Growing up with an alcoholic parent, we were taught to see things in extremes. It was either the best possible thing that could ever happen, or the worst possible thing that could ever happen. Our parents had been taught, and were passing on to us, the lesson that people in the world are good or bad, right or wrong, smart or stupid, strong or weak. If something bad happened, we often heard phrases such as, “I should just give up, then.” Our world was framed around these extremes. We have extreme reactions to situations and people in order to get what we want.
Most people can relate to having a strong desire, belief and yes, even faith, that something good was about to happen. This may have been a strong intuition that they were going to get that promotion, meet Mr. or Mrs. Right or even reconnect with someone after a misunderstanding that created a rift in the relationship. However, for whatever reason, despite the strong belief that we had it would all work out, it didn’t. The promotion went to someone else, Mr. or Mrs. Right turned out to be wrong and despite our willingness to rekindle the relationship the other person wanted to stay mad and unforgiving.
When this happens the first step is to immediately see the negative. We berate ourselves for our wishful thinking, for our mistake believes and our misplaced faith in the positive aspects of the universe. We often block ourselves from trying again and sink into a cycle of negativity, cynicism and critical outlook on the world around us.
Instead, there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your faith, belief and hope stays alive and you stay focused on the positives. Getting caught up in negativity will only attract more negativity, a concept that is central in my book, “The Law of Sobriety” , which is based on the universal Law of Attraction. Three techniques that really help you stay focused on the positive energy around you even if things don’t go the way you anticipated are:
- Don’t try to control how positives will come into your life, just look for the opportunities that the universe provides. Controlling the process will simply block possibilities.
- See yourself as you want to be, not how you want to get there.
- Have faith and believe in your vision for yourself, don’t set a timeline or a specific date that it has to be accomplished by.
The hospital room where my father lay deathly ill from emphysema was small and sterile. All of his friends in Alcoholics Anonymous were gathered in the waiting room telling stories and recounting fond memories of their time with Dr. John Mooney. This was 1982 and my father had been an upstanding citizen of our community for 23 years. He was a well-known surgeon who plummeted through the gates of hell with a drug addiction, along with my mother, until a series of miracles and loving friends forced him to get help. In the recently published book, When Two Loves Collide, by William Borchert, the readers can follow the heart-ache, pain, despair, and loneliness, on a spiritual journey with an ending that has touched thousands of lives.
The crowd that was gathered at the hospital that day seemed jovial. There was laughter along with the tears. At times, the nurse had to plead for silence as patients were complaining about the noise. It was a room filled with love and support. That’s how AA folks are.
I sat in a chair in the corner facing away from the group in dirty blue jeans. I wanted no part of the camaraderie. I was 20, strung out on drugs and homeless. Because my parents got sober in 1959, they understood addiction. In fact, they dedicated their lives to helping others. But they had done all within their power to get me sober, to no avail. They were pretty sure their only daughter, would die a horrible alcoholic death. A letter I received from them in 1980 read:
Dearest Carol Lind,
Your father and I love you very much, but we have accepted the fact that death may be the answer to your alcoholism. Although that would be the worst thing imaginable, we will have to find a way to be okay. You are always in our prayers.
Mama and Daddy
They had turned me over to God and gotten on with their lives.
My home was a small tent by the railroad tracks. In the mornings, I would awaken with leaves tangled in my hair. My mom found me there and asked me to come say “good-bye” to my dad.
So, as I sat in my corner of the ICU waiting area, I was alone. My father was the most important person in my life. He was witty, charming, and brilliant. But I couldn’t stay sober long enough to have a relationship with him. I wanted nothing more than to walk in his room, hold him, telling him how much I loved him. Instead, I sat in my cold metal chair, shaking, and thinking about getting high. When the doctor let me go in to see him, my dad looked at me with disgust and sadness in his eyes and asked me to leave.
