell him too. When I get home with any new medication I always do a final check before taking anything.

This time I did none of those things, I was prescribed medication and I came home and took it. It is a lesson for me to never left my guard up. My recovery is my responsibility.

The funny thing is that when the physical pain starting easing up it was awful. When I was in physical pain it took my attention away from  my emotional pain. When the physical pain was gone then I started having to face what I was feeling emotionally. It reminded me of when I used to cut myself to get away from what I was feeling.

It’s been 7+ weeks since my miscarriage and things are a lot easier now. For the first few weeks it was such a roller-coaster of pain and tears. I did write about my miscarriage on my parenting blog 10 days after it happened, but I couldn’t quite get the courage or strength to share about it here too until now.


Here are some of the things that helped me to get through this awful experience sober (or mostly anyway):

  • Talking about my feelings with my husband, mom, sisters and close girlfriends.
  • Writing – both on my blog and in my journal.
  • Being kind to myself – avoiding negative self talk and being loving towards myself.
  • Resting and allowing myself to be sad. Letting myself cry when I felt overwhelmed.
  • Having a session with my counselor when I got out of hospital.
  • Remembering that this is a process and my healing won’t be in a straight line.
  • Allowing myself to grieve for my lost baby.

There are still so many moments of sadness and lots of tears. I can hardly think about what happened without shedding some tears.

Life is going to throw curve balls and even in long term recovery there will be tough moments. Being clean doesn’t mean that things are always going to be easy, in fact some of the hard moments are really intense, but I don’t need drugs or alcohol to blot them out. I can face them and I can get through it in one piece.

What hard things have you had to face in recovery?

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Sticking Together Through Easy Riding and Bumpy Roads

Getting into a relationship is an exciting, butterfly spamming experience that will begin setting you up for the rest of your life. You will have no doubt gone through an endless number of relationships, from innocent schoolyard hand holding to your first serious experiences as a teenager, to university flings and then, now you are older, to your first forays into the world of an adult relationship.

https://unsplash.com/photos/R0…

You will also, at some point, experienced heartache. This could be for any number of reasons. But some of these reasons can include immaturity, you and your previous partner wanting wholly different things, or merely just coming to the end of some finding-yourself experiment.

You will have loved and laughed and learned. As you grow older, the need to be with someone is something that slips into everybody’s mind. When you find this person, you will realise sooner rather than later that this is the person you want to be with without caring about what anybody else may think. You will accept all their faults and stand by them throughout everything that comes your way. You will stop being an I and instead become We.

Because of this, you both need to work together to hold on to one another, no matter if the road ahead looks fraught with challenges, or even if things seem to be going exceptionally well.

YOUR PROBLEMS ARE OUR PROBLEMS

Continual support for your partner throughout thick and thin is essential for fostering a relationship built on trust and transparency where you are open about anything and everything. This will allow you both to avoid any unfortunate surprises as well as feel comfortable in discussing any issues that you may have.

And these problems can range from minute issues such as the way you cook your eggs to something further, something more damaging that, if not discussed openly can have ruinous effects on your relationship. This can include things such as addictions, anxieties, doubts, and anything else that if not talked about can breed distrust and only cause further problems later on.

In situations such as this and as terrifying a prospect as discussing your supposed faults and issues with your partner, you will feel better receiving support for it all once it is said and done. Furthermore, while there is a large chance that your partner may decide it is not for them – through no fault of their own, some people just react like that – at least it will save you both further heartache down the line.

If they do decide to leave, then you should at least hope to still have their support in helping you change for the better. If not, then it is for the best you have both decided to move on. In relationships, there is no such thing as an isolated problem, and no one person is an island. However, hiding these problems from your partner will only exacerbate the issue later on.




TOGETHER WHATEVER

The fact that we can travel far and wide in the modern world has granted people the opportunity to meet anybody, anywhere and perhaps even fall in love with them. It is becoming something of a romantic tale that two people meet while in a different country, experience all the wonders of the word together and then, at the airport at the end of it all, have to say goodbye.

Long distance can be a tough thing to tackle. However, if you can make it work, then it will build a stronger relationship that is sure to last a lifetime. Before embarking on something that will change the course of your life though, you need to ensure that you can handle living together.

