Tag Archives: addiction recovery

Developing Resilience As Part Of Addiction Recovery

ResilienceIn addition recovery programs that are holistic and client-based, resiliency training is one of the key elements of the program. People with addiction have lost their ability to be resilient, and they lack the coping strategies to deal with the challenges and obstacles life throws in their path.

Often this lack of resilience actually comes from unhealed and untreated trauma that may have occurred throughout childhood. This type of trauma can be devastating and lifelong, but it can also be treated even later in life, and the client can develop coping skills and rebuild the resiliency to be able to bounce back when life seems to be going in the wrong direction. Continue reading

How to Help Someone Struggling With Alcoholism

Anonymous DrinkerToday, it seems like alcohol is the drug of choice for many who suffer from addiction. And why not? It’s legal, socially acceptable, and fairly inexpensive. However, as anyone who knows an alcoholic will tell you, it can easily be abused. While alcohol does have reputation for loosening people up, it can cause some people to completely lose control. The results of alcoholism can include broken relationships, broken lives, and even death. So what do you do if someone important to you is an alcoholic?

Stop Blaming Them

This is one of the hardest things for a family member to do. Many people still see alcoholism as a choice. By this logic, the excuses, broken promises, and bad behavior are also choices. However, this is not the story. While the decision to pick up the first drink was a choice, what ensued after was not. Some people have a genetic predisposition toward addiction. Once alcohol is introduced to these types of genetics, the result is unavoidable. Blaming them, especially to their face, will just cause them to drink more.

Stop Enabling Them

The flip side to the blame game is the enabling game. While you should try to be understanding, it’s possible to be too understanding. Even if person is drunk, you should never excuse irresponsible behavior, violence, or property damage. Instead, getting them into program with competent health care professionals (like 12 Palms Recovery Center, Alcoholics Anonymous, etc) is a better way to show true understanding and compassion.

Stop Trying To Cure It

Many people feel that’s it’s up to them to help their loved one through this situation. This is particularly true if the friend was always in a more care-giving role than the other. This role of caregiver can extend to parents, children, lovers, siblings, or even best friends. However, there’s nothing you can do to cure it. The alcoholic themselves has to want to cure it, or no cure will ever work. A recovery center can help them get the help and strength they need to cure themselves.

Stop Pretending It Will Go Away

Far too many people feel that if they ignore the problem long enough it will go away. However, alcoholism does not get better on its own. It’s a progressive disease. Eventually, an alcoholic left to their own devices, will drink themselves to death 100% of the time. That’s where you come in.

Get Rid Of All The Alcohol In The House

This rule includes all alcohol, even the cooking wine. While this does not stop an alcoholic from drinking, it does make it more difficult. Additionally, it removes the temptation from a recovering alcoholic. A recovering alcoholic can fall off the wagon at any time, so removing temptation plays a major part in recovery.

Alcoholism is a frightening disease. Since many people are able to drink alcohol with no ill effects, it’s not unreasonable that someone who is now an alcoholic once thought that too. When a person becomes an alcoholic, they’re relying on you to step in and get them help they need

Addiction, Isolation, And The Law Of Attraction

UntitledOne of the most common issues that I found when completing research for “The Law of Sobriety” is how addiction and isolation go hand in hand. For most people it is the isolation that triggers the addiction and then the addiction that drives the isolation.

Let me explain what I mean. A person, it could be a teen or an adult, feels socially isolated for some reason. Perhaps they just moved to a new city, started a new job, went to a new college or school, or perhaps they have social anxiety and have difficulty being around people. Regardless of the reason, they feel alone and apart from others. This is a very negative place to be and one that is not in keeping with the natural desire of humans to have meaningful interactions and relationships with others.

The person is aware of their isolation and feelings of loneliness so they are constantly thinking about being alone and what they are missing in their lives. The Law of Attraction comes into play because the negativity and sense of isolation is all the person thinks about. This, in turn, brings about more isolation and loneliness since your emotional state, in this case negative, attracts similar elements in the world around you.

Then, one day, that lonely, unhappy person does something that makes them feel positive, connected and a part of something. This may be gambling getting online, shopping, watching porn, having a few drinks at a bar or using a legal or illegal drug. This rush of feel good chemicals in the brain is new and exciting, so the person repeats the behavior to continue to get that sensation. The problem is, of course, that they need to keep doing more and more to try to recapture that initial sensation.

