When a loved one enters treatment, it can be a very intense experience, full of mixed emotions. There is sadness that they have gotten to the point where he/she needs treatment. There is also happiness and relief in the knowledge that he or she is finally in a safe place. And, of course, there’s fear: fear of the future, fear of possible relapse, and fear of the unknown. Understanding the addict / alcoholic is a crucial part of this process.
It is impossible to fathom how a husband, wife, daughter, son, co-worker, lover or friend can allow their lives to become so unmanageable despite all of the horrific consequences. Yet, no matter how much love and support we give, it never seems to be enough to keep them from continuing down a path of self-destruction. It’s totally out of our control…we are powerless!
A normal person might have too much to drink one night, get sick, then say: “I’m never doing that again,” and move on with their lives. An alcoholic / addict drinks too much, gets sick, loses a car, sleeps with a friend’s wife, gets in a bar-fight, feels like hell the next day, and says: “Man, that was horrible, let’s do it again tonight…only this time, let’s add some cocaine to the mix so we can do it for longer!”
The world of alcoholics and addicts is an interesting one. Being an addict in recovery myself, since as far back as I can remember, I have always been extra-sensitive. My feelings were hurt very easily. I would tend to take everything personally. I had low self-esteem. And I wanted to be loved and accepted by others, sometimes at the cost of my own soul, or sense of self. In the world of alcoholics and addicts, we have a word for “normal” people: “Normie.” A normie is someone who can have a glass of wine at dinner without a rapid decent into Hell, via the express elevator to skid-row, the local loony-bin, prison or the morgue.
I am writing this blog to describe what it’s like living with a normie. There is so much written from the point of view of the normie living with the addict, but not a lot of perspective the other way around. My wife Julia is a normie. She has never tried drugs, and up until about 3 years ago, only drank once in a while. When she did drink, it was about one half to a full glass of wine, and she was toast. About 3 years ago, we were at a friend’s house for dinner, Julia had a half a glass of wine, turned to me and said, “I don’t like how this feels…I’m done drinking.” Since this incident, Julia has had exactly a half a glass of wine, one time.
(Yes, I’m keeping track.)
I have a good friend from high school, who is now my dentist, also a normie. When I got sober, I told him of my experience. He told me that I didn’t need drugs, and I should, “…just chew gum.” GUM!? Who knew that this was the cure for addiction?! Don’t tell anyone that we’ve found the cure or it might put One80center out of business!
Living with a normie definitely has it’s ups and downs. Sometimes it’s frustrating because I may need to go to a meeting, and my wife may want me to be home for whatever reason. For me, my program of recovery has to supersede everything in my life. Anything I put in front of my recovery will eventually be gone. It’s really nothing personal, but when I have told my wife that, “my recovery comes first,” it has, at times, come off as harsh and uncaring. But in the end, she understands that if I am not sober, I’m of no use to anyone and cannot be a husband, a father to our son, a son to my parents, a brother to my sister, or a worker amongst workers.
I am so grateful for my wife and how supportive she ultimately is. She acknowledges how much I have grown in my recovery. We met when I was newly sober, and then got together about 6 months later, so she really has gotten to see grow almost since ground-zero for me. I am now 5 years, 10 months, and 28 days clean as I write this.
(Yes, I’m keeping track.)
There are aspects of me, however, which Julia struggles to understand, being that she is not an addict. Fortunately, there is a program called Al-anon, which supports people who have alcoholics/addicts in their lives, and want help understanding how to live with their loved one’s addictions. I have seen Al-Anon benefit countless people and would highly suggest it if you, reading this, love an addict/alcoholic and need support in living with their disease.
One can google “Al-anon”, or use One80center as a resource by which you can make a connection to the program that is right for you. In fact, One80center holds it’s own Al-anon meetings on site. Inquire with the center for schedules.
HOLIDAYS AND ADDICTION…
For this alcoholic, I never really needed a reason to drink. Whatever the situation – nighttime, daytime, summer, new girlfriend, new sneakers, fired from a job – my alcoholism and addiction was always there, reminding me that it was a good time to drink and use. However – the upcoming winter months, for many, many reasons, always seemed to be especially tough and held even more reasons to drink and use.