Visiting your partner’s country and living with them for a time can be something that will make or break your future. You will learn more about each other and be able to understand what cohabitation is like. From here, you will be able to work out any issues in the relationship and move forward. Or, you will realise that it is perhaps just not meant to be and go home.

If you do realise that this person is seriously the one, then you will eventually want to look into one of you staying permanently in the other’s home country. Those with dual citizenship for both your and their country will find these easy. However, those without it can look into more information on spouse visas which will give you everything you need regarding the transition from old home to new.

FROM DISAPPOINTMENT BLOOMS HOPE

Every couple will at some point in their lives suffer a disappointment that maybe came out of nowhere and it seems that everything is tumbling toward a downward spiral that looks impossible to recover from. This disappointment can stem from the inability to conceive, being denied a loan to buy a house and start the next stage of your life, or getting promotions at work or looking for a new job.

When this disappointment does strike, it is only natural to believe that things will only get worse. However, no matter how bleak and grim your situation may seem at the minute, it is essential that you keep your chin up and continue moving forward.

As bad as things can get, believing that things can, and will, only get better is vital to building on this disappointment and striving towards improving your situation. Taking on a positive attitude may seem impossible in any depressing situation, but letting this disappointment consume you will only make things worse, even if you felt they wouldn’t get any worse.

Understanding that your disappointment will bloom hope is the first step to making things better. While this may take time, it will pay great dividends in the long-term. No matter what the disappointment may be, looking towards ways in which you can change your situation, as opposed to wallowing in self-pity, will make the transition easier than you might have expected. You can’t predict what will happen in your life, so assuming that there is no light at the end of the tunnel is counterproductive.  Things will get better, but only if you and your partner make an effort to improve them.




CLEAN SAILING

There will be tough times in your relationship, but there will also be times where everything is perfect. These are the times where food tastes sweeter, the sky is bluer, and you hit every green light on the way to work. Life, in a word, is excellent.

And during these times you will have an extra spring in your step. You won’t fight with your partner over insignificant issues, you will look to support them in everything and be supported in return, and it feels as if you have developed a bond that no one can break.

However, as blissful as this may be, it can also lead to complacency. Just because everything is peachy and you find yourself sailing over calm waters with not a cloud in sight doesn’t mean you can begin to neglect the things that made your relationship as picturesque as it became.

A lot of couples fall into the trap of the routine. They become so comfortable in their day-to-day that they forget what ignited the spark to begin with. To avoid this, ensure that you both keep things fresh. It is not up to one individual, but both of you. Treat each other randomly throughout the week or month, surprise the other with a trip or dinner reservation. Whisk them away without telling them where you are going (not in a kidnap-y way, though) and keep things fresh.

A strong relationship takes work and don’t assume that just because you are both happy that you can afford to ease the speed. Couples will naturally lose much of the passion that was first apparent when you got together, you have to keep striving to deliver that passion, and live happily ever after.

EASY RIDES, BUMPY ROADS

It is (mostly) impossible to live out your lives together without having little disagreements every now and again. But as long as the good times outweigh the bad, then you will both continue to enjoy your time together and start a family, buy a house, and grow old together and retire to some sandy shore where you can watch the sunset every night from your balcony.

As long as you both continue to support each other through both thick and thin you needn’t worry about further problems arising between the two of you. But life is tough and often unfair, there is no predicting what might happen in the future and so it is up to the both of you to seek solutions to fix any of life’s problems together.

Share your doubts and your worries, discuss them like adults and fight for your relationship, without this fight, then you may discover yourselves drifting apart, cooking up resentment for any legitimate or sometimes imagined slights. A healthy and strong relationship can weather any storm, and you both want to be happy, and each other to be happy, too. Do everything you can to make this a reality, and go forth into the world together.

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Feeling Like ‘You’ Again After Overcoming Addiction

Addiction is hard on the body, and in turn is hard on our looks. Once you make it through to the other side, you’re not the same person you were when you started either mentally or physically- and so finding ‘you’ again isn’t always something that comes easy. When you have an addiction this often comes ahead of anything else, including your health and appearance, and so spending time and effort on yourself again once you’re clean and sober might take some adjusting to. However, doing so can actually be very beneficial. Of course there’s more to a person than their outside appearance, but the way you look can really affect your self esteem and confidence. Feeling like yourself again after being detached from that for a while can be a nice feeling and it’s good for you both physically and mentally. Here’s how you can get back to being yourself.

