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Twelve-Step Recovery & Surviving Antidepressants

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mlrp

At Alto's request, for the greater good, and to be of service, I suggest this thread on Twelve-Step Recovery and Surviving Antidepressants.

 

NOTE: This thread is neither sanctioned as a formal AA- or Al-Anon-affiliated group nor is it intended to function as such. I propose it as a place where Twelve-Steppers can post their experience, strength, and hope as it relates to their recovery (from w/d, addiction, depression, etc.) and where those not formally in a program can likewise contribute, or ask questions.

 

For reference, and to kick things off, here are Al-Anon's Twelve Steps (with one modification) followed by the Serenity Prayer.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Preamble to The Twelve Steps

 

Because of their proven power and worth, A.A.'s Twelve Steps have been adopted almost word for word by Al-Anon. They represent a way of life appealing to all people of goodwill, of any religious faith or of none. Note the power of the very words! 

 

Study of these Steps is essential to progress in the Al-Anon program. The principles they embody are universal, applicable to everyone, whatever his/her personal creed.  In Al-Anon, we strive for an ever-deeper understanding of these Steps, and pray for the wisdom to apply them to our lives.

 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol [ed., w/d, depression, fill-in-the blank] -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  9. Made direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Serenity Prayer

 

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Selected 12-Step Slogans

 

Let Go and Let God

Easy Does It

Live and Let Live

First Things First

One Day at a Time

Keep It Simple

Think

Listen and Learn

Keep an Open Mind

How Important Is It?

 

 

 

 

 

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mlrp

A few people have asked me about Al-Anon. Here is a little bit about the program, and a little bit of my "story."

 

I am no expert on the Al-Anon program. The beauty of it, though, is that there are no experts. They say the only difference between a newcomer (me) and a long-timer is the number of meetings attended. It is a program of people sharing their experience, strength, and hope to help themselves and one another. I have been in the program 14 months. I have a sponsor. I have only formally worked through Steps 1 and 2 with my sponsor. Currently on Step 3. Everyone proceeds at their own pace.

 

The only qualification for membership in Al-Anon is that there be a problem with alcohol in a relative or friend. It is a disease of relationships. It can skip generations. A person may qualify because of the effects of the disease that were passed down from a grandparent they never met. You can be a member of AA and Al-Anon (you can probably see how that is possible). Some people attend Al-Anon because they have family or friends who abuse drugs or who are mentally ill.This is not technically Al-Anon's purpose, but alcohol use often accompanies these other issues. No one is turned away from Al-Anon. It is a spiritual program, but not a religious one. You don't have to believe in God, but Step 2 states that you have "come to believe that a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity." Come to believe means that maybe you don't believe it yet. That's ok. It's important to have an open mind in Al-Anon. And it is entirely up to the individual to eventually define what their higher power is.

 

I turned to Al-Anon because I grew up in an alcoholic home. My mother is my main "qualifier," though I have many others. I realize now that she self-medicated because of her borderline personality disorder. We had an extremely co-dependent relationship and, as Step 1 states, I came to Al-Anon because "my life had become unmanageable." As Step 2 states, I was insane. One day, I found myself in a grocery store car park screeching at people in another car that my 87-year-old "mother is abusing me, I'm not abusing her!" This was because we were arguing so violently in the car that I spontaneously got out of the car. Then my mother got out of the car. I opened the car door and was yelling at her to get back inside when she actually pushed herself back against me and pretended that I was about to hit her. This was her disease in action. (I was angry but I would never have become physically agressive toward my mother. In fact, it's actually been the opposite in our relationship.) But my disease was full blown because this sort of scene, while somewhat extreme, was not untypical of our lives together. And I was allowing myself to live that way.

 

This isn't actually the end of my Al-Anon story. Our relationship became much sicker (long story) until I finally had a complete breakdown in March of 2013. Somehow, and I don't remember how, I got myself to an Al-Anon meeting. I didn't know the meeting protocol, but I "shared" my story by sobbing, almost screaming, about what was happening to me. You never have to share at meetings if you don't want to. Some people share their first time, but many more wait days, weeks, months, before sharing.

 

The thing about Al-Anon, and in part why it has saved me, is because it is where I don't have to explain myself, my circumstances, or how I feel. People there get it. They have experienced what I have experienced. They understand, and accept me just as I am. As it says in the meeting welcome, "it's the safe place, the right place to be."

 

SA is very complementary to my Al-Anon program for the same reason. Here, I don't have to explain myself. Everyone gets it. And we help ourselves, in part, by helping one another. We do this by sharing our experience, strength, and hope.

 

I invite other Twelve Step fellowship members to post here. This isn't an official Al-Anon site, so feel free...

 

------------------- and, thanks for letting me share!

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bubble

Thanks so much mlrp for your time and effort. I just feel this is very important for me and it came to me at this point in my life for a reason. 

 

NewMe aslo wrote about it in this thread on 9 July: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6447-best-of-sa/

 

I very much look forward to exploring it in more detail!

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Athena

Mlrp, thank you so much for the information but mostly for sharing your story. I sympathize with what you have been through. You are very courageous.

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powerback
1 hour ago, JanCarol said:

Yeah, withdrawal is a lot like "Shamanic Death."  All the unnecessary stuff is taken away from you, your ego is reduced to ash, and it's up to you to build what is next.  You get all of the "doing" taken away, and are left with "being," and that's often not a very comfortable place.

HI JC and FGW I hope yous are well ,JC this statement is genius to me  .the "doing" is very interesting ,all my life I was doing and the last couple of years ,especially the last year I have noticed that a void is opening up because I'm not drinking or siting around gossiping [as much]  .I am far from spiritually awake .I am getting better at accepting myself and my shortcomings but even harder is accepting the positive sides of my personality [Withdrawl is making this complicated ] .

A customer once said to me years ago ,you do great work and I barely listen or it felt uncomfortable ,but if it was a criticism It would of stuck and festered. 

I practise "being " more these days ,on my walks I sit and just "be" on a quite part of the hill or trail I'm on .I find the " being" hard these days when around people because of withdrawl .

I'm listening to  old Audios on youtube of AA meetings [seem to be big gatherings with members with years of sobriety behind them] talking .

I think I should put them up on SA somewhere because the amount of sense and understanding of themselves and the human condition  is amazing .these are the people like ourselves [psychiatric/med survivor's] we should be listening too ,not people like GPs or others that don't have experience in my opinion .im blown away by these peoples insights .

In my opinion the reason people turn to drink and to meds are no different ,its all about the human condition and what we seek because our experience and upbringing .

I believe its a life's work worth taking on.

Take care . 

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FarmGirlWorks
12 hours ago, powerback said:

I'm listening to  old Audios on youtube of AA meetings [seem to be big gatherings with members with years of sobriety behind them] talking .

I think I should put them up on SA somewhere because the amount of sense and understanding of themselves and the human condition  is amazing .these are the people like ourselves [psychiatric/med survivor's] we should be listening too ,not people like GPs or others that don't have experience in my opinion .im blown away by these peoples insights .

In my opinion the reason people turn to drink and to meds are no different ,its all about the human condition and what we seek because our experience and upbringing .