Thank God for second chances. Much to the doctor’s surprise, my dad recovered and was released from the hospital. Several months later I hit my bottom with drugs. I asked for help and began my own journey into recovery. My dad was mostly home-bound. I learned in early sobriety to be helpful to others, so I spent time getting to know him & helping him. In his pajamas he taught me about the intricacies of baseball. He educated me on the many species of birds outside of his window. He showed me how to forgive others – no matter what they had done. He taught me about being of service to God and my fellows. I was able to make amends the best I could. An alcoholic or addict causes harm in ways too painful to express. But he forgave me. He did that not only for me, but for him. So he could have peace of mind.
Ours is a story of hope, forgiveness, and love. It is not a sad tale. When my father passed away on November 10, 1983, he knew I was safe and happy. That’s all he ever wanted, I suppose. I thought he wanted me to have fancy titles and prestige, but what he wanted was to lie down at night and not worry about his daughter. I am forever grateful I got sober in time to have a relationship with the greatest man I ever knew.
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Carol Lind Mooney is an Attorney and Certified Addiction Counselor with over 30 years of experience helping alcoholics and addicts. She owns three recovery residences in Statesboro, Georgia and is a co-owner of Willingway, a nationally recognized treatment center also in Statesboro. She is the daughter of Dr. John and Dot Mooney, the subjects of “When Two Loves Collide,” the new book by Emmy-nominated writer Bill Borchert. The book is available on Willingway.com, Amazon.com, books.com and in most major book stores.
The Kardashians aren’t strangers to headlines and media coverage. From Kim’s sex tape with Ray J to Kourtney’s son Mason not being Scott’s biological son to the media’s blatant insensitivity by continually calling Khloe the “ugly Kardashian.” The media has been as harsh to this family as they have been kind.
If we thought the headlines stating that O.J. Simpson is Khloe’s biological father was as bad as it could get, we were wrong. With an attitude of being able to roll with the punches, the latest headlines about Khloe’s husband, Lamar Odom, having a substance abuse problem is the type of attention this family does not want. Lamar was arrested for DUI and is reportedly addicted to crack cocaine.
He was arrested last week, and has a court date on September 27. He was lucky that he only spent 3 hours and 31 minutes in custody. The harshest consequence that Lamar faces is not a hefty fine or jail time, it’s the possible loss of his career and his marriage to Khloe.
Odom’s DUI came shortly after headlines surfaced stating that he had a substance abuse problem with cocaine. According to the LA Times, if Odom does sign with a team and is convicted of a DUI, he will face mandatory evaluation by the director of the NBA’s anti-drug program, according to terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Allegedly, Odom has an addiction to crack cocaine. Khloe has tried repeatedly to help get him clean and even arranged an intervention. Reports say the intervention took place last week and resulted in Odom storming out of the couple’s home. Drug addiction always ends with extreme consequences. In the case of Odom, seeking treatment would be the best thing that he could do at this time. He cannot be focused on saving his career or saving his marriage; he must be focused on learning about his addiction and embracing the tools necessary for a successful and healthy recovery.
I have worked with numerous couples and celebrities, and unfortunately they aren’t always ready to peel off their celebrity status and be humble enough to take their recovery seriously. My hope is that Lamar Odom takes these wake-up calls seriously. He still has time to recover.
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Sherry Gaba LCSW, a psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach, is featured on Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction; she is also a contributor to Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention, Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.
Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Today, 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
You can’t turn on the television or read a newspaper anymore without learning about some celebrity who has died from a “hard” addiction. The trial of Conrad Murray and the death of Michael Jackson are example of such a headline. Hard addictions usually include illegal drugs, prescription drug abuse, designer drugs and/or alcohol. Hard addictions can also include sex, gambling and food. What about those habits that aren’t considered “hard-core addictions”? These other hidden habits can have a negative impact on your life. While the consequences may not seem as severe, they do impact our every day lives. What do these hidden habits look like?
There is an ever-growing list of hidden habits that are viewed as “soft”. The key factor is that these habits, while harmful, do not usually result with the extremely harsh consequences of typical “hard addictions”. The follow are a few examples of activities or substances that can harm your day-to-day quality of life.
