What Does Recovery Mean to Me?

hardshipsoften600There is so much debate about recovery these days…is it abstinence or can it be moderation management?  Does these use of medications such as methadone and suboxone mean that you are or aren’t in recovery?  Does using prescription or over-the-counter medication containing “banned” substances count as a relapse?

I think about this often as a person in long-term recovery and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have an answer for anyone else but myself.  I spent my first three or four years in recovery mainly not drinking…I don’t really think I was growing though.  If I  look back on that period of my recovery I don’t really think there was much of a change in my behaviour.  I continued to react to the world and the people in it in a largely  unhealthy way; I avoided difficult emotional situations and I think I spent a lot of time hiding from myself.

And then one day I started to really explore what recovery meant to me… I started reading, learning and expanding my knowledge.  I began to question my beliefs around addiction and what it meant to me to be in recovery.  I reevaluated my value system and what was important to me in my life…and then I started to see real change.  I begun to understand (for myself) that recovery wasn’t about whether I was checking the label of each and everything I put in my mouth as to whether or not it contained any alcohol or potentially addictive substance, but rather how I was growing and developing in my life.

What I began to realise was that hiding in dark corners at parties and get togethers in fear that someone may offer me a drink and then question my refusal, wasn’t me getting well…  I needed to take personal responsibility for my life and start doing some work.  It was the stage where I started to formulate what recovery means to me…  It wasn’t solely about whether I used drugs and alcohol in ANY form, but rather how I saw myself.  And suddenly the haze started to lift for me and it wasn’t about saying no to my addiction towards alcohol (and one or two risky associated behaviours), but rather saying yes towards my life.  And it was at that point in my recovery that it all started to make sense to me.

There was NO point sitting around and feeling that I had been dealt a dud hand, but rather that I needed to make the most of the hand that I had been dealt.  Everyone in active addiction and recovery has a story as to what brought them there, and none is less or more tragic than the next, just relevant to the teller.  So I actively began working o my recovery and stopped focusing on my substance abuse.  I started to look towards a bright, exciting future where so many things suddenly became possible, rather than lamenting the fact that I was “unable” to take part in a round of tequilas, a champagne toast or a seat at the wine tasting.  My vision started to broaden, my horizons started to look clear and inviting, and I stopped feeling like the awkward kid at the party who was desperate to fit in.

I started celebrating my clarity, exploring my possibilities and being grateful for the little successes in my life that I had long taken for granted.  I cherished early mornings, long lazy weekend afternoons free of hangovers, and I looked forward to guilt-free Monday mornings.  I stopped screening my calls, started practising gratitude and embraced the idea of personal, emotional, mental and spiritual development in a myriad of forms.

And then I knew what recovery meant to me…and I have known ever since.  To me it doesn’t mean passing on the delicious home-made tiramisu, but it does mean being honest with myself.  It means spending time on the things that are important to me, but also remembering the importance of others in my life.  It means owning my part in any situation (good or bad) and remembering that I don’t always get it right.  It means spending time with myself, constantly evaluating what I did well and what I can do better, and then using those learnings to improve on how I did things yesterday.  It means listening, watching, reading, exploring and investigating and it means NEVER getting complacent.

But these are my learnings and they have taken years to evolve and develop.  I don’t have the same beliefs around recovery as even some of my colleagues in the field of addiction, but as a Recovery Coach it is my quest to hold the space while others come to their own conclusions about what their recovery means to them and then walk beside them as they figure it all out…just like I did for myself.

Til next time,

Sober Something

Recovery is NOT Just Abstinence…

imagesOne of the very first questions I ask my clients when we start working together is “What do you understand about the idea of recovery?”  The answers vary, but most of them tend to talk about abstinence.  And for most people recovery does mean abstinence, but #RecoveryIsNOtJustAbstinence!  In my opinion, recovery certainly involves “STOPPING”, but in just “STAYING STOPPED” without the necessary personal growth and development, is extremely difficult if not impossible.  I speak to numerous people who talk of “white knuckling” their recovery for years and years, feeling lonely and isolated, almost hiding from the temptation that the outside world holds.