The sense of profound alcoholic despair and loneliness would usually set in around Thanksgiving, and stuck around right on through the first week in January.
Now, after 10 years of active sobriety, I am not as affected by the holidays and winter months. However, I do know that for many struggling alcoholics/addicts, the “festive season” continues to be incredibly challenging and painful. After lengthy conversations with some of the staff members at ONE80CENTER, it’s evident that they are acutely aware of how the winter months can compound to create a perfect storm of pain, misery and destructive behavior for alcoholic/addicts.
It would be difficult to point at one specific element – the weather, the back-to-back-to-back holidays, the proximity to family, etc. – but history has shown that alcohol and drug use does spike during the winter months and for some, that can lead to destructive behavior, severe abuse and the need for help.
INCREASED TRIGGERS DURING WINTER MONTHS:
While the staff here at One80Center has their own theories, there are a number of factors that do act as “triggers” for addict/alcoholic behavior:
— Weather, sunlight changes: Especially in the Northern states, we see the days getting shorter and the inclement weather increasing the amount of time people spend inside. For individuals with addictive behavior, this amount of idle, isolated time is not healthy.
— The holidays: As most alcoholics will attest to, the festive, fun, alcohol soaked work and family parties can be miserable times to endure. For some it starts with Thanksgiving and continues right through to New Years Eve.
— Family: While it would be great if all families were supportive and loving, that is unfortunately not the case. The amount of now sober ex-clients of One80Center that say that they “had to drink or use just to endure the holidays with their families” is overwhelming.
EASY STEPS TO COMBAT THE DARK WINTER MONTHS
It really doesn’t matter if someone has 2 days or 20 years clean and sober, the holidays can be trying times for us. Thankfully, there are a few sure-fire steps to take to mitigate the at times stressful, heavy and confusing winter holiday months:
1. Reach Out: The single best way to combat alcoholic/addictive behavior is to feel the comfort of not being alone by connecting with other alcoholic/addicts. This can be done a myriad of ways: picking up the phone, going to an AA meeting, reaching out to others. “Speaking up” can be as innocuous as asking a convenience store clerk how they’re doing or striking up a conversation with a stranger at an AA meeting. The important thing is that you’re connecting with other human beings, and hopefully with other members of a sober/clean fellowship.
2. Don’t Isolate: The last thing in the world an alcoholic/.addict should be doing around the holidays is to be alone. Make sure you have safe places to go and healthy people to be around.
3. Tell The Truth: If you get lonely, scared or afraid that you might drunk/use, tell someone. Holding on to “secrets” are always a great first step towards a slip or a relapse. By sharing them with others we take away their power, and allow ourselves to feel connected.
4. Plan: Do you know what your 12-step meeting schedule will look like? If you’re traveling, do you know where meetings take place? Do you have people you can call? Planning these things out during the holidays takes no time at all and it’s always beneficial to have them in your calendar or the back of your head. Planning helps us remember that we are a part of a larger community even when we’re near our family of origin or potential triggers.
5. Take Action: This can be as trite as volunteering to do the dishes after a meal, walking someones dog or getting involved in more philanthropic endeavors like volunteering at a meeting or a non-profit. Action, especially when it involves service for others, is always a great antidote to strange, confusing holiday related feelings or moods.
GET OUT OF THE DARK AND INTO RECOVERY
The entire staff at One80Center hopes that all that read this understand that no one has to go through recovery from addiction/alcoholism by themselves. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, please reach out and get the help you need, and deserve. Call One80Center at 888.593.2301 to speak to one of out attentive, discreet intake professionals and make this the last lonely, miserable winter you’ll ever spend.
The Transition to Treatment
I had long prayed and hoped for and anticipated the day that I would drop my daughter off at treatment. As I left her in this contained and safe environment, the relief I felt was immense; it occurred to me that for the ﬁrst time in years, she was not in danger. She would not be roaming the streets of LA, loaded and drunk looking for someone to con or getting involved with seedier side of life. She would not be sneaking out in the middle of the night, being picked up in a car by God-knows-who to go off and do God-knows-what. Going to rehab is often the difference between life and death and for that day, my daughter had chosen to live. I was aware that it was time for me to start living my life as well.
