As anyone who has been reading these blogs knows, my main area of interest is the spiritual journey, and how to remain as open and awake and aware as possible at all times. That alone will keep anyone busy, as the Ego is a worthy opponent that is constantly trying to undermine any efforts at living in truth and grace. The Ego is like a crafty old wolf, always lurking around trying to find a moment of weakness, telling lies and playing games. Addiction is one of the greatest tools of the Opponent, for the goal of the Ego is to block our contact with truth, with the Divine, with our selves- and our addiction covers all the bases quite nicely. When we are active in our disease, we are in a trance of complete delusion, we are puppets with blinders on. As there are many, many types of addiction ( from the obvious drugs and alcohol, to the not so obvious drama addicts and rage-aholics, who create strife in their lives and the lives of others in order to obtain the rush it provides for them) there are many, many other people incarcerated inside of themselves, cut off and isolated, sleepwalking through life, who are not even aware of their condition. As alcoholics and drug addicts, we are gifted with an alarm clock that others are not. We have a chance at redemption others don’t always get to discover.
When we wake up from the dream of addiction, we are confronted with a new reality- new for us, anyway- its the same reality many people have been living for a long time. How to navigate without the puppet strings, the blinders on? How do we deal? Its like the scene in the movie The Matrix. When Neo is given the choice of the red pill or the blue, he chooses the pill of truth, and in so doing the illusions are stripped away and he is plunged into reality- not one which is as packaged or as attractive as The Matrix, which is a lie, a shared dream- in the real world the clothes are tattered, the food is goop, there is no sunlight, no real creature comfort in sight- but when they look each other in the eye, its a real eye looking back, and to a seeker of truth, that one fact is more valuable than the entire world of illusion. Connection. Unity. Love. Service. Compassion. The entire Matrix is a trifle compared to the infinite value of these things, even in the smallest doses.
In Eastern thought, the veils of illusion that are used to bewitch us are called Maya, and the continuous but random drift of passions, desires, emotions, and experiences inside the land of illusion is called Samsara. The Matrix is a great metaphor because the Matrix is Maya, and the people in the Matrix are simply dreaming life- Samsara. Once we surrender drugs and alcohol, we are still left with the rest of the illusory world and all its other temptations with which to replace the substance. Putting away the substance is hard enough, but then there is everything else! If we are lucky, we get to quickly get to the heart of the matter, and discover how false and hollow these things are- promiscuity, ambition, cheap thrills, gossip, gambling, emotional hostage taking, material possessions, power, victimhood, people pleasing, rage, and financial gain, just to name a few. We exploit them and find that they work, at first. But then they stop working so well, and pretty soon they don’t work at all. Hopefully we discover a new value system at this point, one that doesn’t tolerate the False Idols. Sometimes we lament at the loss of these cheap thrills, but then we gain humility and maturity, we grow up, we stop wanting more and start wanting the Next Level. We begin to seek real experiences that nourish our souls, support intimacy in our relationships and sustain our recovery. We begin to love life just the way it is, and stop complaining about the way it isn’t. We look to neutralize conflict or avoid it when possible (and healthy). And hopefully we learn that when we are stripped down to our most undiluted essence, life also disrobes in a spiritual striptease that leaves only the naked truth, with nothing in between you and Supreme Beingness, the Source, God, whatever you choose to call it. Once you’ve experienced that, you will be loathe to ever let anything stand in between you and the Source ever again.
If you haven’t seen The Matrix in a while, I suggest you do. My favorite part is near the end, when Neo stops running from the Opponent (Agent Smith, who is as devious, cunning, insidious, and shape shifting as our Ego, our Disease), turns around, and dives right into that thing he has been afraid of. His faith became absolute- faith where there is no room for fear or doubt, only absolute certainty. That sort of faith changes lives, when we turn and face what we fear most, when we stop running. This is Contrary Action to the extreme, and its the basis of nearly every spiritual practice and certainly an important tenet in recovery.
There are lots of things we are running from when we are actively drinking or using. Its one thing to put down the drink or drug, but entirely another to see what was lurking behind the drink that you were hiding from- from trauma, or responsibility, from our deep sense of self loathing, feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure or success, rejection, or fear of nearly everything. When we put down the substance, there is all of that waiting for us, and the Opponent knows it. It will play mind games with you, compel you into absurd situations that will place you in the line of fire in order to find that weak spot, and manipulate with you with your own fear. Why not beat it to the punch and get really real with all that you are running from?