As time goes by the desire to repeat the behavior, the addiction, becomes problematic socially. What they did to feel good they now know is undesirable to others, so they become more and more isolated to hide the addiction. With less support the addiction becomes the person’s life; creating a vicious cycle.

Here are three simple steps, using the principles of the Law of Attraction, that I work with each of my clients in recovery to stop attracting negative energy and bring in the positive:

  1. Focus on one good thing a day. When you are focusing on the positive you are open to receiving positive energy and opportunities.
  2. Identify one person that you trust to connect with on a daily basis. This person needs to be a positive influence and someone that is clean, sober and supportive.
  3. Set one goal a day and get it done. This can be a small goal; but that sense of accomplishment will bring more accomplishment into your life as you become confident in your abilities and talents.

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Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life, Love & Recovery Coach is featured in Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the   law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your free E book “Filling The Empty Heart” and your “Are You a Love Addict Quiz?” at www.sherrygaba.com. Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Take  Sherry’s quiz for a free eBook Filling the Empty  Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction.

5 Early Signs of Addiction to Look Out For

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 4.30.33 PMThe vast majority of people who have an addiction, regardless of the type of addiction, have very similar patterns of behavior. Often the people who are close to an addict miss the early signs of addiction or accept the behaviors of the addict based on the lies the addict tells. Understanding these “games” that addicts play can help you identify the telltale signs of addiction even in the early stages.

As I talk about in “The Law of Sobriety”, addicts realize that what they are doing is destructive, negative, and harmful. They do whatever they can to hide their addiction from friends and family. Some addicts are very good at this secretive double life but it always comes to the surface when the addiction takes over. For many this is a slow process while for others it can be relatively fast.

There are 5 typical behaviors that are common with addictions of all types. If you suspect someone has an addiction these will be red flags that can help you to determine if you need to reach out to get them the help and support they need.

  1. Manipulating their time –  an addict needs to find time to engage in their addictive behaviors away from who that are critical of the behavior. Watch for absences, irregular schedules, and lack of accountability for time in the addict’s life.
  2. Denial – the addict will deny or minimize any type of behavior that is related to the addiction.
  3. Defensiveness – questioning the addict about their life, habits, behavior, changes in their personality, or any other issues will trigger extreme defensiveness or blaming.
  4. Lies – catching addicts in lies is usually not difficult to do. Telling lies and trying to remember these stories is stressful, difficult, and overwhelming.
  5. Isolation – most addicts remove themselves from the people that know them best because their change in behavior, lifestyle or personality is most obvious to those who are familiar.

Changing from addiction to a clean and sober lifestyle first takes acceptance and acknowledgement of the addiction. Detecting addiction-related behaviors and getting help and support for yourself as well as the addict is essential in providing the right environment for this acceptance to occur.

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Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life, Love & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab  on  VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law  of  attraction to  recover from any addiction. Please download your free E book “Filling The Empty  Heart” and your “Are You a  Love Addict Quiz?” at www.sherrygaba.com Contact Sherry for  webinars, teleseminars,  coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen  to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with  Sherry Gaba” on CBS Radio Take  Sherry’s quiz for a free eBook Filling the  Empty Heart: 5 Keys to  Transforming Love Addiction.

When More is Never Enough: My Triumph Over Addiction

200559715-002Food, work, the internet, caffeine, booze, exercise, shopping, lovers… many of us grapple with addiction in some way. Many commonly ascribe genetics to addiction, but it’s actually a complex spiritual condition stemming from unresolved emotional pain. Regardless of whether it is pain originating in childhood, or another lifetime, unresolved pain shows up on the physical plane as a voracious appetite for more. To constantly need something outside of ourselves to be OK is a very legitimate state of dis-ease.

Addiction comes in many shades, and while I (maybe) didn’t look like a person who was suffering from addiction, I, too, used to be trapped in the insatiable cycle of more – that never seemed to be enough. I was young and fit, but it wasn’t enough. I had a good job and a boyfriend, but it wasn’t enough. I had a closet full of designer clothes and a home on the beach, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know what was missing exactly, but I still felt like I needed something more, and then I’d be happy.