The rehab told me that there was to be no contact for one week. This was not meant as a way to cut us off, but for the following reasons:
They warned me that clients frequently bombarded loved ones with calls, begging them to come and retrieve them from this “prison” particularly during the detox period. It was all very normal, they explained, to have “buyer’s remorse” over the decision to go to treatment. Clients would arrive at treatment, experience some of the restrictions and want to bolt. I was told the first few days were crucial for the “settling-in” period and were often emotionally challenging for the clients. Therefore, the less distractions from the outside world, the better.
More importantly, the communication embargo also gave our family an opportunity to retreat, re-group and re-enter in an emotional sense. We were all so intertwined in one another’s business. This is sometimes known as “immeshed” in treatment terms. I realized that the family dynamic was so fragile, the smallest thing I would do would set my daughter off… and vice versa. We had become expert at reaction and retaliation and that was not helping anyone. I had to ﬁnd a new way of accepting my daughter no matter what without trying to ﬁx her . I certainly needed some space in order to get some perspective and to start working on my side of things.
I had an expectation that once my daughter was “taken care of,” everything would magically snap back into place and that we would resume leading some sort of normal life. I would be anxiety free as my main source of it was her addiction. The reality was that after the initial elation I crashed. Years of crisis management had taken a toll on me and I realized how divorced from my spirit I had become . I felt little joy or enthusiasm for life.
Alanon uses the metaphor of an airplane crash, and how important it is to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others put on theirs. I began to see that my oxygen mask had been off for a long time and that it was time to put it back on.
Adjusting To Separation From An Alcoholic – What the Treatment Center Told Me to Expect
So here we were – the greatly anticipated moment when I got to release my alcoholic daughter to the clinical team at the rehab – if you could call it that ! It was more like a 5-star hotel with large comfortable bedrooms, starched white sheets with enormous en-suite bathrooms, airy reception rooms with pristine sofas looking out onto extensive manicured grounds and foliage. None of the steely hard-bed dormitories with nicotine-stained ceilings I had imagined. Peeking into the kitchen I smelled inviting aromas and noticed a spread of fresh vegetables and fruit. The atmosphere was calm and hushed. Two staff members sat me down to explain the treatment and I was given a package of information, schedules etc. One of the staff told me that it was suggested that there be “No contact ” between family members for one week.
I am ashamed to say that on hearing this, I panicked! Did they think her addiction was my fault? Did they think I was contributing to her unhappiness? I was so used to reacting and making things all about me…looking back I see that I had began to lose touch with reality. The staff explained that meant this was not as a way to cut us off but for the following reasons:1. They warned me that clients frequently bombarded loved ones with calls, begging them to come and retrieve them from this “prison”, particularly during the detox period of treatment. I realised how many times I had been manipulated by the pleas of my daughter when leaving her at institutions…how for so many years I had succumbed to blame and criticism. My compulsion to rescue my daughter and ease her pain had enabled her addiction. Here was yet another situation where it might be so easy to react to her pain if I stayed in contact with her.
2. It was very normal have “buyers remorse” over the decision to go to treatment. Clients would arrive at treatment, experience some of the restrictions mixed with the discomfort of withdrawal and want to bolt. Most addicts are used to getting what they want and are highly skilled manipulators . When a treatment team lays down “limits” -”No you may not use your cell phone” “No you may not surf the internet all night”. This can be scary.
3. The first few days were crucial for the settling in period and often emotionally challenging for the clients and therefore the less distractions from the outside world the better. Addicts feel incredibly vulnerable during detox. Feelings that they have been avoiding for years start flooding their systems; remorse and self-hatred are high on the list. They need to be in a safe place to process these feelings. Having family around can be like a minefield — everyone tip-toeing around, trying not to cause any explosions by saying or doing the wrong thing — and was to be avoided at all costs.
4. The family dynamic was so fragile that the smallest thing I would do would set my daughter spinning off into rage and vice versa. We had become experts at reaction and retaliation and that was not helping anyone.