A Course in Miracles (one of my favorite books) says anything that is not love is not real. ANYTHING THAT IS NOT LOVE IS NOT REAL. So I made a list of everything I had been running from, all the fears and false idols, and next to each I wrote- “Is this Love? No. Anything that is not love is not real. This is not love. It isn’t real.” Wouldn’t it be amazing if you came to know that you made it all up, and that you can co-create your own reality with the faith that you are safe, loved, that miracles are on their way and you need to be preparing for an awesome life instead of hiding from an unpleasant one? I think so. If your life isn’t looking like this then you might not be ready to let go of the suffering your mind is telling you is real, and thats okay, too. Most of us are addicted to suffering, and if not addicted, then very, very attached to it. But you are free to choose, and its important that you know this. We all have the freedom to choose to stay imprisoned by our hallucinations. You’ll choose to be empowered over disempowered when you are ready.
When we walk into the safe haven of recovery and choose a life of abstinence from mind altering substances, we sign up for the greatest adventure of all time. We wake up from one dream right into another, and we continue to wake up as we go. We shed the false and come to cherish intimacy, relationships, principles, work, spiritual practice. We perceive the world lovingly, with tolerance and compassion. But first things first; if you are new in recovery, rest assured that the terrors will pass. The cravings will pass. You are literally in the worst part of hell, and the Opponent, the Ego, the Trickster, the Disease, some even call him, appropriately, the Devil- is riding your coat tails. That is why you need a community to get you through that first year, you need a full surrender, to be teachable and hopefully desperate. After that, the next part of the journey begins. And the journey, as they say, is the destination. Your entire life has lead you to this exact place. Which pill will you choose?
Safety Update: Break-Ins And Thefts of Prescription Drugs Are Rising So The Use Of Municipal Drop Boxes Is Recommended
People seem to get rid of everything eventually, except their old prescription drug bottles. Even when they get new prescriptions or they no longer need to use pain medication and the like, they fail to dispose of the drugs properly. Police in Southern California are pointing out that what you keep in your medicine cabinets could open your homes to burglars and thieves.
As the street value of prescription drugs rises, drug dealers and drug addicts are focusing on the homes of the elderly and suburban family dwellings as potential targets. ONE80CENTER wants to make sure that you and your family remain safe by properly disposing of your prescriptions drug in local drop boxes and avoiding the contamination of local water supplies.
Police forces across Southern California are recommending that citizens use the safe and secure prescription drug drop boxes that can be found in many public medical buildings and municipal facilities. There have been several recent examples of homes being broken into in the beachfront communities in Orange County where the only thing stolen were prescription drugs. We advise that you safely dispose of the drugs in order to ensure the safety of your home. In addition, families with young children or experimenting teenagers can avoid the obvious hazards.
By properly disposing of your prescription drugs and not just flushing them down the toilet, you also avoid contaminating your community’s water supplies. It is shocking that when local water supplies in Southern California are routinely tested, they test positive for a variety of prescription drugs because of improper disposal methods. By doing the right thing and using the drop boxes, you can have a positive ecological impact on your community.
Southern California police chiefs from Los Angeles to Long Beach make it clear that if you bring in prescription drugs for disposal, no questions will be asked. You simply bring them in and drop them off anonymously in the drop boxes. ONE80CENTER supports the use of drop boxes to safely dispose of prescription drugs to ensure the safety and security of your home. As the abuse of prescription drugs spirals out of control, it has become a necessity to raise awareness and reduce unnecessary risk factors. By encouraging people in your community to use the drop boxes, you not only protect your family, but also reduce the chance of properly obtained prescriptions falling into the wrong hands and becoming a danger to the community by stoking the fires of the prescription drug abuse and addiction.
There is a certain point in sobriety where you really have to take a hard look at yourself. I thought I already had done all of that, but right now I am experiencing a different level of delightfully grueling self examination. It comes as a result of a recent shift in my own reality, one that has left me feeling whole, complete, integrated, and not lacking in any way. (See previous blog, Atonement, about that amazing experience…)
After returning from Indonesia with this self unifying and connective experience under my belt, I was suddenly able to identify certain ways of being that are no longer aligned with who I am. For example, after a recent family crisis involving one of my kids, I found that I wasn’t shaken up or frantic. I had not hit a panic button, or lost my shit, which under the circumstances was not only warranted, but expected. The few people I communicated this crisis to were very sweet, and asked, with a great deal of concern, “But how are you? Are you okay?” I was nonplussed. I felt that I was supposed to say I was devastated, to comment on how hard it is, but I wasn’t devastated. I was fine. The situation had not compromised my serenity in any way, and now I almost felt bad about it.
It was a great opportunity for me to pause and look at why I would feel bad about maintaining a state of serenity in calamity. At the moment my caring friends asked me how I was, I felt how their sympathy offered my recently laid to rest martyr/victim space to unfurl. It was compelling to say, “Its hard, yeah,” and take their consoling words and basically wallow in them, feeding the ‘bad wolf’ of my ego in the most insidious of ways. To even have to own that this is what I have done for years was an ugly truth to face, and its little consolation that I wasn’t aware of what I was doing. I unwittingly disempowered my own self with the kindness of others.
