I Made My Family Sicker Than I Was

More affected then myself by my addiction was my direct family. My mother and father lost a son, and my sister’s a brother. The time taken away from these people is irreplaceable. All of them spent countless hours worrying and loosing sleep over me, all the meanwhile spending endless amounts of money try to get me better. In the process of that loosing all their valuable possessions because their son was a thief.

Two and a half years of sobriety and working a program, brought me and continues to bring me the relief I need. But still, my family worries. Their son lives two hours away and anything could go wrong at any moment in their eyes. Trust gets built…. but really slowly.

I have successful made my family sicker then I was. Its a sad thing we do to our families because, we have a solution to our problems as drug addicts but they are left to themselves to get better.

What I do on a day to day basis to help to the best of my ability for them to feel better and build trust is be honest, kind, and compassionate. Always be available to talk to any of them and spend as much time as I have to offer them. I consistently keep them in the loop of what is going on in my life, and continue to grow as a man and stay self -sufficient so they can see the results of my actions and feel more comfortable .

Addiction Affects the Whole Family

Being a drug addict is hard enough, but loving a family member that is a drug addict as well is a whole different playing field. I never looked at the pain and sleepless nights that my family had while I was out using. I never thought about their feelings and how they would wait for that phone call saying that I overdosed on heroin. I am the daughter of a drug addict and alcoholic. And now I see what my family went through with me. I am powerless over her addiction. There are no words that I can say to help her, nor are there words that I can say that will force her to use. Whether she wants to get sober or not, it is all on her. Eventually I get sick over her addiction. And what I mean by sick is that I obsess about her addiction like I did with drugs. I try to do anything and everything I can to get her help, but none of it works. She is not willing yet. And I have to accept that. Having a drug addict mother has hurt me in many ways but it has also helped me. Her addiction has helped me create emotional and physical boundaries.  I have come to the realization that all I can do is be there for her when she does want help. If she wants to continue to drink and use drugs then so be it. But I cannot be a part of her life while she is in that state.

Letting Go of My Past

Countless times I have tried getting sober and tried holding onto my broken past and have had bad results. Things like old friends, old places, old habbits, broken relationships and old ideas. These idea of the importance of these things had to be smashed. The willingness to let this all go came through my struggles and failures to keep them. All these things for me hindered growth and forward movement. It was tough because it was all I really knew and as an addict it is was extremely hard for me to be uncomfortable, being fear driven my whole life. But letting go of these things gave me a chance to build from the bottom. Build new friendships, relationships, ideas, and most of all a relationship with god.

Complacency in Recovery

It was and has been very easy for me to get complacent in recovery, and due to that it has caused an endless amount of pain and suffering in others and myself and has ended in relapse. I have been in recovery multiple times. Its a process of work that I put in to get spiritual relief, without doing so brings up resentment, fear…and in me a lot of anger.  Multiple times I have put in the work and start to see changes in my life with family relations, employment, and most of all being okay with myself. Where I have fallen off before is hitting that certain point and stopping the work. Dishonesty slips out, I start doing the wrong thing, I slip away from my program and people in it with fear they might call me out. Inevitably I either relapse or end up in such a dark place feeling pain I have never felt before. I have taken so many opportunities for granted in recovery because of this. It has been a big part of my recovery this time to continue the work everyday. To do all the steps, and continue growing spiritually. The outcome of this has been more then I could of wished for.

Willingness to Change

Willingness to change was what I was presented with as a need to do things to stay sober. As a drug addict, change and the feeling of being uncomfortable were my biggest struggles. That would require me to walk through fear, one of the many things that determined my direction of life. I struggled and sometimes still continue to struggle with this.

The willingness came to me through building a connection with a higher power. It started with just wrapping my head around the idea and coming to the conclusion that everything I do ruins my life and the lives of people around me, so I hoped to god there was something greater then me out there. I started listening to people and became willing to do anything they said. For me that was a big step. Anything means anything. I was told to move to Maine. I did. I was told to go to sober living. I did. I was told to do step work to the best of my ability and I did. It wasn’t always easy, but in time I saw results.