I believe its a life's work worth taking on.

That is so appropo, @powerback, as I fifteen minutes ago returned from an AA meeting and was struck over and over by it is a "life's work" and just isn't over when you complete the 12 steps or whatever... the people there were from definitely rougher backgrounds (mostly POC, lots of former drug-addicts at this one) and it is striking how it does not matter who it is -- it's all the same human needs and foibles and flaws and, ultimately, strength. I feel that AA (which I dropped for several months although I remained abstinent due to WD) is part of my solution to reach out and evolve from this experience. Otherwise, wtf? It's for nothing if I just to get back to my pre-drug state which was not working most of the time. Some of the time but not most of the time... so I'd numb out with drinks, tv, sex, whatever. I don't want to go back there.

 

14 hours ago, JanCarol said:

You've been off about a year - this is about when your "native state" starts coming through.  The good things come through too - the things that got left behind when you were drugged.

@JanCarol, My native state is what caused me to numb out with ADs, alcohol, and compulsively doing, doing, doing. This past year-plus (14 months, yo!) has reduced me. I was going to say to "nothing" but there could be lots more that could be taken away. (Sudden fear there). But there are good things occasionally appearing and my creativity is not back but definitely makes random visits for a bit. Frankly, it is not the creativity (that will come back, I am sure) but the discipline and follow-thru that needs to be cultivated...

 

14 hours ago, JanCarol said:

This caused me to want to Give Back.  So I offer Shamanism to the community - not as a teacher, but as a navigator, opening the conditions for folks to Experience their Inner Wisdom for themselves.  As they say in Shamanic circles, "Holding the Space" for them.

This is a main tenet of AA: being of service, losing the selfishness. I have volunteered a lot over the years but there has been some desperate, selfish part to it. Maybe to remind myself that it could be worse. Maybe to feel "better" (hahaha) than someone else. Maybe to feel like I have it together and have power over myself (I still want that so much and realize how ridiculous that is). So I sit in that dirty meeting hall chair and get schooled in the human condition until I can give back again. I am so glad you can. And being a mod here is such a deep way to give back. The sheer misery here is mind-boggling. Kudos on that.

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manymoretodays
Posted (edited)

@powerback@FarmGirlWorks

 

Hey you guys.  Saw this discussion here on JC's thread and I have a lot to add as far as my experiences with AA and the spiritual nature of it all.  As well as the service built in, more or less.  And I so definitely learn that "it could be worse".  Today for example-  2 women in a meeting.......one had recently lost her spouse to suicide.........the other to an overdose, ? Fentanyl involved.......he was in the rosebushes and ODed after he had gone missing.  This in the last week.  And I thought I had the golden ring of grieving going on!!

As well as becoming a better person all around(I don't gossip anymore either PB).

 

I have to sleep now though.  I have a new mini job driving a van from sober living houses to their IOP(Intensive outpatient stuff) and I am just learning the route now and other stuff and have to go in early tomorrow.

I'm thinking I might start an off topic discussion or maybe in finding meaning somewhere and include your comments above?  I think off topic might work.  Indirectly it, AA,  has really helped me with my post W/D and sometimes with stress(life stuff) W/D post zero.  Along the lines of my new identity NOW....... firming up as a psychiatric survivor(I mean I did 30 years as a patient and that many medications).........you know.......that whole who am I now thing?

 

What do you think?

 

Love, peace, healing, and growth,

mmt

 

p.s.  Thank you JanCarol for the space on your success story here........<3 

Or should we keep it here?  I can summarize on my thoughts later when I have time, that relate to the discussion..........as it relates to your posts that stimulated the discussion........

S'okay.........perfectly clear, eh? B)

Love.

 

 

Edited by manymoretodays
elaboration, of course

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DMV64

Hi! I am stopping by to say hi! So happy to see recovery in this thread. AA Saved my life and I can apply so many principles to what I’m going through now!

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Hibari

I want to chime in as well regarding the support and emerging spirituality that I have gotten though being in  Alanon for the past 5 years.

 

I speak about my withdrawal experience in certain meetings and that has been a blessing.  The program has changed my life along with many years of therapy and going through WD. 

 

My native state is still revealing itself and with the power of the program, I know I will discover what I meant to. 

 

Thanks JanCarol for letting the 12 Step discussion to unfold on your thread.  

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JanCarol

Okay 

 

8 hours ago, Hibari said:

I speak about my withdrawal experience in certain meetings and that has been a blessing

 

Really?

 

I'm going to do some critique of what I've perceived about 12 step, and I hope that some of you 12 steppers can correct my view.

 

PRO or CON?  Bill Wilson had his revelation for the 12 steps after a magic mushroom experience.  This is documented in the psychedelic literature, but seems to be overlooked in the 12 Step literature.

 

PRO:  I've read the literature, obviously not all of it - and it is amazing material.  It seems to cut to the heart of what it means to be human, to strive, to grow.

 

PRO:  The ritual nature of meetings creates a comfort, you always know what a meeting will be like, and can rest in that ritual, even when you aren't feeling well.

 

CON:  The ritual nature of the meetings can be rigid, and if there is need for special help, it is through the mentoring program, not the meeting.

 

PRO:  The mentoring program, one-on-one with a sponsor who has a certain amount of experience, is an amazing way to take care of each other.

 

CON:  Sometimes it is hard to find a mentor who is a good match to you.

 

PRO:  The surrender to the Higher Power.

 

CON:  Sometimes that Higher Power is to rigidly defined (depends on the Meeting) and intolerant of a wide array of belief.

 

PRO:  It may be helpful to see yourself as "helpless in the face of addiction" and "turn it over to the Higher Power  (BUT, see CON below).

 

CON:  The biological basis of addiction.  This is in the literature, and it's in the culture.  This really really bothers me, that  they insist that addiction is genetic and biological.  "I am biologically different, and cannot handle the substance of my addiction."  The last meeting I attended, I cringed at the biological language.

 

CON:  Because of the biological language, and the helplessness in the face of addiction, 12-Step is frequently pro psychiatric drugging.  Because it's behaviourally based, no effort is made to release the trauma that drove us to addiction in the first place.

CON:  Many SA'rs who have gone to 12-Step have been severely disappointed with (see CON above) 12-Step's ability to understand psych drug withdrawal, the long term nature of the symptoms - and even question their desire to get off the drugs that a doctor has prescribed.

 

PRO:  Frequent rewards of successful behaviour (chips, praise, acceptance)

 

CON:  A successful 10 year Chip can be undone by having one beer with a mate.  There are other programs which do not insist on total abstinence, and are more focused on avoiding the extremes of behaviour.

 

PRO:  Seems to be the most successful addiction program going

 

CON:  It's better than nothing:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-alcoholics-anonymous-work/  but is it the best possible solution?

 

CON:  12-Steppers are the most nicotine, caffeine and sugar addicted group I have ever had the pleasure to participate in.  (Coffee and donuts anyone, and let's step outside for a smoke?)  This indicates to me that the addictions are simply transferred to more socially acceptable (albeit less destructive) substances, and not really cleared, as Gabor Mate might seek to do.  (3 minutes)
 

 

Okay, I may have peeved off some 12-Steppers here, but it is my hope that people will correct my perceptions where they are in error - or discuss about how - in spite of the drawbacks of 12 step, folks have found ways to work with or around those difficulties.

