A special holiday bonus blog from one of our Café RE members!
Holiday Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks
By: Adrienne (Café RE GO)
The holidays are coming and everyone is drinking….Sending out an SMS (Save My Sobriety)!!
We’ve all been there. The annual holidays set in and the only non-drinkers are you and the kids!
The question you may be asking yourself is…
How do I stay strong when the holiday vibe is booming and everyone is in party mode celebrating all that we have to be grateful for?”
To reframe this question I would ask…
How do I honor myself and my goals of sobriety in this time of annual appreciation for myself and my loved ones?”
How do I want to celebrate in a way that is relaxing, Fun (Rule 22 here from Café RE), and supports me feeling great in the moment and the following day?
Play the tape forward and then imagine yourself remembering the gathering; how do you want that to look or feel?
What tools will I bring with me to keep me accountable to the life I want to live? (The tools are different for everyone.)
For me, I bring my smartphone so I can stay close to my supports (Café RE peeps). I bring AF drinks (Athletic Brewing Co., Run Wild NA beer is a favorite). I bring an open mind. I’ve even brought my list of my why’s before tucked in a back pocket. And I bring an exit plan. The exit plan is my trap door and it’s a must. This could include me just leaving the party without saying I’m doing so, I may tell someone close to me that I’m out, or I may do the long goodbye; you know the one with all the hugging :).
What do I say if they offer me a drink or ask why I’m not drinking? There are several ways to come at this.
You can bring your own drinks, if it’s an AF beer odds are they won’t even notice that you aren’t actually drinking the poison (I’ve tested this one out). If offered a drink; “sure I’ll have a water”.
If further probing into why you aren’t drinking stick to the facts. You could say your not drinking anymore, you could say you are driving, you could say you aren’t drinking tonight. The secret to this scenario is you are more invested in what’s going on with your path than they are. Most people don’t really want the laundry list of your alcohol history. They want to know, are you in or are you out. Odds are they won’t even care what your ingesting once they are in the haze.
If things get awkward change the subject, use the bathroom to regroup, put your needs first, and if all else fails…trap door my friend.
Buuuuut….What if they think I’m boring?. First, who are they specifically? Is there really a they or is it just your inner dialogue trying to sabotage you with old thought patterns?
Listen….YOU ARE NOT BORING! You are your beautiful, authentic, one and only self! Sober life is anything but boring.
Buuuuut…What if they think I’m judging them or they are bummed I won’t drink with them?
Oh that’s right, the people pleasing!
I know it well friends. If I do the thing they want then they will like me, think I’m cool, and/or want to hang out with me.
Maybe that’s all true, but is it worth compromising your own comfort for theirs?
In the moment this may be uncomfortable but I’m asking you to stay with it. Exposure to our fears/triggers and staying the course is important field work to success. Every time you overcome a situation with your own tools for change and growth you get stronger! Each time you succeed you are gaining experience to draw from that proves that you can navigate life and socialize sober! You learn who is an ally in your life, who to put your energy toward, and who you want to develop relationships with.
On this holiday season my wish for you is that you put your needs first, protect your sobriety, be gentle with yourself, and please listen and honor yourself. I hope you find all the joy that exists with your family and friends
Today’s blog entry is from Dustin Wade, who has been a member of Café RE since March 2021. Dustin has been alcohol free since January 30, 2020. He is very active within his Café RE UP group and on our community chats.
Towards the end my drinking progressed to the point that I started drinking as soon as I woke up. I knew this was taking me down a dark path.
This behavior started when I was newly divorced, single and could do whatever I wanted. Why not start drinking first thing in the morning? Fast forward, now in a relationship (with my now new bride!) I would have an hour or two to sneak some in before she woke up, and the sneaky behavior began!
My drinking continued at work, filling various water bottles with wine, beer, and vodka to drink in my office. Going out to lunch, and sitting at the bar to drink more. I would keep the buzz going until I went home. Then I would try and hide the fact that I had been drinking all day. Oh, then there were days I would lie about working late and hit the bar again on the way home.