And the mere fact that I am working with these individuals normally means that they have had some sort of slip or relapse that has caused our paths to cross.  When we start to introduce the idea of #RecoveryCapital to our clients at The Foundation Clinic they are almost relieved to hear that life needn’t be all about trying to embrace sheer focus and willpower to overcome and manage their substance abuse disorder.  Recovery is about living a fulfilled and purposeful life, creating and building upon the emotional, mental, spiritual, social and spiritual resources in their lives.  Life and recovery become interchangeable, as we explore values and spiritual principles, equip clients with simple, practical tools for overcoming triggers and urges, goal set and action plan, and start to understand and embrace adult emotions.

Recovery is not about putting life on hold while we learn to deal with our disorder.  It’s about building a life that doesn’t leave space for the use of drugs and alcohol.  It’s about developing a healthy lifestyle and a positive self-esteem that makes us feel worthy of fulfilling personal and professional relationships.  It’s about a change in mindset, seeing the obstacles in life as a set of exciting challenges and opportunities for growth, rather than a set of potential pitfalls.  It’s about changing our negative self beliefs into those which support and assist us in life (and recovery) instead of negative thoughts, beliefs and actions ultimately leading to those very same negative self-fulfilling prophecies.  And it’s about self awareness and pursuing a conscious, present-focused existence that ensures we are living to our highest personal values, achieving the aspirations that we set out for ourselves and are intentionally pursuing through well-laid out action plans.

Recovery is not simply about putting down the harmful substances and then pretending that they don’t exist.  Recovery is about wanting and needing more from life, so that we are not restricted in our choices!  It’s about consciously and practively creating and developing the skills and the resources to go after a life that we believe we are worthy of…not being limited and imprisoned by drugs, a fixed mindset and a set of negative, limiting beliefs. #RecoveryIsNotJustAbstinence…#RecoveryIsLife..

For more information about Recovery Coaching and the development of #RecoveryCapital, please feel free to contact me | leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za.

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Now that I’ve stopped…how do I stay stopped!?

rope_bridgeI originally wrote this post for The Foundation Clinic, but wanted to share it here on my personal blog.  I hope you enjoy the post.

I meet so many people who have stopped!  Stopped drinking..stopped using drugs…stopped addictive behaviour…and they truly want to stay there.  But there is a vast divide, the Grand Canyon of good intentions, that separates wanting and doing.  I want to live a fulfilled and purposeful life, is a far cry from attaining that life.  It’s a great start, but in between the wanting and the doing is where the real work lies.  Who doesn’t want mature, healthy relationships with their spouse, kids, family and friends!?  A great job that you look forward to, even on a Sunday evening!?  Meaningful interests, hobbies and pastimes, that bring fun, adventure and balance into the everyday!?

There are not a lot of people who I  know that don’t want these (and more)…yet talking about something and actually doing it are extremely different!  So how does one bridge the divide and start to achieve these ideals?  A good place to start is reevaluating one’s values…those things that get me (and you) out of bed in the morning.  What feeds your soul, and makes you come alive?  What makes the hours of the day slip away unnoticed?  For me values are quite different from principles…  I don’t get out of bed to be honest and live with integrity, but rather to pursue my work as a Recovery Coach, spend time with my partner, study and live courageously.  My principles of honesty, integrity, courage and compassion (to name but a few) come into play as to how I undertake to live to these highest core values.

So in order to get from where I am at any present moment, towards where I want to be, takes practising my principles…and there are a couple I find extremely challenging.  Especially patience, forgiveness, acceptance and tolerance (of myself and others).  But armed with my little bag of principles and clear in my values, I take the initial steps towards closing the gap between wanting and doing.  Somehow, just this personal awareness and understanding of what guides my personal compass towards where I want to be, gets me that little bit closer.  Of course I need to be crystal clear in what it is that I am striving for…and I have to be extremely honest, willing and open about whether this is realistic and achievable for me, as well as the opportunities and obstacles that may exist!

So knowing my values, practising my principles and setting SMART (specific-measurable-achievable-realistic-timebound) goals are some of the ways that I managed to move from being stopped to staying stopped.  I also came to understand that stopping was not enough…I needed to build up a set of resources, #RecoveryCapital, that would support me in quest to stay stopped!  I needed to find activities, pursuits, undertakings, interests, hobbies (still battling with that one), and relationships that were supportive of me in recovery.  Because if recovery was going to be less exciting, fulfilling and meaningful than active addiction, what was the point?  And initially it was less exciting, less fun, less invigorating than drinking, dancing and general inebriated adventure.  But slowly, a step at a time, the journey started to unfold for me some of the greatest joy, love and fulfillment I had ever experienced.