5. I was so used to managing my daughter and scanning to see what she was up to that bossing and controlling her was like a reflex muscle to me. I found it impossible not to mind my own business. I felt like a plug that was stuck in a socket that needed someone to pull it out. My meddling was not helping her recovery and the slow process of letting go and respecting her autonomy needed to begin. Hard as it was to admit to myself that, “Mother does not always know best”, it was true.
6. The communication embargo also gave our family an opportunity to retreat, re-group, and re-enter in an emotional sense. We had all lived our lives revolving around this alcoholic for over two years. In the process of trying to manage the craziness, we had become crazy ourselves, we were all so intertwined in one another’s business. This is sometimes known as being ‘enmeshed’ in treatment terms. It was time to take the focus off my daughter and put it back on me.
It was time to turn inward.
CREATIVITY IN RECOVERY PART 2 – ONE80CENTER’s Executive Director Stephen Dansiger, PsyD, MFT discusses balancing sobriety and creative fulfillment
CREATIVITY IN RECOVERY Pt. 2 – Stephen Dansiger, PsyD, MFT
In our previous blogpost with ONE80CENTER Executive Director Dr. Steve Dansiger, (READ HERE), he discussed his development as a musician, his experience hitting bottom as an addict, and the creative hiatus that followed in the first years of his sobriety.
180: When you got sober, did you experience a lapse in creative flow? Were you scared to play music and write?
SD: For me, it was less about fear of the artistic process and more that I was afraid I wouldn’t stay sober if I didn’t give it up for a while. I was in a position where maybe I would have ended up touring as a musician if I kept going, and that didn’t feel safe. I was getting offers to play at the same time I was trying to get sober on my own…putting two weeks together at a time, curled up in a ball on my apartment floor. I just couldn’t do it.
180: Did you have any notion that the creative impulse was still there?
SD: I needed to heal for a couple of years in order to even know what the hell that was. I’d gotten to the point where music (and creative expression) was meaningless. It was free drugs and alcohol and women…but the creativity part was gone. I couldn’t even listen to music. And then it broke naturally. The way it manifested was like, “I don’t want to play drums anymore…I want to write songs.” I needed to drop everything and release my preconceived notions about what it meant to be a creative person and then it naturally started to form. And later, when my friend asked me to play drums with her along the way, I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like fun, let’s try that.’
So I started writing songs and released a single that garnered attention called The Ballad of John Parker. I put together an album and another band, got another record deal and developed momentum for a second time. But in the end, I didn’t get the label support to keep it moving forward and things fell apart. Then my friend who had started the band I played drums for, she got a book deal and broke her band up and it was like the universe was saying, ‘Go ahead and try to be a songwriter, try to be a drummer…but sorry, you can’t have either one.’
180: Which leads to the nervous breakdown..
SD: Right. I couldn’t shoulder the disappointment of things not going the way I’d wanted. At the same time my musical career was going down the tubes, I’d also been teaching and working with high school kids in diversity training, which involved a lot of conflict resolution, anger management, prejudice reduction work–this was in the aftermath of the Crown Heights race riots. And even though I felt that the work had value, I was experiencing burnout from that as well. All of it led to a deep depression, which led to three different psychiatric hospital stays, each one worse than the last. My official diagnosis was depression with psychotic features. My friend Josh came and visited me at one point and told me years later, “After that visit, I thought you were one of the lost ones…I didn’t think you were coming back.”
At the time, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d had a positive future-based thought. It was dark.
It was like the Universe was saying: ‘Go ahead…
…try to be a songwriter, try to be a drummer…
…but sorry, you can’t have either one.’
180: How did you get out from under it?
SD: I had been to a spiritual retreat at a Zen monastery early in my sobriety, so I’d had some exposure to Buddhism, and had been practicing what I’d learned by the time the depression hit. And when it got bad, it (the depression) was so beyond oppressive that any idea of something that could help lift it was out the window.
However, while I was at St. Vincent’s (psychiatric hospital), the one thing that I had said to Josh was, “I think I might get better if I go live at the monastery.” And since it was the only glimmer of hope I’d expressed, the doctors and my friends and family made it happen.