My car got towed one time and I lied about having to ‘work even later’ so I could get it out of the impound lot. With the drinking all day, that meant I did a lot drinking while driving, and never thought twice about it! While at the same time judging others who did it too.
Day after day, the shame ran deep.
Shame kept me drinking for far too long, and my drinking routine caused some significant weight gain. It embarrassed me. I was always the skinny kid growing up, so I felt like everyone was judging me. Growing up my family didn’t open up and talk about our struggles. This contributed to me letting the shame of drinking build up inside. Eventually, all the lying and drinking all day caught up with me and I had to face the music. When my fiancé found some hidden alcohol I had to share what had been building up inside for so long. Unable to hide behind a lie, I had to tell her how much I was drinking. Finally talking about this big secret I’d kept for so long I felt some burden being lifted. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do!
I had always known that day was going to come. Part of me wanted it to happen this way, and part of me wanted to go out with a big rock bottom. A few days later, I stepped into an IOP (intensive outpatient program) and shared my shame of abusing alcohol with total strangers. Once I did it was like something reached into me and lifted this huge burden buried deep inside. I wept. It was so emotional hearing the words that I had a problem with alcohol come out of my mouth.
I quickly learned how powerful sharing shame could be.
Sharing shame can come in many forms, and you may want to know who your audience is before sharing. It might be with loved ones, close friends, AA meetings, your sponsor, therapists, rehab programs or publicly, like on the RE Podcast. It might be a post in a private Café RE group or a share on a Café RE chat.
A big share for me was doing the Café RE member spotlight, where I shared my story with the group.
Along the way, I was listening to other shares, and with everyone, there was something that resonated with me, and comforting to know I wasn’t alone. For this reason, I continue to share, because you never know who may need to hear what you have to say. What I realize now, is that I have shared shame is safe places, and I knew the audience. I think this is important to note.
There is a lot out there on sharing shame. Here is an excerpt from psyche.co website about sharing shame: ‘Sharing about our shame can help us realize that others will accept us despite self-perceived flaws. Further, sharing often provides a space where others open up and actually relate to our experiences, which decreases the sense of aloneness and can increase our trust in opening up to others.’
This last part of the quote really hits home, the decrease in a sense of aloneness has been huge for me, and bright spot in my recovery. Likewise, my increased trust in opening up to others has allowed me grow and learn. There was certainly no growth when I just bottled things up inside, with no outlet other than drinking.
I will leave you with this quote by author Ann Voskamp, ‘Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.’
Have you shared your shame?
Today’s blog entry is from Paulette Vantrease, who has been a member of Café RE since July 2023. Paulette has been alcohol free since March 22, 2023 and is active within her Café RE OG community.
“I blamed covid for leaving nursing, but alcohol addiction forced me when I lost my license.”
I stood on a stage about to give a speech to a few hundred festival attendees, I hated speaking in front of a crowd; I still do. But the topic was about something I knew personally, and I had lived it for many months. I felt a sense of comfort and pride in what I was going to say. Writing the speech and practicing it out loud was cathartic. I hoped I could sincerely convey all the emotions I felt up to and on that day. My head was clear, my heart full, and I was sober for several weeks that day.
On September 11, 2021 I was asked by an acquaintance to speak at a festival. Asked to speak about my experience as a nurse in the emergency department during the pandemic. The worst of covid had passed by then though fear and caution remained throughout our community and much of the country. My focus was on what I saw and lived through in the ER, dealing with non-believers (including a few of my own siblings back home), and the raw emotions felt during and still to that day whenever I thought of those difficult shifts in the hospital.
What I omitted in that speech was my struggle with alcohol throughout the entire span of the pandemic.
