When the holidays are over and the rush of the chaos stops, our adrenaline can drop, causing us to feel low, sad or depressed, even if nothing significantly negative happened. This is a fragile time for those of us struggling with addiction. In fact, December is known for having one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths each year. To make things worse, it seems like every year after Christmas we just jump right into setting goals for the next year. These new year’s resolutions can be exciting, but how long do we usually stick to them? A few months, a few weeks, a few days? Sometimes these goals can feel like they are rules(more pressure) and we quickly lose our motivation, forget why they were important in the first place, and feel bad for not sticking them out. A lot of time these goals are motivated by what we feel like we failed to do this year. What if we took a moment to pause after Christmas, and think about what it is we did accomplish? What if we intentionally didn’t set goals until the 1st, and spent the seven days between Christmas and New Year’s acknowledging our achievements. Doing this could end the year with a heart full of gratitude and possibly make our resolutions completely different than they would have been otherwise. Try writing this list of achievements or things you are grateful for each morning until January 1st, and you might just keep it up all year long.

In our addiction we lost our ability, if we ever had it, to stick to a healthy routine, maintain our self-care, think positively or reach out for help; so this added holiday stress can trigger cravings or a desire to isolate. A wonderful thing about our sober living homes is that you are surrounded by community. A community dedicated to prioritizing and maintaining healthy routines, self-care and communication. This kind of support and accountability during this time of year can be a life saving environment, so lean into your community, share your feelings and celebrate your achievements this year together. Let’s wrap up 2018 with compassion for what has happened and joy for what’s to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Holidays bring up mixed emotions for a lot of us- while it is nice to reflect on the year and all that we are thankful for while being surrounded by loved ones, sometimes it feels overwhelming and stressful.  But I do have a lot to be thankful for this year.

I remember Thanksgiving 2015; I was scheduled to fly out to Arizona for treatment two days after the holiday, so that meant enduring Thanksgiving while withdrawing from heroin while simultaneously blacked out on Xanax and alcohol.  I was an absolute terror to all of our guests that year – it was no secret that I had been loaded years before, but now that it was public information that I would be going to rehab later that week, the energy in the room was more so focused on me and the chaos I brought about.  It took two years before my family invited me back home for Thanksgiving again, once they knew I was sober and not going to ruin another holiday.

The two years that I missed being with my family, I was so full of gratitude to be taken in by the friends and family I had made through my fellowship.  They helped remind me that I could get better and could be a part of.  They loved me and supported me when I felt I had nowhere else to go, and they reminded me that I could one day be with my family again, sober and present with them.

With my family living back on the east coast, I was unable to make it home this year.  I was invited though, and still got to have a wonderful phone call with all of them before they ate.  I missed them a lot and felt sad that I couldn’t be there with them, but I was so beyond thankful to have another wonderful family take me in and treat me as their own.  I was still able to experience the love, gratitude, and joy brought about by this holiday.

I am thankful that while I could not spend the day with my immediate family, that I was able to spend it with people I love.  I am thankful for the relationships I have today, both back east and here in Arizona.  I am thankful for my sobriety and all that it gives me, including the ability to tell those I care about, how much I truly love and appreciate them.

No matter where you spent Thanksgiving this year, I hope you all had a nice time.  I hope you were able to separate yourselves from the stress and frustration that can be brought about during the holidays and truly focus on gratitude and love.

 

Being in close quarters with other addicts and alcoholics can be hard sometimes.  There is definitely no lack of strong personalities and character defects running rampant when you get a bunch of sick people together.  It can bring about frustration, anger, and a feeling of lack of control.

 

So, what do we do when get overwhelmed, or angry towards people specifically acting in ways in which disagree or in ways that arise anger or jealousy within us?  We take a deep breath and remember why we are here.  The traditions remind us that we are here for a common purpose, and that we need to put personalities aside and focus on the reason why we are here.  No one of us is better than anyone else, or more deserving of sobriety than our fellows.

 

Anger and frustration may be warranted and may be valid in some situations.  However, we have to take a look at what is really important.  We can learn a lot from other people and experiences which may not always be the most pleasant for us.  When we can remove our egos from particular circumstances, the outcome can be truly beneficial and show us ways in which we can grow to be more useful to our fellow AAs and be a productive member of the program that has already given us so much.

The next time we are faced with feelings that incline us to raise our voices or storm out, we must remember that there is a greater good we are a part of.  When we learn from these experiences and embrace the discomfort we face, we can truly grow from there.

I listened to a speaker tape on emotional sobriety the other night, and to put it simply, it was exactly what I needed to hear.  The past couple of years have been full of ups and downs – the beginning was different.  It was nice feeling accomplished getting through the day without getting loaded, and I felt like I was making tangible progress with every gain I made in my steps, with every amends I made, and with every move forward.  Things started to change one I hit two years and I felt like I needed more.  The speaker says, “In spiritual growth, the job is never done.”  I heard this, and it struck a chord.  Am I to expect not to reach a point of enlightenment and peace? Well, not really.  The point is to constantly be growing, to be evolving, and to be okay with that.