- Talking on the phone excessively
- Texting/ IM’ing
- Daydreaming rather than accomplishing your tasks
- Complaining consistently
- Gossiping with friends or co-workers
- Acting negative during a large portion of your day
- Belittling loved ones or co-workers
- Caffeine in any form
All of these activities can appear harmless, if they are done in small doses. When we overindulge, we run the risk of having a hidden habit turn into a dangerous addiction. When we use any of these activities to overcome your emotional feeling, or to make you feel full, complete, whole or satisfied, there may be underlying issues. The underlying issue of fear is similar to those that experience “hard” addictions.
Regardless of whether a habit appears “soft” or is an addiction, it can be equally devastating to the person displaying the behavior. All negative activities steal your time and energy. You find yourself devoting more time to things that are not benefiting your life. The benefit of having a hidden habit, over having a hard addiction is that hidden habits are usually easier to break. But it will take vigilance, mindfulness, and time to overcome.
If you have taken a moment to reflect on your day-to-day activities, and find that you have negative habits that are taking away from your quality of life, it is time to take action. Being aware of your negative habit is the first step. Once you are aware of the hidden habit, think about the reason you have the habit. Are you truly engaging with your negative habit because you have become comfortable and complacent?
If your negative habit is not serving you, think of ways to replace your negative habit with a positive one. You can also ask those surrounding you, who you trust, to hold you accountable. If you set a goal of cutting caffeine out of your daily routine, let others know so they can hold you accountable when you walk towards the coffee pot. If you feel the urge to spread the latest gossip, take a second to think. Is the news that you just “have to share” going to benefit anyone, or are you simply spreading news that could potentially hurt someone? As you become more aware of your hidden habits, it will take some work on your part to break them.
We all have habits, good and bad. It is important to conduct a self-check on a regular basis to determine if your habits are hurting you or helping you. By being mindful, aware and pro-active, you will find your old negative habits replaced by healthy positive habits. These healthy habits will improve your emotional, spiritual, physical and mental well being. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Originally published October 2011.
If 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.
One of the things that sometimes puts people off about religion vs. spirituality is the idea of accepting a higher power into your life. What if you don’t believe in any particular religion? Why is it necessary to believe in something greater than yourself?
Sobriety is all about knowing and accepting yourself, including all the parts you don’t like—your insecurities, fears, guilt, and doubt. That doesn’t mean you just accept your flaws and say, “Oh well, I’ll live with this“; you must also believe that you can transform yourself. But how can you both accept your flaws and work on transforming them?
To accept your imperfections and also trust that you can change, you must be willing to turn these imperfections over to something greater than yourself. That something is your higher power. You might call it Yahweh or Jesus or Buddha or Allah or Shiva. Or you might step outside of organized religion and call it the universe or spirituality or positive energy.
To transform your life, you must seek to transform yourself through spiritual growth. Spiritual growth might mean embracing God as you understand that idea. It might also mean embracing what is positive in your life with the belief that the more you embrace the good, the more good the universe will send you.
Embracing the good means turning away from the negative. You must be willing to release all the toxic energy your negative thoughts create and replace them with positive thoughts that reflect who you are striving to become. The Law of Sobriety says that your destiny is determined by how you consciously expend your energy. Right actions and positive thoughts will bring you more of the same. And this, of course, means your destiny is in your own hands.
When you believe in your higher power, you also believe you can transform yourself—even if everyone around you says you can’t. So when you get right down to it, your higher power is what enables you to believe in yourself. And when you believe in yourself, the possibilities are endless. You can walk through your fears and doubts and become who you were always meant to be.
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.
What are you addicted to? We’re all addicted to something, right?
It’s a bold, but likely accurate, statement. In today’s episode of The Chopra Well daily series ASK DEEPAK, author Deepak Chopra, M.D. contends that addiction is essentially the memory of pain and pleasure. For the most part, human beings seek out pleasure and strive to minimize pain. Even when that which pleases us also brings us pain, the memory of pleasure calls to us over and over.