As ER nurses…
As ER nurses we deal with people every shift who are at their very worst: mildly or critically ill or injured, in psychiatric crisis, actively dying, and just about everything else you can imagine. We are hardcore adrenaline junkies who thrive on the chaos the department gives us. We willingly work in an environment no one wants to be, most certainly the patients.
The article “Alcoholism and Medical Professionals” states that 10-12% of healthcare professionals will develop a substance abuse disorder during their careers, including 1 in 5 nurses. It also states that the numbers are likely even higher due to vast underreporting. Drinking is the norm after a shift, most certainly after a particularly difficult one. Us night shift workers would often leave the hospital in the morning to go have “breakfast” at a local restaurant that served alcohol after 8:00 am. Food was often only an option.
To say alcoholism is rampant among healthcare workers, especially those in critical care areas, is an understatement. Alcohol is an easy outlet to numb the mind and body after desperately trying to save a young car crash victim only to watch him ultimately slip through your fingers. For me personally, drinking became my daily therapy session.
My first successful attempt at sobriety began in late May 2018.
I had been drinking daily and much to my shame and guilt even before work to feel somewhat normal. As William Porter describes in his book “Alcohol Explained,” our brains are essentially hijacked by alcohol and eventually we need to drink in order to simply function normally. It had got to the point where unless I drank my anxiety was unmanageable. I would begin to withdraw from the effects of alcohol. And eventually withdraw I did. Hard.
As a nurse I took care of detoxing patients and knew all too well how dangerous it could be. So, on a trip out of town with a dear friend that May afternoon the symptoms began on the car ride and though I was completely in denial, I could not get to a hospital fast enough. It scared me shitless. In the ER as my blood pressure read 200s over 100s and my heart rate 180+, I admitted to the doctor that I had been on a very long bender and stopped cold turkey a few days prior. When he ordered 2 mg of Ativan, I believe the relief on my face was visible to everyone in the room, and as it entered my veins the calming effect was almost immediate.
I could not deny any longer what was happening.
The phrase “scared straight” entered my mind and stayed there for a very long time. Looking back on and remembering the physical symptoms of withdrawal kept me sober for over 20 months. In the hospital I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, had a cardiac catheterization, and put on a regimen of medications for my heart, blood pressure, and lingering withdrawal symptoms. I entered an outpatient program and went to my very first AA meeting. One would think that all of this would have kept me sober for the rest of my life. But sheer determination without any plan in place only lasts so long.
Complacency in sobriety is like a bomb waiting to go off, and mine was ticking away the hours. For months I had been planning a dream vacation to Hawaii. I was set to go in early 2020. By then I had stopped going to AA blaming it on work constraints and subconsciously knew that I would drink there. The memory of detoxing had faded and the trip of a lifetime by myself was meant to be epic. The relapse there was epic as well. Queue explosion.
When I returned from Hawaii covid had begun to make waves as an up-and-coming new deadly virus. I had reached out to an old AA friend and somehow got back on track into sobriety. It didn’t last long. Covid hit with full force along with my drinking. I had countless attempts at sobriety throughout the pandemic however I simply could not sustain any stretches for long. It was a very dark time period for so many people including those of us trying to get and stay sober. Looking back, it is a blur of dying patients, daily chaos, uncertainty, and alcohol to numb it all.
In the summer of 2021 I was introduced to an online community called, “The Luckiest Club”. By then I had given up on AA but knew I needed something, anything to help me get sober. The spiral down to daily drinking had its grasp on me and I was completely powerless. TLC was like a breath of fresh air for me. I had heard of different types of recovery programs such as SMART recovery, Sober Sis, Recovery Dharma, and the like. But this was unique, and I immediately fell in love with the forum. I attended the online zoom meetings, joined subgroups that interested me and began to raise my hand and speak in meetings, which I never did in AA. I was sober again and felt incredible.