The little things started to have more meaning than I could ever imagine…living in my integrity and showing up when I said I would show up was so much better than I believed it would be.  Being present in relationships and noticing what was going on with my loved ones has brought me countless blessings over the years.  Getting to know (and  love) myself, is one of the most fulfilling relationships I’ve ever had.  And it all starts with just a couple of practical, little actions.  The changes don’t happen overnight, the relationships don’t miraculously fix themselves from one day to the next, but armed with just a few tools, a whole lot of awareness (achieved through complete honesty with myself), a set of clear goals (even around what I wanted from my personal relationships), I have managed to walk across the bridge between stopping and staying stopped.

And there have been days when the bridge has been nothing more than some rope and some shaky planks, and others when it’s metal and concrete.  But I keep my focus firmly forward, not letting the past pull at my ankles like terrifying trolls that live on the river banks.  Because one of my biggest learnings has been that hanging onto the traumatic events of my past does not serve me.  I have taken the time to learn from them, but then I have thanked them for their teachings and laid them down along the road, so that they cannot sabotage me or what I want from my life.  I have stayed stopped by learning to say yes to certain people, places, thoughts, beliefs and parts of self and no to others.  I am not perfect, I don’t always get it right, but I have the conscious awareness to know when I am slipping into self-defeating thinking.  And that awareness is like a razor-sharp knife I use to cut the sneaky tendrils of guilt, shame, fear and blackness that sometimes endeavour to envelop me.

And so I continue to be vigilant as I move from being stopped to staying stopped, always equipped with by bag of tools should I need to mend part of my bridge, fortify an area of weakness or build up my inherent strengths.  It might just mean stopping and looking at the view from a different perspective, giving my values a good shake up, reevaluating my goals and action plans, or simply enjoying the slight swaying as life continues to become more fulfilling, exciting, purposeful and adventuresome than I could ever imagined before I stepped out of the mist, took my first step onto the bridge and started to narrow the distance between wanting and doing.

If you are interested in the tools I have learned, and share, as a Recovery Coach, please contact The Foundation Clinic for more information about our treatment and recovery programmes. You can call on (011)728-9200, email leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za or fill out the form below and we will contact you!

For more information about Treatment and Recovery Programmes visit www.thefoundationclinic.co.za

 

What is #RecoveryCapital?

#recoverycapitalAs a person in long-term recovery as well as a coach that works with individuals and groups around substance abuse and addictive behaviour disorders, I sometimes find the amount of ideas, thought, theories and models around addiction and recovery somewhat confusing!?  And the thing that I find the most overwhelming is that there seems to be way to much vying to be right and not nearly enough time taking the individual’s needs, wants and ideas into account when addressing their personal addiction journey.  Add a giant spoonful of guilt and shame on the part of the substance/behaviour abuser into the mix and it gets really messy and complex.  And don’t forget how much the average person on the street likes a neat little diagnosis so that they can put everything into some sort of perspective, and it gets even more complicated in my opinion.

The truth is that there are many reasons for addiction such as unresolved issues of guilt, shame and trauma, inability to change current situation, a false belief system and chemical imbalance.  So that’s what gets people into addiction where we develop habitual thought and behaviour patterns around using and doing, which we can justify and explain away for a while, but then inevitably things get bewildering and we decide to make some changes.  Whether this involves attending a 12-step meeting, entering a treatment program, making an appointment with the family doctor or visiting a recovery coach, we begin to realise that our lives are a little less stellar than we imagined they would be!  And those are all great steps to take in order to move from a culture of addiction into a culture of recovery.  By getting honest, open and willing we can begin our recovery journey.  But that’s just the beginning and too many people believe that 28 days in a treatment program, a couple of months in a fellowship or a prescription from their doctor is going to change everything.  The truth is that getting clean is one thing, staying clean is another.

The biggest challenge is making lasting changes to our thoughts and behaviour.  Learning new, healthy coping techniques, which don’t involve self medication, setting SMART goals and developing action plans to move forward in life.  Because often it’s safe and easy to stay where we are, doing the same things that we have always done, talking about what we don’t want to do or be.  It’s a lot harder to start to determine what we do want, where we want to go and how we are going to get there.  Just ask yourself this simple little question, “What kind of man/woman do I want to be?”  Think of what values and principles you want to develop, how you want your personal and professional life to look and where you are going in your life?  It’s probably not as easy as you initially thought it might be!?  And what do you need to get you to this life that you have envisioned!?

