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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:12 am 
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I have some friends who are also addicts in recovery/remission and it's got me thinking about something. Lately I've noticed something that all of us seem to have in common. I'm wondering if it's more than a coincidence and perhaps a pattern?

With me, it's a serious lack of moderation in everything I do. Things tend to be black and white, all or nothing, indulging too much or not at all - even with food. Do any of you have this issue as well? I'm working on that in my therapy, but it's really slow going.

I was just wondering if anyone else has seen or noticed this pattern, too.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:00 am 
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Of course! While practicing, I was always a person of extremes in most areas of my life (not simply consumption). Stopping the addictive use does little to tame the compulsions and the rest of the underlying disease, but at least they can be addressed. I can take almost any (normally) "good" quality and turn it into a curse by going to extremes: thrift becomes miserliness, responsibility becomes work addiction, compulsive spending, yada, yada. Any and all of these create traps that, once they ensnare me, can make life miserable enough that I start thinking, "if life sucks this bad, why not use?"

This is all why I've found that stopping use and getting through withdrawal only gets me to the starting line. Then if I don' t start changing myself, nothing will change!


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 Post subject: ditto!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:50 am 
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Hat, yes I think this is a trait we all have....most of my patients talk about it, too and I know its true for me.

It's been a challenge to stop black and white thinking....although it is getting better. I really notice it now when others are doing it! Ha. I use that thought stopping technique for many things....whenever I catch myself thinking in unhealthy ways. Its not easy and i don't always recognize unhealthy thinking. Even now, as I have been writing a lot more on the forum and talking about my experience 2 weeks ago I've found myself slipping back into crap thinking so quickly and instead of doing what I suggest to others and say that I know I need to do (like keep my mouth shut and that I don't have to ACT like I FEEL) I continue doing the same old stuff. Sick of it.

We tend to cross addict for sure....especially in early recovery. Food, sex, shopping, gambling, other chemicals, whatever takes away the pain. Until I deal with some of the underlying reasons I used to start with and learn new ways of thinking and behaving I found I am doomed to repeating the same bullshit. And as i've said many times the past week I need to do other things in my recovery in order to remain healthy. Its a process and its not quick enough for me! Patience is another issue...LOL...but I''ll leave that for another day.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:19 am 
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For me, I think this has been exactly opposite. I used to be black and white, very driven, usually a 10 on the 1 to 10 scale. Since starting Sub, I see much less black and white, have more compassion, etc. Now, is this a function of stopping my active addiction? Is this the Sub doing this to me? I guess it could be, but I really don't think that it is. I think it is much more a function of all of the other life changes that I have undergone. I have went from being a CEO, responsible for 30 volunteers at one organization and responsible for 6 paid employees and about 50 total volunteers/stipend employees at another. All I did was work, work, work. Even when I was able to have "fun", all I thought about was the many things that I had to get done or was responsible for. Looking back, it was not much of a life. People notice too. Most don't know about my addiction (at least I don't think they do). They just comment that I seem different or am different. Admittedly, I have bounced back too far in the other direction. I'm not responsible for much of anything these days. I am still self-employed but take on much less and when I do it is more project-orientated items that are low stress, long deadlines - things I can accomplish without much thought or effort. I pretty much just show up and do my job. I often have a great time doing it, so don't take this the wrong way. I really enjoy life. I just don't take on much stress these days. It's still a work in progress and I likely will and hopefully will find a bit more balance. It's just for the last 15 months, I've pretty much done all I can to be semi-retired.

Then again, perhaps I am "all or nothing". Before (while in active addiction) I was in "all" mode and now I'm in, [close to] "nothing" mode - although that does not seem accurate to me. I really do feel I'm in "moderation" mode. By the way, I have also gotten much better at saying "no". Before, if anyone asked pretty much anything, I'd say, Yes, I'll help you. Yes, I'll do that. Very often now, the answer is "no", I really don't want to do that. Or "no", I don't want to commit the time for that. I was asked to run another orgnaization, somewhat similiar to what I had done for the past nearly 20 years, and my rather quick answer was "no" - where given the same circumstances two years ago, it would have been "yes".

I don't at all like how I got to where I am. I had to resign one position and was fired from the other - all directly because of my addiction. I don't like how this all happened, but I'm pretty glad that it did. I feel like I got my life back - in more ways than one.

Not sure this even fits the original topic. I hope it does.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:42 am 
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Thanks for the input, everyone. Don, I do envy the grasp you seem to have made with moderation. In many ways I'm better than I was before, but I still consider my thinking to be very black and white. My therapy has and is still helping. I've worked really hard on my past traumas - more work than I could have ever accomplished before. One of my main coping skills is intellectualization. But I've almost tapped out on how that can help me. Now we're working on a lot of mindfulness. I'm finding it to be extremely difficult for me. I'm hoping this new way of dealing with things will also help get me into moderation mode.

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-I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.