Now there is the feeling bad about being fine- what’s up with that? There is the old ego again, worrying about how I look to others. Will they think I am not concerned enough about my daughter? Will they think me too cavalier, or perhaps even disconnected from reality? Why oh why do I care?
I care because I am a human, subject to all the frailties that crave approval. Its the human condition, and being an alcoholic is the human condition on steroids. I could feel that urge to play into the assigned role and cave in for all the wrong reasons, but the difference now is that instead of acting on it, I watched it and casually bypassed the whole mess by saying, “Thank you much for asking. I am really good. I am sincerely okay.”
Did I possibly see a shadow cross their faces, as if I perhaps was wildly inappropriate to be fine at a time like this? Who knows. I thought I saw it, but its this kind of thing that is one of the greatest tools of my ego, and my disease. Maybe it was there, and maybe it wasn’t. But the nice thing is this- once I watched this whole subtle and yet intense scenario play out, I realized it truly doesn’t matter what people think. It doesn’t matter if they approve, or if they disapprove. I know where I stand, at long last, and I don’t need to justify it or shrink to fit or do anything but just be exactly what I am committed to. This may mean some people fade out of my life; some are there because I played the game with them, the mutual cosigning and commiserating. Those relationships won’t have enough air to breath. And some relationships will become stronger. And better yet, new ones will form that will be built on honesty and lack of emotional manipulation and self gratification.
We get to stop holding ourselves hostage by identifying with conditioned responses. And we get to stop holding others hostage as well. We get to live authentically in each moment, responding with our truth, relaxed in knowing that everything is happening exactly the way it is supposed to. When we resolve our inner conflicts, we get to love ourselves unconditionally, and then we no longer need anyone else to. People in our lives are then free to be exactly who and what they are, and we are able to embrace them unconditionally with love and respect as well.
What does this have to do with sobriety? Everything.
Last week I went to a club. Oi! It was for a good purpose, though- a non profit fundraiser for 600million.org, which is trying to create an oral sterilization pill that will sterilize stray dogs, thus ending the plight of stray dog’s overpopulation. I hadn’t been to a club in years, and it brought back memories from a time I had nearly forgotten.
I remember the process of ‘going out’- getting ready, doing the makeup and throwing clothes around, trying to find exactly the right thing to wear. I had to have a few drinks while getting ready, as it is an anxiety provoking endeavor. (And because I am an alcoholic and any reason is a good reason to drink.) Then there was the arrival. I never drove; my friends knew better than to let me drive. We’d walk up wondering if we would be let in or have to wait, which we wouldn’t. That alone set up a small panic- Am I cool enough? Am I too old? Meanwhile there is this idea running in the back of my mind that something is about to happen. I am not sure what exactly; I always felt that all the preening and strutting would result in something amazing happening. In fact, every time I drank I thought something would change, be different, be better somehow. Behind that expectation was the nervousness that something amazing wouldn’t actually happen and that I would end up disappointed. And in order to neutralize the possibility of disappointment, I would act like I didn’t care at all. We would walk up to the door, and I would act like I was bored out of my mind and not like all the others, who cared. And really, by that point, I just wanted to get in there and get my drink on- my final layer of protection against the inevitable disappointment that the evening would yield.
Once in the club, I was always assaulted by the music, the smell of bodies, cologne and perfume, and desperation. I started drinking as soon as possible, to deaden my fears, heighten my expectation, and help me tolerate the onslaught of noise and smells, people crushing up against me, and the inevitable men who I proceeded to ignore. My friends were not ignoring them, however, so they would all end up talking to men and I would be there with my drink, looking bored and unapproachable. A few brave men would approach, and the more I drank, the friendlier I got. Until that last drink, when I would probably throw a punch.
When I walked into the event at the club on Wednesday, all of this came back to me. I hated clubs, and yet I went anyway. I hated everything about going out to places like that, and I used my drinking to make a substandard situation seem attractive. And then I used it to deaden my senses so I could tolerate it. The expectation I felt was the same promise that I felt the drink was making me- something would be different, something would change, be better. That was the lie of the drink, and I believed it for years. I hated my life, and I numbed myself to this fact. That was the only magic of drinking- it kept me embedded in the great lie, kept me from waking up to the reality of myself, which would not have been tolerable.
I usually ended up leaving the club very drunk and surly. I wasn’t promiscuous, but I was violent. I’d pick fights or yell at cops or go home and call the wrong people. I’d be so disappointed that the magic didn’t happen that I’d try to score, or at the very least, go home to my vey own bottle and drink until I passed out. I did this for years. Until I decided to skip the club and just stay home with the bottle.
