Writing Through Life’s Problems

Some people write to think. Others think to write. Either way, writing is a way to work your way through whatever is on your mind. Today’s guest blogger, Williams Miko, does just that – explain how and why writing is a helpful way to move from addiction to treatment to recovery. MWM

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If you have a personal inner struggle that you fight within, it may help to start a journal about your process. In an article from PsychologyToday.com, author Gregory Ciotti explains an extensive study that followed recently fired engineers. The study separated the fired engineers into two groups. One group participated in expressive writing about their being fired while the other group did not. The results were that the engineers who participated in expressive writing were more happy and less likely to drink than the other group who did not write. This study and my addiction recovery are both proof positive that writing can help you get through life’s toughest problems.

Writing Through Recovery

Before I went to rehab for my addiction problem I did not write or journal much at all. In all reality, if it weren’t for holistic rehab centers I may not be here writing this today. My counselor insisted I continued to journal about my rehab experience and write something in it every night. It turns out the directors of these holistic rehab centers have the right idea, because it was one of the most therapeutic tasks I had to complete at rehab. I could say things that nobody else had to hear, I could vent my frustrations and talk about my emotions, after I wrote I felt relieved.

I remember after I left rehab the first few months were the worst. The days would go by slow and I had no plan for what I wanted to accomplish with my life, I just knew I couldn’t use drugs anymore.  I decided to continue my journal and that is how I was able to put a plan together for my recovery. I wrote down the things I wanted to accomplish in the short and long term, and put a plan together to get there. For me, when I wrote new goals or plans for my life, I felt inspired and motivated to complete them and remain sober, I also felt more driven and happy after writing.

When I have a bad day in my recovery I go to my journal to read old entries to remind myself how far I have came and what is in store for my future. Also, when I wanted to use I would make new entries in my journal about what I was feeling and why. After writing my emotions down I was able to identify them when they came up again in the future. Lastly, when I wrote things down I was better able to keep track of things I needed to do and complete. Writing helped me organize my entire recovery process and has played a major role in the rest of my life since I became sober.

Just Do It!

You do not have to be a great writer to journal through a difficult problem in your life. We are all not going to be published authors, but we can utilize writing as an effective tactic to deal with life’s problems. Writing paved the way for me to grow into a healthier, happier and well rounded person. The practice of writing can make you more happy as well as provide people you with structure and a positive outlet for expressing your emotions.

 About Today’s Guest Blogger

billWilliam Miko is a writer and researcher in the field of addiction and recovery. While not everyone likes to discuss this topic, it is something that must be talked about in order to solve our problems we face with addiction in society. When not working you may find William at your local basketball court.

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

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Disorders Co-occurring With Addiction Among Teens and Young Adults

When addiction is accompanied by a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self harm, etc., it’s called a co-occuring disorder. These are common at all ages, but are particularly evident within young adults ages 12 to 22. Today’s guest blogger shares insight. MWM

Side note: Join us for the second-annual From Statistics to Solutions conference on May 11, 2017, in Minneapolis, to develop solutions for co-occurring disorders and substance use among young adults.

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Often times addiction comes with other pre-existing, or co-occurring disorders. These issues can exist alongside addiction, exacerbating the substance abuse, or even sometimes lead to its onset. Many times those suffering from these co-occurring disorders are unaware of their existence, and many times they are unaware that the substance abuse that follows is actually a form of self-medicating. They know that when they smoke pot, drink, use prescription pills or other illicit substances they experience a decrease in anxiety or depression, but they do not understand on a conscious level what this truly means. They only see the results and do not see the fact that their substance abuse is merely masking a larger issue that has probably gone undiagnosed for years.

 

Unfortunately, all of this usually comes to a head during the formative teenage years, due to the fact that the brain is still developing, and due to the mounting pressures of teenage life. Many American youth fall into the temptation of drug abuse during this time period and it is often a direct result of some underlying mental health concern.

 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 in 10 people who suffer from addiction also suffer from a mental health disorder. Among teens this number is a little lower, but about 50% of all teens who have a substance abuse disorder also suffer from a mental health concern. This means that 1 in 2 teens who are abusing drugs may be doing so as a way to deal with such issues as depression, anxiety, or any other number of co-occurring disorders.

