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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 3:27 pm 
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Hello everyone,

Not been on for a while. I pop on for a read every so often but not been posting much.

As some of you know I have struggled with keeping myself off Heroin. I have also struggled badly here in London (UK) to find any counselling or help with relapse prevention.

I was wondering what people found really helps or helped them keep their mind off the drugs. What did you find worked in changing your mindset and addict behaviours? Does anyone have any advise on relapse prevention techniques?


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 4:44 pm 
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I've recommended this to other people on the forum, but for some reason I seem to get cold responses from people. I've used addiction workbooks that you can get at any of the big book stores. You can get them on Amazon, but that won't allow you to thumb through them (well, some books on Amazon you CAN do that with). Since they are WORK books, you actually apply them to yourself and answer questions and write in them about how it applies to your unique situation. They are meant to help (at least the ones I used) with your triggers and cravings. I found they helped a LOT. I then passed them onto another recovering addict who also found them very helpful. These are NOT the same as AA/NA books or anything like that.

Also, a good way to change one's habits are to change your environment. If you can't physically move where you live, then try moving your house/apt around - as in rearrange all your furnishings, as much as you can. It will seem/look like a new environment. Even change where you normally sit. Those things can be triggers. For example if you used to get high while you sat in one particular chair and used one specific table to set things up, then move all that shit around so it doesn't trigger you.

Take care and I know you'll get there. We've all been where you are now. It just takes some time and hard work and by you reaching out to us for help with different ways, you obviously are willing to do the work. That speaks very highly of you and your determination. GOOD ON YA!

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 4:56 pm 
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Cheers Hat

cool idea to rearrange my flat (appartment). and i will have a look for those workbook wosits you suggested. thank you x


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 9:43 pm 
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http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/toolchest.htm


Here is a link to the smart recovery site. they have a "toolbox" with various worksheets.
theres actually quite a few!!

But you can print out whatever you think may help you. I myself used the "identifying triggers"
"how to deal with backsliding"
"four things about your addiction"
well, ALL of them under "RELAPSE PREVENTION"


Hope this helps, at least it can get you by until you find a workbook!! they really have a lot of good stuff there

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 9:48 pm 
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Thanks for sharing that with us, Amber. If anyone else has links to other relapse prevention tips, please add them in this thread. It could make for a good sticky.

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-As I have grown older, I've learned that pleasing everyone is impossible, but pissing everyone off is a piece of cake.

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


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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 5:46 pm 
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Amber thank you so much for the link - we don't have this in the UK so its brilliant its online - I've kept asking and asking and asking my keyworker for just this sort of thing, and all along silly me didn't know it on the www (!!!!!!) I'm off to read the site toe to tail - Thanks again for this


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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 9:22 pm 
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NO PROBLEM!!! you are very welcome :) :) :)

Im telling you, the "four things about your addiction" really opened my eyes. (You list four things you loved, and four things you hated)

Anyway, I used all the RELAPSE PREVENTION worksheets, when I was 'trying to figure out' if I was ready for counseling. And it really helped alot. Im just glad I DID have something to turn to, a "map" of points I guess you could call it. and having some of these worksheets around, helps EVEN NOW, I look at them once in awhile. and theres more to do as you make progress in your recovery. so it kind of 'keeps it fresh'
which I think is REALLY important.

the minute we forget that we're addicts, is the minute we're in trouble.

GOOD LUCK

_________________
anyone can give up,
its the easiest thing in the world to do, but to
hold it together, when everyone would understand if you fell apart
That's TRUE STRENGTH
http://almostoneyearclean.blogspot.com/


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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 9:38 pm 
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Hey Babydoll,

I think the most important thing I did was to start using my knowledge of recovery. Learning about recovery and practicing recovery are two different things entirely. For the longest time, I knew what recovery was, but I didn't practice it. I had it in my head, but not in my heart. Once I started practicing recovery, things got so much easier.

That may sound pretty DUH to most, but it was one of my biggest roadblocks to getting better.

As always, don't ever give up. It took me a long time and many "face plants" before I finallly got the hang of this, but I never gave up.

Best of luck to ya!

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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 12:37 am 
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BabyDoll's back! Woohoo!

I was at my father's place the other day, and he asked me to go through some stuff he had stored in his garage. I came across two big crates full of various rehab folders, books, worksheets ... everything from relapse prevention, exploring feelings, coping with cravings, anger management, relationships, pro's and con's, letters to my addiction ... all those typical rehab books and aftercare sheets of paper they hand out. I started looking through some of my answers and it was clear I was really willing to stop using on some intellectual level. I was actually DESPERATE... I wrote pages and pages about how messed up my life was and how much I wanted to change.

But it didn't stop me from using ? That's the scary thing.