During the speech I gave that September day in 2021 all the emotions and memories of covid came crashing back. A state politician was there listening to me and stopped me as I was leaving to thank me for my service. He said you could hear a pin drop while I was on the stage which at a music festival was quite the feat. Several other attendees thanked me, shook my hand, and even hugged me. In hindsight I knew I should have reached out to someone, anyone from TLC or AA or my friend who drove me to the hospital back in 2018. Instead, I ended up at the liquor store. I got obliterated at home. The old wounds were ripped open, raw, and I wanted to eliminate the pain. STAT.
The rest of 2021 and 2022 was a continuous cycle of drinking. I was depressed. My drinking made my depression worse. I tried numerous times to quit and even had a few stretches of sobriety interspersed. By then I had lost my nursing job and my license due to alcohol and was floundering with what to do with my life. In spite of admitted to a psychiatric hospital a couple of times for suicidal ideation the drink had me in its grasp. If there was a rock bottom, I think I hit it more than once.
I took my last drink on March 22, 2023. The same day, I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. I didn’t have a job. I was living with my son drinking away the days, foolishly thinking I was cleverly hiding it from the world. Upon my release I rejoined TLC, attended as many meetings there as I could, and immersed myself in reading and re-reading books such as “Quit Like a Woman” by Holly Whitaker, “Alcohol Explained” by William Porter, “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace and several others. I recently began listening to podcasts and joined Recovery Elevator as well. I now listen to several a day. Paul Churchill’s interviews on the Recovery Elevator Podcast are my new daily therapy. I place more tools in my sobriety toolbox as I discover them.
Today, October 15, 2023, I am 207 days sober, and it is the longest stretch since 2020. I have found community and fellowship in TLC and Café RE. I have reached out to other members and met them in person. We text or talk on the phone, or message each other on the forum. I have a therapist who specializes in addiction who helps to guide me along in this journey. What the future holds or if I will remain sober, I do not know. I am unsure if I will, or even can, return to nursing. As cliché as it sounds, I take one day at a time. Everything feels right though, as if the universe finally put everything in place, and it feels amazing. It IS amazing.
Peace, Love, & Joy
Today’s blog entry is from Amanda McLean, who has been a member of Café RE since November 2019. Amanda has been alcohol free since March 26, 2019 and is very active within her Café RE GO community.
“Another day one, I’m such a loser.”
“I’ve ruined everything.”
“I’ll never get sobriety to stick.”
In my journey with alcohol abuse and recovery, these are just a few common mantras that run through my mind. I am someone who chronically struggles with self-judgment and negative self-talk. I know that my inner critic can be harsh and unforgiving. Since our thoughts drive our emotions, this unrelenting internal talk leads to painful feelings including anxiety, sadness, and low self-esteem. For many people, this self-hatred inner monologue and the associated feelings can lead to relapse or other forms of damaging behaviors. In my personal recovery journey, I have learned that being kind and supportive to myself during times of suffering is critical in maintaining my sobriety in recovery.
Avoidance is the Enemy
As Paul states in Recovery Elevator Episode 274 – I Feel Your Pain “In order to shift stagnant energy inside of us, we have to talk about our emotions.” Avoiding our thoughts and feelings never ends the way that we hope it will. And experts agree that one of the contributing factors to addiction is avoidance. As a person in recovery, I am guilty of minimizing, invalidating, and negating my feelings. But the more we avoid distress or attempt to suppress it, the worse it becomes. The more energy we use to push emotions like anxiety or anger away, the more powerfully those emotions come back toward us.
Another disadvantage of avoidance is that our bodies interpret avoidance as proof of danger, and this signals our internal alarm system. When my internal alarm system is activated, I often crave something to soothe my nervous system. Historically, I used and abused alcohol to calm my painful emotions. Although this solution proved to be immediate, it came with long term undesirable consequences including more painful emotions and negative self-talk. And thus, the cycle continued.