Luckily, our understanding and our ability to treatment teenage drug abuse and co-occurring disorders has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years. We now understand that in order to deal with substance abuse issues in teens that suffer from a co-occurring disorder, we have to first get them free from drugs and other mind and mood altering substances, and then within the treatment protocol for their drug treatment, we also deal with the underlying issues that may have furthered their drug abuse.

So let’s take a look at some of the co-occurring disorders that commonly appear alongside teenage and young adult drug abuse. It is important to note that if you or your teen appears to be suffering from any of the below and a substance abuse problem, professional help should be sought in order to help stave off further issues down the road.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders with Addiction

  • Depression

According to studies approximately 20% of teenagers will experience depression before the age of 18. Besides this the World Health Organization states that depression is one of the leading causes of disability throughout the world. Among teens, depression can cause a number of different issues, but one of the most common co-occurring disorders to arise out of depression is substance abuse. Many teens who suffer from depression and who have not as of yet sought treatment are more apt to drink or use drugs as a means to cope with their depression.

  • Anxiety

Having an anxiety disorder is more than just having the occasional feeling of stress. It is more than just losing sleep before an important event, but rather it is something that can rule over a person’s life. People who have an anxiety disorder will experience an elevated level of stress or anxiety a majority of the time, sometimes even causing them debilitating social issues or panic attacks that can mimic heart attacks. Some people who suffer from anxiety disorders will turn to drugs such as pot or opioids in order to quell their anxiousness, but without dealing with the underlying issue it will always resurface over time.

  • Eating Disorders

Unfortunately many times eating disorders and addiction go hand in hand. Sometimes the eating disorder will predate the addiction, and the addiction is developed either as a means to help with the eating disorder, i.e. weight loss pills or other stimulants, or the addiction can be unrelated to the eating disorder. It is important if you are having an issue with an eating disorder to seek out professional help sooner rather than later, because it can cause a number of health complications and in some cases even result in death.

  • Self-Harm

In a sense addiction is a form of self-harm, although many addicts would not initially view it that way. The reason I say this is because a person who abuses drugs to the point that it is detrimental to their health and life is inflicting an inordinate amount of harm on themselves. For other teens though, self-harm may take on the form of cutting or burning themselves as a way to deal with anxiety, depression, or other confusing emotions. Often times teens that suffer from self-harm will also suffer from substance abuse, as the two both act as a way to cope with life.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

Teens or young adults who are suffering from addiction and some other co-occurring disorder may feel a tremendous amount of shame about their illnesses, to the point where they will not want to discuss them with anyone. They may want to hide the fact that they are abusing drug and depressed, yet neither of these things are anything to be ashamed of.

Many times in our society we place such a negative connotation of drug abuse and mental health issues that people will just pretend that everything is okay at the expense of their own happiness and wellbeing. With that said, if you believe you have an issue with substance abuse or some other mental health concern, reach out for help; even if it is frightening, and even if you think people may judge you for it. Don’t suffer alone and remember that there are millions of people around the world who feel and have felt exactly like you do right now. Give yourself a chance to get better and ask for help.

About Today’s Guest Blogger:

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

 

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

 

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Text

Thinking about you.

What’s your horoscope say?

We miss you.

You won’t believe the cute thing the dog did today.

You deserve to be happy and healthy.

During much of my son’s addiction journey, he was homeless or sofa surfing. It broke our hearts, and in many ways I know it broke his.

However, we saw him regularly and took every opportunity to encourage him to get the help he needed. At the time, he did not appreciate our message or efforts to intervene. In fact, it often created more friction but my mom sense compelled me to continue.

One of the things we could never bring ourselves to do was to stop paying for his cell phone. It was a lifeline we didn’t want to let go of. And, we never regretted it.

So I started sending him daily texts to let him know we cared. Sometimes these were that simple and direct. Sometimes I shared updated on the family letting him know that our life was moving forward (and hoping he’d be joining us).