That’s where #recoverycapital comes into the picture.  These are the personal resources that you (not me) have at your disposal in order to support you moving forward in your recovery.  What do you need socially, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually to support you in your recovery and wellness?  Rather than thinking of what you don’t have, think of what you do have and what you could potentially have, to move forward in your life.  Imagine what you want to move towards and what you can capitalise on to help you get there.  Too often I hear the words “I really don’t want…”, but I believe that by simply reframing this into the positive statement of “What I really want is…” we are instantly in a different mental space, shifting our thoughts from the past into the present and future.  Isn’t it more exciting to think of the infinite possibilities that we can create in the present, rather than the guilt- and shame-laden thoughts of the past.  Instead of looking over our shoulders at what we are trying to leave behind, think about creating a new, exciting existence to move towards.

Everyone’s #recoverycapital is unique and personal!! Where my physical #recoverycapital might include long walks on the beach and a healthy eating plan, yours might be mountain biking or martial arts, with plenty of sleep and really great sex. Spiritual #recoverycapital is equally as diverse including faith-based activities for some to 12-step meetings, meditation and modern-day spiritualism for others.  Studying and education can be a form of mental #recoverycapital, as can reading, travelling or taking up a new hobby.  Socially, spending time with family and friends, joining a sports team or a book club, and doing volunteer work can be a resource to support your personal recovery.  We can also build emotional resources through personal development, being part of a support group, spending time pursuing healthy lifestyle choices or signing up for courses and workshops in areas of personal interest.  The idea of all this is that there is not just one thing that supports us, and so we need to explore and develop resources in all these areas of our lives.  Too often we become over focused in one area, but neglect the others.

In the work that I do, one of my primary areas of focus is to assist individuals in creating and developing their #recoverycapital inline with the personal resources that they have at their disposal.  It’s an exciting process that encourages one to explore different possibilities and ideas on how to empower one’s self and be proactive in developing what you need to achieve those dreams you have, achieve those goals you have set and become the person you want to become!

Til Next Time,

Sober Something

For more information on #recoverycapital and living a life of fulfillment and purpose, please feel free to contact me | leighanne@recoverycoachingsa.com | (082)442-5710 for a free introductory session.

 

Pursuing Purspose | Zanny Collings

He died, after years of depression, drug abuse and multiple suicide attempts…he died. The last attempt was successful.  How my heart bled for a chance to see him again.  To hear his voice and to see him smile, but all that gripped my heart was the memory of the deep sadness in his eyes.  My beloved uncle, who was like a brother to me, was gone.  I remember the sleepless nights and the nightmares, the stories told about how it wasn’t the first time he had tried to kill himself.  I had tried to make sense of what had happened, tried to put the pieces of his puzzled life together, just so I could understand why he could no longer live in this world.

There were others after him.  And their stories of hopelessness and a life of pain, ending in death, haunt me to this day.  Their cries for help reverberate in my soul.  I need to help them… but how?  I had become a lost soul myself; bad decision after bad decision had led me down a path of self-destruction.  Even in those moments of hopeless despair, I could hear the cries for help.  They were everywhere.

First, I needed to deal with my own pain; I was empty.  Empty from living a life filled with meaningless endeavours.  Suicide of the soul. Abused self.  Diagnosed with depression on so many occasions, I needed to move beyond the dysfunctional patterns I had created in my life.  Healing was necessary for the once confident young girl who believed that she had the potential to make a difference in the lives of others.

I made the first step and found my healing at the feet of my Maker.  Who better than Him to fix what was broken and restore me to what he had created me to be?  The process of healing is never easy though, it takes a series of hard decisions and difficult life choices to undo a lifetime of dysfunction.  The second step was to find a place where I could learn and equip myself with the skills and knowledge to effectively do the work I so long to do.  God then placed on my path people who inspired and guided me on my quest.  Some do not even realise how their lives of selflessness has helped me realise my dream, day by day.  It’s funny how when we align ourselves to God and accept that we need Him that things start coming together in a way that is beyond our own understanding.