Photo source

General Health

It might have been a while since you visited the doctor and there could be symptoms you were either ignoring or didn’t’ notice due to your addiction. If you’re a woman, you should book in for a smear test if you need one. Since alcohol has been linked to skin cancer (as well as drugs on a less direct level just as they weaken the immune system) you could book into a skin clinic if you have any concerns. Moles that have appeared or changed in shape or size are reasons to be checked out. Have your GP check your weight, blood pressure and blood sugar and make sure things are in check- if not, they can advise you about what you need to do to get these things in order. If you have been using needles or having unsafe sex, a blanket blood and sexual health test will help to give you peace of mind or let you know what kinds of treatments you need. Once you’re healthy and well again, you’ll be feeling much more like yourself.




Hair, Skin and Teeth

Addiction, particularly those that involve physical dependence such as substance abuse tend to cause issues with skin, hair and teeth. This is partially due to the addiction meaning you don’t take as good care of yourself and your maintenance regimes can slip, and they can also be a direct result of the drink or drugs. Alcohol for example is full of sugar and can cause tooth decay, and the toxins in both drink and drugs can lead to breakouts, dull skin and unhealthy hair. After addiction, take steps to put these things right. You could go to a beauty salon and have a facial and have them recommend some products. Visit a dentist about your oral health and look into cosmetic work if you need it. Go to a hairdresser and have them give you a cut and colour that suits you and makes the most of your locks. Just these things alone can massively improve your appearance and self esteem.




Do Things You Enjoy

Finally, a big part of what makes you ‘you’ is your hobbies and interests. These were likely put on hold when you were caught by addiction but are something now you can take up again. Not only will these be enjoyable but you could meet like minded people and it gives you something productive to do and takes your mind off your past addiction. It could be anything from dance to a sport to a craft or something else entirely, but throwing yourself into hobbies can prevent relapse and help you feel back like yourself again.

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The Amazing Reality Of Living Without Drugs And Alcohol

I am very open about my alcoholism and drug addiction and it is very interesting that so many people think that it is a constant struggle for me even though I am now 9+ years clean and sober, working a program of recovery.

Getting clean was terribly hard, I can’t deny that and the first few years in recovery were exceptionally hard. Simple things like going out for a meal without having an alcoholic drink was painful. Getting through Christmas and New years Eve was a trial.

For a long time I stayed clean and worked my recovery but the truth is that there were so many times that I wondered what the point was if it was so uncomfortable and hard to get through everything. My first instinct to cope with any uncomfortable situation was to use drugs or drink alcohol. Keep in mind that almost every situation in early recovery is uncomfortable. For so long my feelings were numbed with alcohol and drugs, just dealing with people in normal social situations became a terrifying ordeal.

The thought of going through my whole life without touching another drink or drug again was horrifying. Hence why there is such a focus on “just for today”.




Thankfully these feelings don’t last forever and over time being in recovery becomes easier. I am so grateful that I persevered through my uncomfortable feelings and fears to get to where I am today. The fact is that living free from drugs and alcohol is amazing and it is hard to grasp just how incredible it can be when trying to get clean. Being in an alcohol and drug treatment facility helped me to get clean and to lay down my foundation for recovery, but is was still a long time before I started feeling “normal” in recovery.

If you are struggling to get clean and not sure exactly what it is you are working towards, here are some amazing things you can expect being free from drugs and alcohol:

The Amazing Reality Of Living Without Drugs And Alcohol

Having Real Fun

Yes it may not seem like it but having good, clean fun really is possible. In fact now that I have spent a while in recovery I realize that being drunk and high wasn’t really much fun at all. Being sober is not boring at all, it just takes some getting used to that’s all and once I got used to feeling normal sober I realized that I can have so much fun. The bonus here is that I have fun and I don’t look like an idiot or regret that fun in the morning.

Plus photos taken now while having fun are cherished memories, not embarrassing moments for the wall of shame.




Healthy Relationships

I was not able to have a healthy relationship with anyone in my life while I was in the throes of my addiction. Every romantic relationship I was in was toxic and my relationships with family members were mostly codependent relationships.

Now that I am free from alcohol and drugs my relationships with others are healthy and loving. I have a good marriage, great friendships and I am on good terms with my family. I am also able to be a good mother to my children.