Not all the texts were so serious. I would say silly things. Send part of a song lyric. Tell him about a funny billboard. Ask about his horoscope. Comment on the family dog. I just tried to keep it open so he could choose to reply or not.

Sometimes he wouldd reply. Other times he wouldn’t. Whenever I got a reply, I knew it was a good sign – he was alive – even if his message was brief or if it was irate or belligerent. When he didn’t reply, it usually meant his phone wasn’t charged, he had lost his phone or left it somewhere, or he was sleeping. It might be days before we would hear back from him and sometimes it would propel us to go looking  for him – oh, the horror.

Regardless, the daily texts were our lifeline, and his too.

We believed that when he was ready to stop using drugs, he would reach out.

We’re coming up on three years of my son’s recovery and I know that the daily texts were part of the foundation that helped him forward.

Currently, my teenage nephew is struggling with substance use and mental health issues. He’s not homeless, but he likely feels just as lonely and hopeless. I’ve started a daily-text routine with him and hope it will help him realize that he has a loving family ready to help him forward. So far, he’s only responded once. It’s a start.

We count our blessings that our son is thriving in his recovery and hope the same for my nephew. If you are in the same place with a loved one, know that keeping the lines of communication open can make a difference. At the very least, you will know that you have shared your love even if they are not able to reciprocate for the time being.

Midwestern Mama

©2017 Our Young Addicts         All Rights  Reserved.

 

 

Recovery During College

 

Coming to St. Cloud State University was a little nerve racking, says Guest Blogger Thaddeus Rybka in part two of his story.

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I’d be leaving the Twin Cities where I had made a home the last two years, and was nervous about what others were telling me about SCSU’s “party school” reputation. Would I be able to make this program a success in what I perceived to be a hostile environment? Little did I know of all the great work that was being done at SCSU to address the high-risk drinking culture that existed in the past, the measurable changes that occurred, and the incredible administrative support for the new collegiate recovery program. Needless to say, my fears of SCSU were lifted immediately once I arrived on campus and was welcomed into the Husky community.

I quickly connected with the campus. It has a true college feel to it; large but accessible with the mighty Mississippi right next door. I discovered an appreciation for the outdoors especially with the abundance of water nearby. I realized that being by water, especially with a fishing rod in my hand, is where I find my serenity.

Having that accessibility to recharge and meditate really strengthened my recovery and in turn allowed me to do my best work.

We began our collegiate recovery community (CRC) the fall of 2012 with one student.

That first year was unique because here we were, two guys spreading the message that recovery works and fun can be accomplished without the use of substances; challenging the national college drinking subculture glorified by the media. I vividly remember promoting our community in the Atwood Memorial Center (main hub of campus) and initially getting odd looks, but after a while, students began to approach us asking about our community.

The stigma associated with recovery prohibits a lot of us from embracing our identity and seeking out others for support. Our exposure on campus allowed students to come forward and be comfortable sharing their story. “You really have a community for students in recovery?! I thought I was the only one!”

That’s where S.T.A.R.S. was born.

Students Taking Action in Recovery and Service (S.T.A.R.S.) is a student organization I helped create not only for students in our residential-based CRC, but for anyone who wanted to find purpose in their recovery. Not only did I see students in recovery from chemical dependency want to get involved, but also those with mental health challenges, eating disorders, PTSD, sex addiction, as well as supportive allies.

They wanted to be part of a healthy group of students who were working on bettering themselves and overcoming their previous challenges. S.T.A.R.S. offers opportunities to get involved with service work, advocacy initiatives, and fun social events.

Every week we bring an AA meeting to an adolescent treatment center in town and share our experience, strength, and hope with them. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting out in the community and giving back. Service work is crucial! By giving back to those new to recovery we are actually enhancing our own recovery.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve established a campus AA meeting, NA meeting, SMART Recovery meeting, and the first Crystal Meth Anonymous meeting in St. Cloud (started by one of our former CRC students). Also, the St. Cloud Alano Club and its 30 meetings-a-week is right across the river. We are very blessed to have accessible support group options for our students.

After our first year, our CRC started to blossom.