Start with Validation
Rather than avoiding negative self-talk and painful feelings that we would rather not face, we need to make a shift. We need to remember that the thought and the feeling are not the enemy. We need to remind ourselves that our thoughts and feelings are allowed to be here. We can tolerate discomfort. This starts with noticing the thought and/or the feeling and then providing validation.
Validation is useful for addressing any uncomfortable thought or feeling. It starts with acknowledging or labeling the feeling. For example, “I feel like I fail at everything, and this feels rough” or “I feel like I can’t do anything right and my entire body is tense” or “My chest feels tight and I feel so anxious”.
Once we acknowledge what we are feeling, we can then tell ourselves why it makes sense that we feel this way. In other words, tell yourself the story about why it makes sense that you feel the way that you feel. For example, “It makes sense that this feels rough because I worked a long day and now I am cooking dinner for my family while my kids argue”, or “It makes sense that I feel like I can’t do anything right and I am tense because my boss just snapped at me”, or “It makes sense that I am feeling anxious because this is my daughter’s first day at her new school and I am scared she won’t make friends”.
I know that feeling. That feeling of shame. When I was abusing alcohol, I didn’t want anyone else to know the things I had done. This is exactly when we need self-compassion. Self-compassion reminds me that I made a mistake but that does not mean that I am fundamentally a bad person. I can separate my worth as a person from my behavior.
When I fail to validate and hold my feelings, when I shame myself, I cannot learn from my mistakes. Shaming myself through self-judgement and self-criticism shuts down the learning receptors in the brain. Shame freezes a person. Self-compassion allows me to acknowledge and validate my thoughts and feelings, commit to not making the mistake again, and then forgive myself.
Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, states that self-compassion is acting toward yourself the way you would act toward a cherished friend when you are having a difficult time, when you fail, or when you notice something that you don’t like about yourself. When something goes wrong or we have a difficult moment, avoiding or fighting against the suffering in that moment will only increase our anxiety, distress, and self-criticism. Self-compassion is a method for soothing or comforting our nervous system.
The 3 steps of Self-Compassion
When I was at the height of my alcohol abuse, waking up each morning feeling like a failure, the most common self-criticism that I heard in my head was, “I am such a loser”. More often than not, self-criticism caused me significant distress which led me to soothe my system with alcohol. In recovery, I have learned the value of self-compassion: giving myself kindness, care, and support.
Self-compassion involves three steps. First, I must hold the pain of my mistakes. This takes a lot of courage because I must acknowledge the pain I have caused myself and others. Second, I remember that pain and suffering are a part of being human and therefore other people have felt this way as well. I am not alone. Third, I must be kind to myself. Self-kindness means that I treat myself with sympathy, warmth, and patience.
Practicing these three steps may sound like, “I drank again and I was not present for my children and my husband. Other people struggle with repeated mistakes, and I am not the only person who has felt and experienced this pain. I have been through a lot this year and quitting alcohol is hard. AND I can do hard things.” From that space of openheartedness, I can do everything I can to commit to doing it differently in the future. This allows me to soothe my nervous system without using or abusing a harmful substance.
***By Amanda McLean; Café RE Go Group
Recovery Elevator is excited to offer a new type of blog experience to our readers! We are reaching out to our Café RE members and giving those that are interested the opportunity to be guest bloggers for our site. Think of it as a podcast interview in written form. You will get parts of their story along with tips and tools that they have found beneficial in their own recovery journey. Please let us know what you think, or perhaps topics you would like to see covered, in the comments.
Today’s blog entry is from Adrienne, who has been a member of Café RE since July 2022. Adrienne has been alcohol free since July 31, 2022 and is very active within her Café RE GO community.
Living on Sobriety
By: Adrienne (Café RE GO)
I sat down at the computer today and wondered what would my sober crew like to hear about; my past or my present?. I decided to give you a little bit of both; along with what has gotten me through a lot of the obstacle course known as alcohol (thank you Clare Pooley, The Sober Diaries for this analogy).
