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NEW! SOBER LIVING HOME SEARCH SITE

I am proud to announce the opening of, findsoberhomes.com on the internet. This has been a labor of love for us. The goal of my site, was to help everyone in need, find a good well run Sober Living Home, quickly and easily. Find Sober Homes, is a national search site including every state in the nation. All homes approved for our site will be verified for qualities we would expect for ourselves.

As a Sober Living Home manager, I saw the urgency to go directly from rehab into a Sober Living Home (SLH). The time between leaving rehab and entering an SLH is critical. Should you wait, for any period of time before entering an SLH, it could be too late.

The addict mind never sleeps, and never passes up an opportunity to take advantage of a weakness. The gap between rehab and the after care of an SLH is the perfect time for the addicted mind to grab ahold again.

One of the important features of Find Sober Homes, is the ability for homes to  update their availability and post it on our site. This feature is so important to individuals and families looking to find immediate availability for their loved one.

Find Sober Homes is well laid out and easy to navigate. Wether you are looking locally or in another region of the country you will be able to find the quality home you are looking for.

Other features on the site are news and information for sober living. There are blogs with tips for sober home managers, inspirational stories about sober living for families, and updated news and stories from around the country.

Having spent over two years in a SLH and maintained sobriety for over three years now, I am a huge proponent of sober living. I truly believe, Sober Living Homes are the key for sustaining long term sobriety.

Robert Apple

NAMES MATTER; “STOP CALLING YOURSELF A PIECE OF SH*T”

I read a blog today about a mother who’s son had died from a heroin overdose. Sadly, this is not an uncommon story to read on the internet. The story of a mother’s loss was compelling and sad. What stood out to me, was something very striking that would probably be missed by most who read the blog.

In telling the story of her son’s battle with heroin, she mentioned that her son would address himself as a “junkie.” The mother would always correct her son and tell him; “no, you are a ‘junkie’ in recovery.” I understand no mother wants to hear her son refer to himself as a ‘junkie.’ Why not tell him not to call himself a “junkie” at all. Of course, I don’t blame this mother whatsoever, she was doing what she thought was best.

People addressing themselves as a “junkie,” brought back some bad memories for me. When I was a Sober Living Home Manager, I had heard many clients refer to themselves as “junkies” and “pieces of sh*t.” At first, this didn’t bother me, as I considered it benign and silly. Once I had heard these self-deprecating names over and over again, I realized how damaging this can be.

One summer it got bad

I got a bunch of new clients in one summer, mostly opiate addicts, men, and women. When I had my first meeting alone with them, nearly all of these new clients referred to themselves as; ‘pieces of sh*t.’
I was VERY concerned as to why, nearly all seven of them, would address themselves this way.

I really didn’t say much to them at the first meeting. I wanted to wait for a week to find out more about this name association. I wanted to ponder it awhile and see how they interacted with others.

Well, I didn’t have to wait long. At the first house meeting we had, everyone takes turns saying their name and a little about how things are going for them. Two of the new people actually introduced themselves as; “their name,” followed by, “I am a piece of sh*t.” I was shocked, but I didn’t want to embarrass them in front of everyone, so I said nothing.

The next day, I pulled all the new people aside and told them, calling themselves derogatory names was not appropriate here at the house. Two of the young men spoke up and said; “We are pieces of sh*t.” I asked; “what makes you think this of yourselves?” This led to a big discussion about all the things they had done to their families and friends. I let them talk for a while as they interrupted each other trying to ‘one up’ each other’s story. Finally, I had enough of this, ‘self-pity party’ and told them to be quiet and think about what I had said.

I went for a walk and was trying to make sense of all that I had heard. Though it is true, addicts and alcoholics have done things they aren’t proud of, such as stealing and lying, but these things do not define them as a person. I decided to address this at the next house meeting.

Getting to the crux of this

We all gathered for the house meeting, and I told everyone to be quiet and listen to what I had to say:
“I have heard many people address themselves in very negative terms lately and this has got to stop. You can’t go through life calling yourselves a “junkie” or “a piece of sh*t.” These are derogatory terms that have severe negative connotations. How can we expect others to respect us again if we can’t respect ourselves? Think about how this looks to others. Personally, I think calling yourself names is a way to mitigate your behavior instead of taking responsibility for it.” The house went completely silent; all eyes were on me.

I could tell I had stuck a nerve with everyone by the way they were staring at me. I told them; you aren’t fooling anyone. Calling yourself bad names is just a way of saying; “I feel guilty for how I have behaved, but it’s not my fault.” No one said a word, they just kept staring or looked down.

I closed the meeting saying: “So, I don’t want to hear anyone call themselves names anymore. If you have something to say about your past behavior, we will be happy to listen, BUT, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO ABSOLVE YOURSELF FROM THAT BEHAVIOR BY CALLING YOURSELF NAMES!”

It worked

I finally got this habit of calling them, ‘junkie and piece of sh*t’ to stop. As soon as a new person came to the house and uttered those words, I would jump on it right away and put a stop to it. Sometimes I would hear other clients tell a new person; “don’t say that, we don’t talk like that here.”

How can we break the stigma of addiction when we are perpetuating stigmas ourselves? Never let an addict or alcoholic call themselves derogatory names. Remind them that how harmful that is to their self-esteem and to the recovery community.

Robert Apple

WEAR YOUR RECOVERY GEAR PROUDLY

img_1099I got my new shirt from AIR Wear the other day. I was excited to get it and put it on right away to see how it fit. I was staring at myself in the mirror checking out the way I looked, and a thought came over me, I don’t want to wear this in public. People will think badly of me; they will think I am a drug addict or alcoholic. There it is. I said it. I am not afraid to say what many addicts and alcoholics think about wearing recovery gear.

I put the shirt in my drawer thinking, I am glad to support the company that was one of the first to follow me on twitter, and I will wear this someday. I just don’t know when.

Deep inside I knew this was not right. I like the sobriety shirts; many are intelligent, artistic, and profound. So, why do I care what people are going to think about me? I honestly don’t know. Every person I know has full knowledge of my past. When I date online, I tell people on the first meeting or even before we meet. So, why is it hard for me to wear something that would associate me as an addict/alcoholic in public?

The next day I was headed to the gym, and I opened my drawer to get a T-shirt. I saw my new shirt,  picked it up, and looked at it. I was feeling guilty about not wearing it, and said to myself, Fuck it! I will wear it this one time to prove I am not afraid of what people think.

Ok, Chicken Little, what happened?