The belief that more money, more work, more accolades, more food, more alcohol, more clothes, more concerts, more lovers – whatever it may be – will make us whole/better/happier is an indicator that we are in emotional pain. With this corrupted thinking, we believe we are not enough just as we are, making it very difficult to value ourselves. If we can’t value ourselves, it makes it very difficult to value anything thing else we create.

On the spiritual plane, when we’re in emotional pain, we go “out-of-body” as spirit. You may be familiar with going out-of-body from instances when you are driving and suddenly you realize you have no memory of the road you’ve traveled down for the past twenty minutes. Where did you go? If you weren’t there, who was driving the car?

Every spirit creating through physical form is innately a trans-dimensional creator, meaning we go in and out-of-body many times throughout our day. What people call “spacing out” is more accurately understood as “going out” of our physical form. When we are struggling with emotional pain, we go out-of-body more frequently because we are living in a pain body and it doesn’t feel comfortable to be in-body. What’s more, we go out-of-body to a greater degree when we ingest drugs or alcohol. You may recognize how people you know seem to have different personalities (alter egos) when they’ve ingested drugs or alcohol. This is because going out-of-body leaves our bodies open to a number of spirits who then direct through us. Just as if you were to leave your house with the door wide open, lights on, and the music blasting, some people might take up residence in your home and party down while you’re gone- the same goes for your physical form.

In other words, the sensation of lacking control, otherwise known as addiction, is a result of literally not being in-body enough to maintain ownership of your body; therefore multiple spirits direct through you, making it feel like you have an insatiable appetite for more. These spiritual dynamics – compounded with the inability to value ourselves – prompts us to feel like we need even more, sending the cycle of compulsion spinning round ‘n round and making it nearly impossible to sit still and even enjoy the present moment. As we heal old emotional pain, and cultivate our own personal self worth, it becomes easier to be in-body and present in our lives a greater percentage of the time.

Despite the our society’s vague promise that net worth equates to self worth, I discovered that the real seeds to self worth – and ultimately a much happier life – are Dollars funnel.authenticity, vulnerability and integrity. Probably much to my parents’ dismay, these weren’t attributes I emerged with from childhood. I was pretending on the pretending and I didn’t even know I was pretending. Most people don’t. They just know they want more.

So how does one go about cultivating authenticity, vulnerability and integrity?

Authenticity means being true to yourself. Not going with the crowd just because that’s the easiest way to win approval and acceptance. Taking time to truly find what lights you up inside, and not just doing what you think is expected of you from your parents, teachers, and friends. It means making hard and sometimes unpopular choices, but if you find the courage deep inside of you to do so, you’ll find the authenticity, and power, you never knew you didn’t have.

Vulnerability means expressing the full rainbow of emotions we human beings are capable of feeling, rather than just portraying a picture perfect veneer. Only when we are truly honest with others about who we really are, and what we’re experiencing, can we share a genuine heart connection. If you are being validated for an image of perfection you portray, your performance is being validated, not your authentic self; therefore, you don’t feel seen or loved.

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to get comfortable being vulnerable is to create art of any form. Art is effective in drawing out our vulnerabilities because in order to access our creativity, we must suspend our judgment, and let go of fears of what other people might say or think of us. In creating (paintings, music, writing, acting, dance) you are removing the mask you may not even know you hide behind. The more I did this, the more comfortable I got feeling exposed, and discovered in the midst of creative passion, the tell-tale signs of being in body – hot hands and feet, heightened concentration, and unabashed enthusiasm – appeared and I found myself relishing the elusive, present moment. In the throws of inspiration, there was no place I’d rather be, and the last thing I needed was more.

Integrity is being honest with yourself and others. It means telling the truth, and following through with what you’ve committed to do. Integrity is the willingness to apologize when you’re wrong and pave the way for forgiveness. A common saying amongst people healing from addiction is “you are only as sick as your secrets.” Integrity means telling the truth – even when it’s uncomfortable – even when it can get you in trouble. I grew up stretching and bending the truth because I pushed and rebelled, and when I got caught, I didn’t want to get in trouble. Sure I escaped being punished, but years later, in a never-ending quest for more, I found myself in a different kind of trouble. I had fear and shame (emotional pain) and as a result I was “out of body” and on the never-ending quest for more.