While I have no doubt that doing all that work helped to some degree, it certainly wasn't the answer for me. My time on Sub has made me realise that the reason those things didn't work for me was because addiction is not intellectual. Addiction does not live in our frontal lobe. It's somewhere much deeper, and thus much harder to control with thoughts alone. While all that work may have given me huge insight into myself, which is no doubt a good thing, what really needed to change within me was much more fundamental.

Addiction is believed to live in the base brain - aka the "lizard brain". They call it the lizard brain because it's pretty much the only brain a reptile has, but also a real primitive primeval part of us that we had WAY before we even evolved intelligence. The lizard brain is the part of our brain that tells us to feed, fight, flee, fuck and feel good. It sits at the base of our brain on top of our spinal cord, underneath our cerebral cortex - the thinking / intelligent part that allows us to do fluffy things like write books and work out our taxes.

It's our lizard brain that tells us we're hungry, or thirsty, and horny, and initiates cravings for those things. It's basically responsible for our basic survival instincts. Because of this, it has a lot more influence over our desires and cravings than our "thinking brain". When we become thirsty, it's this part of our brain that takes over and initiates cravings to drink something, and cues our "thinking brain" to imagine that rewarding feeling of quenching our thirst with an ice cold drink. Often we don't even think about it. We just find ourselves walking to the fridge instinctively to get what we need.

For the most part, our lizard brain wins over our thinking brain. Which is thankful, because if it didn't we'd all be so lost in heady intellectual dribble we may forget to eat or drink or fuck or run when confronted with a grizzly bear. Advertisers have known this for a LONG time. They know if they can trigger our lizard brain to crave something with an image of a glistening juicy Big-Mac or a sultry seductive woman in lingerie smoking a cigarette, we'll often go against our better judgement to get closer to what we crave.

You can probably see what I'm getting at. Our addiction lives in our lizard-brain (in particular the amygdala for us opioid addicts). Repeated use of our drug of choice short circuits our lizard brain and adds one more NEED to its list of requirements - the need to get high. It does this through associating use of our drug with the activation of our reward circuits. Our lizard brain becomes short circuited / faulty / infected. I don't know about you guys, but when I was in my addiction I actually cared MORE about getting high than I did to have sex, to eat, to drink or to find shelter. My lizard brain had GET HIGH as its number one priority. I'd spend the last of my $ on heroin before I'd spend it on a meal, no matter how hungry I was. That is a pretty bad short-circuit / fault in our "survival" brain.

Trying to control my craving brain with my thinking brain was about as futile as trying to tell myself I didn't need to drink something when I was thirsty. Sure I could be patient and wait a bit, but as long as I knew my need would be fulfilled in the coming hours or days, everything would be okay.

This is the kinda shit we gotta deal with. It's not as simple as reading a textbook, being "taught" what to do and then applying it. If that were the case, we'd all have been cured by now, and there would be no need for Suboxone.

Honestly I wish I could come up with some kinda solution but I can't. All I can consider is that if the problem lies in this base, instinctive part of our brain, then the solution has to be something as basic and instinctive, something that can kinda "snap our lizard brain out of it!". Maybe if we come to associate using with our own death, perhaps by coming close enough to our own death thanks to using, our lizard brain may start to fear it and see it as a threat to its survival. Or if we are reduced to a place by our using where we are so starving and thirsty and battered by our using that the need to fulfill our other healthier instincts comes to outweigh the need to use?

When I look at it this way, sometimes I do see merit to the whole "rock bottom" idea.

OKAY WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME? :

- Long term rehab then moving interstate - This probably gave me the best "quality of life" post-addiction because I was completely abstinent. While I only stayed clean 13 months, this was the closest I ever came to living completely free of opioids long term. The 6 months in rehab gave me time away from using enough that I could control the cravings, and moving interstate into a new city made it harder for me to fall back into my old patterns / ways of thinking. I remember seeing the junkies in my new city and they were just unfortunate souls. Back at home I woulda seen them as opportunities.

- Suboxone - Honestly, this is different I think, because I'm still "feeding" the addictive part of my brain, so it's not the same challenge as going abstinent. I've been on Sub nearly 2 years now, and I've had maybe 3-4 periods of using on it. But my life is still much more together than it was even maybe than that 13 months.

- Naltrexone pills - I was clean for 2 months when I was much younger on naltrexone pills...

Babydoll, I know things are different in the UK and metropolitan centers are pretty easy to get to no matter where you are, but do you have any relatives or people you know where you can stay in the charming British countryside? Somewhere safe?


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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 1:36 am 
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I think the number one thing that keeps my recovery strong is meditation. Meditation is like the root of everything else for me.

Having a meditation practice can create positive change in so many areas. It calms your brain for one. It helps you develop insight. It helps you cultivate discipline. It helps with anxiety.