Well, what do you think happens when a 64-year-old man walks into a crowded gym wearing a black T-shirt with the words “Sobriety Rocks” in bold white? I got looked at, that’s what happened! Normally, I am just the old dude working out like a madman in a gray or black T-shirt. Nobody pays attention to me at the gym. I just workout and leave. On this day, however, everyone took a look at what was on my shirt. When I would catch them looking, they would quickly turn away. Was I uncomfortable? Yeah, I was. I was uncomfortable the second I walked in, and the cute greeter girl said “ have a nice workout,” then paused to read my shirt.

See! You didn’t die, and nobody cares

True. I didn’t die, but somebody did care. There was a man there that day who kept glancing at my shirt. I see this man almost every time I go to the gym. I didn’t pay much attention to him and went about my business of getting my workout done and getting the hell out of there.

  I got the last rep in, and I opened my eyes to see this same man standing in front of me. I didn’t know what to think; he was just looking at me. I looked around me, and there was nobody else, just him. “How ya doing,” I said. He replied, “good sir, can I talk to you.” Ok, I get it, he is in the program and want’s to tell AA. I said, “sure what’s up?” He asked me if I was a drug counselor or something like that. I said, “no but if you are referring to my shirt, I am a recovering alcoholic/addict.” He politely said, “Oh, I am sorry, I thought you might be a counselor, I didn’t mean to bother you, go on with your workout.” I told him, “no problem,” and he started to walk away. I asked him if there was anything I could do to help him. He turned back to me and said, “ I have two kids in trouble with drugs, and I don’t know what to do.” After hearing this, I, of course, invited him to have a conversation.

We talked for about twenty minutes as he told me about the problems his two daughters were having with drugs and alcohol. Neither him nor his ex-wife, have ever had drug and alcohol problems, so they didn’t know how to help. I gave him some advice and told him about some things he should be looking out for regarding his daughters. He thanked me, and we agreed to chat some more when we run into each other at the gym.

So, did I learn something?

Of course, I did. I learned to face my fears, again! I learned that I still need to work on how I feel about myself. I also learned that being an addict or alcoholic isn’t that scary to other people.

The most important thing I found out about wearing sober gear out in public was that I am an ambassador for sobriety. Despite what we may think about our sobriety and anonymity, we are ambassadors for the community of sobriety.

We are supposed to be carrying the message to other addicts and alcoholics. Wearing sober gear out in public can be a great way to do that. Had I let my fears get the best of me and not worn my shirt, I would have never been able to talk to a father in need of some advice. I pledged to myself I would help others, and I could have missed this opportunity. Many times before I’ve talked about how important it is to establish a safe community for addicts and the loved ones of addicts seeking help, and this is a part of it. Becoming visible and sharing our knowledge as recovering addicts can truly be a beacon of hope for those in need. Also, me openly wearing my sober gear in public may encourage other recovering addicts to do the same with pride and help even more people.

Last night I ordered a shirt from New Lyfe Clothing. There are other companies out there as well like Sober Mode, and I intend to buy a shirt from as many as I can find. I want to support the community of people selling sober gear because what they’re doing is important to my sober community and communities around the country.

I will continue to wear my gear at appropriate places where someone in need may approach me again for some help or advice. As recovering addicts/alcoholics, we go to meetings and share our stories, but what about sharing our stories elsewhere? Having someone come up to me because I am wearing my gear gives me an opportunity to share my story as well.

Or, maybe I will just meet another recovering addict/alcoholic and make a new friend. Connecting with others would expand my community of friends in recovery.

Get some gear and wear it proudly. Who knows, you just might meet someone who could use your help. Now, isn’t helping others what it’s all about? Of course, it is.

Robert Apple

TAKE CREDIT FOR YOUR SOBRIETY AND USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

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What if I was to say, “Becoming an addict or alcoholic, then getting sober, could be one of the best things to ever happen to you?” You would probably think to yourself, Yeah I don’t think so buddy; that was the worst thing that ever happened to me! Well, I totally disagree! And I will tell you why.

There is a saying, “Behind every cloud is a silver lining.” I believe this to be true, especially as it pertains to sobriety. First, there were dark clouds of despair (addiction), then there was light and hope (recovery).

Out of this darkness, a new person is revealed in the light. A person of strength, character, and resolve. This new character was forged from defeating an addiction that threatened to kill them.

Examine the addict that’s in recovery; they have faced challenges that most people will never have to endure. To recover from addiction requires immense courage and strength. The obstacles of the physical addiction, coupled with the brain being rewired, appear almost beyond human capability to recover from. They’re not! And when you do recover, you are changed forever because you have conquered one of the most difficult adversaries a human can go up against addiction.

After recovering, an addict has proven to themselves that they can face any adversity in life no matter what the circumstance. Many, however, don’t give them enough credit for winning this battle. You should view yourself in a different way, and realize that you now possess incredible strength and courage. It’s important for you to acknowledge this change in you, and understand that you have tapped into resources you never knew existed, such as character, strength, and courage.
So, why is this important to me?  

Many recovering addicts/alcoholics feel beaten down and somewhat discouraged, probably due to the stigma they are now shackled with and the wreckage they have done. You can’t let this be your dogma! Don’t join that group. There are some who don’t feel this way after becoming sober, and who don’t let this stigma bog them down. For those of you who don’t feel that way, I commend you. But it takes the time to get there for most.

mirror-1464840_1280There is an easy fix for this feeling of malaise: look in the mirror and study your face for a moment. Think of how hard you had to work to get clean from addiction. Allow yourself to feel proud. More importantly, tell yourself you have seen the worst and overcame it. After going through what you have, nothing will be too difficult for you in the future.

What has happened is that you have joined an elite group of people who have been to hell and back and survived. Gather strength from this, and make it an active in your life. Many people have overcome their addictions then went on to do great things. Maybe even greater things than they would have achieved had they not been changed by their struggle with addiction.

You can find these people everywhere in life if you look. Google famous individuals who have recovered from addiction, and you will be surprised by some people you find.

Also, observe people at meetings who have long-term sobriety. Pay attention to what they share and what their life is like now. You will be inspired by their stories and their successes in life.

Getting sober was the biggest battle of your life, and you won! What could hinder you in life now? Nothing! You are a battle-tested warrior who claimed victory; go wherever your dreams take you. Sure, there will be troubles in life, there always are, but now, no matter what happens, you will be able to handle those setbacks. Take this new strength you have earned and gone forward with confidence.

Ok, that sounds great, but where do I go?

luggage-1149289_1280Good question. Unfortunately, I have no answer for that. Where you go will be entirely up to you. Do you need to go back to school and get your degree? Do you aspire to get a promotion at work? Are you looking for a new career? Do you want to fall in love and get married? Maybe you always wanted to start your own business, or become a singer in a band. Life is full of opportunities now that you are sober, so don’t limit yourself.

Everyone has something they would like to do, but they are afraid to try because they may fail. This fear of failure paralyzes people and guarantees that they will fail by default. You should consider yourself excluded from this group because, after what you have accomplished, there is no reason to fear anything. You can rationalize this to be true given what you have had to conquer.