Building a connection with my higher power, my family and friends. Living an honest and healthy lifestyle. The willingness came easier and easier when the results started pouring in. I had to give up the thought of what I knew was best and grow from it. What I thought I knew didn’t work, clearly.

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Fit to Recover

When we were children most of us like to play. We would run around for hours on end. We ran because it gave us happiness and excitement. Along the way relationships, responsibilities and other life stuff got in the way and exercising was a happy memory of our childhood.

When we first started drinking and using, most of us liked it and could moderate. We would sing and laugh and think the party would never end. Along the way physical craving took hold, we compromised our values and we found our life spiraling out of control. Moderately drinking and using was a happy but elusive memory we were trying to chase.

Exercising and recovery have many parallels. Think about this: When we first get clean our eyes open to a refreshing world. When we start to exercise/run again we lace up our shoes and get some good vibes. Both exercise and recovery are both intimidating at first because the gym equipment has changed, the people are different and we are not as powerful as most of the people there. Day by day, we show up and increase our reps (steps), we talk to people (fellowship), find commonality and start to feel comfortable. As more time passes, we begin to spot people (sponsorship) and see gains (spiritual growth).

Then, we hit the plateau and the pink cloud has left us. Going to the gym (meetings) is still a daily habit but now instead of doing all the tough work (setting up, talking to newcomers, sponsoring) we instead hang on the gym equipment, flex our muscles (ego) and talk to other lame-o’s who are flexing their muscles (false safety). We have fallen into the trap of settling for the plateau. IF we stay here long enough we will find reasons not to go to the gym (meetings) and start the steady decline of our muscles (the work we put into our recovery). There are now two sad scenarios: hang at the gym and be a flashy, toned individual that is there just for vanity/image or you leave the gym (sober) but wander about the community, talking about the good old days and trying to show off your now deflated muscles (spirituality).

What happened? How do we avoid the trap? The moment of truth is the moments of pain. When we put in the work it is painful but we see the gains (happy, joyous and free). The gains bring us purpose and we accept the pain because we value the price we pay in pain for the purpose we receive. We continue to this trend because it gives us peace. We do get to the plateau and we must make a choice: endure the pain or coast. THIS IS NOT A ONE-TIME EVENT…THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!

Spiritual growth is painful. In order to get more (gains and spirituality) we must let go of what is comfortable and not stop pushing ahead. It’s okay to coast to enjoy and repair your gains but if you do it for too long, comfort becomes normal and the pain of change becomes less attractive.

If you have the ability, push ahead. If you have the knowledge, make the change. IF you have recovery, flex your muscles and spot the next guy coming up!

Yoga & Meditation in Recovery

How yoga and meditation can support and enhance recovery from addiction


Yoga adds a physical element to treatment and promotes emotional strength. This is a great way for residents to be able to work on strengthening their bodies and minds. Physically, yoga enhances self-awareness, flexibility, and core muscles.  Emotionally, residents can discipline their minds and bodies to work through uncomfortableness by holding poses. This results in behavioral change which can be utilized in real world situations they may encounter in the future.

Most of the residents have not tried yoga prior to coming to treatment and initially resist the exercise because it is hard work, it is uncomfortable and it pushes limits. After only one or two classes, many residents end up welcoming the sessions stating it teaches them about themselves and makes them feel better.


Meditation and mindfulness bring awareness to the present moment. Instead of spending time thinking about the past or what will happen in the future, meditation teaches one to focus in the moment. This benefits those in recovery by inviting one to observe their tendencies without judgement and improve them. Developing this kind of mindfulness creates a needed space between reaction and response.

Liberty Bay Recovery Center now offers on-site yoga and meditation twice a week as well as individual and small group sessions to residents led by certified yoga instructor Lara Nordensen. Contact Liberty Bay to learn more about the programs we offer and how they might benefit your recovery.

