September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month 2019, and as we celebrate and support everyone in recovery, let’s also talk about what might help others who are trying…to actually get there.
“r” is for recovery whether you seek recovery or are actively working your recovery every day. Addictions can involve alcohol, opioids, other prescription medicines, illicit drugs, food, sex, the internet, amphetamines, hallucinogens, tobacco, cannabis,, inhalants, or something else. Then, addictions to impulses, like stealing, shopping, or setting fires also cause suffering and torment…and shame.
Addiction Takes Hold in Small Steps
Watch how our friend Nicholas subtly advances toward addiction one seemingly innocent step at a time…
Nicholas enjoyed school while he was growing up. He was quick to raise his hand and answer the teacher’s questions. The fact that he was usually correct had nothing to do with his eagerness to answer. Nicholas just enjoyed people. He enjoyed connecting and interacting, whether it was one-on-one or in a classroom. Nicholas was a people person.
He loved meeting new people and engaging them in conversation from the time he was 3 years old. His eyes sparkled as he listened and responded to their stories, and he just had a way that set people at ease and made them feel valuable.
In elementary school he usually received A’s or Excellent. And he continued to try to do well in school as he got older. The other students really liked him, and he had friends across the various cliques that sprang up in middle school. He never saw the point in isolating himself with any particular group of students. You could say he just relished activities with whomever he thought was nice to be around.
Nicholas also loved baseball, and it didn’t hurt that his uncle was his coach. He built strong bonds with the boys on the team, and they played together every year.
All in all, he liked his life, and made the most of opportunities to excel and have fun.
But after his first year of high school, there was something that didn’t sit right. He felt less confident, and his parents noticed his moods changed more than they used to. The little disappointments of the past — with his friends, or his parents — began to build inside him. He found himself resenting his dad for the pressure he felt from him about school and sports.
“r” is for recovery… small steps lead to addiction…but small steps can also lead to recovery.
The more that time passed, the worse his resentment became. Eventually, his emotions had blown past resentment until they were full-on rage.
Sometimes he wondered why he was so mad. Why now? What delayed his reactions to events from years ago until now? He didn’t know. But it was eating him alive.
Little things can turn into big things if you don’t know how to resolve them… “r” is for recovery….
He had some friends who were planning to see a movie on Saturday night. They said they would meet up with some girls and have a good time.
He knew he needed a reprieve from the pressure so he told them sure, he’d meet up with them.
The First Step that Led to Addiction –Eventually…
And he did. They met outside the movie…all four of the guys, and then 3 girls walked up. They decided they weren’t interested in the movie and all walked to someone’s van at the back of the parking lot. Before he knew it, plastic cups were being passed around and someone was pouring Jim Beam.
small steps. but “r” is for recovery…
This was his first time to get drunk. And he did…so drunk he wasn’t sure where he was. And then a patrol car pulled up and started calling everybody’s parents.
Nicholas was embarrassed when his parents showed up. Drunk as he was, he apologized every way but Sunday to them. He played the innocent card …but knew deep down this would not be the last time.
Truth be told, he liked the way that bourbon made him feel. He wanted to feel that again.
…step by step addiction happens subtly. but step by step recovery can take hold. “r” is for recovery …
Addiction is a Hard Taskmaster
At first it was just a misstep, but missteps snowballed, until he could no longer control it. The alcohol controlled him.
Twelve years later, Nicholas thinks back and doesn’t remember very much of high school. Getting drunk Fridays turned into staying drunk all weekend. By senior year, he was drinking every day. And only sometimes made it to class.
“r” is for recovery…
After high school, he tried to hold down one job after another, but sometimes he was too sick to go to work.
Now he’s been through 3 different rehab programs. He’s determined it will work this time.
He has his 90 day chip. But every day is hard. Every minute that passes he wishes he had a drink.
“r” is for recovery… one step, one minute, at a time…
But his eyes look yellow and so does his skin. The doctor told Nicholas he’d not live to see 40 unless he stopped drinking. He told him he needed to get nutrition from a balanced diet, but Nicholas doesn’t feel much like eating. And hasn’t in a while. Still, he knows he doesn’t want to die.
Now after 30 days in rehab he’s got a good start.
“r” is for Recovery, One Day, One Hour At A Time
He goes to AA every day. Sometimes 2 or 3 times. Staying sober scares him because he’s relapsed so many times before… But his life depends on it now.
Nicholas isn’t alone.
September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.
And 22 million Americans are in recovery as we speak.
Alcoholics Anonymous Supports People in Recovery
Alcoholics Anonymous is the 12-step program that’s most well-known. They report 2 million members globally, and there are around 130 other programs that work on a similar premise.
They say that 50% of their members stay sober, 25% are sober awhile, then relapse, then come back to sobriety. The other 25% don’t stay sober.
A key to recovery through this program is working the 12 steps, which helps the individual face the things that torment him/her and are triggers for relapse.
Many in recovery say that Step 4 is the most difficult to get through because of the pain of facing their failures, hurts, and scars. Then each step advances you to facing, admitting, and making amends for offenses, failures, and injuries caused to others.
A key to helping the recovery process become solid and strong is persistence. Nurture resolve every day, and do the next right thing each minute.
This process takes courage, but helps to resolve some issues that can trigger relapse. Addressing each one strengthens your freedom from them.
Facing these steps is vital for your life to improve. “r” is for recovery…
But there are still the 25% who never reach sobriety, healing, and stability.
What about them…?
IV Ketamine Can Help with Addiction
At Innovative Psychiatry we have promising results with the use of IV ketamine infusions to treat the memories that trigger relapse. The same treatment also can dramatically relieve depression which may be caused by addiction … or may have predated it.
One size doesn’t fit all in addiction treatment, whether the addiction is a substance or a behavior. But remarkable work has been done regarding ketamine treatment for various addictions.
We talked before about the work carried out by Krupitsky and his colleagues, using IV ketamine to treat alcohol use disorder. They referred to the enhancement and regeneration of neurons seen in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. The ability of brain cells to adapt and change is neuroplasticity. This process is invaluable in recovery from addiction.
Ketamine also blocks drug-related memories, as well as the painful memories that trigger relapse, and enhance the effectiveness of psychological therapy through neuroplasticity.
If you have struggled with alcohol use disorder and would like additional help, call us.
You’ll still need to do the work to change your thinking, bu IV ketamine can give you a leg up so you can.
Give yourself the best hope of freedom from addiction and a healthy lifestyle going forward. Rebuild your career, your relationships, and your hope.
To the reconstruction of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.