You are out of the dark now and into the light, so embrace this new station in life. Pick something you are passionate about. Pick something daring. You can handle it now. Why choose something you know you are capable of? Instead, aspire to do something that will challenge you. In general, things that are hardest to accomplish gives us the most pride and satisfaction in life.

We all have dreams that are put aside because we think we aren’t capable of making them come true. I suggest people in recovery revisit some of those dreams and consider if they can become a reality. Maybe, now with a renewed spirit and more confidence, you can make them happen.

You won’t know if you don’t try, and you aren’t afraid of anything. Right?

Summation

My point here is to demonstrate that there is a right side to addiction, but it’s only revealed once you become sober. Going through substance abuse and coming out, on the other hand, will embolden you if you allow it to.

I can personally attest to this. After I had left the Sober Living Home I was managing; I wanted to write a book about my experiences. I wanted the world to know more about what we addicts/alcoholics are going through. My problem was that I had never written anything, and to make matters worse, I was horrible at punctuation and grammar. I was very passionate about the reason for writing this book, so I decided to do it anyway.

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I sat down and started sketching out some ideas but became discouraged and almost quit. I thought I am not a writer, and I will embarrass myself by writing a terrible book. Then I went outside for a walk and had an epiphany: I could hire someone to help me write my book. So, I did just that, and now my book is nearly complete.

I sincerely doubt I would have been that courageous before becoming an addict/alcoholic. Deep inside, there is now a voice talking to me saying, you can do this! Don’t run away just because it’s going to be hard. I called on my new strength and self-belief to inspire me. Despite my doubts, I decided to make my dream a reality.

To me, becoming an addict/alcoholic was both a curse and a blessing. But what’s most important is that I have been able to tap into the courage it took to get sober. Now, I use it every day of my life.

Make your new mantra, “I can do anything I put my mind to.”  You already proved this to be true when you beat addiction and got sober.

Robert Apple

 

Ways You Can Help an Addict part: two

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In the past (Ways You Can Help an Addict) blog I talked about the importance of communication. The goal in the first blog was to establish new truthful communication without dysfunctional dialog. In this post, I will continue talking about the best way to begin having open communication with an addict in your life you’re trying to help.

Part Two:

Ok. Hopefully, you have established a rapport based on truth and mutual respect. You are now going to be able to help where you couldn’t before because there was no truth present.  

You also have made it clear you have no agenda; making them feel comfortable that you are not going to shame or berate them.

As for your side, you feel hopeful you will not be taken advantage of with lies and false promises. Now, after a few simple check-ins with them that didn’t lead to any lying or arguments, you feel confident you can move on.

Ask Don’t Tell

guy-698784_1280I am sure you have been dying to know everything about their life that you’ve missed because of their addiction, but be patient. Start slow. Don’t open the floodgates and start with a barrage of questions. Start slowly with something that is easy for them to answer truthfully. An unfortunate choice of question would be “are you still using?” Of course, this could lead to a big fat lie. So, instead, you can start inquiring as to “how they are doing?” Remember, whatever you do, “ask” don’t TELL them anything.

You will be conversing with them in a personal way for the first time in a while. How they answer will determine if you are talking to them, or their addict mind. Should they answer “I am not bad or I am ok,” this would be a good sign? This response would indicate they show respect for you and themselves. Most likely they are not alright, but by saying so means they are taking responsibility for their problems. Should they answer with “awful, I don’t know what to do?” Or, “I have no money to eat and the friends I am staying with are kicking me out.” Alert! All this could be true, but you need to exercise caution before you offer any help here.

First, they apparently aren’t starving to death, or they wouldn’t be standing in front of you. Secondly, they must be sleeping somewhere. I know this sounds cynical, but you have to be very sure they are telling you the truth and not pulling at your heart strings for drug money.

Let’s assume you believe them. Where do you go from here? I suggest you do your best to follow up and see if any of this is true. One way you can do this is bluntly ask who they are staying with and ask permission to call and see if this is in fact true. If they are unwilling to give you a number to call for some reason, like, “They don’t have a number or their cell has been turned off” offer to go over and see if maybe there is something you can do to help. If they balk at this, they are probably lying to you.

All of the above is all hypothetical, of course. You can’t script how the conversation will go because you are only writing your lines. There is no way you can predict what they are going to say. Just stick to the basic outline: honesty, firmness, and respect.

Then What?

comics-151341_1280“So, if I think they are lying to me, should I just go?” No! Don’t mess things up by being rash, instead leave this on a good note. No arguments and no accusations of lying. Tell them how sorry you are to hear this and wish them well. You can always try another day.

If they don’t ask you for any money, things might be turning for the good. Thank them for talking to you and tell them how nice it was to see them. Don’t leave just yet!

Addicts are smart and can manipulate anyone. The fact that they know you very well is even more of a problem. If you are seemingly strident about not offering any help without proof, they will respect this. They won’t like it, but they will respect it. They will also have respect for your calm demeanor. If you panic and start coming up with ways to help them, they will consider you weak and hammer at you until you give them what they want.

Now that you are about to leave, I suggest your closing question could be, “do you think you might need to go to detox and rehab?” To an addict this is like asking them to take a bath in acid, so be prepared for just about any answer, especially if they are not ready to get sober.

How they respond to that question will determine where they are with their addiction. If the answer is “yes,” go immediately; don’t delay; don’t go home and plan things in a  couple of days, just go.

If they answer no, let it go; they aren’t ready for help. The worst answer you can hear is, “yes, but I need some time to get things in order.” Don’t even bother with this because, if you agree to this, their next question will be to ask for some money to tide them over until they go. “Going” will never happen and you will be at fault for believing them. All your hard work to get them to this point will go down the drain in a big lie. If this happens, wait for another time.

Always remember you are talking to an addicted mind. Never forget this! You may be looking at a loved one, but you are talking to the devious mind that resides in them.    

The Next Step

stair-1743963_1280Let’s assume things went well and you don’t have to wait for another day to get them to agree to rehab. What’s next? The next step is to get them into detox because they can’t go to a rehab without being in detox first. 

“Ok, I have them in rehab now what?” Relax, you just got several more pieces back. You have an honest dialog between you and your loved one. You have mutual respect where no one is scamming the other. No one is mad, and there is no animosity. You have made some huge inroads to a new truth based relationship. And now you have them in a safe place: rehab. 

Be prepared for many questions from them before, during, and after rehab. Questions like, “what’s going to happen when I get out of rehab?” and “Where am I going to live?” Don’t give any details. In fact, don’t tell them anything. Calmly answer everything with “that depends on you,” or “we will talk about this when you get out.” Of course, this will be frustrating, and they may erupt into a tirade. Remain calm and resolute; don’t tell them anything you may regret later. Ultimately, they will accept that more will be revealed later and stop bothering you. They will find solace with your calmness.