I finally resolved to tell the truth, even if my voice shakes. I committed to show up and follow through with what I set out to do; I began creating art, making music and writing. As I cultivated my authenticity, vulnerability, and integrity, I started to experience a contentment I’d never known before, and was surprised to see my addictions lose their grip on me. I still work, eat, shop, drink, love, and of course use the internet, but none of these things dictate my days or nights and rather than feeling like it’s not enough, I feel gratitude for my life and what I’ve created.

I now know the aforementioned practices were immensely powerful because they served as building blocks for what I now know as self worth. While there are certainly many different pathways to healing from addiction, I’ve found it cowers in the face of true self-worth. I realized this one day, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and felt sincere love and respect for the woman staring back at me, and it felt really good to be in her body.

The Connection Between Trauma And Addiction

078/365 mourningTrauma is a word that we hear a lot in typical conversation. Trauma, by definition, is any type of experience that causes distress or emotional disturbances for an individual. In some cases trauma may be strictly emotional and psychological while in other situations there may also be a physical component.

For example, a person who witnesses a death or a serious accident may experience emotional and mental distress over the images that they remember from the event. A person who was actually in the incident may have physical trauma or injury as well as the mental distress and disturbance of the experience.

Trauma is very personalized and can be different for different people based on life experiences, upbringing, and even your current emotional health. What one person may see as a traumatic incident that is distressing or shocking may not be problematic for another individual. This is why trauma is often so difficult to identify, treat, and manage for both mental health professionals as well as for individuals.

What I found when preparing my notes for my book, The Law of Sobriety, is that many of the people I worked with in addiction recovery had significant trauma in their lives that they had not addressed. This could have been trauma from a dysfunctional family as a child, current or past abusive partners or spouses, or trauma from things they had witnessed or lived through that were not relationship based. Often the individual was bothered by these distressing memories but didn’t seek help or even know that they had been traumatized by the experience.

These people often dwelt on the negative emotions that were part of the memories of the trauma. The more they dwelt on the negatives the more that other similar negative experiences occurred in their life. Often alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping or food was used as a way to try to self-medicate and get to a less stressful emotional space. The result was that that negativity caused by the trauma fueled the addiction.

Working through the negativity of trauma and learning to focus in on positives in your life is key to breaking the trauma and addiction connection. It is possible to put trauma behind you and to overcome the fears, disruptions and negativity associated with these events in your life and move forward as a sober, happier you.

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Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life, Love & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your free E book “Filling The Empty Heart” and your “Are You a Love Addict Quiz?” at www.sherrygaba.com Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba” on CBS Radio Take Sherry’s quiz for a free eBook Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction.

Self-Love and Time on the Path to Addiction Recovery

I think I'll start a new lifeIf you have ever tried to make a behavioral change you know how difficult it may be. Perhaps you have tried to quit smoking, cut out that soda or avoid that dessert. The biggest thing that people forget is that all addictions are not simply and only behavioral; they also have a psychological and physiological component. Our brain chemistry changes because of the addiction and we have to retrain our brains to seek pleasure and that “feel good” feeling from other behaviors and activities.

Time is one element of addiction recovery that is difficult to understand. Time is required to train the brain, understand the addiction triggers and set goals for moving into recovery and lifelong success. People that don’t give themselves the time to change their mindset about themselves and their behavior are much less likely to have a successful path on their route to sobriety and positive behavioral changes.

One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen in my years as an addiction recovery specialist is the individual moving from treatment too quickly. In my book The Law of Sobriety I highlight this phenomenon with a story about a client I am calling April.

April was an alcoholic that used drinking as a way to deal with social anxiety around dating situations. She put a lot of pressure on herself to be in a relationship, which triggered drinking on each and every date. Instead of staying in treatment and learning about herself and what she wanted in a partner she chose to leave treatment early as she felt that she no longer alcohol to get by. She failed to realize that the reason she didn’t need alcohol in treatment is because she wasn’t putting herself in the anxiety provoking dating situation.

April needed to learn to love herself before she could attract a loving, caring partner. When she didn’t tap into the Law of Attraction and express that love for herself she was actually sending out negative signals to those around her. Thankfully April was able to see through her mistake and return to treatment. Through focusing in on developing positive thoughts about herself she was able to heal, set goals for positive, sober behaviors in social settings, and to allow the world to see her for the wonderful person she is.