As I walked into the club where the 600MILLION.ORG event was held, I was astonished to recall all of this. People were asking me if I’d like a drink and I’d say, “Water, please.” They would give me a little bit of a look, “Just water? Are you sure?” “Yes, just water, thank you.” I’ve learned that we don’t have to give a whole history or make excuses, just leave it at that. People seem to want an explanation, but we don’t have to say anything. It was a really awesome event, but there were a lot of people drinking, and I couldn’t help but be happy I wasn’t one of them.
On my way home, I reflected back on the way I used to live. It was so out of alignment with who I really and truly am, but I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. Alcohol blinded me and told me I needed something else, something MORE, always more. I don’t like to dress up, or get hit on, stand in line for a bathroom, or shout over loud music to be heard. In sobriety, I have learned who I am, what I truly want from my life experiences, and how to go about creating what it is I want. I have a value system that is in keeping with the principles I have learned in recovery, and that is really who I am. When all those things are in alignment, there is a smooth flow to life, and the struggling stops. Not that challenges go away, but I am directed through them gracefully by paying attention to the next indicated action in front of me. I love my life, and the relationship I have with my Higher Power. I am blessed beyond measure.
However, if you had told me, back in the day, that the life beyond my wildest dreams would be based on principles and a relationship with my Higher Power, I would have been APPALLED!!! I thought I wanted sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Everything in my life informed me that excess was best, and there was never enough of it to satiate my appetite. I could never have understood my life as it is now. If you told me then that my life would be like this now, I would not have wanted it. It wasn’t in my system to want it. I think about this when speaking to newcomers, especially young ones. Who wants a sober, spiritual life when they still idolize Hunter S Thompson?
That is exactly what ‘life beyond your wildest dreams’ means. Never in a million years would I have dreamt of this life, because it simply wasn’t in my consciousness to dream of it. You can’t know what it feels like until you have it, and its nearly impossible to convey with words. A newcomer will simply have to pick up on what is being offered and want it more than anything, want what you have because there is a gleam in your eye and a spring in your step and you always pick up when they call.
We are here to be torchbearers for those still groping in the dark. That is where we get our magic. It was important for me to remember the lies I told myself, and what it felt like to be blinded by the lies. The disease is the King of Liars, and it fuels the Monkey Mind, ever chattering away. I have the utmost compassion for those who are still writhing in the pit of despair, and endless gratitude for those who helped guide me out of it.
To reduce health costs and boost productivity, Blue Shield of California has shaken things up with its Wellvolution program. After the success this past weekend of Wellness Day 2011, ONE80CENTER wants to point out an excellent example of the principles of wellness at work in our backyard. Wellvolution has proven to be both effective and profitable. Following the trail blazed by Blue Shield, a multitude of companies are becoming more creative with their wellness strategies. Employers are learning that wellness programs require much more to succeed than an occasional newsletter on healthier living. Today’s programs focus on identifying and preventing costly health issues, offer financial rewards for participants, and more often than not have a social aspect.
Wellness And The Risk Factors Of Poor American Health
More than 72 million Americans suffer from obesity, which costs employers an estimated $130 billion a year in absenteeism, decreased productivity and short-term disability-related costs, according to separate research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and McKinsey Quarterly. A study conducted by Harvard University pegged wellness program returns at about $3.27 per dollar spent in reduced medical costs and $2.73 per dollar spent in reduced absenteeism costs. The report asserts that the adoption of corporate health programs could become invaluable for organizations looking to safeguard both their employees’ health and their finances.
Blue Shield of California’s Lodi office was famous for its daily potlucks. Call-center workers feasted every day on junk food and candy. Unsurprisingly, 65 percent of them were overweight, and half of those workers were obese. With the insurer’s health insurance premiums spiking, including a 27 percent increase in 2006, Blue Shield finally decided to practice what it preaches and implement an innovative, comprehensive corporate wellness program dubbed “Wellvolution.”
Five years later, workers have swapped the junk food for fruit and raw vegetables. Even some cubicles, where employees once grazed on junk food, are now equipped with “walkstations,” which are treadmills that have phones and computers integrated into the machines. Blue Shield of California’s workers are now literally working as they work out. Blue Shield is still in the process of measuring the effects of the initiative, but it projects that, over the course of three to five years, it will see a return of one to two dollars for every dollar invested in the Wellvolution program.