I am a strong proponent of Sober Living Homes. If I had a child or loved one in trouble with drugs and alcohol, I would arrange a six month to a year stay to help with their aftercare. Personally, I wouldn’t bring someone right out of rehab to live with me. Though, I may be biased because I was a client and a manager of a Sober Living Home. (read my blog on Why you Should Live in a Sober Living Home for more info).

“But they have been to rehab before. Why will this time be any different?” For one, you are completely honest with each other, and you are being firm and calculated for another. You appear to have a plan, and that’s attractive to anyone. When you drop someone off at rehab with angst and anger, how do you think that makes them feel while they are there? Conversely, if you are calm and seem to have a plan for this, it gives someone hope and a reason to believe in you.

Let’s be clear here; an addict isn’t capable of planning anything except for their next fix or drink. Having someone come into their life calmly, honestly, and firmly is what they need.

You have some control here now but don’t abuse it. Make no demands; in fact, be very evasive with your next moves.

Excuse me, what? Let me explain. You have done the near impossible; you have pulled them away from their addiction with calmness and honesty. You have not promised anything to accomplish this. Instead, you allowed them to come to light. Despite what you think, no addict wants to be in the shadows chasing dealers around, begging, borrowing and stealing. This life gets old, but, without help or some event like time in jail, they aren’t likely to get sober on their own.

What plan?

notes-514998_1280I haven’t talked about any plans as of yet because that would interfere with the previous steps. Of course, you have to have some plan of attack. As I stated before, rehab is important and necessary, but it’s not the end of the story. In many ways, rehab is just the beginning.

Once a person leaves rehab, they are sober and, for the most part, feeling good. However, many remain lost without a plan for aftercare. Let’s look at the obstacles facing a person leaving rehab.

Generally speaking, upon leaving rehab, a person may or may not have a job to support themselves. Also, they may not have a residence to go to either.

To further complicate things, they may have court cases pending, such as DUI or a possession charge that need to be cleaned up.

They also may be facing debt hanging over their heads. Some, if not all addicts, have bad credit, with accounts going to collections; due to unpaid credit cards or cash advance loans (yep addicts are a very busy lot when they have to be).

These are troubling things, but they may not be all. Addicts also have to face a stigma that is attached to them. Friends, family, and others have a tendency to treat them as if they are not normal.

Try to imagine coming out of rehab and having to face the possibility of, no job, no housing, court cases, bills in collections, bad credit and a huge bull’s eye on your chest saying “I’m an addict.” Now, if you were an addict, how would you escape all of this quickly and easily? Without a plan to address these issues, they won’t go away, and neither will the effect they are having on the addict.

You will need to have a plan to address these issues they are facing. This plan will not include you directly, (as in paying for everything that is needed) rather, you will be an advisor only. Sit down with them and write out all of the obstacles they will be facing and give advice as to how to tackle these problems.

Summation

rubik-855160_1280Helping an addict is not easy. In fact, it’s very hard and takes a huge amount of time and effort to right the ship. There is no way to predict if your efforts will help. In all honesty, you must have blind faith because there are no guarantees with recovery.   

All of these suggestions thus far in part one and two are merely guidelines. Every addicted person is a unique personality, so reaching out to them to will require ingenuity and intuition. 

In part three of this series, I will focus on all of the things I talked about regarding challenges they will face after rehab. I will also discuss long-term aftercare, such as Sober Living Homes.

Robert Apple

Why I am Supporting Facing Addiction’s Letter to Congress

I came across the Nonprofit, Facing Addiction; they need as many signatures as possible to help Congress to understand the magnitude of addiction in America and that the funds they have allocated to solve the problem won’t be enough given its scope.

See Facing Addiction’s site here: https://www.facingaddiction.org/#skip

Sign the letter to congress here: https://www.facingaddiction.org/fund-cara-2016

For those not familiar, here is the new CARA law. Source: Cadca.org

On July 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (P.L. 114-198). This is the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years, and the most comprehensive effort undertaken to address the opioid epidemic, encompassing all six pillars necessary for such a coordinated response – prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform, and overdose reversal. While it authorizes over $181 million each year in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic, monies must be appropriated every year, through the regular appropriations process, in order for it to be distributed in accordance with the law. This law was passed almost unanimously by both the house and the senate.

From what I have read on their website, Facing Addiction has put together a comprehensive coalition of people and organizations to aide in the fight against addiction. They have been able to assemble some of the best resources available thus far and are continuing to bring in others that can help.   

I personally found out how dedicated Facing Addiction is in bringing all voices to this cause when I sent them an email asking if I could write a blog supporting the letter they are taking to Congress. I was immediately contacted by Michael King, Facing Addictions Director of Outreach and Engagement. Michael replied back to my email and set up a time to contact me by phone.

This told me everything I needed to know about Facing Addiction and their commitment to include everyone in the universal fight against addiction. To take the time to reach out and engage with a small potato blogger such as myself spoke volumes to me about their vision to bring all resources together under one tent.

Here is Facing Addictions Mission Statement Taken from Their Website:

Facing Addiction Inc. is a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding solutions to the addiction crisis by unifying the voice of the over 45 million Americans and their families directly impacted by addiction.

Vision 

Bring together the best resources in the field in order to reduce the human and social costs of addiction, every year, until this public health crisis is eliminated.

Mission

  • Build a national constituency to give the millions affected by addiction a voice
  • “Rebrand addiction” to create the understanding, empathy, outrage and demand urgently needed to advance solutions
  • Increase access to effective prevention, treatment and recovery programs
  • Translate scientific innovation into useful tools and services
  • Advocate for governments to implement evidence-based policies and regulatory practices to end addiction
  • Widely share the proof of long-term recovery

While reading their website, I was impressed with the resources they have compiled thus far. To date, they are building a huge coalition of recovery centers, clinics, after care facilities, and there is housing for recovery mentioned in their plans as well. I personally hope the housing for recovery includes Sober Living Homes. I was a manager of a Sober Living Home and am a big supporter of them.

They have brought on board a whole host of knowledgeable people for key positions. So, for me, Facing Addiction has the infrastructure in place as well as the capable people needed to reach their goals.

 This outreach to co-ordinate resources is just what the country needs to tackle America’s drug problem. Building this coalition will take the fight on addiction to the next level.

Breaking Down Their Vision

“Build a national constituency to give the millions affected by addiction a voice”

On their site, they have dedicated a section where anyone who has been affected by addiction can share their stories and opinions. This would include family, friends and relatives affected as well as professionals and organizations in the field of addiction and recovery.