180: We talk about hitting physical, mental, and spiritual bottoms in treatment, recovery and sobriety a lot. When did things start to change?
SD: Twenty one days into my stay at the monastery, something specific happened that imploded / exploded the depression. I’d been working with a Zen monk who happened to be a Jungian psychologist, as well as a Zen master and doing a tremendous amount of mindful work: gardening, mopping the floor…basically whatever was in front of me. I was sitting on a cushion–still thinking very dark thoughts–but the idea came to me that maybe when I was done at the monastery, I’d teach kids how to do this meditation thing. And it was the first thought I’d had in months that indicated I’d have a life in the future. And then this wave of thoughts came out of that: ‘Maybe I’ll go back to the city, maybe I’ll have my apartment and my friends back, maybe there’s a woman…maybe I’ll have a life again.’ And later, during a walking meditation, I grabbed one of my friends and dragged him into the bathroom–which was where you went to talk and break the silence–and I said, “I’m OK!!” Because I got it. And he said he knew I was.
In the third and final blog, Dr. Steve talks about reshaping a creative identity, so stay tuned…
LET ME STAND NEXT TO YOUR FIRE – How To Help Our Dogs Overcome Fear of Fireworks and Other Loud Events Using Emotional Sobriety as a Leadership Tool
Earlier this month, I was reminded that the Fourth of July can be a very stressful time for our dogs. There are two reasons for this: one, their anxiety, two, our reactions. Dogs are easily rattled by loud events (like fireworks), but it’s how you respond to that stress that’ll help them overcome their fear, or push them further into it.
Compassion is one of our finest human qualities, yet it translates differently to dogs than it does to people. All animals, including humans, communicate through energy. Visual cues, sound, scent, mood, and body language are determinants in how we relate to each other as co-minglers on this planet.
RAW (Ready Active Watching) ENERGY.
The first energy your dog ever experienced was the RAW (Ready Active Watching) energy of its mother. It’s like the energy in certain martial arts disciplines, athletic competition – “being in the zone”, yoga or active meditation practices. The RAW energy of the mother creates a relaxed, safe energy for the pup. In recovery we’d call this RAW state “emotional sobriety”. It is the knowing that in this moment we have everything we need, and we experience the world as a safe place. This is the innate connection between you and a dog once you become its caretaker.
Weak energy is rarely tolerated in nature. It threatens the survival of the pack. Weak packs don’t hunt well, and poor hunters don’t eat. Animals accept this, which is why you see older dogs wander off to die, or litter runts not being fed. When your dog goes into a state of weakness (anxiety, fear, depression, shyness), you as the RAW leader must bring him out of it. And here’s where many dog owners, including me, have gone wrong.
By comforting a dog in a weak energy state: petting, cooing, reassuring (“it’s okay”), you are actually encouraging that weakness. You’re saying to the dog, “I know you’re scared and that’s a good place to be.” Instead, come from a place of emotional sobriety, our RAW state, to redirect the dog’s energy.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT DOGS AND FIREWORKS
Before the fireworks (or any unavoidable loud occasion) start, take her for a good run or a long walk. During the cacophony, have him dog do tricks or basic commands for treats, play games, challenge her to lie down and stay focused on you, bring in another dog with calm energy to share space, or mindfully ignore him until he realizes there’s nothing to be afraid of. Use any combination of these tools, but above all, be patient, and ALWAYS reward good behavior. Eventually your dog will choose your RAW energy over its own weakness.
I have a seven year-old Jindo rescue who was once paralyzed with fear by fireworks, helicopters, and general loud noises. Using these techniques he now barely flinches, often sleeping through most sounds. It has taken time but has made all the difference in his well being…and mine.
So next Fourth of July, celebrate your dog’s dependence on you by nurturing his freedom from fear.
THE ZEN DOG
We, who have been trapped in the sheer unshirted hell of addiction, know unequivocally that we were slaves to our appetites. We might not have known it at the time, because our master was clever. Its like the saying “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist.” Its hard to see the Devil when you are in hell, and the Devil seems like the only thing that will give you relief. That, in itself, makes the Devil your Savior, and now the truly twisted, Hieronymus Bosch -like reality of a person’s private torment comes to light. How terrifying to consider leaving one’s so called Savior. One believes that is the only source of relief, when it is, very simply, the source of all hell. Like Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. It is a depiction of hell, terrifying and awful. Temptations take us there. Addiction leaves us there, in that not so delightful garden.