 

There may be a 12-step thread here, and if it seems appropriate, I'll consider moving this post and relevant discussion there.

 

Remember:  See the Sun today!

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brassmonkey

I will have to agree almost point by point with you JC.  I attended AA and DDA (dual diagnosis anon) for several years and found that it was helpful to an extent with some people and  not for others.  People who were willing to give their life over entirely to the program seemed to benefit, but in the process lost their "free will" to the dictates of the program.  The intolerance to "straying" bordered on the hypocritical, and the lack of real knowledge about the substances involved and the actual things that needed to be done to recover from them was amazing.  Not to mention the condescension leveled at anyone who took the time to learn about them.

 

As a way of putting ones life back together the program has its merits, but getting off of psychotropic drugs is not covered.  I found the situation you mention in your last CON to be hysterically accurate.  The entire program seemed to be based on replacing one addiction with another. Ninety meetings in ninety days, the go to standard, is more about indoctrination than changing ones life.  Some of the actual steps have merit for getting one life under control and self exploration to help find your path.  But they were always treated as self explanatory and self fulfilling and were treated in a surface manner and never with the depth that was required. Generally because the guides never really under stood the techniques/points themselves.  All the coping techniques espoused were standard issue to be found anywhere and again treated on the surface only.

 

I couldn't get behind the mentor program at all.  Maybe it was just the meetings I went to but I had nothing in common with those people except an alcohol problem,which in my case was more drug induced by the paxil, than a true addiction.  I felt like a total outsider because I had a successful career, owned my home and had a good marriage.  I felt that there was very little a person who just got out of prison for ten years could teach me about running my life.  Except for three meetings a day seven days a week, these people had no other life.  Yes they were sober, but hanging on by their fingernails the whole time.  In my years there I did not see a single person make tangible progress in their situation, and anyone who looked as if they might was shunned to the point of quitting.

 

I got more benefit through my spiritual beliefs and working with them then I ever did through AA or DDA and stopped going to meetings after a few years because they were more of a negative then a positive in my life.  This is my personal observations and opinions, and people in other meetings in other parts of the world may be having a much more positive experience, and if it's working for them "so mote it be".

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FarmGirlWorks
On 6/16/2018 at 7:06 AM, JanCarol said:

to calm the clutching badger in my heart

Why is it that Aussie's have the very best expressions? Now I have another to add to Kristine's "dog's breakfast" to illustrate cog fog.

 

12 hours ago, JanCarol said:

PRO or CON?  Bill Wilson had his revelation for the 12 steps after a magic mushroom experience.  This is documented in the psychedelic literature, but seems to be overlooked in the 12 Step literature.

PRO. I found this out last week and makes me a lot prouder to be in AA. I am a fan of psychedelics (for when I get better and the CNS is more stable) and they are not addictive and awaken rather than numb. I think it is passed over in the lit because psychedelics scare a lot (most) people, are misunderstood, and AA wants to be accessible to a lot of folks who are not ready or willing to do psychedelics.

 

12 hours ago, JanCarol said:

PRO:  I've read the literature, obviously not all of it - and it is amazing material.  It seems to cut to the heart of what it means to be human, to strive, to grow.

It  points to universal truths that are in various religions/spiritual paths without the irrelevant "begats" or old-timey laws. However, CON it was written in what -- the 30s? -- and is sexist.

 

12 hours ago, JanCarol said:

PRO:  The mentoring program, one-on-one with a sponsor who has a certain amount of experience, is an amazing way to take care of each other. CON:  Sometimes it is hard to find a mentor who is a good match to you.

Exactly. Last year a woman approached me to sponsor me after my first meeting and I readily agreed as I figured I'd get thru the 12 steps quickly, beat WD, and just be better lickety-split. Ha. Ha. Ha. Turns out she was on ADs and I couldn't quiet my inner judge... I felt uncomfortable with her. Plus she was young and pregnant and that was not a good fit either. This time around I was way more careful and searched for someone age-appropriate with the stipulation of no ADs or thoughts of going on. I finally found someone a few days ago. And I called someone today in the program for the first time; calling was explained to me this week as a "muscle" we need to exercise.So I trusted the process and called a long-timer. It was good and while that muscle is a little sore, I feel better. Plus I know she is not on ADs.

 

12 hours ago, JanCarol said:

PRO:  It may be helpful to see yourself as "helpless in the face of addiction" and "turn it over to the Higher Power  (BUT, see CON below). CON:  The biological basis of addiction.  This is in the literature, and it's in the culture.  This really really bothers me, that  they insist that addiction is genetic and biological.  "I am biologically different, and cannot handle the substance of my addiction."  The last meeting I attended, I cringed at the biological language.

Yes, I agree... I am still thinking around this as it is problematic. I hear stories from AAers who relapsed and started back exactly where they left off, no "cheap drunk" honeymoon instead back to blackouts immediately. When I think of taking a drink again, it is always to numb out and for no other reason. I don't want to numb out. I think of the biological language as being that my brain just does not want alcohol or ADs in it.

 

12 hours ago, JanCarol said:

CON:  Because of the biological language, and the helplessness in the face of addiction, 12-Step is frequently pro psychiatric drugging.  Because it's behaviourally based, no effort is made to release the trauma that drove us to addiction in the first place. CON:  Many SA'rs who have gone to 12-Step have been severely disappointed with (see CON above) 12-Step's ability to understand psych drug withdrawal, the long term nature of the symptoms - and even question their desire to get off the drugs that a doctor has prescribed.

Yes... I experienced that when I restarted AA in April... it is disappointing. I thought of going instead to an NA meeting instead but that doesn't negate the cultural acceptance of doctors as "right" (hahaha)  and knowing the best course of action... which in this time, unfortunately, is prescribing drugs for real traumas.

 

12 hours ago, JanCarol said:

CON:  A successful 10 year Chip can be undone by having one beer with a mate.  There are other programs which do not insist on total abstinence, and are more focused on avoiding the extremes of behaviour.

I think this is a PRO because folks who have relapsed are not "above" others or farther along even though they've relapsed. I like the humility it brings to people.

 

13 hours ago, JanCarol said:

CON:  12-Steppers are the most nicotine, caffeine and sugar addicted group I have ever had the pleasure to participate in.  (Coffee and donuts anyone, and let's step outside for a smoke?)  This indicates to me that the addictions are simply transferred to more socially acceptable (albeit less destructive) substances, and not really cleared,

I have a hunch there is an economic component to it as well as the fancier meetings I've gone to do not have the sugar and less people smoke. The poorer ones seem to have all the sugar-y shite... there is always bad coffee.

 

Yup, there are problems with AA... but it is better than nothing. And I feel that it will work better for me now than therapy. I want to move out of my head and into society but, as aforementioned, that is a muscle that I need to develop.

 

Please move this to a 12-step thread: we are hogging your space! Thanks for the video and ideas to chew on.

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manymoretodays

Resurrected 12 step and survivingantidepressants thread.

New posts ^

I'll be back around to comment on JanCarols Pros and Cons.