I love this idea! We can learn so much from the stories of those affected and those in the field of recovery. This exchange of stories and opinions can lead to a more unified understanding of addiction and recovery. This would help build a stable community to educate people and help others suffering from addiction.

“Rebrand addiction”

Yes! This is absolutely necessary to move forward and get people to understand addiction as it really is: a curable disease. Trying to recover with the current stigma of addiction is incredibly challenging. Wherever an addict turns, they face prejudice. Addicts are in the fight of their lives, and having to deal with a stigma makes this fight overwhelming at times.  

Increase access to effective prevention, treatment and recovery programs

According to their website, the goal here is to make access to vital resources easier for those who desperately need them. From what I can tell, they would be focusing on making the connection to resources less fractured as it is presently and more organized. This would mean that, no matter where someone in need lives, an they could find all the resources and information available in one central location.

Translate scientific innovation into useful tools and services

Here they would address scientific innovations and getting these innovations out to the recovery communities for implementation. Currently there is a gap between scientific innovations and conversion into practical use in the field. This would close that gap and expedite the process of getting new innovations to people who can implement them.

Advocate for governments to implement evidence-based policies and regulatory practices to end addiction

This would consolidate the best practices based on evidence and have them integrated into a uniform approach to recovery. This would bear more evidence of proof that we are going in the right direction with recovery.

Widely share the proof of long-term recovery

This sharing of proof that there truly can be long-term recovery will help the recovery community in many ways. First, it will help with the perception that addiction is hopeless. Secondly, it can give motivation to those who are suffering and their families. I see this as very needed and instrumental to move forward in the fight against addiction.

Summation

It is my humble opinion that all of America needs to get behind Facing Addiction and their efforts to take this message of concern to Congress. Facing Addiction has taken on a huge task, and we all need to support them.

I urge all Americans to share this post to everyone one they know. Whether you are an addict or the family of an addict makes no difference. ALL Americans are affected by addiction, either personally or socially. Addiction wreaks havoc and destruction in our nation, and we need to do everything we can to stop it. Addiction has now surpassed car accidents as a cause of death in America.  

Please click this link and sign the letter to Congress. You have nothing to lose by doing so, and we have so much to gain as a nation. https://www.facingaddiction.org/fund-cara-2016

Robert Apple

http://soberapple.com

Ways You Can Help an Addict

depression-1250870_1280In my previous blog, I addressed how you should avoid enabling an addict. In a three-part series of posts, I will discuss things that you can do to help an addict/alcoholic.

Part One:

sunset-538286_1920I will make this very simple; the only way you can help an addict is through communication. Wait! There must be more, that is just too simple! Nope. Think about it; there is a human in your life, that you love and care for, and you want to help them. Do you have a magic wand? Are you able to touch them like ET and somehow change them? No. We are humans; we have no magical powers. We can’t reach into someone’s mind to change the way they think. What we do have, as humans are the ability to communicate. Our ability to communicate with each other is the most powerful thing we embody.

Now some would argue that love is the most important thing we do as humans. But, how do you show someone the emotion of love? Communication.

As humans, we are all different. There is no other human exactly like us ever; we are one of a kind. It is imperative for us to communicate with each other, so we don’t feel alone. If we didn’t, we couldn’t have survived on earth until now. We learn by communicating with each other. We invent, create, teach and love each other through communication.

We develop basic ways of communication that serve our purposes and stop learning. Then we find ourselves in a place where we can’t reach someone we love. We desperately want to help them because they are in trouble, but our initial communication fails us. It is at this point that we have to find the courage to change ourselves to help our loved one who is in desperate need.

So This Helps Addicts How?

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At this point, if you are saying to yourself, I have tried communicating, and nothing worked, then please keep reading. I totally understand how you feel. I have been on both sides of this equation. I was an alcoholic/addict, and later I have tried to help addicts/alcoholics. I learned what I am going to suggest to you from my time as a manager of a Sober Living Home.

One of the things I observed as a house manager was the dynamic between addicts/alcoholics and people who were trying to help them. This dynamic varied from completely dysfunctional to moderately dysfunctional. On rare occasions, I would see a relatively healthy relationship with good communication. It became apparent to me that the more tumultuous the communication, the further the divide between the addict and the loved one.

First, you have to consider some things about your relationship with the addict. If you are a parent, spouse, loved on or friend, what is the state of your relationship with them? Are you angry at them? Is your relationship contentious? Are you mistrusting of them due to their past behaviors? My guess is that it’s probably a little of all of these.  Knowing where the relationship stands currently is important. Why? If you are angry with them and suddenly change your demeanor because you think this is the right thing to do, you would be wrong. Recognizing your starting point of communication is vital. If you are hiding your true feelings and acting out of character, you will only confuse the both of you.

When to Begin

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Well, just about any time you choose. There is no good time or bad time to start this process of communication. Ok. I have done this a million times, and we just argue, or they lie to me. Yes, they are addicts, that’s what they do when cornered or put under scrutiny.

What’s important to understand is that the person you are concerned about has receded from you and just about anybody else in life. Their world has become minuscule, and they only socialize with guys like themselves. To help them, you have to coax them back into the world that they are desperately trying to escape. You need to establish a line of communication that is not threatening to them.

Think of it this way: You live in an acceptable world by social standards, while they reside in a world that is not. You can’t physically pull them out of this place, nor can you berate or shame them into leaving. What you can do is use our most powerful tool available to us: communication.

You have to think long-term here. If an addict has been unattached from society for, let’s say, five years, you can’t expect them just to get sober and be fine. Rehabs are great, but it’s over in 30 days or less. More time is needed to re-acclimate back to a normal life. If it took an addict years to pull away from society, it will take months and maybe years to fully recover. So be patient.

How do I do This?
Start and think small. Don’t believe that you can accomplish anything in a day or a week. Arrange a time to meet in person or talk on the phone. Texting is not optimal but do so if it is your only choice. At this stage, you just want to communicate with them in an entirely non-biased way.

I think the best thing to do is open the communication on neutral ground. Don’t start by talking about addiction; rather, just talk. Have no agenda, just two humans talking to each other. They don’t need to hear from the disappointed, heartbroken person they hurt.

fear-441402_1280This first communication is the most vital step. So, prepare yourself for this first talk because it is going to set the tone for further talks. Don’t have any expectations early on with these discussions. Don’t judge them on their validity or how well they went according to your expectations or their’s. Simply relax and know you have started the first step in a long road.

What do I Talk to Them About?

holiday-123849_1280 Talk about the weather; talk about a new song you heard on the radio; talk about sports; talk about your hobby; talk about whatever. Just make sure everything is benign. Talking about family and friends is a big mistake. These can be immediate triggers for sadness and shame. Talking about yourself and family can lead to a contentious dialog as well. A simple statement like, “your sister misses you” is not helpful. They already know people miss them, and this bothers them deeply. If you make them sad, what do you think they will do as soon as you leave or hang up?