Enjoying The Moment Without Cravings

While stuck in addiction I could never stop thinking about using and it controlled my every waking moment. I would constantly be thinking about how to use, how to get money to use, where to use or be using. Or I may be caught up with the consequences of my using, how to get out of trouble for using or how to get out of a fix caused by my using.

There was never a moment that went by that was not taken up with my addiction.

Today I hardly ever think of using and I spend my time living my life and enjoying precious moments. I spend time with my children, I can focus on my work and I can enjoy the company of my husband, my friends and my family.

Sleeping drunk

Living Without Fear And Shame

I remember how I used to wake up every morning. With a wave of nausea and a pounding head then a feeling of panic as I wonder what day it is and whether I need to be at work, am I late. There were times I opened my eyes and with horror realized I didn’t even know where I was or how I got there.

If you are an addict you know this feeling well.

Now every day I wake up it is calmly, without fear, shame, guilt or feeling like I need to go to the hospital to have my stomach pumped. I am clear headed, happy and ready for the day.

Looking back I can see clearly how much stress I was putting myself under, not just the obvious physical damage to my body but the emotional turmoil too.

I can drive through a road block without fear, walk through a shopping mall without hanging my head in shame and trying to dodge people. I can look people in the eye again, but more importantly I can face myself and look myself in the eye.

What A Money Saver

Binge drinking and taking drugs costs a fortune, plus you also need to factor in things like the cost of being evicted, crashing your car, losing your job and even possibly court cases. This is not cheap.

Being sober means you can budget and you will not be spending a fortune to wreck your life.

Drinking and Driving

Isn’t Life Boring Without Drugs and Alcohol?

Yes the first year or two felt boring, I won’t lie to anyone about that. It felt like I was missing out on so much and I wanted to go party!

Now I love my “boring” life. My life revolves around my little family – my husband and my two young children. On Friday afternoon I walk my kids to the shop and give them their pocket money to buy their sweets. We come home and choose a movie for the evening before they have their bath. My husband picks up 2 pizzas on the way home. Then we all watch a movie while eating pizza. My kids stay up late (or so they think… I actually just switch their routine around to confuse them) and eat their sweets after the pizza is finished.

On Saturday nights I feed my kids and put them to bed before hubby and I have a steak braai and I make hot chips. Then we watch our movie – its like a regular date night, but we don’t go out.

On Sundays we spend the day as a family.

I have a friend that I sometimes have coffee with during the week. Yes coffee… and I love it.

I work from home in the mornings before picking my kids up from playschool and I spend the afternoon at home with them. I am a mom in the afternoons. I’m not the perfect mom, but I am present and I am sober. I am a good mom.

This life may sound incredibly boring to an addict, it would have sounded terribly boring to me when I was using but the truth is that I love my life. I love the quietness of it. I love spending time at home with my family. There is nothing else I need in my life. I crave for nothing.

My absolute favorite part of my week is walking my kids to the shop to buy their sweets. I remember my dad taking me and my two sisters to the shop every Saturday morning to buy our sweets. It was the highlight of our day and a cherished tradition.

I am so grateful that I am sober and I can create lasting memories for my children that they will cherish when they are adults.

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Introducing The First Layer – by Freddie van Rensburg

I am so excited to introduce you to The First Layer by Freddie van Rensburg. I ordered my book last week and it arrived in the post this morning.

One of the reasons I am so excited to have received this book is that I was in treatment with Freddie 9 years ago and it is amazing to look back now and see how far we have both come – the hard work and all the healing. Freddy is now a counselor and brings out regular podcasts on his website which you can access here.

Freddie is a gentle and kind person with an amazing sense of humor, and I can see him making an incredible counselor that has wonderful insight into people.

The First Layer is a 12 step work book that will take you through the 12 steps in 21 days, which is a great thing for newbies to recovery and an oldie like me that gets tired of working the same stepwork book!

Read more about The First Layer here.

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The Hidden Benefits Of Overcoming Your Addiction

We all know about many of the leading headline benefits of overcoming an addiction to drugs. It is often these that we will think of if we are trying to encourage ourselves on the road to recovery. But there are also many hidden benefits to overcoming addictions, ones which are either hard to appreciate or rarely spoken about. We can expect to gain from focusing on these a little, as doing so will encourage us even further to continue our journey towards sobriety. To that end, here are a few of the best-hidden benefits you can expect from overcoming your addiction.

