Archives for In My Experience

addiction

Addiction, recovery and sex

When I was new in recovery I memorized and learned the 12-Steps.

Then, at a meeting I heard someone mention the 13th Step. What!? There's another step I have to do? I asked what the 13th Step was.

"It's hitting on newcomers - hooking up with newbies," I was told.

"Ah," a much younger and better looking me said to myself. "That's why all these guys are giving me hugs and buying me coffee."

I stopped hugging guys that creeped me out - stuck out my hand instead. I learned the true understanding of "helping the newcomer."

I listened to my sponsor and old-timers I trusted: "You don't get into relationships or date when you are in early recovery."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because nothing will take your mind off your recovery quicker than a guy,"  I was told. "And besides, you have demonstrated and extraordinary inability to have a healthy relationship. Your picker is broken."

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addiction

What we’re missing in treating addiction

Addiction is a disease of the brain. Over and over and over we heard this at the recent National RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

The president said it. His drug czar Michael Botticelli, said it. Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said it, along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration,...
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Coping with Depression

Is self-sufficiency making you depressed?

Sunday marked the 13th anniversary of my mother's death. Sixteen months before she died, my father passed. Eight months after she died, my dog died.

I loved my parents - and my dog - very much. But I probably should have known something was up when I cried much more when my dog died.

I didn't know anything about grieving back then. I didn't know it could fester inside in my soul and come out sideways as anger, denial and desperation. I didn't know that my grief would morph into a bizarre, extreme strain of self-reliance that would end two years later with a swan dive into a deep, dark depression.

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Alcoholism

A recovered alcoholic asks: If I take antidepressants, am I still sober?

I am a recovered alcoholic. I also have bipolar II, which can manifest in depression.

I am what they call "dual-diagnosed" - or "twice blessed" as those of us in recovery often quip. I was about 7 years into my recovery when I slid into a deep depression and was diagnosed and put on medications.

The decision to take antidepressants and a mood stabilizer posed a huge ethical and medical conundrum for me. I had heard from many fellow recovering alcoholics that WE DON'T TAKE MIND ALTERING MEDICATIONS! Obviously, antidepressants and mood stabilizers are - thank God - mood altering.

Desperate - and with the encouragement of doctor friend who understands addiction - I took them. It took several months find the right dosages and for them to kick in but when they did, my life - and sobriety - completely changed. I'm not saying my life got better but my ability to deal with life got much, much better.
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Alcoholism

4 reasons why addicts should not trust doctors

One

Last month I went to the emergency room with tightness in my chest and shortness of breath. I answered a bunch of questions about my medical history, told them about my depression and bipolar, the meds I am on and made it clear that I am a recovered alcoholic/addict and that I do not want to be given any medications that might cause me to relapse.

The doctor came, looked at my chart, looked at me and asked if I was in pain. I said no, just uncomfortable tightness and shortness of breath. .

"Do you have any pain?" the doctor asked.

"I'm going to give you some Ativan. It will help you relax," the doctor said.

"No you're not," I said. "I'm a recovered alcoholic/addict and I don't take benzos."

"Why?" the doctor asked.

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General

How to screw up taking antidepressants

Once a week I refill my pill box. I take two antidepressants and one mood-stabilizer, along with a handful of supplements - fish oil, glucosamine, daily vitamin etc.

One-by-one I take each bottle out of a basket, open it, deposit the pills in their daily nook and put the bottle back into the basket. I take my medications without fail and I have done this little routine countless times over the years.

Last week I screwed up. Big time. I forgot to put one of my antidepressants in the mix. It took five days and a swan dive into my black hole before I realized this. I probably would have discovered this faux pas sooner if I had been paying attention but I have been under a lot of stress lately and it has been difficult to focus on anything for long.
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General

Why you don’t know how much mental illness and drug abuse is really in your community

It's Sunday night. I am sitting at my desk in the newsroom. I am a reporter and every couple of months I pull a weekend shift. The newsroom is quiet and I can hear the police scanners clearly.

During the day, with all that's going on in the newsroom, the scanners are just white noise. The cop reporters pay attention but to the rest of us, they are annoying.

If you want an idea of how much mental illness and substance abuse is out there, listen to the police scanners in a major metropolitan area, like South Florida, where I work. Some agencies use human dispatchers but many of the calls are announced by a computer with a Siri-esque voice.
Rescue 12. Responding to area 19. Overdose intoxication. 123 Main Street. Tac 2a.
Rescue 6. Responding to area 12. Suicide attempt. 456 Main Street. Tac 6.
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Coping with Depression

Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression?

Ever notice that the great holiday classic are about depression?

There's George Bailey, the financially strapped father of a posse of rowdy kids in It's a Wonderful Life. Then there's Scrooge and the Grinch. And how about that Santa-denying mother in Miracle on 34th Street? Charlie Brown and his pathetic little tree.

Let's not forget The Littlest Angel, a story about a little boy who dies, goes to heaven, can't keep his halo on straight, can't sing on key with the seraphim and misses his dog? Then there is that country western song little boy who want to buy his dying mama a pair of shoes. We have Elvis' Blue Christmas and Do They Know It's Christmas about people starving in Africa.
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Coping with Depression

What to buy someone with depression for the holidays? Nothing.

I did not want to answer the door during my last major depression and I did not answer the phone.

So, what gift do you give someone who is in this kind of depression?

Consider nothing. There is nothing you can put a bow on that will really mean much to someone in a deep depression. Jewelry, flat-screen televisions, perfume - none of these things will lift us out of our depression. Believe me, if we could buy our way out of depression, we would have done it by now.

Consider, too, that a generous gift is going to make us feel even worse about ourselves because we won't be able to go to the mall and get you something. And, we will feel obligated to send a thank-you not or call to say "thank you."
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Alcoholism

Six rules I follow to avoid depression during the holidays

Yesterday, as I was sitting on the front porch I was smacked upside the head by a Hallmark moment. An SUV with license plates from another state pulled in the driveway of the family across the street. I love having this family and their little ones across the street.

From the SUV spilled little cousins and what looked to be an aunt and grandmother. Their front yard was filled with hugs and babies on hips and...
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