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Rabe

I wouldn't be here today without my meetings and a couple handfuls of the people in them. I miss my 2 home groups so much!  They were not the rigid step meetings...but people sharing and caring and helping each other...saw lots and lots of people get better...saw some that didn't as well...and some could not overcome it and died. It was a place to go..just as this is...where I was accepted and didn't feel like I was from another planet.  My sponsor has been a dear friend for 30 plus years and continues to never judge, accepts, and somehow always says the right thing...her wisdom and life, she continues to say, are secondary to the program which I think she has been in 50 years...and she says she continues to grow.  She is an amazing lady and friend.  

Alcohol is no different than the drugs...you begin to metabolize it differently..your system becomes sensitive to it...I didn't drink for very long and had liver issues almost immediately...and the very first time I drank in high school I blacked out.  Alcoholism is all over in my family history so I do believe there is a  genetic/biological component...though that was not topics at meetings...just that our lives were not what we wanted them to be, in varying degrees, because of the alcohol and we wanted to get them back.

I would sooner get off alcohol with the help of those meetings and friends thousands of times than be where I am today....

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Rabe

and it helped me understand everything better as I too grew up in an alcoholic family...two of my sons have dealt with it...and my youngest is here today only because of the meetings and sponsor and friends he found...my oldest did not go to meetings etc and continues to be struggle...

They can be a lifesaver .... but are not for everyone.  I think it was the types of meeting I had that helped...

thank you for this thread!

 

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FarmGirlWorks
30 minutes ago, manymoretodays said:

New posts ^

I'll be back around to comment on JanCarols Pros and Cons.

@manymoretodaysYay! I look forward to reading your thoughts. I think it is funny how I asked you to take "AA helping" off my thread title and now I love AA. It did feel fraudulent though all those months I didn't do it.

 

17 minutes ago, Rabe said:

though that was not topics at meetings...just that our lives were not what we wanted them to be, in varying degrees, because of the alcohol and we wanted to get them back. I would sooner get off alcohol with the help of those meetings and friends thousands of times than be where I am today....

I hear you @Rabe... I think psychotropic drug withdrawal is way, way harder than alcohol withdrawal. That is why I come here, more when I am feeling badly. However, the real-life human connection of AA helps me. And the truth bombs that some long-timers throw down at meetings apply to any withdrawal and also the reality of shifting one's life direction. I didn't think I had hit "bottom" -- and maybe I haven't -- but WD has laid waste to my previous existence of work and friends and I feel like I am scraping madly to not fall further into this hole. AA helps.

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Rabe

I agree....FGWs...it was BEing with people...Being able to call someone and they were there no matter what...and returning that favor or giving it forward.  Was a true gift for me.  I did not find that 'long timers' were any different than I...except I noticed when I first started that I wanted what they had.  I never met one that was unkind..Im grateful for that.  

I had not hit bottom either...I was working I had a family...but I just couldn't understand what was happening to me.  Why was alcohol so unpredictable...just like the drugs here become paradoxical...I never knew what was going to happen.  

Yes, getting off these medications is a nightmare...something that has taken me away from my life in all ways...getting off alcohol and going to meetings gave me my life back in fairly short order.  Can see that is not so here and may never be so...I don't know...just day at a time and lots of prayers.

I felt accepted in all ways in AA....but have gleaned much from information here as well as some truly wonderful courageous kind people...I add you to that list! Thank you for sharing!  Means so very much!!!

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Hibari
On 6/17/2018 at 2:27 AM, JanCarol said:
On 6/16/2018 at 5:44 PM, Hibari said:

I speak about my withdrawal experience in certain meetings and that has been a blessing

 

Really?

Yes.  Not all meetings, though when I think about it, probably every meeting at the beginning, now I'm much more selective about the depth.   I do talk about it as a painful process and link it to how I got on meds in the first place-trauma, pushing my limits, and people pleasing. 

 

My experience is in Alanon, not AA and I think the vibe is different.  Alanon for me has been about examining my need to overwork, over caretake,  overextend and override my own needs-all stemming from growing up in a family that was impacted by alcoholism going back generations.  That characteristics of the alcoholic family system has been an eye opener for me.  

 

I love the meetings, the spirituality of the program and especially the slogan "Take What You Like and Leave the Rest".     I listen for people who have recovery, who are not rigid and who are trying to heal from the trauma inflicted on them by their past.

 

Here's the real kicker.  A few of the people who have supported me the most, including my sponsor have been on medications, some not.  But with my sponsor in particular, she has lovingly and patiently been by my side when I tumbled into depression, got on meds and made the decision to come off of all of them.  There have been numerous phone calls to her where I have cried due to withdrawal and she had provided comfort to me through the words of the program.   Helping me remember, that This Too Shall Pass, or to turn my fear over to a power great than myself.  That could be God, a meeting, this website, friends or even today when I walked into a church and asked for help for my shaky brain. 

 

I went to my first Alanon meeting to find a sense of community when my world shrank due to depression  What I discovered was a spiritual path that has helped feel more secure in the world.  This along with my other years of therapy and self-help work, has made this journey bearable.  And sometimes, none of it works-if you read my thread you will see my fear and terror all throughout.   But going to meetings at this time has been so helpful and though I too struggle with the phrase "powerless over alcohol, it actually is true for me.  I didn't cause it, I can't control it and I can't cure someone else's relationship with alcohol or any other form of crazy making behavior.  That has been very freeing and since I am still learning it, I continue to go to meetings to strengthen that knowledge.

 

So ask you can see, I am a big fan and Alanon remains, for today, in my tool box to get off my final med. 

 

 

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On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, brassmonkey said:

Ninety meetings in ninety days, the go to standard, is more about indoctrination than changing ones life.

 

Yes, that's another CON to the ritualistic side of it.  Reciting the words together with your recovery mates is a form of trance induction, used by cults.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, brassmonkey said:

  In my years there I did not see a single person make tangible progress in their situation, and anyone who looked as if they might was shunned to the point of quitting.

 

That is very sad to hear, but it correlates with what I've read and understood about the shortcomings of AA.  What they list as a recovery rate is grossly inflated because these other people don't even count in their numbers.

 

There is a high level of recidivism in the group (I FAILED) and from the group (I QUIT).  The culture of confession is also another cult-like strategy.  It can end with love bombing (You'll do better this time) or shunning (You weren't doing the program!)  

 

And then there's the "Right" definition of the "Program."  I suppose that anywhere you have people, you will have people who want to struggle for power and control, even in the tiniest of ponds.  That's just human nature, not about 12-Step at all.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

Why is it that Aussie's have the very best expressions? Now I have another to add to Kristine's "dog's breakfast" to illustrate cog fog.

 

Aw shucks, I'm not a born Aussie!   "Badger" is truly an American thing - I may live in Australia, but I'm a born "Yank" (Aussies call every American a "Yank" whether they are Northern or Southern or Western.  AND for slang, like Kristine so deftly used, as rhyming slang, they call us "Sepo" for "Septic Tank" because it rhymes with Yank.  That's how twisted Aussie slang is!)

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

psychedelics (for when I get better and the CNS is more stable) and they are not addictive and awaken rather than numb.