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Increased Motivation For Other Purposes

Overcoming any addiction and reaching a true state of sobriety is always a huge accomplishment, and something that inevitably goes along with that is a feeling of renewed motivation. It takes a lot of motivation and willpower in the first place to get sober, and when you succeed you realise that you are capable of more than you had previously thought. One significant result from this is that you can then apply that newfound willpower to other areas of your life. This could be another addiction which you have meant to deal with, or it might just be something as simple as choosing to watch less television. When you lose your habit, you gain a great ability to apply an improved motivation to all others aspects of your life.




Improved Oral Health

So many addictive substances are harmful for the teeth, and it, therefore, follows that giving them up is going to help your oral health along nicely. Specific addictions are particularly bad for your teeth, of course. If you are trying to quit smoking, for instance, you will find that doing so will dramatically improve the hygiene of your teeth and gums. You might even ask your local dentist to book you in with the hygienist, just to really make the most of it. When you look in the mirror and see that newfound bright smile, it’s sure to remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and give you the strength to carry on.

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Mental Clarity

Many addictions have a way of dumbing down the mental faculties but often do so in such a gradual manner that you don’t even notice it happening. Then before you know it, several years down the line, your mind is not what it used to be. The good news here, of course, is that you will re-discover how quick and precise your mind can really be once you finally get sober. This is a benefit that works to improve your life in other ways too, as having a clear head can help with pretty much everything else in life. Mental clarity will enable you to think in new and original ways, and it could spark an entirely new phase of your life.

These are just three hidden benefits to overcoming addiction, but there are plenty more besides. Focus on these, and you will find it much easier to carry on to the end.

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Hooked on Success – Why life is like Addiction Recovery

When a person starts out on the road to recovery from an addiction, the first steps are critical to success. It is during the first three months that most relapses occur. The former addict is clean and sober but not yet in the habit of doing the things a normal person does to avoid addiction.

Interestingly, success in life depends very much on the same skill set necessary to recover from addiction. Look at the programs of any successful treatment facility like The Recovery Village or the Swedish Medical Center and you will find an eerie similarity to the habits preached by Stephen Covey and Tony Robbins.

If success in life is as important to you as recovering from drug addiction, here’s some advice:

Write down your goals

Write down your goal

Make your goal concrete enough you can write it down. Then make a list of all the things that have to happen to get there. Prioritize the items. Which is most important? Which is second and third and so on? Consider a time-line as well. Which things need to happen first and which come later? Small, short-term goals are very important. Achieving them will let you see progress and provide something of an emotional reward.

Daily schedule

Make and keep a daily schedule

Making a schedule for yourself is not the same thing as staying busy. It is part of your plan to take the baby steps necessary to achieve the giant leaps in getting what you really want out of life. It is important at first to schedule in absolutely every little thing you will do every minute of the day. These include the times you wake up, eat, exercise, work, spend time with family and friends, and sleep.

Schedule your so-called “free time” as well, whether it includes reading, sports, or hobbies. You don’t have “free time.” Time is precious and you can’t get it back once it is lost.

Education skills aquisition

Make education and skill acquisition a priority

What is your idea of success? It should be precise, detailed, vivid, and alluring. Do you want to be a doctor? What classes will you need to take? What subject matter will you need to master? What experience will help you achieve that? Never miss an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience that will help you on your way.




Find yourself a mentor

One of the most important things you can do is find a person who has travelled the same road you will. The advice and help of a mentor is beyond price and will keep you from making costly mistakes along the way and getting lost.

Create a safe space

Distractions are many and diverse. From TV to Facebook to friends who just want to hang out, there is no end to the time-wasting activities that will pull you away from your purpose in life. Everyone needs a space they can control and to which they can get away just to think and recharge their batteries. It may be your room or a bench in the park, but you need your own private get-away.

Get friends on board

Get your friends on board with you

Share your dreams of success with those closest to you and ask for their understanding and support in helping you get where you want to go. Help and encouragement from friends can be very valuable when you get discouraged and at the very least, stop being a distraction. Nobody truly succeeds at anything on their own. We all need the help of others.

Finally, reward yourself when you achieve something special. You’re worth it!

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