This Devil (which, for the purpose of this blog, is our disease, our addiction) is also a shape shifting bastard. Not only can he convince the afflicted that he doesn’t exist, he can change to suit a person’s temperament. A person’s weakness is the Devil’s camouflage. Spiritually speaking, this is the most profound battle of all. It is why it is said that desperation is the greatest gift one can enter into recovery with. Anything short of that is still very susceptible to dark motives. A lot happens in the shadows where you can’t really see it happening. Recovery is all about light. We don’t always want to see whats lurking in the dark corners, but its imperative that we do, in order to overcome whats there.
I have friends who are still using. I can think of three right now who, I suspect, are using in private, and putting up a great front in public. They are still very functioning; they either own, or run, businesses, and are regarded as successful individuals in their community. However, there is something going on that is preventing them from fully inhabiting their own skin. Some part of them isn’t there. I remember, when I was in this same situation, a part of me was always not there- it was busy thinking about the time when I could check out, later, when I was alone. I’d have my wine, and my downers, and I’d numb out after work, and still get up the next day and go to work, running a fashion company. Until the time came that I numbed out at work, too. No one really knew. But I was unhappy, I was lonely, I was bereft, I felt like a leftover, unwanted in the fridge. I could say- I own my car, I own my home, I run a company- but what does that really mean when you are a slave? When part of you is always listening for your master’s voice, like the little dog sitting in front of the speaker, head cocked to one side? You can’t really pay attention to the life you try so hard to hide behind.
To me, its very dangerous how cunning the Disease is. Not the obvious dangers of the substances, and how many lives are lost to them, that is clear to everyone, and never stops an addict from using. Its frightening how it can tell you that its only xanax and wine, no big deal, its not like you are shooting up in an alley or anything. Or it says, ‘its just pot, and you need it, its the one little thing you need to quell the anxiety, its the only thing that works.’ Why would anyone fight that? Its comfortable enough. And its just enough to keep you asleep, sleepwalking through life, enslaved in velvet manacles. People who know they are doing dangerous drugs in dangerous amounts already know they are gambling with their lives. The ones who think they are managing it are in denial, and that can kill them. Just ask several of my friends- but you’d have to do it by ouija board now- wine and pills can and do kill. Pot- maybe not, but it still keeps you imprisoned. Life will never be what it could be, which isn’t death, just sleepwalking- not really living. Not really.
I think the people who truly run the last wheel off are lucky. They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they must stop using. They come to understand that the Devil is not the Savior they thought he was- the comfort that the Devil offers is the source of all their suffering. They understand that the hell they are in is created by the Master of their appetites. A life where appetites do not dictate one’s every move is required. A life of recovery. All else, for us, is death.
I love to look around at the recovery community, whether at the ONE80CENTER July 4th party (over 1000 sober people) or at the big sunday meeting in LA last night, and know that I am surrounded by people who are FREE. Free people, who have liberated themselves from the slave master of addiction. Its a powerful thing, and it always always touches my soul. I am honored to be a part of it.
1024. Remember that number.
If you were there, you may have been number 2. Or 36. or 473. or 908. Just know that you were counted. That’s how many of you turned out for the ONE80CENTER July 4th party at the Houdini Mansion last week.Let me say this again: ONE THOUSAND TWENTY FOUR…that’s a thousand twenty-four smiling faces. A thousand twenty four ice cream sandwiches, grass-fed beef sliders and gourmet mac-and-cheese hors-d-oeuvres. A thousand twenty four hands in the air (okay, two thousand forty eight, technically, but bear with us) and a thousand twenty four screaming cheers for searing hot live music on a warm summer evening. That’s a thousand twenty four new friends, a thousand twenty four old ones, and one very vital community of people committed to recovery and having a rocking good time at it.