Try talking to them as someone you just met. You don’t talk to strangers about family or friends; you talk about everyday things. I realize this is hard to do, and it will go against everything that makes sense to you. You have to remember you are starting over with them at ground zero. For now, all you want is to have a nice chat with absolutely no connotations. Subsequent talks can get more intimate, but, for now, practice restraint and employ patience. Have faith that you are going in the right direction because you are.

Once you have had several talks where no one has become angry or aggressive, you can ease into some more personal things, such as how they are doing. Don’t rush this part and break with your plan. Be comforted that you have a plan and some control that will hopefully bring your loved one back into your life willingly.

Now, at any time in these early talks should the conversation become cynical, take control and diffuse the situation as best you can. You can’t control anyone else, but you can control yourself!

Things Not to do

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There is a high likelihood that their addicted mind will try to take advantage of you. You will be talking to two different people at first, your loved one and their addicted mind. Know the difference and don’t become angry when they start wooing you for money or favor. Don’t become rattled if that same addicted mind tells you some horrible hardship that desperately needs your assistance. Remember what I said in my blog about enabling the Addict. Enabling the Addict  Be firm and prepared for this. Do not become angry and lash out. Instead, be firm and resolute, while remaining respectful.

Here is a list of things NOT to ask during the first conversations:

• Are you still going to meetings?
• Did you find a sponsor like you promised?
• Have you talked to your sister/brother/father/mother?
• Are you still hanging around with so-and-so?
• Do you still have the same girlfriend/boyfriend?

These questions and others like them can lead to lying to you out of guilt or self-preservation. Once they start lying to you, this new communication will become worthless. When you start a discussion based on complete honesty, both of you will feel obliged to comply with the new rules. If you bait them with loaded questions that they won’t or can’t answer honestly, you will be back to where you started.

In stage one, success leads to the desire to talk further. Making this happen without letting your emotions trip things up is not easy.

Summation

We all want a miracle fix when someone we love has become addicted to drugs or alcohol. We so desperately want to have that person back with us so we can feel safe knowing they are well.

broken-glasses-1164515_1920The truth is, individuals who have become addicted are fractured, with parts of them scattered everywhere. To help, we have to get them back one piece at a time. You can’t rush this process. It takes time and patience. Here is where the greatest human capability comes to the rescue: communication. Stage one is where you can get the first piece of your loved one back.

Part two of this series will examine the mid-point of this process of communication.

Robert Apple

Enabling the Addict

Hot Topic

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One of the biggest discussions on blogs and forums about addiction is the subject of enabling. No other topic can be more emotional than that of enabling. Last week I talked to a mother about her son. Her son had a ten year battle with opiates, and he eventually died from an overdose.

The mother recounted all the years of trying to help her son with his addiction. In the beginning, she was in denial and thought this was just a phase in his life and that he would snap out of it. She went on to say that, after his first stay in rehab, she thought he was cured and would be okay. The years and relapses kept coming and still no progress. Her son would get sober for six months and start to get his life on track, and, again, here would come another relapse.

After each relapse, she would take him back to her home and pay his bills to get him on his feet again, only to be disappointed with yet another relapse. Over time, her son had become unemployable because of his addiction. In the last years of his life, he lived mostly with his mother unless he was living in a Sober Living Home. The mother refused to give up on her son and would spend any amount of money to keep him from being homeless.

In the final years of her child’s life, she had to sell her house and move to an apartment, so she could afford to pay for her son’s treatment and housing. Eventually, he was living with her full-time. He would lay around the house all day and watch TV. When she would ask him if he was looking for work, he would lie to her. He stole money from her purse, and she would write it off as, “maybe he needed money for food or some other non-drug related need.”

Exasperated and tired, she gave her son money to go on a vacation with trusted friends of the family. Her son never came home from the camping trip and died from an opiate overdose.

Later, she second-guessed herself about her choices in deciding to give her son so many chances and never letting him hit his bottom. She said she knew all about enabling but couldn’t relate it to her situation with her son. She confided in me, “if I had known my continual helping would be a factor in my son’s death, I would have done things differently.” When I asked her what she would have done differently, she said, “I don’t know. I just couldn’t stop helping him. I loved him.”
Love Isn’t Enough

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Of course, she loved him; she loved him dearly. Loving an addict is not like living a healthy person who can reciprocate that love. Addicts are driven by a force that overrides anything else in their life, including your love. Deep down it means so much to them that you love them, and they will tell you that, but if they had to choose you over their drug of choice, they aren’t choosing you. The truth is they can’t. An addict’s emotions have been hijacked. Their morals have been shelved, and their primary focus in life is to get to that place only drugs can bring them. The sad reality is if you are in their orbit, and you can help sustain their lifestyle of substance abuse, they will take advantage of you no matter how much you love them.

Ways You Can be an Enabler

Addicts can’t be reasoned with. Addicts by most definitions are temporarily insane. What this means is, if you give a user money to buy groceries or gas and you are disappointed to find out they spent it on drugs, who is at fault? You, of course! You should have taken them to the store, had them pick out what they needed, and paid for it yourself.

Another scenario of enabling would be to give them money for their allegedly broken car. What would be the likelihood, three day’s later, that their vehicle is broken again and they need more money? Very likely would be the right answer. Your thinking is, they need to get to work, and if I don’t help with the car, they might get fired. Yep, that might happen. Look, if you want to help, make sure you pay the repair shop directly.

Addicts are smart; they have learned how to manipulate anyone. Humans are very adaptable.This ability to adapt is omnipresent in addicts who become desperate. Addicts’ brains will eventually help them become cunning, focused liars. So, when they come to you with a story of a lost phone or stolen computer that is vitally necessary to all of us, check the story out before you offer to buy a new one. The truth is they most likely sold it for money, and they will try that trick again until you say no.

Another way you can enable is to take them to the doctor for sudden problems they are experiencing. They may claim they are anxious and need immediate help or they will relapse again. Here is what you need to know about this: their addict mind will go straight to the doctor and ask for the best street drug he can prescribe. You think you are helping abate another relapse. They believe that they can sell their newly prescribed drugs tomorrow for big bucks. You are unaware of this subterfuge, and when they tell you they were stolen out of their backpack, you take them back to the doctor.

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Many times parents and loved ones are afraid to confront an addict about suspicious behavior, like doctor shopping for feel well-prescribed meds. Why? Because they become angry. Of course, they become angry! Their addict mind doesn’t like to be told no. They will pull at your heart strings with; I need you to help me now; I am trying to stay sober for you, too. You have to be strong and remember who you are dealing with. You are communicating with a hyper-focused, devious addicted mind that has long ago taken over the person standing in front of you. This means you can no longer talk with this person as you used to. You have to adopt a strict, yet respectful, demeanor at all times.