 

MAPS - Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is working hard to bring these into the mainstream - mostly in clinical applications.

 

I vacillate between "The CIA did an experiment in the 60's that went very wrong," and "Man that Zeitgeist was amazing!"

 

I would not be who I am today without psychedelics and psychedelic culture.  It's just how I grew up.  Some of my friends in that community and I debate - if it hadn't been for [psychedelic awakening, would we have gone into severe mood problems?  Timothy Leary and Neal Goldsmith say no.  The brain chemistry, however - is questionable.  I'm glad I learned what I learned (how do you think I came to be so accepting of extreme states?) but I don't recommend it for anyone.   I can't begin to describe the extremes I exposed myself to.

 

But YES, these are not "drugs of addiction" and I could go off on a libertarian style rant about how the government has no business controlling how someone chooses to see God, or relate to their partner, or walk in the woods.  (all things I deeply enjoyed in my psychedelic days)  (daze?)  

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

is sexist.

 

Figures!  Of course, in the 1930's - was before Wonder Woman was born.  There was a lot going on around the birth of Wonder Woman - suffragettes, right to work, right to be in charge of one's reproduction, etc.  In fact, the 1930's were pretty racist, too.  And don't forget the Eugenics, Eugene!

 

(maybe the biological language has something to do with Eugenics?  "We were born bad" which reeks to me of "broken brain" bulldust.  (that's an Aussie word)

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, brassmonkey said:

Some of the actual steps have merit for getting one life under control and self exploration to help find your path. 

 

I am really, really fond of "Make amends."  

 

I'm trying to take it to a higher level, which is - "don't do anything that you need to make amends for."  That's even harder than making amends.

 

What I found in making amends - and this was discussed in a Meeting I attended, where there was almost a consensus - is that the person you have wronged rarely sees it that way.  

Every forgiveness I asked for, I was greeted with "Love you, water under the bridge."  And many others in that Meeting reported the same.

 

I was not allowed to speak in the Meeting because of the rigidity of the rules - even though I have plenty of exposure to substance abuse.  I wonder what the rule is - do I have to proclaim "I am a drug addict" or "I am an alcoholic" in order to speak?  I am a coffee addict.  I struggle with sugar.  I am addicted to late nights and computers.  What is the difference?  Gabor Mate does not distinguish between the type of addiction or the quality of it.  It's all about soothing the pain.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

I called someone today in the program for the first time; calling was explained to me this week as a "muscle" we need to exercise.So I trusted the process and called a long-timer. It was good and while that muscle is a little sore, I feel better.

 

Wow!  That sentence came to me twice in one day!  I can't really go into how, but it's synchronous, indeed.  The muscle I heard about was the "Will."  

 

(and that's the kind of magic a group can produce - the more we get together, the happier we'll be.  For your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends.....)

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

I think of the biological language as being that my brain just does not want alcohol or ADs in it.

 

Thank you!  This is exactly the kind of insight I was looking for.  How - if you are successful in a 12-Step group - do you adjust your thinking to take care of the paradoxes, "rub the wrong way" words, or whatever it is.  Because it's not perfect, it's not one-size-fits-all - I've had lesbian friends who felt unwelcome in Meeting, and people who were diagnosed "schizophrenic" or "mentally ill" (and self defined themselves as such) - who didn't feel like they belonged there.  Even depressed folks have struggled, as - lord, when you're underground, and you go to a meeting and all the words are said as though through deep water - it's really hard to - accept it all and take up the cause.   I've known people who couldn't hack it for religious reasons - either their religion was more precise than AA (and the language offensive) or their language was more broad than AA (and the language offensive).


So - I want to hear about how people interpret the set, setting, situation, rituals, words, in order to make this program work for them.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:
On 6/17/2018 at 4:27 PM, JanCarol said:

CON:  A successful 10 year Chip can be undone by having one beer with a mate.  There are other programs which do not insist on total abstinence, and are more focused on avoiding the extremes of behaviour.

I think this is a PRO because folks who have relapsed are not "above" others or farther along even though they've relapsed. I like the humility it brings to people.

 

Oh, I'm gonna have to think about this one.

 

I could give a case study - but that's a violation of "anonymous."  But someone can be doing really well in so many ways and - I will give a brief example - finally ran that half-marathon, and at the end were handed a beer, which they drank.  Chips lost.

 

Is that the same level of violation as the person who starts sneaking sips from a fifth all day long and hiding it?

 

I've been humiliated, and found the experience valuable.  When I lost my pride, I lost my arrogance.  I found compassion for others.  There is value in humility.

 

But there is also value in support and upliftment.  Most of the addicts I know need more encouragement than they do beating.  Most people - including addicts - are skilled at beating themselves up.  There are a few narcissists and psychopaths who cannot see the destruction in their wake - but most people can.  And do, at some point.  "If only I'd . . . . " and all of the ruminations of regret which drove us to psych drugs, because the surest way to Depression with a capital D - is to ruminate.

 

So I'm thinking about this, and will discuss it with my 12-Step friends & family, and see where I come out with this.

 

Again, thank you.  This is the kind of insight I am looking for.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

economic component to it as well as the fancier meetings I've gone to do not have the sugar and less people smoke.

 

Ah!  Light bulb moment - I've seen Sherlock in Elementary go to posh meetings (but they have bad coffee and donuts, too) - but I've never seen a posh meeting, and can't imagine what one looks like.  Mmmm.  I'm sure they get pretty posh in Washington DC, as the politicians need to keep their noses clean and go to Meetings (I saw that in House of Cards).  I'm sure there are certain neighborhoods that have people working on sobriety where it's tea and crumpets (sorry, thinking like an Aussie again).  But I ain't never seed them.  (yes, I'm a Midwestern Hayseed at heart).  Mebbe someday I'll find me a posh Meeting.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 5:33 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

I feel that it will work better for me now than therapy. I want to move out of my head and into society but, as aforementioned, that is a muscle that I need to develop.

 

I always feel like there's a part of me which is tricking the therapist.  Telling her what she wants to hear, or - stirring the pot, if that's what my inner child wants.  Sure, sometimes I am exposing real feelings, fears, and anxieties in therapy, but it's a controlled situation.  And I"m a writer and storyteller - I can pretty much haul up a story for most situations....even if they are true - are they barriers to healing?  Stories like my mother's religious abuse, my separation from mother at birth, bullying by brother and bigger - bullying at school....blah blah to explain - or excuse - why I am the way I am and they usually lap it up.

 

For the most part, sharing in Meetings is - raw and honest.  People bare their souls at Meetings, and this vulnerability makes it difficult to stay armoured.

 

Speaking of Meeting, the Meetings I really like are Quaker ones.  They sit for 45 minutes in silence.  Just sit.  Then, if someone is moved (there is no head, preacher, priest, leader), they speak.  The Spirit moves through the Meeting, and you can hear where the egos end and the Truth begins.  It's enlivening and enlightening - and - there's good coffee, discussions and sometimes cake afterwards!

 

SO - a PRO that I forgot about - PRO:  Calling each other for support.  Making phone calls when I am in distress, a pickle, have an impulse, etc. etc. is one of the hardest things to do.  I can talk to a computer, but not to a person.  And the part of me that was "bipolar" always worries about regulation.  How much is enough?  How do I chit-chat?  How much is too much?  Am I over the top?  (btw, these questions come in with nearly every interaction with other humans that I have.)