I say this because, a month ago today I would have never imagined myself in Recovery Coach in Training.  I was happily going about my life doing the best I could to pursue my purpose, when I received a friend request from an angel.  This angel had come to revolutionise myself and she did not even know it .  A few interactions later, I was accepting to do the course that was to take place the very next weekend, at the cost of?   Merely volunteering my time to helping others; I could have jumped right out of my skin!

So there I was the first night of Recovery Coach Training at SHARP Recovery Solutions, anxious but excited that I was granted the opportunity to be a part of an amazing community of individuals and organisations whose sole purpose was one of healing, restoration and wellness.  God was smiling down at me.  My life would never be the same again.

The facilitator was amazing, along with his sidekick angel.  Anyone who comes into contact with them will agree with me when I say that their passion for what they do is inspiring.  The sacrifices they make to serve makes this cold, dark world a better place to live in every day.  Needless to say, that first night left me reeling.  I was a heap of mixed emotions after interacting with an array of characters and concepts, not to mention a few curveballs to throw me into a tailspin of what I can only express as ‘whoaaa!!’.

I went back the next morning with only a few hours of sleep and a burning desire to push through.  Did I mention that I am 8 months pregnant? Oh yes, by the way. LOL!!  The timing is amazing, but Lord knows I would much rather pursue than back down and allow another life into this world without a concerted effort on my part to bring things full circle…I’ll definitely be blogging about this at a later stage!  So there I was continuing my training, and boy was I in for a ride.  Nothing short of informative, the informal interactive style of teaching kept us all on our toes.  With every laugh, cry and awkward pause there was a massive download of knowledge and life experience that no amount of lecturing could ever buy.  I was in my element!  And could not wait to come back for more.  No amount of exhaustion was going to keep me away, not this girl!

EmilyMy kokorozashi was awakened!  My life’s purpose was becoming more than just a feeling, it was becoming something tangible.  How could I not pursue this avenue of learning and use it to improve the lives of others?  After all these years of searching and wandering I have stepped into what could turn out to be the greatest resource in fulfilling my purpose.  By week two, which has just passed, I experienced a greater sense of direction, a higher level of understanding.  It was as if God spoke through my facilitators and classmates, their experiences and courageous sharing had added fuel to the simmering fire inside of me.  I saw and felt an overwhelming love, not the selfish kind that we have become accustomed to but a love that has no boundaries and knows no end. It breaks down walls and nourishes the soul, leaving only vivid traces of the pain that once lived behind those walls.  These people, this place, this community, was the epitome of selflessness.  I love them so much!

My most earnest prayer is that God will grant me the grace to continue in the pursuit of my purpose.  May my newfound friends never lose their passion and may every endeavour be a fruitful one.  That every person who crosses our paths will experience only love and a sense of hope for their futures.

I am Zanny.  Checking out Purpose Driven!

For more information about Recovery Coach Training, please email leigh-anne@thefoundationclinic.co.za

#YellowRibbon | 26 June 2015 | #BreakTheSilence | #BreakTheStigma

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For more information email info@stopdrugs.co.za

If You’re Not Growing You’re Dying…

If you're not growingLife has been extremely hectic and I realised that I haven’t posted for an exceptionally long time, so I have made time this morning to sit down and catch up a little and do a little self reflection at the same time.  And the idea that has kept coming to me over the last few days is the idea that “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”.  It keeps coming back to me in my personal and professional life, and has made me think deeply about my own growth as well as the growth of my Recovery Coaching clients.  You may believe the statement to be true or may refute it wholeheartedly, but it’s definitely worth thinking about.  Because would you rather be living a life of stagnation and mediocrity, or do you want a life of purpose and fulfillment.  I can honestly say that the more I do to push myself and grow, the more satisfaction I get from my life.  And as a coach in the field of recovery (from addiction and substance abuse) I see incredible development in the individuals who dig deep to discover what they want and how they plan to achieve it.

So ask yourself the questions, “Who am I?” and “Where do I want my life to be in [three] months?”  The truth is that a lot of us don’t really know who we are or what we want.  We get so caught up in just getting by and staying on top of things that we forget to dream and aspire!  Sadly we also tend to lose touch with who we are and the things that feed our souls.  This is especially true for people in early recovery!  Through the compulsive cycle of using or doing, people have forgotten what makes their heart sing, what values drive them and what principles guide them.  It’s ever so easy to sit around and pay lip service to principles like honesty, integrity and tolerance that are identified as an essential part of the recovery journey, but it’s completely different (and often pretty challenging) to actually incorporate them into our lives and use them to aspire us towards our goals.