I got sober for the first time in 2005 when my husband (then boyfriend) got his second DUI. His experience with rehab and counseling lent itself to a lot of education surrounding alcohol. So much that when he came home from his seven day stay he had made the decision he needed to quit drinking, and thought that I might have some of the tendencies that he had learned about…to go from cucumber to pickle.
I was resistant; but after some time I quit with him. This lasted for 7-8 years. Our marriage, buying a home, and starting a family were some of the beautiful fruits of that decision.
Eventually we decided that we could start drinking again, here and there. I don’t remember the exact thing that prompted this, but what I do know is that it went from ‘here and there’ to full bore very quickly. Life went on like this for years. All of our friends with kids drank, all of my family still drank, so nothing really was amiss (that I knew of) to anyone outside of our home; we just appeared to love partying.
DO I HAVE A PROBLEM?
Do I have a problem? I would ask myself this question regularly searching for any answer that would allow me to maintain my lifestyle.
The 2AM heart palpitations, anxiety, depression, drinking every day after work or when I didn’t have to go to any function for our son, day drinking (even during the week when my son was at school). Everything revolved around drinking, and eventually I didn’t want to go anywhere because I could just stay home and drink and not be judged.
When there is alcohol in my life, there are no other activities.
I finally decided that I needed to stop drinking. This prompted a lot of day ones, 30 days here and there. I told my husband that I couldn’t live like this anymore. He continued drinking which made for a lot of internal confusion for me and so many questions.
Would our marriage survive if I stopped drinking? Would we grow apart? What will it be like?. I had a lot of anger toward him and was doing a lot of finger pointing; “I can’t do this if you don’t do this” and “why won’t you help me to do this?”.
These were valid questions, but what it really came down to was what kind of a life do I want to live? I had to look at things from an independent perspective rather than a “we” perspective. It was a do or die moment.
FORGING A WAY THROUGH
I started my sobriety journey for myself about 3 years ago. I started by reading quit lit and of course googling if I’m an alcoholic 100,000 times at 2AM. What I realized is that the label is irrelevant; the real question here is; Is alcohol causing problems in my life?
The answer was YES.
With the help of reading a ton of quit lit; specifically Annie Grace’s; This Naked Mind (which I’ve read at least 7 times) and an online group entitled One Year No Beer; I was able to quit for 18 months, but I still wasn’t sold that I could never drink again.
Somewhere there still remained this idea of myself as a normal drinker.
A weekend away with my husband was coming up. I was scared. What will it be like? We hadn’t been away together without my drinking in a long time. So I searched myself for the answer of if I could moderate; maybe I could just drink while on vacation together, and not drink at home.
That thought was all I needed to give myself the go ahead. As you could imagine that plan failed; and I continued drinking for about six months right back to the level that I had been before.
Somewhere in this time frame I came across Recovery Elevator podcasts and began listening, relating, and learning that I am not alone. There was something so intimate about the testimony people shared that had me nodding my head in total agreement. I knew that if I wanted to succeed I would need to connect with a community of like minded people; because friends, we cannot do this alone.
Today, I am 333 days into this journey; approaching my one year again. I’m coming to it from a stronger, more settled and balanced place. My life is fuller and happier. Life is still ‘lifey’. It still has its ups and downs; but I’m present for it all; making the sweet that much sweeter.
I’m excited for the future, to see what year two will bring, and to be there with you guys.
If I could leave you with two final thoughts: Connection is the opposite of addiction and pineapple does belong on pizza!
***Adrienne; Café RE Go Group
In our Dry January course, REstore, Paul teaches a class covering the different recovery modalities. The good news is that In 2023, there are more ways to ditch the booze than ever before. Even just 10 years ago recovery took place in church basements with bad coffee and shitty donuts, but today the landscape is much different.
**Side note, Paul still goes to an AA meeting, in a church basement with bad coffee. He’s not dawging that way of recovery, he loves his Tuesday night AA meeting, but there are so many more methods, programs, techniques…you name it…available today.
