addiction and recovery

Self-Deception in Addiction and Recovery

Articles, Australia, Education, International, Malaysia, Treatment, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

We are all human and at times we will lie to ourselves and others. While this does not excuse the behavior, it is a reality of life. Unfortunately, we also tend to lie to ourselves, especially in addiction and in early recovery. Some of the lies and self-deceptions are obvious, some are not. One of the most common self-deceptions in recovery is that the addict has trust issues. While this may be true in some part, it is most likely that the one in recovery has issues trusting themselves and their own judgment. This means that those in recovery have to work on learning to trust themselves and understand that trusting others will come in time. There are ways to build trust, but first we must understand how we fool ourselves and develop self-deception.

Those in active addiction and typically in the beginning stages of recovery use rationalization, justification, and minimization to deal with what is happening. These may be used to make sense of addiction. Saying things like I only use because of my past or because my parents were addicts or even because I am in pain are all excuses. Even if there is truth in the statement, these are not reasons to stay with an addiction.

One must learn that though self-deception is not usually a conscious effort it can be changed. One way to remember self-deception is with the acronym DENIAL. DENIAL stands for Don’t Even Know I’m Always Lying (to myself). When we make the conscious effort to change it is as simple as paying attention to our thoughts and statements. In fact, saying things out loud can often force us to realize how little the things we are thinking making sense. Candor is key to success in recovery. This is not just for yourself but also candor and rigorous honesty with others. Addiction is wrought with lies and half-truths, recovery is a chance to come clean and start over. Learning to be candid and practice honesty in all situations is tough at first, but it does get easier.

As you grow in recovery you can pay it forward and help others, this will help you become even stronger. In the early stages of recovery it may be hard to be honest with yourself and others. But it is very important. This is not to hurt you or others. But to help you live your life out loud and keep you honest in recovery. In active addiction we are surrounded and hidden in lies. Many deny having a problem but most also lie to obtain money, drugs, or alcohol to keep the habit fed. This all has to stop in recovery.

Also during recovery we can take the opportunity to come clean with others so life can move forward without the lies and secrets that kept the habit going. There is a chance that people in your life will not accept the truth well, but this journey is about you, not others. Learn to be true to yourself and honest with others, it will increase your chances of staying in recovery long term. Are you willing to be honest to start your life over?

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The Process of Learning to Love Yourself

The Process of Learning to Love Yourself – Part Three

Articles, Australia, Education, International, LGBTQ, Malaysia, Treatment, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

In part-one of this series, we told you it is important to learn to love yourself in recovery. In  part-two, we outlined the process of practicing self-love and explained that love is an action. Now, we’ll give you some actions you can take for how you can actually learn to love yourself.

#1 Continue To Stay In Recovery – One Day At A Time

As you grow in recovery, so will the love you have for yourself. Every day that you stay sober or refrain from unhealthy sex, you are acting in self-love. Engaging in addiction is engaging in self-hatred and self-destruction. Make the commitment every day that you are going to work on your recovery and you are already halfway there.

#2 Change The Way You Talk To Yourself

Changing the way you talk to yourself has to be deliberate and intention. It won’t come easy at first. You are going to have to be vigilant in paying attention to your thought life and replacing self-defeating thoughts with loving, empowering ones.

For example, when you look in the mirror and think, “I’m so ugly!” change that thought immediately to “I am so beautiful. Look at my eyes!” If you think “I am such a loser,” replace that thought with “I am so proud of myself that I am working on self-improvement!”

This will feel strange at first. You won’t believe the new thoughts you are thinking. But, before long, you will start noticing how uncomfortable it is to talk down to yourself. Your awareness will shift and you will start filling your own head with positive affirmations. It really works!

#3 Become Aware Of Behaviors That Harm You And Commit To Changing Them

Notice what kind of things you are doing to yourself that are unhealthy. Do you smoke cigarettes? Do you cut yourself? Do you hit yourself? Do you destroy your own property? When you do things that hurt you, you are not being loving towards yourself. Remember, recovery is about more than just ceasing addictive behaviors. It is about an active change in other behaviors as well.

Don’t feel overwhelmed. We are not asking you to give up your other coping skills until you are ready. We are simply asking you to become aware of your negative coping skills and encouraging you to make the commitment to change them – one day, when the time is right. Just by doing this, you will be amazed at how quickly your desire to be more loving to yourself will begin to take hold. Suddenly, those old behaviors won’t feel so good.  