While successful wellness initiatives can reduce health care costs and increase productivity, poorly implemented programs are simply a drain on company resources. One of the biggest hurdles for corporate wellness initiatives is getting employees to buy into programs that may not yield immediate results. Getting healthy is not easy and behavior changes are really hard, and what is even harder is sustained behavior change. Blue Shield of California faced skeptical and unmotivated employees. So it decided to completely rewrite the book on wellness. They helped employees identify with the program by presenting a key Wellvolution slogan that was designed to overcome fears: “We’ll meet you where you are.”
For example, the “wellness wonder” walking workstation maxes out at 2 mph, allowing users to walk and work without sweating or sounding out of breath on the phone. Time slots are at a premium and workers are limited to 45-minute workouts. “It’s fun,” says Sharon Tate, an electronic data interchange manager at Blue Shield. “It’s trying to do something different, do something that’s good for you, but do it in a fun way.” Tate signed up with a group of her peers to do the team-building Wellvolution Challenge, pledging to walk 50,000 steps per week for six weeks. She emerged a month and a half later 20 pounds lighter, having walked what she says is the equivalent distance of a round trip from her El Dorado Hills, California, office to Yosemite National Park.
The exercise challenge is just one strand in a larger web of programs that makes Blue Shield’s wellness initiative unusually comprehensive. The company offers a smorgasbord of health-related tests and solutions spanning the entire wellness spectrum. Wellvolution includes biometric testing, health coaches, farmers markets, healthy eating expos, on-site gyms, gym discounts, and “health day off” rewards for employees buying into the program. Participants also can get discounts on health insurance premiums.
Eating Healthy – Wellness And Nutrition
Blue Shield also realized it had to provide access to more nutritious foods in its cafeterias. Wellvolution is about good nutrition as well. In a country where obesity is literally a growing problem, wellness programs must be more than mere window-dressing. Indeed, a 2010 Gallup survey found that only 9 percent of U.S. employees say it’s easy to find healthy food at their workplace. But Blue Shield went beyond supplying better food. It also redesigned its cafeterias to encourage better eating habits.
“As individuals we tend to go with the flow; we tend to take the first option available to us,” Bryce Williams says. “We’ve done a lot with food psychology and our cafeteria design so that health and wellness is actually right at your fingertips.” That isn’t to say the health plan provider is limiting its selection. “You can get a sugary or fizzy drink if you want; it just so happens you have to walk to the back of the cafeteria” to find it, Williams explains. Special labels designate the healthiest items and display nutritional information like calorie count and fat content. The company also prices its healthy offerings low enough to entice budget-minded browsers.
No time for a nutritious sit-down lunch? No problem. In a pilot program introduced at the company’s El Dorado Hills office, Wellvolution vending machine technology guides users through selections based on their individual nutritional specifications. Whether the employee is looking for organic fare or focusing on calorie or fat management, the machine acts as a personal dietitian as the individual navigates his or her way through healthier offerings.
As an added incentive to make eating healthier even more enticing, Blue Shield donates some of the vending machine proceeds to local charities. “We really believe we can’t rest on our laurels,” Williams says. “We test new programs rigorously, and if it works, great, but if it doesn’t, we drop it off the map.” As it moves forward with Wellvolution, Blue Shield has lofty goals. “The rest of the country is fighting to hold the line in the battle against obesity,” Williams says. “We’re hoping to turn that around in the near future.”
Wellness Is More Than Fighting Fat
But Wellvolution isn’t just about fighting fat; it’s about full-body wellness that brings fitness to both mind and muscle. According to a 2010 Gallup worker satisfaction poll, the U.S. workforce is most dissatisfied with on-the-job stress, even more so than with salary or job security. Recognizing that employee anxiety could affect the bottom line, Blue Shield devised its own way to bust, stress. Employee groups known as “stress busters” now take short breaks to play games and trade jokes. Other stress reducers include yoga, tai chi, on-site massages and “fiscal fitness,” a money management program.
Already, Wellvolution has yielded a 22 percent decrease in smoking and a 22 percent increase in regular physical activity, according to health assessment surveys conducted since 2008. Even more notable, Williams says, Wellvolution boasts an impressive 70 percent employee participation rate. Like Wellvolution at Blue Shield, a
Wellness program should focus on engaging employees and making them part of the process. The carrot-and-stick approach is one of the most common wellness strategies, but it does not seem to provide lasting results. Instead, companies are learning how to apply new technologies to their Wellness programs. They are realizing that social media can be so much more than a consumer-marketing tool. Social networking is an excellent communication tool to build camaraderie among employees. No matter what behavior or program you are promoting, social media enhances its effectiveness. After all, the science of behavioral change shows that people make changes when they have support of friends and co-workers.