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 Post subject: Agreed
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:45 am 
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Heck to the YES, Hat! That certainly goes for me too. I find it quite frustrating, because I wish I could be satisfied with just the middle of the road, but that's never interesting to me. Like in college, I either got a solid 'A' or if I thought I wouldn't do well, I'd withdraw from the class. Before I ever picked up and used, I was already addicted. Mainly, I was addicted to being a 'perfect' student. I just about killed myself from early grades on to always be the best in the class, and when I'd get back graded papers or a report card, it was like a temporary fix, but it was never good enough and I wanted MORE. It was out of control frankly. I'd loose my mind getting an A-, and even a 99% was not quite good enough. (What did I get wrong?) I'd stay up alll night studying for midterms in 6th friggin' grade. That is NOT normal!!! I started studying for the SAT exam in 6th grade. And then, in high school when I had family drama and I missed some school and fell behind, instead of just doing the best I could and maybe downgrading to a few non-honors classes like a reasonable person would, I dropped out altogether. It was all or nothing. I remember the principal saying "We've never had anyone with your class rank drop out." To me, school was just another addiction.

I think this is something that we never fully conquer. I mean, how can we when it's so ingrained in personalities? The very best we can do is keep it well in check. I don't want to tick anyone off, but with 12-step meetings, I think this is a big problem. I've noticed some people (NOT everyone by any means) seem to switch their addiction from their DOC to meetings.

I think this trait can manifest itself in so many parts of our lives that it's amazing. I used to be like this with my house. It had to be perfect at all times. I'd vacuum the whole thing everyday and it was spotless. At some point, having more kids made this really tough and so now I alternate between spotless and "Oh, I just don't give a flying 'bleep". I think I HAVE conquered the food thing, for the most part. I learned what not to do by watching my mom, who is always dissatisfied and dieting. It used to confuse me and piss me off to always, always have her talking about weight and food and different diets when we were growing up, especially since none of us had any weight issues. I think moms need to be careful saying that stuff around their kids. For me, I will never say I 'can't' have this or that. That would create an obsession. I will not diet. No way. The only thing that works for me is exercising. I know if I were to go for a walk tonight, I'd get home and WANT to eat healthier because I'd be feeling good about my walk. I just try to cook decently healthy for my kids and tell them it's all about being healthy, NOT thin, and thin people can be VERY unhealthy and people carrying some extra weight can be quite healthy. And then after I tell them all that and they are in bed, I go hit up my stash of 'goodies'. :lol:

On the flip side, this can be something that really helps us achieve incredible things. How many people on here have been called "stubborn" or told "when you want something badly there's nothing that will stop you" or that you are "throwing away your incredible potential". One of the hardest things about stopping drinking, for me, was looking around at what I HAD NOT accomplished and accepting that. I had not been doing my 'best' and that was so hard to deal with.

Sorry to write so much but that really struck a chord with me. If anyone finds a magical cure for this...a monthly 'moderation' injection or something...lemme know!

laddertipper

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 Post subject: mindfulness
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:16 pm 
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Hat, you mentionedd working on mindfulness....I think the concept of mindfulness is so counterintuitive to many of us in recovery. As I open myself to doing things differently I am finding out more and more about myself and why the things I used to do don't work for me any more. Not just drugs, but various behaviors...being in the moment, mindful, used to be such a foreign concept. I was always in the future, always had a goal and grew up with a successful businessman father who instilled a great work ethic into me but I think my setting goals was all me. However, goals that were met or "succuss" was rewarded and reinforced. That whole concept of this is a process and not a destination has been hard to let go of. I met one goal, went onto another and worked towards that.... I lived the same way. When I get (fill in the blank) I'll be ok....or I'll be successful, or happy...or.......and i'd get there and look for the next destination. I got bored easily. I didn't like sameness but I also fought change. Just fucked up!

I use a lot of DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) with treating addictions. A lot of it has to do with emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness...and all the clients have difficulty initially. I use a mindfulness exercise with food....I have clients sample different things like almonds, chocolate, etc and then have them try to eat each piece "mindfully" meaning not just throw it in their mouths and chew once and swallow....its challenging! To get into the moment and feel, taste each thing they are sampling...what they feel, how the food feels physically, the taste...and it is really amazing to hear experiences doing this. Or, try to do one chore at home and focus only on that chore. Impossible! For me, that is. My mind goes everywhere...and I guess we are now learning to reign it in a bit....be present. I am much more present with my daughter than I was with my son. (he's 16 years older).

I'm getting better at these things...I can be present now. That is something I'm really happy about. When I'm with kids, for example, I can just be with them....play a game, talk to them, focus on them...not on what I need to be doing, or where I need to be going and thankfully not where I can get my next opiate!

we've been talking about this a lot...that recovery is not just stopping drugs....recovery is really hard work. I don't know many others in my life who take a look at themselves like addicts in recovery do. I'm always amazed at the courage of people in recovery. I do know that if I didn't do this work I'd be a very unhappy nonusing addict...but still an addict in my head.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:37 pm 
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Count me in on the all or nothing behavior. I have been this way as long as I can remember.