He speaks about learning, growing, and changing, and the evolution of our behaviors and thoughts when we practice self-love and connection with each other and our spiritual selves.  I cannot expect to be perfect all of the time, and I know this.  Sometimes, I forget that I place unrealistic expectations on myself and others.  I need to take a moment and really think about what my sense of self is based upon.

Am I letting others define me?  Am I allowing my perception of myself when I do something wrong dictate my overall attitude and mindset?  Am I prey to my own negative thoughts and feelings?  Am I unable to see the good in myself, even when others try to point it out to me?

As much as I would like to say my sense of self is solely based upon a spiritual connection and a desire to be useful, that isn’t always the case.  The more important question I can ask myself, though, is, “Am I willing to give myself a break and focus on growing?”

With practice comes learning, with learning comes growth, and with growth comes change.  I want to remain open and teachable, I want to be student in this life and be able to approach things openly and with a sense of willingness that I may be able to get better with each experience.  I want to practice to the point where I can sustain changed behavior and practice loving myself not only through my thoughts, but through my behaviors as well.  I want to connect with those around me and learn from what they have to share, and maybe contribute to their growth as well.
While I cannot expect myself to be perfect along this journey, I can remain grateful for what I have learned thus far and that I have made it to where I am today.  My sense of self is fragile.  I am still learning who I am and what makes me who I am.  I do know that I want to be a good person, and I think I am well on my way to feeling that truth as my reality.

 

To listen to Tom B. speak on Emotional Sobriety, click the link below:

As clichéd as it sounds, acceptance is really the only way to get through difficult situations we may not like.  At first, I had no idea how to approach this concept – how was I supposed to sit idly by and just be okay with things that were happening that made me angry or upset or uncomfortable?  The solution; Seek acceptance and kindness in my heart.

Acceptance does not mean liking something.  It means understanding that I do not have control over everything that happens, and that things are what they are.  Whether or not there is a reason, if I am caused distress by what happens, I have to accept the simple fact that it happened.

Acceptance doesn’t mean sitting and wallowing in my contempt.  It means I see clearly that I have to take further action to work through my own feelings.

 

The simple reality rings true that I do not have a say in what other people do.  I am simply responsible for my own reactions and the things I do to seek support to work through my feelings.  I pray every morning for acceptance of what the day holds – this does not mean I do not get angry or upset.  This means I take a step back and look at things through a lens not clouded by my own selfish needs and wants.  I look at things and think to myself, “Okay, it is what it is,” and I move forward accordingly.

Acceptance is hard and truly means surrendering to the natural flow of life’s occurrences.  It is daunting and scary, but it also provides a sense of relief when I realize how truly blessed I am to be able to seek support from my loved ones, my fellowship, and my higher power in times where I feel out of control and scared.  It is not always easy, but it feels more natural over time with practice.

Today, I will accept things that happen, without taking them personally, without trying to manipulate or change things.  I will feel my feelings and let things come up if they need to, but I will not dwell on them and I will reach out for support if I need it.  I will accept things that are out of my control and move on from there.

Upon entering the rooms of AA, some of us may have pre-conceived notions on spirituality or what it is the program asks of us.  Others may have no clue what they are walking in to and may be turned off completely by some of the language used in the rooms.  Sometimes, we let our own ideas and perceptions of what we think is going on get in the way of giving ourselves and the rooms a chance.  “We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program.  Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery.  But these are indispensable.” (Big Book, pg. 568).

Uncertainty and judgement are normal – some of us have had past experiences with religious affiliations or have pre-existing ideas of what “God” means, and those old ideals may not be conducive to a newfound spiritual experience that the twelve steps call for.  But have no fear- all that is required of us is honesty, open mindedness and willingness to be receptive and try new things.  As long as we can maintain a mindset that is centered in the present moment and open to new ideas and practices, we are well on our way.

Spirituality is unique to the individual.  Many of AA’s members find solace and comfort in religious deities, others, in more broad conceptions of a power greater than ourselves, such as the universe or a common energy.  Whatever it may be, it is for no one else to judge and not even necessary for others to understand.  The principles of spirituality are contingent upon the individual’s desire to accept it and practice it.  There is no right or wrong way to do so, it is a feeling and an experience unique to those who seek it.

Language used in the Big Book may seem off putting to those who struggle with these ideas, however, continuing to practice honesty, open mindedness and willingness prove to allow many to overlook their own biases and achieve a state of comfort amongst words that may not resonate with them fully.  Exploring new ways of looking at spirituality and being open to anything can create a beautiful outcome to those who believe it is possible.  Our thoughts, experiences, and ideas shape the way we interact and engage in this world.  We open ourselves up to endless possibilities once we give ourselves the chance to.

 

Camelback Recovery is excited to announce the launch of our new app, C.A.S.A – Camelback Accountability Support App.

Direct support services are available anywhere at any time through the use of C.A.S.A. as a point of contact between house managers and sober living clients.  Use and application will be seamless and highly applicable; Clients will simply download the app, accessible on both Android and Apple products, to participate in daily check ins, have real time communication with their house managers, and overall increase client engagement in our program to sustain positive and healthy growth.

