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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:53 pm 
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Just so you're all aware ORT = opioid replacement therapy. I'm using ORT instead of Sub because everything here is equally relevant to those on methadone.

I'm wanting to use this thread so anyone can comment and make suggestions on ways we can improve ourselves as people while on Suboxone.

We all acknowledge the need to work on ourselves and our recoveries while we are on Suboxone. We each have our own flaws that contribute to our desire to use, and our inability to stop without the assistance of replacement therapy, be it methadone or Suboxone. But there's also a lot of common traits among people prone to addiction. And they're the flaws I'm mainly talking about here.

For those of us who are aiming to get off ORT at some stage - if we were exactly the same person when we tapered off ORT as we were before we went on it, IMO it's fair to say that without any personal growth or changes in our time on ORT, we'd all be using again in no time. Even those people who are staying on Sub indefinitely, without doing any work on their addictive traits, they could find themselves not living up to their potential as a person. The addict within can still undermine other areas of all our lives.

Even while we're on Sub and our cravings are under control, we can still work on the parts of ourselves that prevent relapse on opioids. Even something simple like learning not to give into our everyday urges or spoiling ourselves, can teach us to refuse to use when faced with a craving.

These are some of the traits commonly associated with addiction:

Quote:
Poor Coping Skills

- the addictive activity freezes time, puts our lives on hold and provides just the right distraction so that the we don’t have to face any problems.

Self-censoring

- the substance eliminates that internal censor allowing the user to feel free and be “him or herself”.

Need For Immediate Gratification

- the substance provides that “quick fix” you take or drink whatever and you know that within a reasonable amount of time you will be feeling good.

Excessive Approval Seeking/Being Obsessed With Image

- the substance can work two ways on this one. Either you are getting approval from whomever you are drinking/drugging with or you end up being numb to the rejection that you are so afraid of in the first place.

Self-less

- for someone that feels they don’t know who they are, addiction provides a pseudo-identity, even if it’s a negative one.

Trouble Having Real Pleasure

- addiction provides pseudo-pleasure. This kind of ties in with someone who self censors all the time, they can’t let go and have fun but the substance allows that.

Intimacy Problems; Feelings of Isolation

- the drug substitutes for a relationship, relieves the feelings of isolation and sometimes the act of getting and using the drug offers a community feeling.


Those characteristics weren't found by a study, rather written by someone who works in the field of addiction recovery.

There is something else I really need to add to this though that's really relevant to everyone here. That is the importance of curbing or stopping our use of other drugs we are addicted to.

When I quit heroin that first time for 13 months, a lot of the skills I learnt from that made it a LOT easier to quit smoking later on. As a poly-drug user who's been addicted to heroin, cigarettes, amphetamines, cocaine, I've found that the psychological tools we need to recover from an addiction vary little if at all between drugs. A phenomenon of craving is pretty much the same across the board. The only difference is some drugs induce stronger cravings than others (IV heroin and IV cocaine, followed by cigarettes, I found to be the hardest).

I strongly believe based on my own experience that when we we develop the tools to quit any drug, those same tools can be used to fight our other drug addictions. ie if someone were to quit smoking cigarettes or marijuana while they were on Suboxone, IMO their chances to stay off opioids post taper would improve markedly because they've developed tools to deal with their cravings when they arise.


For me, the main things I'm working on are:

- Delaying gratification. Just by doing little things, like making sure all my chores and study is done before wasting time online. When I get a craving to buy a coffee or consume something I don't need, I ask myself whether I really need it.

- Staying off cigarettes. This has given me a 'recovery workout' and helped me learn to deal with cravings.

- Coping mechanisms. My bipolar disorder played a big part in my addiction to opioids, and every relapse I had after a long stretch of clean time was brought on by some kind of bipolar mood episode. Recently I've realised that my issues arose from a need to control or fight my mood changes. Any time I'd detect a period of depression coming on, I'd do everything in my power to prevent it - jog, swim, compulsive sex, move interstate .. and of course, drugs. Acceptance and committment therapy (ACT) has helped me accept my mood changes, and work around them, rather than try to control them. It has made a huge difference.