ONE80CENTER And The Wellness Revolution
ONE80CENTER is proud to be at the forefront of the Wellness revolution, following the trail blazed by Wellvolution and doing even more to focus on the issues of addiction and substance abuse. With the second annual Wellness Day this past weekend, ONE80CENTER demonstrates that we are never satisfied with the progress that we have made in the past. Instead, we always are open to and looking for new ways to improve our Wellness program, adding Wellness services, ranging from our organic garden to the latest technologies.
As Announced on the KCRW Events Page, ONE80CENTER Presents Our Second Annual WELLNESS DAY, A Celebration of Holistic and Progressive Recovery (October 15, 2011)
Wellness Day 2011 — As Announced on the KCRW Events Page, ONE80CENTER is pleased to announce our second annual Wellness Day, a celebration of progressive and holistic approaches to recovery from addiction.
Join us to enjoy a day of fun, food, education, and activity. We are proud to feature passionate and integrative individuals who have devoted their lives to the concepts of addiction, mental health issues, treatment, recovery, mindfulness, spirituality and wellness.
KCRW Announces 2011 Wellness Day At ONE80CENTER
ONE80CENTER is proud to have Wellness Day listed on the KCRW Events Page. To learn more about the event, the speakers, the presenters and the sponsors, please check out the official 2011 Wellness Day Site.
ONE80CENTER believes in a holistic approach to treatment – giving equal importance and consideration to the mind, body & spirit. By treating the authentic core of our clients, ONE80CENTER examines the roots of addiction and fosters the beginning of healing. We teach our clients tools for healthy living and we nurture their path to long-term recovery.
ONE80CENTER And Wellness Day: A Holistic Approach To Recovery
At ONE80CENTER, we treat the whole person and not just the disease. By taking a holistic approach to recovery, our treatment team creates a personalized program for each client. The purpose of these treatment plans is to address the specific needs of the individual.
A holistic health perspective is based on the concept that all aspects of a client’s needs — psychological, physical and social — should be taken into account and seen as a whole Holistic health focuses on all facets of human functioning, which involves a client learning to take responsibility for ultimately maintaining their well-being.
ONE80CENTER is located at Elizabeth Taylor’s former home in Benedict Canyon. The lush, natural grounds have breathtaking ONE80 Degree views of Los Angeles and provide a peaceful refuge from the city below.
The Pill Mills Everywhere: When Will Doctors Stop Overprescribing Killer Prescription Pills Like OxyContin And Percocet?
The White House declared that prescription drug abuse in US ‘alarming’ as thousands keep flocking to the Pill Mills for Oxycodone derivatives like OxyContin and Percocet. The abuse of prescription drugs had become the US’s fastest-growing drug problem. Public officials point out that people are dying unintentionally from painkiller overdoses at rates that exceed the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and the black tar heroin epidemic of the 1970s combined. And the illegal Pills Mills and the tendency of doctors to overprescribe pain medication are two key reasons behind the growing insanity.
OxyContin And Oxycodone Pill Mills
The pill mills are a lucrative trade. A doctor at an OxyContin pill mill can see up to 100 people in a sitting and can make more than $25,000 in a day, cash in hand. Even regular doctors consistently overprescribe pain medications to treat amorphous problems of aches and pain. ONE80CENTER has experienced the horror of prescription pill addictions and the terrifying consequences first hand, and we know the plague of prescription opiates must be stopped.
For drug dealers, the profits are staggering. They might spend $720 at a pharmacy on180 pills, plus travel costs back and forth to various pill mill centers. Their overall cost ranges from $1500 to $2000. What is frightening is that they can sell each OxyContin pill for $40, giving the prescription drugs a street value of $7,200. When you can clear profit of more than $5,000, it suddenly makes sense to get that back pain checked out over and over again.
In the United States, over 30,000 people died last year from abusing pharmaceutical pills. It’s an American catastrophe that rarely pierces the public consciousness. Occasionally a celebrity overdose will attract attention – Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger, and Michael Jackson being the prime examples – but they are specks in a growing mountain of death. Yet, doctors continue to overprescribe prescription opiates without providing proper education and information.
Doctors Overprescribing OxyContin And Prescription Drugs
At the heart of the disaster is the powerfully addictive painkiller oxycodone, which comes in various brands like OxyContin and Percocet. It is a legitimate therapy for those in great pain but has spawned a generation of addicts. The epidemic has affected people of all ages but is becoming more prominent among teenagers and young adults. There is a cultural perspective that has taken hold that because a doctor prescribes these pills, they really cannot be all that bad or dangerous. Young people simply do not have the fear of pharmaceuticals that they do of illegal drugs.