In reference to what Tear was saying above, meditating can help you create a "pause" between the lizard-brain craving and taking the action of getting high. That little pause might be everything you need to stay sober. It helps create a pause between emotion and reaction, which is a hugely necessasary skill for life in general. It's often emotional overload that causes the lizard brain to kick in and take over, so cultivating the ability to detach a bit - to be able to feel an emotion arise in your body but not get sucking into it - is hugely liberating for an addict.

Meditation has also helped me cultivate compassion for myself and for others. I can see myself now not as someone sick and broken, but just as a flawed human being who is worthy of love, forgiveness, support and the chance to do better. I can see all the good things about myself as well, and I can see how the beauty and the flaws are deeply intertwined. In fact, most of the things that I most like about myself share a root with the things that I feel the most shame about. Somehow realizing that the "good" and the "bad" are all bound up together like that makes it easier to accept ALL of myself.

But like Tear and Romeo said, you can know about this stuff intellectually all day long but it can't help you unless you put it into practice. Just like I can draw you a picture of a bike and explain how you ride one, what it feels like to ride one, etc.; you still aren't going to KNOW how to ride a bike until you get on one and try it.

Lucky for all of us, meditation is free. It is simple too. Mostly, it's just showing up and doing it. Daily. For a while, though you notice benefits really quickly. If sitting meditation is too difficult, do walking meditation or take a tai chi class. You can practice mindfulness any time, regardless of what you're doing - washing dishes, playing with your kids, eating an apple, staring at a flower, conversing with your neighbor, whatever. You'd be suprised how much life is enriched by the simple act of actually paying attention to what you're doing at that moment - rather than thinking about 20 other things you have to do or would rather be doing.

Simple, but not always easy. It's a practice, a path, a cultivation - like a garden. You don't do it once and you're done. But the rewards keep accruing and deepening. Meditation changes your brain - scientists studying neurplasticity have done studies on Buddhist monks and novice meditation students and have found that meditation has positive impacts on emotional regulation, attention and memory, with corresponding physical changes in the structure of the brain. So it's not just some hippy, spiritual, woo-woo. It's real yo. DO IT.

Mindfulness meditation is a good place to start. There are plenty of free resources online. I recommend the Seattle Insight Meditation Society's website. They have an intro to meditation class available via online videos:

http://www.seattleinsight.org/Talks/Bro ... fault.aspx

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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 3:54 am 
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I'm so glad DoaQ came by and posted what's working for her, because by and large, I've been using DoaQ's approach to recovery over the last 6 months and it has worked better for me and my needs than anything else I've tried so far.

I used to think meditation was a bunch of hocus pocus, but then I started giving it a try. You don't have to lock yourself in a darkened room with incense burning while humming OHHHMMMM, it certainly doesn't need to be that involved. It can be as simple as just pausing for a second to recognize and acknowledge your current thoughts, be mindful of them, then move on. Most of my meditation during the day is that simple. Sometimes I'll find myself becoming overrun with emotions and I'll pause, I ask God to help bring me back to center and as quick as that, it's over. At first, I had to meditate a while longer to get back to "center", but after some practice, it comes very quickly now.

I love the idea of the pause meditation can set up between those feelings of wanting to get high and actually getting high. For so long, it seemed my brain was hardwired to react to ANY trigger I encountered with immediately wanting to get high. The brain path, or neural pathway, from trigger to getting high was .00001 seconds long for me. Now, most of the time, that neural pathway has some roadblocks on it. Those roadblocks give me enough time to stop reacting to my impulses and they allow me time to consider the consequences of my actions.

Gosh, I could go through and basically quote or restate everything DoaQ said, but I don't need to, she did a damn good job explaining it all by herself.

I'd suggest you give her post a few good reads and let it really sink in. If it sounds like something your interested in, then give it a whirl.

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 Post subject: Thank You
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 9:04 am 
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A huge thank you to everyone who have replied - I am taking in all the advise and I feel in my head I have some proper reference points now. I don't feel quite as panicky and 'all over the place'. I know I have the tendancy to beat myself up. So often I have thought 'how the hell am I going to sort this shit out?' 'I know it's not what I want to be doing' or 'its ruining everything and jeopardising my life/job/future'. I like the meditation idea and will look into some techniques as it's something I have never seriously considered before. The mere thought of being able to get my mind into a steady/restful/focused place sounds so appealling. I'm tired of feeling stressed and worried and guilty and disappointed.
Cheers again to you all.

I may have a long road in front of me, but I am determined to make the necessary changes to get me where I need to be.


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 Post subject: Don't beat your self up!
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 3:10 pm 
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Hi Babydoll". we all beat are self's up wile using to bring us right back to where we started.
we do it again and again and again. i'm sure you will find a place were the the stuff that you think makes you
feel better' is not going to work for you anymore to give you a chance to find some thing less harm full that will.
i'm not sure how old you are and i hope you will find the better and health'er way to live. it's out there and we here on the program are a good example. thanks johnboy

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