 

On 6/18/2018 at 11:12 AM, Rabe said:

It was a place to go..just as this is...where I was accepted and didn't feel like I was from another planet.

 

That's valuable, to see it as a safe space. 

 

Here's a question:  is it a safer space when you are abstinent?

 

If you "sin" - does it become a scary space?

What are the results when so you lapse?  

 

Example, the Jehovah's Witnesses have an excellent recovery program.  It involves confessing in the Hall when you sin, and before the congregation, you are prayed for, and you take an oath to not do it again.  Once you have confessed to the congregation, you are invited to everything, and have a ready made community.  It is my understanding that the level of community care is very high, with visits, meals shared, help with the house & family.  I would suspect that, per capita, Jehovah's Witnesses have one of the highest recovery rates of any protocol.  But you have to believe as they do, so it's not for everybody.  I became aware of this when I was working on a "Recovery In Prison" study at Indiana University (I was just the data entry girl, but learned a lot with the data).

 

On 6/18/2018 at 11:12 AM, Rabe said:

 Alcoholism is all over in my family history so I do believe there is a  genetic/biological component

 

There may be a component, but trauma runs in families, too.  My gran, you know, found her mother's suicide....my birthmother had . . . I won't go into their business but it was all there - but there were also - my birthmother's first husband neglect & abuse, gran, who was traumatised by great-gran - was very hard on birthmother.  And it goes round and round.  Am I genetically crazy / eccentric?  Or was it generations of trauma setting me up for the fall.

 

I'm in a unique position, because I have the genes of one family (the one I just described) and was raised by another - so inherited a whole new set of neuroses and traumas.  Even from my perspective, it's hard to parse out the differences between nature and nurture - because - amazingly, there were deep similarities between the families.  Engineers & professionals, piano, education, "middle class 50's America."  

I'm lucky that I never took to alcohol.  For me, I could feel the price of the short buzz was too high.  But I'm also lucky that I never got exposed to heroin or crack.  That could've been the fast road to Hades.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 11:38 AM, FarmGirlWorks said:

I hear you @Rabe... I think psychotropic drug withdrawal is way, way harder than alcohol withdrawal.

 

Thank you for saying that.  I've heard heroin addicts say that it was a piece of cake to kick heroin or cocaine compared to SSRI's or Benzos.  I think that is important to keep in mind, that this is an experiment which has never been done before.

Alcohol floods the brain with happy GABA and woosh, feel good and loose, free and easy.  The addiction of alcoholism is the pursuit of that feeling, not the drug itself (IMO).  Over time, the GABA receptors change.  And I'm sure there is such a thing as "hungry ghosts."  I know people who find the taste of alcohol so pleasureable that they will pursue it - and I'm sure that's their brains being hungry for that flood again.  

(Benzos do the same thing, only in a longer capacity)

 

However, with the psych drugs, they deliberately manipulate the neurotransmitters and change them.  It's like the difference between a storm moving through the forest (alcohol) - taking branches and stuff with it - and a bulldozer coming in and removing trees and replacing them with golf courses (psych drugs).

 

On 6/18/2018 at 12:10 PM, Rabe said:

 I never met one that was unkind..

 

That is so sweet to hear.  And that's the thing, isn't it?

 

I had someone rip me a new one this week because of some of the things I do in my personal life.  Maybe I deserved it.  But did I need it?

 

Wouldn't it be better to just be kind to each other?  If someone wants to help me with my behaviour problems, isn't there a gentler way to do it?

 

Hubby has a thing that he got from his father, about inclusiveness, discussing "how to solve the problem," instead of exploding.  But - it somehow wreaks of manipulation to me the way he did it.  It was meant gently - but I struggle with the "taking me under wing for this inclusive discussion."  Maybe it's my upbringing - that sounds too close to what my brother and I called "captive audience."

 

On 6/19/2018 at 7:44 AM, Hibari said:
On 6/17/2018 at 4:27 PM, JanCarol said:

Really?

Yes.  Not all meetings, though when I think about it, probably every meeting at the beginning, now I'm much more selective about the depth.   I do talk about it as a painful process and link it to how I got on meds in the first place-trauma, pushing my limits, and people pleasing. 

 

My experience is in Alanon, not AA and I think the vibe is different.  Alanon for me has been about examining my need to overwork, over caretake,  overextend and override my own needs-all stemming from growing up in a family that was impacted by alcoholism going back generations.  That characteristics of the alcoholic family system has been an eye opener for me.  

 

OH!  I have a friend in AlAnon, and it is different.  I've never been to one of their Meetings, though I've offered to go (it just didn't work out).

 

And here is another insight about how you take your Journey, and work it into their tapestry to create a suitable outcome.  Thank you!

On 6/19/2018 at 7:44 AM, Hibari said:

But with my sponsor in particular, she has lovingly and patiently been by my side when I tumbled into depression, got on meds and made the decision to come off of all of them.  There have been numerous phone calls to her where I have cried due to withdrawal and she had provided comfort to me through the words of the program.   Helping me remember, that This Too Shall Pass, or to turn my fear over to a power great than myself.  That could be God, a meeting, this website, friends or even today when I walked into a church and asked for help for my shaky brain. 

 

You are indeed a lucky one to have a Sponsor like that!

 

Here's another question for the 12-Steppers:  is your Sponsor your Friend?  Is there a boundary there?  Is it a "professional relationship"?  When you hang out with your Sponsor, how is it like and how is it different to hanging out with your friends?

 

What you describe about her listening to your pain and suffering on the phone - sounds compassionate, but also professional.  "Holding space" for you, as we say in shamanism.

 

And really - with any distress, "Holding space" is the first step in helping.  Not judging, just holding it open and listening.  Not advising, or suggesting (my weak points) - but listening and asking and inquiring as to what the Experience is like.  (this is back to Spiritual Emergency / Awakening type topics).

 

On 6/19/2018 at 7:44 AM, Hibari said:

I went to my first Alanon meeting to find a sense of community when my world shrank due to depression  What I discovered was a spiritual path that has helped feel more secure in the world. 

 

Wow.  I've heard that from 12-Step, that's a powerful statement.  I have a family member who lives, breathes, travels, Sponsors, speaks & lectures, 24/7 12-Step.  It seems to be his spirituality, too.

 

So - is it the community which is Spirit to you?  (ut-oh, getting squishy here)

 

What about the words in the literature?  There's the Big Book, but there are so many other books, too - I was astonished at how much literature there is, and most of it incredibly well written - inspiring, if not inspired.


Wow, this took longer and went longer than I meant it to.  Sorry folks, I hope there's still some meat on this bone.

 

 

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I had a doctor neighbor who said, "I think people get addicted to the sugar first and then the alcohol"...interesting.  I sure consumed a lot of sugar in my lifetime and yes you see it at the meetings with the M & M's and all...however, I WISH chocolate was the only thing I was 'addicted' to at this point!!