We jammed traffic on Laurel Canyon all the way back to Sunset. We ran out of places to park cars hours before the party was over. We packed the lawns, driveways and garden terraces of ONE80CENTER’s beautiful new facility until we were shoulder-to-shoulder and still we continued to rock the house, thanks in no small part to the reunited China Club All-Star band. Picture this: MC5′s Wayne Kramer, Doobie Brother and Steely Dan alum Skunk Baxter, Kat Dyson from the New Power Generation…Malik Pointer and rock legend Michael Des Barres…all on the same stage at the same time?! Are you serious?! When I asked a co-worker this morning about her favorite moment of the night, she replied, “I don’t even remember the party!”
Well believe it because it happened. We know because you blogged about it (HERE) and (HERE), Instagrammed it (HERE) and Facebooked and Tweeted about it more times than we could count. And whether you called it a festival, a madhouse or a mini Coachella, what really happened was a show of support, friendship and love that can’t be measured in numbers or social media clicks.
To us, this was much bigger than celebrating the two years since ONE80CENTER opened its doors. It was even bigger than our being able to give a little back to you, who’ve supported us in that time. To us, this was about laying claim to our freedom and declaring our independence from addiction, a disease which has taken so much from so many of us, and from so many people we love. This sentiment was echoed by ONE80CENTER’s clinical director and founder, Berni Fried, who made a point to pay a very emotional tribute to those we’ve lost as well as those of us who’ve had the courage and grace to survive. We heard as much from a lot of different people in a lot of different ways, but to quote an anonymous guest waiting patiently for a Cool Haus ice cream sandwich:
“What I saw that night was community, laughter, energy, and smiles all around. I went looking for sweets but what I found was much sweeter. In a town where so many people pass one another like ships in the night it’s nice to see people throw out the anchor once in a while and get to know each other.”
Suffice it to say that we weren’t expecting the turnout we got…not in our wildest dreams. But for showing up, we say THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. If you’re reading this, you’re part of the spirit that we captured that night, like lightning in a bottle. You helped raise money to support the 12 Angels, a non-profit organization that provides capital, education and mentorship to support sustainable businesses that hire recovering addicts. You showed newcomers in sobriety that being sober is incredibly fun, cool, hip, sexy, playful and awesome. Most of all, you showed 1023 other people that we don’t do any of this alone.
So remember July 4th, 2012 and consider yourself invited for July 4th, 2013. We promise to out-do ourselves next year (and yes…you can count on at least 1024 more Porta-Potties).
Addiction in Families: addiction is a family disease, acceptance is the first step toward family recovery
Addiction in Families…
Despite being around 12-Step programs for years, nothing could have prepared me for the horror of realizing that my daughter was addicted to drugs and alcohol. The signs had been there for years: sudden and violent moods swings, lies, empty bottles, missing medication, and truancy, but I put it down to depression. Even after three trips to psychiatric hospitals I’d simply hoped against hope she would get better, but she did not. Ultimately, it took police arrests and a suicide attempt to slice through my denial (or as I call it, “Mother Nature’s mechanism for protecting us from the painful truth”). I finally had to admit to myself that she had a drug problem.
As things kept getting worse, so did I, because somewhere deep inside, I thought I was at fault. If I had been a kinder, more loving parent this would not have happened. Most of my life had become consumed by clearing up the trail of destruction left behind her or trying to “fix” her to the point where I had neglected the needs of my other two children. The whole family had become affected by my daughter’s alcoholism and we were living in a constant state of drama and crisis.
The plain and simple fact is that addiction is a family disease, and I had to face it. I needed to stop blaming myself and my husband for our daughter’s addiction. I also needed a clearer understanding of alcoholism and drug addiction in order to understand what she was dealing with. This led to acceptance that nothing and nobody can prevent someone from becoming an addict/alcoholic. Once I had accepted this, I needed to be reminded that I can neither control nor can I cure my daughter. Once she was in treatment I needed a safe place to process the years of intense distress our family had suffered. I needed to be introduced to resources for myself and my children in order to heal such as Al-Anon and Al-Ateen. Through it all, I came to realize there was much I could do to help both my daughter and myself. Accepting the things I could not change, and having the courage to change the things I can has enabled us all to maintain a healthy, peaceful dynamic.