I mention these stories because they are real scams that addicts I know have pulled on their parents and loved ones. Believe me; this short list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many variations of these examples.

Lastly, and this is a big one, never let an addict live with you while they are still using. I say this because, if they are using, they won’t be able to quit on their own. This means, sooner or later, you will catch them nodding off or worse. Secondly, they will only be using your home as a crash pad. They will show up looking like hell, wanting a shower, and then leaving when you aren’t looking. Do you need that stress in your life? Should you continue to let them stay, you may find some of your belongings missing. Yes! Your child or loved one may steal from you. I have heard too many stories of this happening. Of course, they are ashamed and feel guilty, but they may do it anyway. Think about it, if an addict has a fifty to hundred dollar a day habit, where do you think they get the money?

There are ways to help and not become an enabler. Handing out cash to an addict is not smart and can be harmful. I know people want to respect their loved ones, even if they are an addict. Helping in a responsible way is always the best, no matter how much flack you get for it. If you are a parent or loved one of an addict, you had better develop thick skin right away.

Right now you are probably thinking, geez, this guy is going to be hated by the addicts that read this! Not true! Addicts are not bad people, and they understand every truth I am saying. Once addicts become sober, they can be the most strict with other addicts. You will never see a former addict enabling another addict.

Summation

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Dealing with an addict can be incredibly challenging and overwhelming. Being an addict is overwhelming. Hard truths are what is needed, and that is not easy to do. Love is a strong emotion, maybe the strongest on earth. To be told to make decisions that go against everything we have been taught about love is not an easy thing to do. Telling a loved one to go away is a horrible decision to make, but it may be the decision that saves their life. Addicts will only change if they find themselves cornered with no way out. Simply put, this is where an addict/alcoholic finds the will to live. If you give them any chance to get out of this corner, it had better be to a rehab, and a long-term stays at a Sober Living Home.

I realize many will find this harsh, and I am aware of that. I am not trying to be inflammatory or grandiose with what I have said here; it’s meant to shock people out of their conventional thinking because addiction is VERY unconventional.

You can walk with them in their addiction, or you can stop and tell them, “I will be here for you if you decide to come back.”

Robert Apple

Fear of Success

First, a Story

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I recently had a conversation with Matt, a young man I am sponsoring, who lives in the Sober Living house that I used to manage. As Matt’s sponsor, I had to get to work with him to find out why Matt relapsed. I asked him point blank to tell me why he would jeopardize his life and his home to go drink. Matt asked me what I meant, “life and home.” I said, “well, if you get caught drinking again, you will be kicked out of the house, right?” I went on to say, “Now, if you get kicked out, you are homeless. If you are homeless, you will lose your job. If you lose your job, and you are homeless, you have no life. So Matt, why did you choose to drink?”

Matt thought for a moment and said, “ I wanted comfort and I wanted to feel healthy at a time when I was very anxious.” I asked Matt if he thought about the consequences. He said yes, but that he was powerless in this period of weakness. We talked about this weakness and his decision to follow it. I told Matt that I had made that decision many times myself, and that I understood that feeling of powerlessness. Matt asked me how I overcame it. I told him that, in the beginning, drugs and alcohol could solve any anxiety I had. In fact, the buzz of alcohol made me a better man in my eyes. I was more in the moment in life. I was more funny, creative, daring and brave. I loved this feeling. There was probably nothing that drugs and alcohol couldn’t improve as far as I was concerned. Matt totally agreed and said he felt the same way. I went on to tell him that, over time, that magic started to wear off, ever so slowly. No matter how much I drank, or how many drugs I did, I couldn’t get back that feeling of euphoria I experienced earlier. Later on, I was going in the opposite direction; I was losing my sense of judgment and morals. I was given to fits of rage and sadness. In the end, all I was left with was a feeling of overwhelming darkness in my soul. My magic pills and bottle were no more. Now I was only poisoning myself for no gain whatsoever. So, to answer Matt’s question, I could clearly see drugs and alcohol were not the answer to anything, except maybe death.

Matt thought for a moment before he spoke. He always does this when I say something that is close to home for him. Matt said “I can see myself going there Bob, I really can.” I asked him what he was afraid of. He mentioned many things like feeling anxious, bored, self-conscious. I asked Matt if he was afraid of success. He said “not really, it’s mostly those other things.” I asked Matt if he thought he was smarter than most people. He sheepishly said, “Yes, I have a big ego.”

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I said, “ Matt you are afraid of success. I say this because you have proven to yourself and others how intelligent and capable you are, but you always find a way to screw things up in life.” Matt replied “maybe I am.” I told him that most addicts and alcoholics are afraid of success; even the seemingly lucky ones like athletes, rock stars, business moguls and others find themselves doubting their abilities and turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. The fear of success prevents us from achieving goals in life, and when people have a big ego, such as Matt and many other addicts, and are not fulfilling their perceived destinies, they become depressed and anxious. Once we find drugs and alcohol to quell those feelings, we are hooked and hooked bad.

I ended our conversation with, “Matt, the key to you getting better, and staying sober, is to face your fear of success. You need to challenge yourself to be as great as you imagine yourself to be, and accept failure along the way. Matt, you are living in a Sober Living home, and you have a job. For you, that is a success right now. Matt, don’t screw this achievement up.”

 Why Fear Success?

That’s an excellent question. It could be that, if you were to become successful, you would have to maintain that success. For example, this could be a job promotion that would require you to take on more responsibilities. With more responsibilities comes expectations and pressure for results. This can be overwhelming to some people. It may also be that you are afraid to fail, so instead, you abort any chance of being successful. In any case, fear of success prevents many capable people from aspiring to be their best while overcoming addiction.

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When you look at the fear of achievement, it seems illogical. Of all the things to be afraid of, success should be at the bottom of the list. Though this fear may not make any sense, you see it all the time. You see it in yourself, and you see it in others in everyday life, as well as in recovery. We have all had friends, or siblings will have tremendous potential that was never realized. I know I have fled from things I really wanted to do in life out of fear I might succeed. I always blamed it on anything but myself. After examining my life, I could clearly see how I was the one to blame.   

Fear of Success in Recovery

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The definition of fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

The definition of success is a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.

You see fear of success, as it relates to recovery, in many alcoholics and addicts. Why? Well, if an addict or alcoholic becomes successful in their attempt to become sober, they then have to maintain sobriety to remain successful. This brings about an unpleasant emotion. Why? The first thing that comes to mind is they no longer will have their crutch, their coping mechanism. Now when they are depressed or anxious, they will have to face this alone. Addicts and alcoholics are not used to this; they are used to getting out of these stressful situations by drinking and using. They are accustomed to sabotaging successful sobriety out of fear.