 

The 90 meetings in 90 days, something I could not do with my work, for some people has been a life saver.  In my meetings these were suggestions not mandates.  For some, their lives and minds are such a mess that they need to fill their time and head with something other than what was there  before....changing the habits of addiction after quitting the drinking can take a bit longer...and learning how to deal with life without that addiction is huge.  Notice here how we cannot absorb things and have to ask questions over and over because our minds are such a mess, we feel awful, we are afraid...the meetings and most of the people in them are a safe place to go and listen, and for some simply survive until you can glean some new ways to move  on that are healthy.  I always saw people make progress, albeit at different speeds....the sadness was seeing those that truly could not get well....sad...

 

My sons used psychedelics before moving on to things that nearly killed both of them.  I have no personal experience so cannot really speak to it.  the only other thing I tried was marijuana and I had the worst panic attack of my life!!!!

 

@JanCarol So - I want to hear about how people interpret the set, setting, situation, rituals, words, in order to make this program work for them.

Do you know, I don't remember ever thinking about those things, except that I was terrified to go to my first meeting because of me and my own shame and guilt not because of the meeting itself.  The people were like a warm hug, and when I relapsed 2 weeks later I went back and spoke about it... no one gasped and fell over, just said to keep coming back, take care of yourself, get a sponsor...just support and kindness.  

I think anything in life can be parsed if thats what you want to do...we could parse SA.  It has its own setting, situation, 'rituals' in a sense, words,  things to read, suggestions....if it works it works, maybe better for some than others.  Some people kind and others more intense.  Much of it is wonderful but for some maybe parts of it are not...Why do people 'keep coming back'....it is very similar to meetings in my mind....its the people here, its the support here, its the understanding here.  Similar.  I also found that some people who found reasons not to go to meetings would have come around to not going anyway...they just weren't ready yet...and thats ok too. 

I wish I felt the comfort here that I felt at my meetings JanCarol...they were always a safe place...always.

 

@JanCarolThere may be a component, but trauma runs in families, too.  This is true...certainly true for me and my children...and my grandmother was not someone to mess with!  Yikes!  She ran the show!  So indeed that plays a part.  Also genetic mutations that have just in recent years been uncovered.  I think there is much we know and much more we will learn, thank goodness.  The book The Body Keeps the Score was a huge eye opener for me and I often recommend it.  

I just wanted to not have the panic attacks and the alcohol helped for awhile but then became paradoxical just like my meds have become...I never knew what the result would be...I knew it wasn't the same...and my liver enzymes within months were elevated..so clearly my body doesn't like chemicals...but also have the MTHFR mutation and body doesn't clear chemicals well and there are probably other mutations along with that one.  My son has my system and we often talk about all this.  My daughter can't relate to any of it.  I reacted poorly to alludes we tried...AD's esp SSRIs, hence the Klonopin.  And it helped for years and I am grateful for those years.  When the dose was doubled my body broke and had serotonin like reaction to the Lexapro and reacted to the klonopin wafers and the viibryd...downhill from there.  As I said, I would quit alcohol over and over before I would Ever wish to repeat this journey where I was forced onto a drug...AA never would have done something like that.  They accepted me as I was and helped me get well..simple as that.  Ive had people be unkind here and it has felt very bad.  So no place is perfect...but acceptance and understanding helps a lot as well as looking at myself first.

 

My sponsor has been a life long mentor as well as dear dear friend..we are best friends.  Our kids are friends.  We just talked last night.  One of the things she often says is, "I think you are right where you ought to be".  She has never judged, never gotten angry...she is quite remarkable and someone I wanted to be like in the sense I wanted the serenity she had and has.... 

 

JanCarol I too like the making amends...and I agree with the not doing things t have to make amends for...we all could learn from that.  I often said to my supervisor at work, "I'd rather be kind than 'right'".... my brother says "issue/relationship"...they both can get murky but in essence its simply choosing your battles.  Some people spend their lives battling and others never do...I think part of the journey is finding your own 'happy medium'.  Right now I am finding it very difficult to let go of the abuse in residential.  Apparently those facilities are not regulated..which was painfully obvious..they ought to be.  Being bullied, mocked, and coerced into certain actions, including taking medications (take this or you are out of the program), seeing people locked in rooms, seeing people go without their meds (i.e. clonazepam) over a weekend because the nurse forgot to order them, having an aggressive (very triggering for me) roommate who was clearly at the very least paranoid who eventually passed out with vitals off, no skin turgor, ashen etc locked in her room with a glass of water when she ought to have been sent to the hospital right then for fluids...all these still haunt me.  NEVER experienced anything like that when seeking help at my meetings...I yearn for  their comfort and safety daily...

 

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brassmonkey

"Every forgiveness I asked for, I was greeted with "Love you, water under the bridge."

 

Pretty much the same response I would get too.  I think it's more about the act of asking than the answer received.  I like how you're taking it to the next level.  that brings to mind the credo I try to live by, "and it harm none, do what thou will".  Seems like it gives you a lot of freedom on the surface but once you start thinking about it, it can get very restrictive.

 

In our AA meetings all discussion was "alcohol based", no other substance was talked about without group permission.  That's where the DDA (dual diagnosis anon) came in, they acknowledged psych drugs and the need to use them wisely.  But everyone was very happy being drugged and didn't want to hear about trying to get off of them.  I was able to steer a couple of people to Prior Place in privet conversations.  But for the most part I just ended up keeping my mouth shut. 

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2 hours ago, Rabe said:

I think anything in life can be parsed if thats what you want to do...we could parse SA.  It has its own setting, situation, 'rituals' in a sense, words,  things to read, suggestions....if it works it works, maybe better for some than others.  Some people kind and others more intense.  Much of it is wonderful but for some maybe parts of it are not...Why do people 'keep coming back'....it is very similar to meetings in my mind....its the people here, its the support here, its the understanding here.  Similar.

Exactly! I still am (can't think of word, darn cog fog) "weaseling" (best I can do right now) around SA to find the "right" way to support and be supported by others. However, through feeling alternately hurt or uplifted from messages here, I have learned a lot about myself and what I need and, more importantly, what I need to give in order to get what I want and if I have the capacity or willingness to do that...  I am learning that through AA.

 

48 minutes ago, brassmonkey said:

I like how you're taking it to the next level.  that brings to mind the credo I try to live by, "and it harm none, do what thou will".  Seems like it gives you a lot of freedom on the surface but once you start thinking about it, it can get very restrictive.

My sponsor said that she has seen members not do something they might have to make amends for because making amends is such an involved and emotionally-taxing process. When you think about it, that is restricting but helpful. I mean, if you have to let loose, then there are always amends.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 2:44 PM, Hibari said:

A few of the people who have supported me the most, including my sponsor have been on medications, some not.  But with my sponsor in particular, she has lovingly and patiently been by my side when I tumbled into depression, got on meds and made the decision to come off of all of them.

That is amazing!!! How truly lucky for you. This time around looking for a sponsor, I made sure she was not on ADs as I am so triggered by them now.

 

4 hours ago, JanCarol said:

Is that the same level of violation as the person who starts sneaking sips from a fifth all day long and hiding it?