Slowly, our community has started to grow. The next year, we welcomed 8 more students and the next year we welcomed more and so on. Our CRC is located on campus in Coborn Plaza Apartments, where students enjoy fully furnished 4-person apartments with a private bedroom, walk-in closet, and private bathroom.

What’s really neat is that students don’t have to pay extra for the additional support services we provide; in fact, CRC students receive a scholarship of $1,000 each semester if they continue to meet program requirements which include being a full-time student, attending weekly individual and group support meetings, and remaining abstinent from alcohol and other drugs.

We acknowledge our students are busy balancing their recovery with school and work life, so a scholarship is meant to help them out financially.

Our CRC is unique. We offer multiple pathways to a degree by admitting students from either St. Cloud State University or St. Cloud Technical and Community College (SCTCC). So, whether you want to pursue one of the 200+ majors SCSU offers, complete your generals at SCTCC then transfer to SCSU, or pursue a certificate or trade at SCTCC, we have you covered and you can live in our community.

To qualify, prospective students must be accepted into SCSU or SCTCC. The students must then complete our application with references and treatment records, if applicable. After the application is processed, each student is interviewed to assess his or her commitment to sobriety and readiness for academic work in a Recovery Community setting.

When students move in, they are immediately connected to a peer and campus support system designed to help them succeed in their recovery and in their academics. By having a balanced routine and staying busy, our students are able to create positive new habits resulting in better academic performance and strong recovery. In fact, our students achieve a higher GPA than the overall student body, and are more involved with campus life.

If you’re not having fun in recovery, then what’s the point?

Part of that balanced routine is to take a break and have fun! As Coordinator, I facilitate social events and advocacy initiatives for our students to participate in.

For example, every month we co-host a recovery celebration called Recovery Rocks! with students from the Rehabilitation and Addiction Counseling (RAC) program.

The event features live music, milestone recognition, food and sober fun. We designed the event so we can bring the community together to support those in or seeking recovery while encouraging help seeking and reducing stigma.

We go fishing, snow tubing, bowling, and to the movies. Our students also have potluck dinners and simply enjoy hanging out with each other. They ask each other for help, celebrate accomplishments, and hold each other accountable. My goal is for them to have the same college experience as anyone else, just without the use of substances. Maybe sometimes we have too much fun. I’ll give you an example. We started on the 4th floor of Coborn Plaza Apartments and were moved down to the 3rd floor because students below us were complaining we were too loud. The next year, we were moved down to the second floor because below us were offices.

Today, we are a leader in the collegiate recovery movement.

When we started our collegiate recovery community in 2012 there were roughly 40 CRCs in the country. Today, that number exceeds 150. We are honored to have had various institutions visit us to gain insight on how we run our community. Whether it’s a residential-based program or a drop-in center, I strongly believe a CRC should be on every college campus.

According to SAMHSA’S 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15.3% of 18-25 years olds meet the criteria for a substance use disorder.

That is an alarming number and shows the need for resources available on college campuses for this at-risk population. Everyone should be given the opportunity to pursue a higher education!

My time at St. Cloud State as a graduate assistant and now as its Coordinator has been special, to say the least. To have helped lay the foundation for a program that has helped so many students in recovery pursue a college degree has been truly priceless.

Heck, I never thought I’d see the age of 28, but here I am with a master’s degree, my parent’s trust back, genuine friends, and a job that allows me to help others and spread the message that recovery works. It doesn’t get much better than that!

For more information about the Recovery Community visit:

http://www.stcloudstate.edu/reslife/recovery.aspx

Like the Recovery Community on Facebook: https://facebook.com/scsurecovery

Follow SCSU Recovery Community on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SCSU_Recovery

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

 ©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.

The Early Years by Jason S

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Early years trauma … compulsive eating … gamblingàfull blown addiction

I was a 5-year-old little boy playing happily when one day there was a knock at the door, it was the police. They asked if they could come in, next thing I remember was my mum lay on the floor screaming hammer fisting the floor over and over. I don’t remember the bit in between but I was carted off the neighbors house while the police consoled my mum. My dad had been in an accident and had died. I didn’t know what this meant, what would happen, when he would come back, or where he would go, 5 years old is supposed to be a magical time for children so how would I cope.