The little switch in my brain that tells me to do things in moderation has NEVER worked right.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:35 am 
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Chinagirl & anyone interested in mindfulness - I found a great article on mindfulness and addiction. It's from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the ... -addiction.

The following part I found extremely interesting, especially when it comes to changing something within us - something that we think we cannot change because it's so ingrained in us. (Geez - did that make sense?)

Quote:
"Research on mindfulness meditation indicates that qualities we once thought immutable that form temperament and character can actually be altered significantly. By retraining your mind through mindfulness practice, you create new neural networks. If you’re aggressive, you can find ways to temper that aspect of yourself, becoming assertive and clear about your boundaries without entering into a competitive and possibly even hostile mind-set that will sabotage you.

By building new neural connections among brain cells, we rewire the brain, and with each new neural connection, the brain is actually learning. It’s as if we’re adding more RAM to a computer, giving it more functionality. In The Mindful Brain, leading neuroscientist Daniel Siegel (2007, 5), defines the mind as “a process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” His early brain research showed that “where neurons fire, they can rewire” (2007, 291); that is, they create new neural pathways or structures in the brain. He postulates that one of the benefits of mindfulness meditation practice is this process of creating new neural networks for self-observation, optimism, and well-being. Through mindfulness meditation, we light up and build up the left-prefrontal cortex, associated with optimism, self-observation, and compassion, allowing ourselves to cease being dominated by the right-prefrontal cortex, which is associated with fear, depression, anxiety, and pessimism. As a result, our self-awareness and mood stability increase as our harsh judgments of others and ourselves decrease. By devoting attention, intention, and daily effort to being mindful, we learn to master the mind and open the doorway to the creativity available in open-mind consciousness."


I also found the following from http://www.addictioninfo.org/articles/2 ... Page1.html.

Here's just a glimpse of how it can help with addiction triggers:

Quote:
The practice of Mindfulness gives us a unique tool to slow time down and bring awareness to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations associated with the triggering event while it is occurring.

As soon as we bring awareness to the moment, we have stepped out of auto-pilot, giving the choice over our behavior back to us and in turn giving us the ability to gain back control of our behaviors and our lives.

Often, cravings and urges are our longing for things to be different than the way they are in the moment. Dr. Alan Marlatt, the Director of the Addictive Behavior Research Center at the University of Washington, defines a craving as the desire to experience the effects of engaging in the addictive behavior, while an urge is a relatively sudden impulse to engage in an act such as drinking, shopping, or gambling - feeling the high.



I'm really glad my therapist and I decided to start working hard on mindfulness. I've got high hopes for it. Plus articles like this really interest me, so I thought I'd share.

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-I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:36 am 
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I can easily look back and realize that I have historically been an all or nothing type of person. Much like Laddertipper I was a straight A student. I was president of the honor society. I was involved in a sorority. blah blah. When I graduated college I began my career and quickly became the most valued emplyee and highest paid. Same at the next company. Then I start a business and another business. Of course, these expectations of myself, of being the BEST at EVERYTHING was really stressful. This is also when my drug addiction began. Mind you there were many other things going on as well.

I was thinking about this yesterday. With my medical condition, I caught a glimpse of an idea(s) that MIGHT work to slow it down a bit. But I am kind of tired of having hope with it and then failing. I also have worked and continue to work very hard to just accept it the way it is. As you know, we just increased my suboxone for it and that process involved accepting this condition for what it is and that it has no cure. So with that, I take two 8mg pills each day whether I am in massive pain or not. Why is that? I am SO all or nothing. I either take all of my suboxone, or I am trying to go off suboxone. Lately my mind is thinking of antibiotic therapy, buying a tanning bed, and hot tub therapy combined to see if it would work and I could go OFF suboxone again. All........or nothing. And quite frankly, if you start talking moderation......I'm not interested. Why is that? No idea. This is just the way I am.

Since suboxone I have REALLY toned it down with work and housework and school. But like Donh said.....is this "nothing" mode or moderation mode? I often think of it like nothing mode, but it could be moderation mode and I just don't know it. I do know I am not sure I like it. I keep thinking I should be doing more lately but I am not sure what that is exactly.

I wish you the best with your endeavors in therapy. If you figure out how to conquer this, please let me know :-)

Cherie

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:46 am 
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I just posted a new thread under the "misc" category, entitled "More on the dynamics of addiction". It is another way of looking at addiction and it also talks about mindfulness as it relates to addiction. I'm very optimistic that my mindfulness "training" will help me with moderation as well as other areas of my life. I've done so much cognitive therapy that it's time to start looking inward, instead of upward (my brain/intellectualism). Mindfulness can help all areas of our lives. Maybe it can help some of you as well.

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-I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.


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