So which pathway is right for you?
A couple caveats before we begin.
Caveat 1. If you are READY then ANY pathway is going to work for you. If you’re truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, then any of these programs will work. In addition, you HAVE to give them a solid try.
Caveat 2 – There is no right or wrong way to quit drinking. We’re going to give some recommendations, but it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you.
When building your recovery portfolio you want this work to be 50% external – 50% internal. At first, the internal work may be too big of an ask, but as your nervous system settles down, you want to aim for a balanced split.
Here are some quick examples of what external vs internal is:
- Driving to an AA meeting, or hopping on a Café RE zoom chat
- Phoning a sober friend
- Working with a sponsor
- Reading quit lit
When building out your recovery pathway Paul recommends this 5 tiered approach. .
5 Tiered Approach
- Inner Peace
- Community – Let’s talk programs that are community focused.
A.A., Smart Recovery, Dharma Recovery, Life Ring, Women for Recovery, Café RE, The Lucky Club, Meetup.com, online sober communities, Reddit, talkingsober.com, our sober Ukulele Course, Dry January and Photo courses, phoning a sober friend, 1:1 Interaction within another person in recovery. Meeting with a counselor or therapist falls under this community approach.
All of these tiers are important but this one is a BIG ONE. In order for you to get the most out of this, you have to first burn the ships, with yourself, then with your community. Burning the ships = Accountability which then = Community.
Yoga, dance, music, ecstatic dance, hiking, stretching, running, swimming, drumming on your desk. Your body is meant to move. Chemicals of wellbeing, endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin are released when we move. 3x a week, for 20 min is a good starting point.
- Inner Peace/Creation
Meditation, breathwork, sunrises, sunsets, time spent in nature, time spent with animals, float tank, relaxing, chanting, journaling, inner child work, singing, playing music, painting, writing poetry. This is where you create your new life that no longer requires alcohol. One reason why pen to paper is so effective is you can’t write as fast as the mind can think, so it slows down the thinking mind.
About animals – their nervous systems are much more intact, or less frenzied than ours. Animals live life from the hearts opposed to their human counterparts who live mostly in thought. A recent study shows that similar amount of oxytocin is released when we hug a dog compared to when we hug a human. And flip side to that, oxytocin, or the love molecule is released in dogs, when we pet them. If you’re feeling fraught, visit a petting zoo or kick it with a pet. Human nervous systems can attune themselves to more stable nervous systems, even those of animals.
This is learning. This is empowering yourself with information. Podcasts, quit lit books, audiobooks, learn about healthy diets, learn about how the mind works. No you cannot read or listen yourself out of an addiction, but this is an important tier. Under this umbrella includes medicines both from the east and west. Perhaps Naltrexone, or the Sinclair method is something you may want to try. Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the euphoria response when we drink alcohol. Perhaps more shamanic approaches with medicines such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, San Pedro or Ibogaine may be right for you.
- The Universe
Lets get clear, this is not religion, but it is the spirituality component of recovery. One of the beautiful purposes of an addiction is it can flex the layers of the ego so much that they eventually snap…letting in what some will call their higher power.
When you say lines to yourself like, “I can’t live like this anymore.” The Universe is right there with you saying, “no problem, let me show you the way.”
Now go slow with the universe. This was the last of the five tiers to implement itself in Paul’s sobriety journey. This one most likely is on the universe’s clock and not yours. But be open, pay attention to the breadcrumbs of life and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or guidance from the universe at any time.
There’s a well remixed line that has been floating around for several thousand years. Ask and you shall receive.
To recap, 50% internal, 50% external and hit a couple things from the five tiers ,and you’ll be just fine.
Remember, your recovery is always changing, because you are. It should change. What you’re doing now should look different than what you were doing a month or year ago.
***Taken from Recovery Elevator Podcast, Episode 425, host Paul Churchill***