Nearly half of all Americans have used at least one prescription drug in the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and experts say overprescribing is simply out of control. The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians it is battling to persuade states to introduce a monitoring database that would allow police and medical authorities to identify where the oxycodone is coming from and which doctors are overprescribing the drugs. Researchers describe how opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet have become increasingly common without good evidence that they help patients in the long run. The evidence of harm, on the other hand, is clear. Still, some four million prescriptions for long-acting opioids are written every year. It is not just the pill mills that are the problem, and ONE80CENTER is doing our best to raise awareness in order to prevent the problem from getting any worse.
There was someone I needed to make amends to that I had hurt ,and hurt badly. I had been abusive, intolerant, judgmental, condescending, manipulative and insensitive. I pretty much tried to kill this person for years. I hadn’t really even given her much thought when I was making amends; I committed these abuses against this person without giving it that much thought, either. That person is me.
Two weeks ago when I went to Bali, I only partly understood that it was an amends to myself. I understood it abstractly, intellectually, but it wasn’t until I got there that I truly could grasp the importance of this particular amends. I also couldn’t comprehend Bali itself; it lived for me only in pictures on the internet, and it wasn’t until my third day there that Bali began to be a real and living thing, like a mysterious beating heart dropped in the ocean on the outskirts of the world. It was on the third morning, when I had woken up at 4:30am (which I did every morning, like clockwork), before the roosters, sitting on the balcony watching the day wake up. In the pitch black, I could barely see the bats winging through the sky, making little ‘nit nit’ sounds. Geckos were making their strange call, “Ge-ckoooo, Ge-ckooo’. The river was flowing right below, cascading down a waterfall and into the jungle. As the sun slowly crept into the world, the roosters woke up- layers of them, some of them near, some far, some in between, and the monkeys in the jungle started woo-hooing, singing birds replaced the bats, and the constant hum of crickets and cicadas was like a Hammond organ in the background of it all- a gorgeous, impressive, cacophony. The rice workers in the paddies right across the river got busy with their rice crops, boys came out to fish in the river, and monkeys starting climbing on rooftops. The air was thick with oxygen from the abundant vegetation; I almost felt a buzz just breathing it in, and it was fragrant with frangipani from the trees, and the constant incense of the devoted. Bali came alive for me, and so did I.
I developed almost instantly a profound gratitude for all of this, and for the very fact that I was THERE, nearly an entire world away from home, observing it all. It was gratitude on a cellular level, so deep I was humbled by it, and brought to tears many times as a result. I began to feel myself wake up on levels I hadn’t been aware of.
Nearly a week later, as I floated in the Indian Ocean (warm as a bath) after many days of walking in this world with my heart wide open, and my eyes wide open, and smiling bigger than I can remember smiling, feeling the miracle of every little thing, I felt a new thing happen. I felt my amends to myself happen.
I almost didn’t go on this trip. Why? Well, we humans are sabateurs, and alcoholics and addicts especially so. I had created a life that felt like I was double parked at all times. Everything was urgent, bordering on code red. I was taking things personally when I knew better. Mind you, I was happy before I left, but I was happy in spite of the conditions of the world I’d created for myself. I had a story going about the hardships of being a single mom of two teenagers who works full time and gets no child support. I had really identified with that story, with the idea that if I slipped up, it would all fall apart. Thats a lot of pressure. Without calling it suffering, I embraced suffering and called that happiness. I just thought “thats life. Embrace it.” So I thought I shouldn’t go, I shouldn’t spend money I don’t have, I can’t leave my kids with friends and moreover can’t impose on said friends, if I leave work for two weeks, they will see they can live without me and let me go, or my house might burn down. Its not the right time. I can go later. Who do I think I am to take two weeks and go? And mostly, who am I to deserve this?
Its worth saying here that I haven’t had a vacation in 16 years. And I’ve never left the country. I had painted myself into a corner and then decorated that corner with globes and maps. We do this. We shrink to fit. So it was a compelling conversation that I was running in my head about not going.
I asked for signs, indisputable ones. And I got them. My ticket cost $1600. I was concerned about the money but I kept reminding myself that God always, ALWAYS, takes care of me. And he did- I got a request to write an article for $1000, and my storage discovered a deposit they owed me for $600. Then my landlady gave me $500 off my rent- for no real reason, just because i have been here a long time. And to top it off, when I was told to get a rolling backpack for the trip, I found one in a box of free stuff from a neighbor who had moved. It was all covered, and I couldn’t really argue with that.
So, I am floating in the ocean, realizing the spiritual work it took just to get myself here, the stories and things I had to let go of, the negative voice in my head I had to ignore, and the fears that nearly crippled and immobilized me. I was floating in the Indian Ocean, In Indonesia, as the sun was setting behind holy Mt Agung, with the Muslim prayer being sung over the loudspeaker in town and Hindu incense being carried in the silky ocean breeze- little ol’ me who didn’t think she deserved this. Suddenly I felt all the little fragments and pieces of me that splintered off during the course of my life come back together, like the film of a glass shattering on the floor in reverse. For the first time I felt entirely complete- ONE. Another word for this is Atonement. At-one-ment. I also felt united with all things, with everything, and I experienced the full force of my amends to myself. This moment, now, is for all the abuse, the neglect, the harm I caused. For isolating you and lying to you and for not taking care of you. Atonement. Amends. I never have to live like that again.