Understanding and determining our values is also difficult, but essential.  Especially since during active addiction our one true value is often our substance of choice.  It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and determines the course of our day!  And that may sound uncomfortable and even irritate you, but the truth is that in active addiction we are driven by our behaviour patterns and habits.  The challenge in recovery is to develop new ways of doing things, and retraining our brain to respond differently to life events that would of sent us into the arms of our addictive substance or behaviour.  So the way I see it recovery is about growth!  It’s about deciding where you want yourself and your life to be in the future and then developing action steps to achieve this.

Recovery capital is essential in the journey.  Whether this be in the physical, emotional, mental, social or spiritual sphere it’s important to determine where you have resources to support you in your recovery and where you may need to build your capital.  And everyone’s recovery capital is different!  Where one person might choose to attend NA/AA meetings as part of the spiritual/emotional capital, another will identify that team sport serves and supports them in the same way.  And this is illustrative of the idea that every individual needs to determine their own recovery plan, that is as unique as they are.  Because my dreams and aspirations are ever so different to the next person, so to will be my recovery.  So in Recovery Coaching we share tools to support individuals’ recovery, but it is up to every person to determine what they need and want moving forward in their lives.  As a recovery coach my role is to challenge my clients to understand where they are, and support them in their journey to where they want to be, whether this is personally or professionally.  And during this process to take personal responsibility and accountability for their actions.

So recovery is about growth for me!  It’s about solutions-driven, forward-focused movement that is driven by principle and guided by spiritual principles.  It’s about creating a life that is determined by purpose and feeding one’s soul with activities that bring joy and fulfillment.  Every step that we take towards the life we dream of is growth…and is exciting and stimulating.  I use these practices in my own life and the more I do, the richer and more incredible my life becomes.  I continue to learn and develop personally and professionally as I strive to incorporate principles into my life, live by my values, excavate my dreams and build plans to achieve what my heart desires.  And at the centre of all this is continuing to build my recovery capital so that I have the resources and support to move towards my aspirations.  Because I honestly believe that “if you are not growing you are dying.”

For more information on Recovery Coaching please visit http://www.recoverycoachingsa.com or email me on leighanne@recoverycoachingsa.com

Til next time

Sober Something

Challenge and Change…The Chaos of Recovery

CHALLENGE AND CHANGEOne of the recurring themes in the recovery coaching work that I do is that people think that once they have undergone possible treatment and are now working their recovery, that life is going to be easy.  That everything is miraculously going to get better, that relationships are going to mend and that life is suddenly going to be everything we dreamed of…  The truth is that things are going to get a lot better, but this doesn’t happen overnight and there is no Recovery Fairy that waves a magic wand and fixes everything that was broken.  Recovery takes hard work and dedication to the recovery plan you have decided on for yourself.  Once you have identified the emotional, physical, mental, social and spiritual recovery capital that you need to support you in your journey, and been equally honest about your recovery liabilities – those things that are likely to be detrimental to our recovery.

I can vouch for the fact that recovery is a wonderful journey, but like any adventure there are obstacles and challenges along the way.  As we grow and develop in all areas of our lives, the people closest to us may be confused and unsure of the changes that are taking place.  They may feel vulnerable and “left out” because they don’t understand what’s happening to the person who has for so long been unwell.  Their role in the relationship changes and they may not want or enjoy the new place in our lives that they now occupy.  You may not need them as much…asking them to help you out, fix your mistakes and pick up the pieces as you did in the past.  So even though you are well and growing as an individual, they may feel confused about where they fit into your recovery.  So rebuilding your relationships requires applying the spiritual principles such as tolerance, patience and acceptance.  You may need to practice accountability, forgiveness and love as the people in your life find their place in your recovery space.  It’s not always easy as there may be issues of co-dependency in your relationships, where others are reliant on your substance abuse disorder to define their role in the relationship.

So as you change, grow and develop without them, there is a gap between you.  And this is just one of the challenges of recovery.  Because besides the fact that your friends and family might not understand the changes that you are undergoing, you are also faced with having “lost your best friend” and feeling an unbearable emptiness.  A void that you need to learn how to fill with new, healthy past times and activities.  Exploring what feeds your soul can be exhausting, but the end result is that your life can be filled with meaning and fulfillment.  That you start to live with purpose, pursuing your goals with determination and authenticity.  But these goals don’t determine themselves and purpose doesn’t drop into your lap just because you have decided to work your recovery.  Soul searching with honesty and willingness can be oh so draining, but as you start to (re)learn and (re)discover what drives and motivates you, you will begin to live with a vigor and passion that has been lying dormant through your active addiction.