I didn’t show any emotions (apparently) in hindsight and with an insight into people these days I know my mum was left alone, angry, confused full of grief but at the time, all I knew as a little boy was, she left me also. The abandonment of losing both parents and having no one to help me make sense of grief left me scarred for life.

Food became my friend, it comforted me and gave me something to look forward to, my mum was a workaholic to deal with her grief and loss and I was left to my own devices. I gained weight at the rate of around 1 stone a year (14lbs)

This brought a whole new angle to growing up. Ridiculed at school, kids can be so cruel, I sunk further into myself, eating more and more to deal with the shame, the loss, loneliness, isolation and rejection I experienced daily, I can see how this viscous cycle was forming itself.

What is addiction?

I’ve often said addiction is like a cancer of the emotions; it eats away at anything good in your life, it affects your emotional well being negatively, its progressive and its fatal.

You can see from the above that no one roll modeled me a healthy way to deal with grief, no one helped me make sense of loss in fact quite the opposite happened. As I grew up an angry mother criticized me at most opportunities so I withdrew and lived in fantasy with food as a comfort.

I was sent to ‘psychiatrists’ and specialists?  To see ‘what was wrong with me’ I was put on anti depressants at 9 years old. This was back in the 80s and I’ve got to say looking at the medical reports which I have done recently those people had no clue about children who suffer trauma! I am glad our psychological and emotional understanding of development has come on these days.

Gambling became my next thing, I would steal money to gamble and get away from life as I knew it, the misery of being fat, and the loneliness of just being me.

See at this time, I really didn’t understand what trauma was, or addiction or anything to that matter. All I knew was I was depressed, unhappy, overweight, didn’t really want to live, I didn’t think much about my dad but probably because it was so painful.

Trauma is described as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, and its only relevant to the person who experiences it. I’ve heard many a time people saying ‘it wasn’t that bad’ or ‘ah pull your socks up’ or ‘get over it’ if you have experienced something that was traumatic to you, don’t let anyone else tell you differently, if its traumatic to you then that’s enough, other peoples job is only to understand that.

Progressive, fatal, incurable?

By the time I was a teenager there really was only one way I was heading, from gambling to co-dependency to alcohol to drugs. I went through the progression of addictions till I found heroin, it was the solution to all my problems. You see addiction is not about drugs, or alcohol or any substance for that fact, the substance or process is the solution to the problem, the problem is the internal condition, the misery, the loneliness, the isolation, misery, depression that I used the substance to fix. So really, it just adds another layer of problems on top of your problems.

I don’t expect anyone to read and find a logical solution from my writing, as nothing about addiction is logical, if only it was that simple. People used to say to me, get a job, go to college, lose some weight you’ll be happy then.  But they really didn’t get it. Soon as I put the drugs down, I had that big list above to contend with, the drugs were the lesser painful option on how to live.

Sure enough the consequences of drug use, jail and institutions became too much after many years and I had had enough, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sure enough when I did stop, I was that anxious, lonely, overweight little boy who had never grown emotionally.

Recovery from addiction and trauma without medication is possible

Luckily at that time there were other people I met in recovery who showed me the way, who guided me and helped me find a way to deal with my emotions, how to be a productive member of society. I learned to live life without the use of drugs or addictions to cope with emotions, I was finally learning who I was.

It wasn’t till later in my recovery many years clean and sober till I started to look at grief and trauma. What I realize was it was my reaction to the situations that happened that contributed to my addiction, it wasn’t the situations. I started to open up about my childhood and went through some deep seated grief and got the support I needed to make sense of some things, but to this day, it has not gone and still haunts me from time to time, I just deal with it differently today.

Today as a psychotherapist I use my experience to help me understand others, and to help them help themselves. No one could direct me, or help me until I wanted to help myself. I still feel so strongly about that time in my life as a traumatized child but with some compassion and sadness when I think about it.

Jason S

Transactional Analysis Psychotherapist

22 years of addiction recovery

Proud dad

https://www.recovery.org.uk

Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.

©2017 Our Young Addicts   All Rights Reserved.