When people ask me how my trip to Bali was, I smile, and say, “It was awesome.” There really isn’t any way to convey the spiritual shift that happened there, that the spirit of the land and the people with their smiles and devotion and gratitude broke the remaining guard down and opened my heart entirely to the light of living. I tell them I snorkeled and played with monkeys and went to ancient temples and got massages everyday. But as I say it, I am smiling deeper than I used to, and having more meaningful eye contact than previously, and feeling like I have tentacles in my heart, reaching out to them, trying to give them some of warmth and love that Bali gave to me.
LEANING INTO RECOVERY…a life beyond your wildest dreams
When I came into recovery, I was told to expect a life beyond my wildest dreams. Its funny where a self centered newly sober person will take a statement like that- for me, it was wealth and leisure, designer clothes and massages. I would never have been able to conceive of the true gift of self, of having my skin fit, of living organically and responding to the moment at hand, instead of reacting and taking everything personally.
But the hits just keep on coming. Once we get to a point in our sobriety where we get accustomed to a certain level of serenity, dignity, and living with the constant grace of our Higher Power, we also find ourselves open to opportunities that we never considered were in our grasp.
For example, since getting sober, I have done a dream board every year in January. I’ve done them for years, but for the first time, they were not so outlandish, foolish, and ego centered. On my last one that I did in 2010, I had a whole corner devoted to traveling- not just anywhere, mind you. Indonesia, Tahiti, maybe, but pretty much that whole section of the world dominated by all the thousands of little islands between China and Australia. So I had all these pictures, and I also put a picture of a passport, because it suddenly dawned on me that (DUH) I won’t be going anywhere without one.
And then it really struck me- here is my alcoholic thinking at its finest! My house is covered in maps (the one in my room takes up a whole 10 by 13 wall), globes, travel posters, and vintage suitcases. Obviously, I have wanted to travel for a long, long time. I wasn’t really even aware of it, which is kind of weird, to collect all of these things and not notice they represented a desire to see the world. When I looked at my dreamboard, and looked around my house, I was struck by how incredibly blind I was, how we all can be when dealing with our addictions, before we start waking up to ourselves. I had placed it so far out of the realm of possibility that I had hardly entertained it as a reality, just as a decorating scheme. Hello!
Realizing as well that no worldly travel can happen without a passport, it occurred to me that I had these notions of travel without really doing the due diligence to make it happen. How often do we float around and daydream, but don’t take the necessary steps to make those dreams real? A lot, I’m afraid. And here I was, catching myself in the act. So I did the next indicated action- I got a passport.
I had that passport for a few months when a friend invited me to Bali. Out of the blue, I got the text- Wanna go to Bali in September? And I was able to say YES. No one, in my entire life, has ever asked me if I wanted to go abroad with them. Once I was prepared, though, it happened. I can’t help but wonder about that timeworn phrase, “luck is when opportunity meets preparedness”. I know that alcoholics and addicts have lived lives of meeting their most immediate needs, filling a God shaped hole with everything but God, prepared for very little. Opportunities, if they came, could knock us in the head and we wouldn’t even know it. If you understand what I am saying, you will also understand the revelation of that invite, that for the first time, I had prepared myself to be able to say yes to this dream of mine.
I just got back from Bali, Indonesia on Friday, September 29. It was life altering, to finally be leaving this country for the first time, and to go somewhere so immersed in love and devotion of God. I was able to really get centered- this was also my first vacation in 16 years- and settle into a new level of serenity that I could not have imagined previously. Who knew? I sure didn’t, I had painted such a small picture of my life while using, that this ever expanding realm of awareness continues to surprise and delight me. I am, like you, divinely guided and protected. I knew it during the two rough years, 2009 and 2010, when I was on food stamps after having been laid off, struggling to keep a roof over mine and my kids’ heads- I didn’t feel deserted, though, I felt blessed. I knew that so-called “rough patch” was a great gift that would only open me up to new miracles. I understood certain things in me needed to be burned to the ground so humility could take the place of self centeredness. I was leaning into recovery. And so I did not feel more gratitude for this recent adventure, or less, either- just an overwhelming sense of awe at how things unfold when I, when we, practice principles over personalities, do the next indicated action, trust God, clean house, and help others, all the things we are guided to do in recovery.