The app has a lot of exciting features including:

-Texting and calling abilities. House managers are directly linked as support so clients can check in at designated times.  Communication is subject to administrative review to ensure all conversations are productive and recovery driven.  Recovery coaches and other support members may be linked as well.

-GPS location services to verify meeting attendance and to enhance accountability, especially on overnights or curfew extensions.

-Daily activities for clients to complete.  This monitors random UA and BAC tests as well and digitally logs that information for administrative review.

-Wellness and educational resources.

 

In a society run by smart phones, the easily and readily available technology as a key element of C.A.S.A. will allow Camelback Recovery and all of our clients to utilize “quick and accessible” support in an entirely new way, whether or not they are in a sober living environment.

Implementing C.A.S.A. into the Camelback Recovery program and providing the opportunity to step towards a higher level of wellness will overall increase levels of support, accountability, and structure many people need on a seven day a week basis.  To find out more, please call 602-466-9880 or check out our website at www.camelbackrecovery.com.  We hope this new and exciting feature in our program will reach as many people as possible and give them the support they have been looking for.  Stay tuned for more updates and developments by following us on Facebook and Instagram and reaching out with any questions.

 

Many of us have spent the majority of our adolescent and adult lives under the confines of our addictions.  When we have spent so much time using, it feels uncomfortable and foreign to change all of our old behaviors.  It becomes second nature to engage in the rituals and patterns revolving around using and drinking – it is engrained in our daily routine to do certain things in certain ways.  Breaking old habits is difficult and takes time, and beginning to develop new ones requires repetition and structure.

A key part in staying sober is developing new and healthy habits to replace our old ones.  When we shift the focus in our actions and daily routines from using to recovery, we provide support and structure for ourselves throughout the day.  In early stages of recovery, it is important to develop new daily routines focused on positive growth.  Daily prayer and meditation, calling our sponsors, healthy eating and exercising schedules, and evening reviews, when repeated on a daily basis, become part of our structure to live by, enhancing our quality of life.

Inpatient treatment, sober living, and accountability groups all help provide the support to maintain structure and routine.  Some of us need longer to break old habits and develop new ones, depending on how long we were stuck in our destructive behaviors.  Sometimes, we back track subconsciously, simply because it is engrained in us to act a certain way.  Giving ourselves ample time to practice newer, healthier habits is one kind thing we can do for ourselves to aid our journeys of recovery.  These things take time, so we might as well give ourselves that.

Serenity is the simple state of being at calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  To take the definition one step further, serenity is the state of being at peace no matter what the outside circumstances may look like.  When we let other people or things affect our peace and happiness, that is not a problem regarding other people or things, that is a problem regarding ourselves.

When we give other people the power to dictate our emotional and spiritual well-being, we are not allowing ourselves to maintain a spiritual connection to a power greater than ourselves.  The purpose of spiritual connection is to feel empowered and hopeful, and to feel a sense of ease and a knowing that things will be okay as long as we trust the process.  When other people or circumstances override that innate sense of calm, we place more weight and meaning onto people and things than we know they have over us.

Saying the serenity prayer, asking for peace of mind no matter what comes our way, helps keep us grounded and puts forth the idea that we will be okay, even if things do not go our way.

God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

When we fixate on things, try to change outside circumstances or the way people behave, we fall back into an old pattern of behavior, centered around selfishness and control.  When we try to take the power back, we no longer are practicing the principle of faith, nor are we trusting that other people are capable of making decisions for themselves.  Putting ourselves.  When we let other people’s words and actions control our emotional states and dictate our own reactions, we give them the power we should be giving to our higher power.  Daily prayer and meditation promote peace of mind and overall serenity, and a sense of ease and comfort underneath our initial fears and frustrations make it easier to live life happily and usefully.

For a lot of people, recovery is not a linear path that can be walked without some bumps in the road.  Not all people relapse, but it is a part of many people’s stories.  When we honestly and thoroughly work our steps, stay connected with our fellowship, and maintain a spiritual connection, it is easier to recognize when we are struggling and when we need to take further action to prevent a relapse.  Sometimes, we may not even be aware that we are entering the dangerous territory of being in “relapse mode.”  Certain behaviors and actions can change, and our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves can feel discontented.  Some signs of relapse behavior include:

-Not going to meetings as regularly.

-Disconnecting from your fellowship and not reaching out to as many people.

-Not calling your sponsor.

-Feelings of hopelessness and depression.

-Isolating.

-Engaging in destructive behaviors (i.e, stealing or shoplifting, lying, breaking house rules, unhealthy eating and sleeping,  halt in spiritual practices)

 

When left to our own vices, we have been shown time and time again that we cannot successfully run our own lives without the help of the program.  When we are feeling ourselves slipping, it is important to tell someone and take a moment to ground ourselves.  We can make a gratitude list, showing us the things to be thankful for due to our sobriety and our recovery.  We can call our sponsors, call a friend, or speak up at a meeting.  Fear and shame have no place to run our lives and dictate our actions.  If we are struggling, we can be reminded that there is hope for us after all, and walk through the pain and come out stronger.