 #4 Stay Away From Negative People

One of the most unloving things you can do for yourself is to keep company with toxic people. If you are in relationships with people who make you feel bad about yourself, stay away from those people. Surround yourself with people who build you up and empower you. It is better to be alone than in bad company. When you love yourself, you only associate with people who love and cherish you in return. By cutting out negative people and replacing them will supportive ones, you are expressing a great deal of self-love.  

#5 Be Kind To Yourself And Treat Yourself Well

When you love yourself, you take care of yourself. You eat healthy and you get exercise. You get plenty of sleep. You tend to your physical and mental well-being. You do things that make you feel good about you. This may include buying yourself nice clothes or taking yourself out for a nice meal. It might mean taking a hot bubble bath. It could mean painting yourself a picture or writing yourself a poem.

Find out what you can do for yourself that makes you feel loved and do it!

Remember, Learning To Love Yourself Is A Process

After years of abusing yourself in your addiction, learning to love yourself will take time. That’s okay! Give time time. Don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up because you aren’t loving yourself. This isn’t loving!

The more you practice self-love, the more comfortable it will feel and the more you will want to do it. Just remember: stay in recovery (one day at a time), change the way you talk to yourself, become aware of behaviors that harm you and commit to changing them (one day!), stay away from negative people, and be kind to yourself. Soon, loving yourself will become a natural state of being.  

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learning to love yourself

The Process of Learning to Love Yourself – Part Two

Articles, Australia, Education, International, LGBTQ, Malaysia, Treatment, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

In part one of this series, we talked about how important it is to learn to love yourself. In this blog post, we will outline the process of practicing self-love.

How Do You Start The Process of Learning To Love Yourself?

The first step in learning to love yourself is coming to an awareness that you don’t already. This is usually a very painful realization, but it is a necessary one. Self-awareness is always the first step to changing a deeply engrained behavior or altering your current state of being.

Most people realize they don’t love themselves when they really start paying attention to how they talk to themselves. If you have nothing but negative things to say to yourself about yourself, you probably don’t love yourself.

Are you constantly telling yourself that you are fat, stupid, bad, worthless, useless or ugly? Do you call yourself names like idiot, loser, moron, monster, or failure? Are you mean to yourself in your own head? Are you very unforgiving of yourself when you make a mistake? If so, you may have a deeply rooted negative self-image that doesn’t reflect self-love.

If you want to begin the process of learning to love yourself, start paying attention to what you are saying to yourself. When you realize you don’t love yourself, you will suddenly feel very uncomfortable, which will motivate you to want to learn how.   

To Love Yourself, You Have To Understand What Love Is

The second step to learning to love yourself is to define love.

Most people who have had problems with addiction do not really know what love is. They almost always confuse love with infatuation, obsession, great sex, or feelings of elation. But, these are not demonstrations of real love. Real love is much deeper.

Furthermore, when most people think of the word love, they almost always associate it with romantic love. They think of finding “the one,” falling in love, getting married, and living happily every after. But it is important to understand that love is not limited to romance. To learn to love yourself, you have to start relating to the concept of love in a different way. 

The reason why so many people are confused about love is that we overuse the word. We say we love French fries, or we love drugs and alcohol, or we love sex. We seem to equate love with a strong liking for something. When we want more and more of the feeling something or someone gives us, we think we must love it/him/her. But, the truth is that we don’t love French fries, or drugs and alcohol, and sex. We enjoy the way they make us feel.  

The thing is, love is not a feeling. Love is an action.

To Practice Self-Love, You Must Get Into Action

In the process of learning to love yourself, you first have to understand that you don’t love yourself so you will become motivated to change. Then, you have to come to understand that love is an action. Finally, you have to go about the business of practicing self-love through action.

Be sure to check out the third and final part to this series – The Process of Learning to Love Yourself – Part Three where you will learn how to practice self-love. 

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Kratom Use and Abuse

Kratom Use and Abuse

Articles, Australia, Education, Malaysia, Treatment, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

As the opioid addiction epidemic has grown all over the world, a number of things have emerged as potential alternatives to illegal and dangerous drugs like heroin and prescription opioids. In the United States there has been a growth in the availability and use of the herbal substance known as kratom. Although the federal government has sought to classify kratom as an illegal substance. There has been considerable push back on this issues from citizens and even from some medical professionals. Just what is kratom?

Kratom is a tree-like plant indigenous to Southeast Asia. Its botanical name is Mitragyna speciose, and it has been used by people in this region of the world as both a stimulant and as an analgesic pain reliever. As with so many folk remedies, the plant found its way into widespread use and can be abused in sufficient amounts. Kratom has been banned in Thailand, Maylasia, and Myanmar allegedly for its potential for abuse.