When I reach for my coffee mug every morning, what drives me is the memory of bitter and slightly sweet warmth filling my throat and shocking my system into alertness. I can also recall headaches, restlessness, and fatigue from days I skipped the java – things I would rather forget and bury under steaming mugfulls.
I do not intend to trivialize other, more serious addictions — addictions that destroy relationships and end lives. But there is a spectrum of addictive behaviors. Our task, according to Deepak, is to first commit to changing our behavior. Then we can begin to create new powerful memories to overcome the ones that shackle us to our addictions.
In the video, Deepak explains that memories are stored in our core consciousness as “seed consciousness.” That is why they can never be fully erased – although new research suggests there may be ways to chemically suppress negative emotions associated with painful memories.
Short of chemical intervention, there are only spiritual remedies for addiction. These remedies transcend modern medical and psychological treatments to situate healing in the sufferer’s own hands. We can thus tap into higher consciousness, expand our awareness, and witness the vast array of responses and behaviors that are available to us. Here’s how.
If you can’t get rid of the memory, Deepak suggests you overshadow it. Create a new memory that is stronger than the one causing the addiction. He outlines three steps that will set you on the right track to holistic treatment:
1. Transcend addiction through meditation. Go beyond the field of memories to the field of pure potentiality, which characterizes the meditative state.
2. Plant new seed memories of joy, love, and pleasure. Music, massage, aromatherapy, physical detoxification, and color therapy can be effective treatments. And remember, alcohol and all other substances are poor substitutes for love. Reach out to someone and work on developing meaningful relationships.
3. Deepen your meditation practice. Explore forms of contemplative, self-aware, transcendent, introceptive, and vipassana meditation. Deepak assures us that through meditation we can begin to detach ourselves from toxic emotions and habits.
Other components of holistic treatment for addiction may involve creative expression, sacred dance, Ayurvedic nutrition, yoga, and exercise. Explore Intent Blog, The Chopra Center, and Deepak’s website for more inspiration.
By embarking on a holistic treatment plan, are we just substituting one addiction for another? Coffee for meditation. Alcohol for exercise. The key is to remain connected to “the source,” as Deepak explains, which is the soul or higher consciousness. As long as we remain conscious of our emotions and memories, without letting them control us, we stand a fair chance of living a healthy, free, and fulfilling life.
For a comprehensive, residential addiction treatment program, visit Paradise Valley Wellness Centre in Vancouver, Canada, partnered with The Chopra Center
Read Freedom From Addiction by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D., which covers medical and spiritual dimensions of addiction treatment.
Start your meditation practice TODAY with The Chopra Well’s daily show, THE MEDITATOR.
One of the hardest things that people in recovery from an addiction have to deal with is their relationships with the people in their world. While dependency and co-dependency often go hand in hand, there are also more peripheral relationships that can be toxic to a person in recovery. These toxic people are so negative, so dark and so destructive that they have to be removed from your life to allow helpful, positive and supportive people to come in.
Toxic people are all around us in the world. In my book, “The Law of Sobriety”, I talk about the effects of these individuals. Often they are very subversive and covert in their negativity, which can be even more difficult to understand. It may be hard to explain and see the havoc they are causing at first glance. Key signs of a toxic person to your recovery include:
- A person that always sees that the glass is half empty and never sees the glass as half full.
- The person that always just wants to “reality check” if something is a good decision, particularly if it is something that would take you in a direction away from them. The reality check always results in you deciding not to do that specific thing.
- A person that always makes you feel unsettled, unhappy or dissatisfied with your life or some aspect of your life whenever you are around them.
These people often have a very strong influence on a person in recovery. They can tear down all the hard work that the addict and the therapist do, but it is always done under the guise of trying to be a friend. Friends don’t discourage, friends encourage. Friends don’t focus on the negative, they encourage you to stay positive and move forward in your life.
Getting a toxic person out of your life is often a difficult issue to deal with. However, once you have that negativity out of your environment you will find that positive people come in to fill that gap, inspiring you to keep moving forward and seeking new opportunities as you move down the road of recovery.
Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & 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 books at http://thelawofsobriety.com/store/ Contact Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba”on CBS Radio