When I was living in a Sober Living Home, I encounter all kinds of fear in people living there. People feared they would never regain the trust of others. They feared they would be ostracized from their family and loved ones. They feared they could never get their life back on track again. To me, the biggest fear they faced was fear of becoming sober. Being paralyzed by fear of success is a very real emotion to addicts and alcoholics.

To prove this fear exists, I will share a common story I would frequently hear at the House. When asked, “do you believe, if you were to go to meetings, get a sponsor, do the steps, that you could become sober and stay sober?” Yes, would almost always be the answer. Then why don’t you do these things? “I don’t know,” would be the answer most given.

The truth is they do know. They are afraid to be successful at sobriety. Why else would you not do the things that have been proven to help?  

Summation

Matt was apparently sabotaging his chances for a successful attempt at becoming sober out of fear; fear that he would be in anguish and pain. I was trying to give him a far greater thing to be afraid of homelessness or even death. Matt agreed and made the connection.

When we hear about people dying from drug and alcohol abuse, we are perplexed. How could this happen? Why didn’t they just stop? There are many factors that have a role in these events. Poor life choices would be one; refusal to get help would be another. Sometimes it’s just an accidental overdose.

In the case of habitual addicts or alcoholics, it could be fear of success. Fear of joining the world without substances that block out all the inevitable pain life sometimes offers up. Fear of being successful at life.

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There is a line Tony Bennet delivers in the movie, Amy about Amy Winehouse. Tony said, “Life teaches you how to live it if you live long enough.” I think he was trying to say if Amy had not feared life and her sobriety, she would have lived and eventually figured things out. Once we understand that there are greater things to fear than success, then we can begin on the road to recovery.

Robert Apple        

 

Community Spirit

What community?

There is a community of recovering addicts and alcoholics out in the world. Most people have no idea this community exists. This community exists in AA/NA meetings, in Rehabs, Sober Living Homes and on the internet. This community is all about helping one another to recover and stay sober. At meetings, you get support and guidance from those who have years of sobriety. In Rehabs you find like souls searching for answers about themselves. Now on the internet, you can stay connected on forums. This community is real; it is alive and well in my life.

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First, I was all alone in addiction. Most of my friends had moved away from me, or I had moved away from them. Addiction is a very lonely place for an alcoholic. Addicts tend to maintain a few friends, but most are transient. For the most part, addicts and alcoholics find themselves estranged from nearly everyone, and they find themselves isolating from everything.

Building the community

When you go to rehab, you start to feel the struggle of others who are dealing with the same problem you have. You stay in a rehab for thirty days; this is more than enough time to reconnect with the world again. In my case, I think the only person I had talked to in two months was the guy at the liquor store, and one of those conversations was me saying “sorry man, it won’t happen again” after falling into the shelf of liquor bottles. Now I had thirty-five people to talk to, and it was great! I felt alive again. I felt like I was a human being, not a robot that shuffled to the liquor store every day avoiding eye contact with anyone.

Rehabs are where you meet some of your future community. It all starts there; you exchange email addresses, and you stay in touch with people you have spent weeks with while discovering what’s wrong with you. Even if you don’t remain in contact with these people, they are with you in spirit as you travel through your journey to sobriety. You remember conversations you had with them. You were touched by their stories that were so eerily close to your own.

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Building a community of friends and support is critical to recovery. As humans, we are at our best when we work together. A recovery community is no different than any other community where multiple people can achieve much more than the single individual.

In the case of the addict and alcoholic, having friends and support to help them along the way is crucial. No longer are you fighting your internal battle alone, you are fighting with others who understand the complexities of the struggle.

The first things you hear from newcomers at AA/NA meetings is; “I am lost” or “I need help because I can’t do this alone, I have tried.” I remember telling the first counselor I had in Rehab, “I want to quit, but I don’t know how.”

After leaving my first and second Rehabs, I went home and disconnected from everyone I had met there. I didn’t want to belong to a community of addicts and alcoholics. I was wrong to think I could do it alone. Consequently, I wound up in a third rehab. The difference this time was when I got out, I stayed connected and went to live in a Sober Living Home.

Gaining members

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After rehab, you reconnect and exchange phone numbers. You then hit up new meetings in other parts of town and add new members to your growing community. Some of the speakers have great things to say that resonate with you. Their words stick with you, and you recall them when you need a lift or inspiration. As you continue this routine, your community of others like you has grown exponentially, and it is comforting. The more meetings you attend, the more you feel connected to this community of souls. When you feel bad or edgy, you may reach out to this community for some direction or solace. 

Roommate Members

If you go to a Sober Living Home, you meet a different kind of community member. These members will likely have the biggest impact on you. These may be friends for life. If you spend a year in a  Sober Living Home with other people in recovery, it would be hard not to become very close to them. You get to know them intimately, and you learn almost everything there is to know about them. You share everything from stories about your childhood, to things about high school, college, relationships, and so much more. The most important aspect you share is how the hell you all got there. Everyone shares their thoughts on “what went wrong.” This topic is the most studied and scrutinized of all subjects. Everyone has different stories that all share the same ending. It’s like we all wrote a different life story set in different times and places, yet we wrote the same finale.

I have had friends for years that don’t know as much about me as my roommates at the Sober Living House know. We had so much time to dig into our pasts and find common traits in all of us that led us to addiction. In the confines of that house, we were not being judged by our past behaviors; we were being commended for our strength to want to change the past. We supported each other every day. We kept tabs on each other. We could always tell when someone was down and needed help. The same thing happens when you go to a meeting or talk to a friend from rehab. You feel so free and open to sharing your past and present life, warts and all.

Websites and Blogs

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Lastly, there is the online community. There are great sites with valuable information where you can connect with others and become educated about addiction and recovery. Many Blog writers have so much to share about their experiences. Also, many authors have written some great books about recovery. Facebook has so many good recovery groups you can join too.

The people I have contacted, the blogs and the sites, and authors of books I have read, all add to my ever-growing community.  

 

Summation

So there it is, that’s The Community Spirit. It’s an amalgamation of all the people you meet at rehab, meetings, Sober Living Homes, forums, and blogs. These are the spirits that you have so much in common. These are the people who have ruined their lives with addiction like you have. These are the individuals who have been to a special hell that only addicts and alcoholics know.

Some of them are still in their addiction; some are dead or in jail. Others are doing well and have been able to keep their addiction at bay. No matter where their station in life, they belong to a community of people who have shared an experience together which has bonded their spirits forever. 

This community is not something I would have ever aspired to join, but I am grateful to have it just the same. I will be a life-long spirit of this community, and that is fine with me.

Robert Apple