Research on the chemical in kratom which produces the desired effects is still extremely limited. What is available is largely anecdotal. Kratom can produce some of the same feelings as opoid drugs if taken in high enough doses. The side effects from this kind of use seem to minimal. They include nausea, anxiety, and constipation.

Both the promise and the danger of kratom is that the alkaloid chemical which produces the effects users are after follows similar neuro-pathways as opioids. These chemical attach to the neurotransmitters which allow for a rush of endorphins and other chemicals. Chemicals which induce a feeling calm and also alleviate pain and anxiety. These are the same neuro-pathways which are activated by opioids. However, kratom does not seem to cause the same sorts of addictive neurochemical issues as opioids. It is not addictive in the same way as opioids and some researchers believe kratom may actually be a potential treatment for opioid addiction.

The danger here for anyone who faces addiction of any kind is that the mere presence of a chemical in the body. Chemicals which alter the way one feels and alters brain chemistry in a way the effectively makes you “high” can be a potential danger. If someone is wrestling with addiction. They need to seriously consider whether or not is makes sense to take any mind altering substance no matter how safe that substance may seem to be. It is the fact of compromising ones state of mind which could be the factor one needs to weigh.

There is much left to be determined on the safety and potential therapeutic use of kratom. Authorities in the United States are trying to regulate kratom as a schedule I narcotic. Researchers and users are battling this regulation. There is a serious debate around the world about the safety of kratom. For the time being, anyone who has an issue with substance abuse would probably be better served to not use anything that induces something akin to intoxication. The risk of going down the road back to active addiction is too great to experiment with untested and unknown substances.

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The Grieving Process

Overcoming Grief In Recovery – Part Three

Articles, Australia, Education, International, LGBTQ, Malaysia, Treatment, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

This is part-three in a three-part series about overcoming grief in recovery. In parts one and two, we talked about how the loss of a loved one is especially difficult for those in recovery and we discussed the five stages of grief. Now, we’re going to give you some helpful tips about how to undertake the grieving process without relapsing.

# 1 – Give Yourself Permission To Grieve The Loss of a Loved One

One of the most important things you can do while you are dealing with the loss of a loved one is to give yourself permission to grieve. Many people don’t do this. They try to push away their sadness and disbelief. They try to will away their pain or stuff it down and bottle it up inside. This is not effective when trying to overcome grief.

Tell yourself, “I give myself permission to grieve. I recognize this is going to be a painful process and it is going to take some time. I will honor my thoughts and feelings as I come to accept the loss I am experiencing.”

Doing this is a personal acknowledgement of your current state of being and a demonstration of your commitment to stay in recovery while you grieve.  

#2 – Feel Your Feelings Without Trying To Escape Them   

Grief is painful. There is no way around this unfortunate fact of life. No one wants to experience the gut-wrenching sadness, anger, bewilderment, and confusion that accompany the loss of a loved one. However; feeling feelings is a necessary component to overcoming grief.

Many people relapse during the grieving process because they want to escape the pain – not realizing that using drugs or alcohol or acting out sexually will only make the pain worse. While you will certainly want to escape the pain of loss, the only way to overcome it is to walk through it, feel it, and continue to confront it until it subsides.

# 3 Build A Support System 

While no one can take your pain away from you or feel it for you, you can find great comfort in a support system. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you will ensure that you don’t become overwhelmed with loneliness and desperation as you undergo the grieving process.

It may be a good idea to join a grief support group so you can share your experience and find strength in the company of other grieving people. You may even consider seeing a therapist to guide you through the stages of grief. Having people in your life you can lean on while you reorient yourself to your new reality will help you stay committed to your recovery program.

#4 Keep Your Routine

When you are confronted with the loss of a loved one, it may seem like you can’t go on with life. You may feel like you are falling apart and simply cannot deal with the responsibilities of daily living. However; it is important to keep up with your daily routine. Go to work or school. Continue to maintain self-care like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, etc. Eat properly. Maintain your household. Exercise. Do what you can to take care of yourself and focus on your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Maintaining a daily routine will help keep you grounded.

Remember, Grief Doesn’t Last Forever – It Will Pass

Although the grieving process can feel like it will never end, it will. Sure, there will always be an empty spot in your life where your loved one used to be. You will always miss them. But, you will become accustomed to the fact that they are gone and you will move into acceptance. The tears and the pain will subside. Life will go on.

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