12 Step Work vs. Paid Recovery Employment

I have been in recovery for nearly 12 years and have seen a lot of crazy stuff in AA and in the treatment industry. I was raised in AA that you could be paid for 12 step work in a treatment center setting but you could never take pride/ownership of the results of those people. I have seen a lot of people put their own program to the wayside because they were “seeing the light come on” with people they worked with in treatment. This is a subtle trap and it gets the best of us. We, long term recovery or not, choose the path of least resistance if our “motives” are in the right place. If we do this long enough, we will have warped our minds to think that people’s success or failure depends on me and those results may impact my job as well. So instead of doing these things in an AA setting where you see the light come on and the gift is that you stay sober it turns to you see the light come on and “I love my job/recovery” so much. 12 step programs work so well because it asks addicts and alcohols to “freely give” what was given to them. NO ONE would do this 12 step work freely and on their own time IF their life did not depend on it. We are selfish creatures and by adding the $ sign, we lose track of the TRUE selflessness that is required for a continued psychic change.

So what’s the bright side to all this for a person in recovery looking to work in treatment? Well, I have seen that there are loopholes in the conundrum of recovery vs. work:

  1. Doing the right thing when no one is looking: Goes against our entitled nature to “Freely” give our time and our knowledge to our employer and the people we serve with no recognition.
  2. Social media connections with our peers are a good thing: We have the opportunity to connect with our counterparts on a different level and we show each other how to have healthy boundaries with our clients. Not friending our clients for a long period of time will protect them but also “delay our gratification” for connection to those
  3. We like working in treatment for a hidden reason: Our peers are in recovery and we have a bonding experience by showing up every day. By seeing our recovery and even non-recovery peers go through life and experience the good and the bad, we are connecting to their life and can be a part of it if we choose.
  4. Do not become a “workaholic”: By devoting endless hours to the cause and leaving no time for your life. Substituting work for your life is dangerous although your motives are good.

I am not the guru of this subject but these are just some observations I have had over my time in the two worlds. Please, let us know what you think. What do you do to stay sober? How do you balance home life, work life and recovery? By sharing how “we” do it “we” have the best possible chance to grow.

Life of Purpose

What makes a person use drugs or alcohol to begin with? Is it a lack love? Is it an abusive past? Are we genetically disposed to seeking out things that are harmful? Studies would prove all of these reasons valid as they all stem from the lack of something; purpose. People crave things that will help them identify as something. Whether you join a punk band, have a position at the church or are on track for a college degree, the things we do define us.

Such is addiction. If we start off drinking or using because of lack of love or trauma, we continue to use because of a physical addition to the substance. While addicted, our disease has us take the easy way out to fuel our use. This would include not showing up for events, not making our bed, running from responsibility and not showing ourselves love. Engaging in this behavior long enough will change our purpose in life. We change from wanting love and connections in our life to severing our connections with habits and people that will ultimately give us strength. If the negative lifestyle continues jails, institutions, heartache and early death will eventually occur.

So how do you fix the problem?
The first step is arresting the addiction. No positive change can take place so long as the psychical allergy and the mental obsession take hold. This means entering treatment or getting some serious help to help keep you away from drugs and alcohol for the time being. The second step is to start changing your belief system. This involves taking a look at your past, not being a victim of it and altering your daily habits. Doing this will allow you to discard the garbage and open the door to new and exciting things to come. The last step of this process is to find purpose. This could be anything; having a commitment at a meeting, starting school, mentoring individuals, getting a promotion, meeting someone special or planning for the future. These are just a couple things but they are a great start in your journey to connection to your higher self. We crave purpose. Just like atoms, we float around until we bond with something. Getting clean, we break the old bonds of negative purpose that bring disappear and pain and form new bonds that give us hope and peace. Find purpose in your life that brings you to a higher good but take care of your roots that got you in that position. Purpose is strength. Be sure that you are connecting to a purpose that will give you everlasting strength and will propel you to your higher self.