Whatever your recovery choices are, by moving forward and focusing on the future, rather than wallowing in the past, you will begin to find a new rhythm to your life.  Initially recovery may seem like a lot of work, devoid of any fun and enjoyment, so be sure to reward yourself for the work that you are doing!  My clients often find recovery overwhelming, all work and no play, so to speak.  I believe that it is crucial to take some time out and “pat yourself on the back” for a job well done.  I encourage them to spend some time thinking about healthy activities and events that will bring them a sense of excitement and pleasure, that are inline with their recovery goals.  Perhaps that means a day at the amusement park, a weekend away, a new outfit or pair of shoes, that book or movie they’ve been dying to get to or a relaxing afternoon at the spa.  The choice is yours, depending on the type of activity that brings you enjoyment.  What brings happiness to one person is totally different to that of the person sitting next to them in a Recovery Wellness Program, at an AA or NA meeting or in a treatment program.  The challenge is to find those things that bring a smile to your lips and a glow to your core.

Just remember that everyone’s Road to Recovery is unique.  The successes need to be celebrated and the tests along the way can be triumphantly overcome with learned tools, techniques and recovery capital.  So don’t despair if you are finding your recovery a little chaotic or a touch arduous, there are people to support and guide you through these trying periods.  If you are interested in more information about Recovery Coaching and learning about how to develop recovery capital and spiritual principles and tools and techniques for  living a fulfilled and purposeful life in recovery, visit http://www.thefoundationclinic.co.za  or contact Leigh-Anne (082)442-5710.

Til next time,

Sober Something

Why is early recovery so difficult?

I was  asked to do a guest post for Addictionology earlier this year on why people find early recovery so difficult!?  It really didn’t take me too long to think of a multitude of reasons, myself having white-knuckled my early recovery some years ago.  In my opinion, being clean and sober is not the same as being in recovery.  Simply abstaining without changing one’s behaviour patterns, developing effective coping mechanisms and growing mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually means we are not growing as a person in recovery.  Because I think that this is an incredibly important issue, I have decided to re-post the article here in an attempt to highlight how finding purpose and fulfillment is essential to long-term recovery and wellness.

Moving from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery is a challenging journey that requires physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual recovery capital to ensure that we have the resources to support us in our recovery.  In order to fill the void that is left by abstaining from harmful substances and behaviour, it is important that we start to develop tools and techniques that aid our recovery.  By giving us the objectivity of “mind sight” to be able to observe our feelings, thoughts and behaviour in a potentially harmful situation, we are better equipped to develop new thought patterns, so that we are able to overcome early-stage cravings and urges.

By understanding the importance of spiritual principles and determining what our personal values are, we can start to feed our souls.  Instead of pursuing destructive behaviour patterns that are prevalent in substance abuse, we should try and develop healthy pursuits, explore new interests and identify which elements of our lives need to cultivated.  People in early recovery often experience difficulties because they are not prepared for the feelings of loneliness and emptiness they experience because of they have lost their “best friend”.  According to psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, people in recovery go through the stages of grief, like those experienced when losing a close friend or family member.  People will most likely experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance during the process and may be unaware that we are actually grieving.  Again, by understanding and acknowledging our situation, we are able to more effectively deal with obstacles we may confront in the early stages of our recovery journey.

Personal learning and self-development will ensure that we are more empowered, moving towards a life of purpose and fulfilment in the later stages of recovery.  Goal setting and action planning are skills that can be consciously developed to aid forward movement in recovery.  By joining a Recovery Wellness Program clients are encouraged to design their own recovery plan and identify and capitalise on their personal strengths, while be aware of areas of weakness and possible obstacles that might jeopardise their early recovery.  By engaging in adult education in an environment of positive psychology, solutions-driven coaching and peer support, one is given a safe environment to explore recovery in an honest, empowering program.