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Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and is the author of The Law of Sobriety which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. You can download free E books at www.sherrygaba.com or contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba” on CBS Radio.

photo by: Noukka Signe

Gabrielle Bernstein: A Meditation to Help Treat Addiction

Let’s face it: in some form or another we all suffer from addiction. These days we often turn to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, work, the Internet, and many other addictive obsessions in efforts to avoid feeling our discomfort. If we’re not addicted to drugs, cigarettes, or the typical vices then we are subconsciously addicted to fear, rejection, victim-hood etc. In some way we’re all addicted to negative patterns.

When we’re addicted there is an imbalance in the pineal gland also called the the third eye. The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. When the pineal gland is imbalanced bad habits turn into addictions. The imbalance in the pineal gland affects the pituitary gland which regulates the rest of the glandular system. When the pituitary gland is affected the entire body and mind go out of balance.

Use this meditation for any type of addiction from alcoholism to addiction to fear based thoughts.

Breakdown as taught by Yogi Bhajan 
Sit in an Easy Pose, with a light jalandhar bandh (neck bent gently forward). Straighten the spine and make sure the first six lower vertebrae are locked forward.

Eyes: Keep the eyes closed and focus at the Brow Point.

Mantra: SAA-TAA-NAA-MAA

Mudra: Make fists of both hands and extend the thumbs straight. Place the thumbs on the temples and find the niche where the thumbs just fit. This is the lower anterior portion of the frontal bone above the temporal-sphenoidal suture. Lock the back molars together and keep the lips closed. Keeping the teeth pressed together throughout,
alternately squeeze the molars tightly and then release the pressure. A muscle will move in rhythm under the thumbs. Feel it massage the thumbs and apply a firm pressure with the hands. Silently vibrate the five primal sounds—the Panj Shabd—SAA-TAA-NAA-MAA, at the brow.

Time: Continue for 5-7 minutes. With practice the time can be increased to 20 minutes and ultimately to 31 minutes.

photo by: Moyan_Brenn

Yoga and Addiction: What It Took a Brush with Death to Learn

Can yoga stand in as an alternative to violence and addiction?

The latest episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well features the story of a healer and recovering addict who discovered the path to recovery through yoga, meditation, and martial arts. Abdi was fifteen when he moved to New York City from Iran, and the city immediately overwhelmed him. The stress of life as an immigrant, on top of the struggles of being a teenager, eventually led Abdi to drugs and violence. He remembers thinking at one point that his lifestyle would either land him dead or in prison, but as it turned out, there was another path in store for him.

Many people refer to a single point of awakening at which recovery and transformation begin. It may be a near-death experience, a rite of passage, or even a poignant word from a friend that makes us pause and re-evaluate. For Abdi, the back-to-back deaths of several of his friends forced him to step back and take stock of the path he was on. Now, with nearly thirty years’ experience as a healer, Abdi can look back and see the pain and turmoil of his youth as the fodder for his spiritual awakening. As he says in his book, Shadows on the Path, “Pain is what puts us on the journey back to ourselves.”

In his daily work as an acupuncturist and trained shaman, Abdi interacts with patients who, like himself, have suffered from addiction. In fact in Abdi’s opinion all of us confront “the addictive system” throughout our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. “An addict,” he says, “can be anyone who uses a behavior to escape reality or to resist being in the moment.” By that definition, how many of us might be classified as television addicts, or exercise addicts, or reading addicts? How often are we thoroughly present in the moment – and when we aren’t, what are we doing instead?

What Abdi ultimately discovered is that practices like yoga, meditation, and martial arts can be instrumental in the healing process. These practices force us to stay in the moment. They defy numbing addictive patterns by bringing us back to our center, back to the moment. They force us to slow down and make conscious choices about our actions. Yoga, in particular, also encourages self-love by challenging us to find comfort and peace even in the most difficult of positions.

These practices became Abdi’s alternative to violence and addiction. Where the latter are unproductive and lead ultimately to destruction, Abdi found that yoga and meditation provided him with the tools to transform suffering into what he calls “the inner connection.” And once found, there is no need to return to old habits.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more inspiring episodes of URBAN YOGIS, every Monday!

Related Articles:

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Teenage Yogis: Fostering Peace in the Face of Rising Violence

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