IMO Acceptance and commitment therapy can make a difference to a lot of addicts

[web]http://www.actmindfully.com.au/acceptance_&_commitment_therapy[/web]

- Giving up the counter-culture stuff. I've taken out my piercings and got a straight haircut. Any time I start thinking in that alternative / fuck the world mindset, I pull my head back to the productive future I'm aiming for.

- Preventing thoughts about drug use in whatever form. The moment I think about using drugs to get high, whether it's a book or movie about it, or my own using history, or a friend who is using, I pull my head back to my recovery goals straight away.


What are some of the things you are doing to work on yourself? Any suggestions for others?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:58 am 
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Tear, that post is GREAT. You are such an asset to this forum. I enjoyed reading about ACT. I've been advocating DBT and mindfulness meditation on this forum forever, and ACT looks like another useful toolkit for recovery.

Thinking back to the time that I went on Suboxone and how I changed my life and my self so that I could go off Sub and stay off opiates, I think the biggest, most fundamental change I made was really something very basic and simple.

I had to come to terms with the fact that there would be times when I just wouldn't feel all that great, mentally or physically, and that I was going to have to deal with those times using something other than drugs. So I guess that falls under "coping skills." And maybe under "delayed gratification" since most of the new coping strategies that I was employing were not of the instant-payoff variety.

That paragraph above is of course a gross oversimplification of all the work I did over the 2 years that I was on Sub, but that insight - that I could feel less than great and yet still get on with my life and things would eventually get better - was huge for me. And the more that I practiced at it, the more confidence I gained.

Now that I've been off Sub for 2.5 years (holy cow) I find that my big lesson is about cultivation. My life is not one where I fix a problem and it stays fixed. Maybe some people are like that, but I'm not. I have to keep in practice. Practice meditation, practice living with intention, practice good habits, practice healthy relationships. You have to keep the foundation strong and then add to it a bit at a time. I find it is all to easy for me to lapse back into old habits and old ways of thinking if I'm not constantly maintaining, constantly cultivating the life I want. And I'm not even necessasarily talking about going back to using - more like being passive in my life and not bringing about the changes that I want to see.

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You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

-Jack Kornfield


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:40 am 
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i really needed that info. i am month one of sub treatment, already ran short and am mad. thank you all for being honest. wish i read these things at beginning of month. the whole concept of learning new behaviors is a mystery to me. i know nothing but the "voice" of use, the search, then pill=reward (love that soo true),and of course repeat.repeat repeat. i hate that life. its deystroyed how i think. so all info on how to idk ? act normal is helpful. took another sliver of last strip and i am thankful its kinda working ? am able to move around without that monkey holding me down so heavy.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:44 am 
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I read this post last night, but I was too pooped to post. Then I get up this morning and see that DQ has said many of the things that I was going to say and she said them much more eloquently than I would have!!

In addition to what has already been said, I know that my participation in NA has helped me to move forward, but I've also stopped attending NA. NA, along with my counselor, gave me some great tools to help me stay clean, but I no longer feel the need the keep "learning" the same tools over and over again. It's kinda like being taught addition or subtraction, once I learned how to do it, I didn't need to continue being taught how to do it, I needed to practice it to get good at it, though. For a long time, I knew what I should be doing, I had all the tools I needed, but I didn't really do anything with those tools.

Learning the tools of recovery wasn't an issue for me, using those damn things was. Now that I'm actually using them, I'm about to hit 4 months clean and that's a near world record for me!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:17 pm 
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Good one guys
"Comming to my senses", this time round is not just a mindset, it's a daily exercise. Time to relax, dropping the tension that builds in the body from the thought patterns, that never amount to anything-[twot]s, - total waste of time.
We are creatures of habit, and just by making a start at learning new good habits, regardless of how small or insignificant, those habit's will have a positive impact on our lives. Perception for me this time is something new, that I didn't really grasp before, and I'm going to keep working on that as part of my recovery.


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