Til Next Time

Sober Something

FOUNDATION LOGO (COLOURS)2

The Foundation Recovery Wellness Program is a 21-day program that aids recovery, by developing the survivor in each client, exposing clients to information about recovery (rather than focusing on addiction), and giving each client the opportunity to grow and move forward in a supportive, caring space.  For more information on The Foundation Recovery Wellness Program, please visit www.thefoundationclinic.com or contact Leigh-Anne (082)442-5710 discuss your options.

When I is replaced by we…

When I is replaced by weIt’s been a while since I posted!  Namely because the start to this year has been nothing sort of hectic and not quite what I was hoping for when the the New Year clock struck twelve, but we forge on with hope and fortitude.  I also migrated my blog to a new ISP and I’m really hoping that the people that have been reading my blog won’t get lost in the transfer.  I’m eternally grateful to those that do read my posts and always hope that my musings bring you some sort of personal comfort, insight or ideas.  My hope is that through my recovery journey, I am able to aid and inspire others.  Like I’ve said before this is not an easy road to walk, but like anything that challenges us, the rewards are rich.

Today I want to talk about the ideas in the Huffington Post article, “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think“.  I’m not going to dissect and critique the article, but I want to talk around the theme of “connectedness” that Johann Hari discusses in his article.  What I will say is that the article is nothing short of outstanding and it’s wonderful how many people have become engaged in discussion since its publication.

For too long addiction and substance abuse disorders have been viewed as a moral failing on the part of the “addict”!  The idea of “Just say no!” has perpetuated the idea that people who develop substance abuse disorders are somehow morally challenged and that they should simply choose not to take part in this type of behaviour.  After all, if you are strong-willed and righteous there can be no debate when it comes to the question of using a substance (illegal or otherwise).  But the truth is that in trying to find comfort in loneliness people (like the isolated rats discussed in the article) we are drawn to behaviours that synthetically feed our souls.  So that when there is emptiness, a lack of fulfillment and undetermined purpose, individuals can be drawn to that “cocaine- or heroine-laced water bottle”.  And in modern society the substances are not just illegal street drugs, but often medications subscribed by qualified medical professionals to “get us through this rough patch”!

Sleeping tablets, anti-depressants and mood stabilisers are prescribed freely and are just as addictive as coacaine, heroine and methamphetamines.  And let’s not forget alcohol, which can be purchased on every other block.  And because of feelings of isolation, a lack of self-worth and the inability to connect with the people around us, we are drawn to something to help us feel a part of things.  A moral failing?  I think not.  But definitely an indication of the society we live in.  When surrounded by others many have never felt so alone or disconnected from the 7 billion people that occupy the planet.  And like the rat separated from the the others, we are drawn to something that will ease the emotional trauma that we are experiencing when cut off, whether literally or figuratively.

And it can be hard to find our way back from that place where we are alone and scared, but it’s not impossible.  By reaching out and slowly reestablishing the relationships with ourselves and others that led to that initial isolation, we are able to rediscover our purpose.  By determining our values and the spiritual principles that guide us, it is possible to live a healthy and fulfilled life in recovery. Substance abuse needn’t be a stigma that you carry around with you, the definition of who you are, it’s simply a part of your life’s journey.  Through learning, education and peer support you can move forward with clearly established goals and plans, supported by those around you.  The way I see it is that no one is meant to journey life alone…it’s just not how it’s meant to be.  But through a variety of social, emotional, spiritual and environmental factors we are often secluded, even hidden in plain sight.  By stepping out of the darkness of solitude, we can continue our wanderings.

Recovery Wellness Coaching is a powerful aid for reconnecting with ourselves and others.  It presents us with the opportunity to excavate our true purpose, find fulfillment in our lives and move forward with personal insight and emotional connectivity.  Understanding that we are not your substance abuse disorder and developing tools and techniques to create our personal vision, set goals and develop action plans makes recovery coaching an empowering choice.  Too often we get lost in the quagmire, forget who we are and what we want…becoming so caught up in what’s going on around us that we end up losing sight of ourselves, somehow becoming inadvertently separated in all the chaos.  Recovery Coaching has the immense power to help you rebuild the physical, emotional, mental, emotional and spiritual elements of your life so that you are truly connected to yourself and those around you.

I know that it’s done wonders for me and the people that I work with…so if you are interested and would like more information about Recovery and Wellness Coaching please contact me to explore your options.  Because “When I is replaced by we even illness becomes wellness”.

Til next time

Sober Something