Not at all. But then you/AA is put into the position of being "judge" of where is the line between a sip of beer at the finish line and sipping a fifth. Then motivations and reasons and etc etc have to be accounted for. For myself, I'd just not mention that sip of beer at the finish line. It's not the substance but the motivation and only an individual can determine that. I almost drank a bit of wine, unthinkingly, when I was thirsty at a party. If I had done that, I wouldn't have said anything to AA as it would have been an accident. And maybe that is one of the differences between alcohol and psycho-drugs: alcohol is more about motivation and you have more control over your actions. Drugs just lay waste to your brain and no amount of "wanting to not be horribly anxious or depressed" changes anything. I dunno: just shooting off here.

 

2 hours ago, Rabe said:

I often said to my supervisor at work, "I'd rather be kind than 'right'"

I used to think of that a lot, thank you for reminding me. I think thich nhat hanh said it.

 

 

4 hours ago, JanCarol said:

Thank you!  This is exactly the kind of insight I was looking for.  How - if you are successful in a 12-Step group - do you adjust your thinking to take care of the paradoxes, "rub the wrong way" words, or whatever it is.  Because it's not perfect, it's not one-size-fits-all - I've had lesbian friends who felt unwelcome in Meeting, and people who were diagnosed "schizophrenic" or "mentally ill" (and self defined themselves as such) - who didn't feel like they belonged there.  Even depressed folks have struggled, as - lord, when you're underground, and you go to a meeting and all the words are said as though through deep water - it's really hard to - accept it all and take up the cause.   I've known people who couldn't hack it for religious reasons - either their religion was more precise than AA (and the language offensive) or their language was more broad than AA (and the language offensive).


So - I want to hear about how people interpret the set, setting, situation, rituals, words, in order to make this program work for them.

I am getting the vibe here that meetings are more hit-and-miss esp. if you're in a smaller town. I am lucky right now to be in a large city with a gajillion groups to choose from. It took me a while but I found a women's group that works for me. When I did it for a couple months last summer, I was told to go "back on my meds" by one member and the hoity-toityness and whiteness of some groups rankled my anti-sexist/classist/racist leanings. I hated it and felt like an outsider. The group I go to now is mixed racially, economically, and by class. One woman is homeless, one is an activist, a few have been in jail, some wear high heels and have well-dressed children, lots of POC, dorks like me... best of all, we say "f#*!" a lot in shares and nobody minds. And there are ladies who just came from their Baptist church. There is no timer and the rigidity mentioned here barely exists. It is mostly 90-minutes of vulnerable soul baring and learning from others.

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Rabe

I was in a smaller town and there were many many meetings...each a little different and I got something different out of each.  

Sometimes I, too, felt uncomfortable, but ultimately concluded that was more about me than others.  If Im comfortable with who I am and where I am in life then I am far more able to roll with and accept what is around me.....'good' or 'bad' I can always learn something.  One never knows what that other person is really dealing with or has dealt with in their own lives that has shaped their thoughts and actions.  

@JanCarol learning from others....

thats it in a nutshell I think...I went to meetings to learn, I came here to learn, I talk to people instead of walking away to learn...I'm not more than or less than..just here trying to get through each day and do my best.  We all just want to be accepted and loved even though actions may scream otherwise.  My ex-husband was abusive....but he was abused as well.  It doesn't make what he did right, but he was wounded and frightened too.  But it took me a very long time to realize that.  Warriors are everywhere...we just are most comfortable with some than others I guess...

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mirage

@Rabe Just read your post here and you are full of knowledge. Your words range so true to me.

 

I grew up with a very abusive father and I took care of him for 10 years, after my mother passed. He is still here with us but very ill and on dialysis. I had to stop the full time care when I became sick and began this journey. I have hired help for him but I still spend time with him. All of my sibling abandoned him years ago and I, completely, understand why. I just can't do that. He was a product of his parents being abusive and his father introduced him to alcohol at a very, very young age. One could argue that he could have broke the circle of his environment and he could have done things differently with his own children, but he is not a strong person and just wasn't able to do it. Needless to say, he is now in his late 80s, sick and alone. He completely understands what his actions have caused. I know he is sorry but you can't go back and change anything from the past. We can only move forward and listen, watch and learn. (I think you said something similar in your post, which is why it touched me so much). I truly believe that my childhood, although not a good one, has taught me so much. I married my high school sweetheart 33 years ago, we have 4 amazing kids and I have had, and still have, a beautiful life. 

 

You are an inspiration!

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manymoretodays
Posted (edited)

I just like AA and the 12 steps as it's a whole different approach than all the expensive CBT, DBT, and medications that I was given.  Taking responsibility.  Not getting mired in self pity.  Traditional psych care can have one going on and on with finding all the reasons.........it just got old for me.  I'm normal darn it!!!  Oh.....and an alcoholic  .........I don't want to type that too big.  B)

 

And cool.......that Mr. Bill(W.) used shrooms. 

Unfortunately as I am recovering from massive many, many medications I can't or won't consider any psychoactives in the near future.  Who knows.......maybe I can have a sip of nice frosty home brew or exotic wine in 10 years or so.  I did my share of recreational drugs and drinking early in my life.  There's that age old question with no real answer.......just some middle ground of......"Which came first.......the neurosis or the alcoholism" .........maybe that applies a bit to my psychiatric medication usage too.  I don't think I'm too, too neurotic yet maybe some of my recreational drugs and alcohol did relate to my first situational depression that led to a long time in the psychiatric system.  I hope that is clear.

 

I went in, by happenstance.....to AA........due to my adult son getting a DUI.  My MAOI(an old school A/D I was on in pregnancy) baby.  He has some really subtle or on the edge of any true psychiatric labeling diagnonsense.   He is, of course, brilliant and has a lot of potential.  Has just been average in finding his way in life.  Doing okay overall though.  Thank you Lord.  He is a wonderful person and son/SUN.  He might be an alcoholic..........to be determined.......by him really.  I can't be too, too co-dependent in this regard.

 

And........I was having a problem getting free of the "herb", weed, MaryJane......B)..........that I used to get off of my Seroquel.  Not a recommendation folks.  Just what it was.  And if I go way back in time.........before medications..........I am an alcoholic.......by AA's definition.  Episodic.  Sometimes thought I could handle more and probably was able to on some of my medications.  So I fit the bill.  And really do like the approach.

 

Lately though.......I only "feel" like I'm being eaten alive by some of them.  Just my recent situations.  Thinking of changing my AA program a bit here soon.  The meetings I attend.  Maybe some Alanon meetings now too.    I like my current sponsor though.  She can be tough and hard on me..........in a good way.  I know where she is coming from though.........I have compassion for her.  It's okay now......at 2 years and some chump change to discern.........take what I need and leave the rest.  I'm pretty indoctrinated though.  I'd like to hang out more with some drinkers and not drink and be comfortable.  Because it has helped me be more comfortable in my own skin........with who I am.........and I like me.  Has made me stronger and less concerned with people pleasing.  And oh........sometimes I give a pretty good short speech there........you know.......the sharing.  I stay on topic, with a brief of......"I'm a psychiatric survivor too" thing sometimes.  They can approach me after if they want to know what I mean.  What it was like before.  What happened.  What it's like now.

I often go spiritual and like to bring more kindness and comfort to folks there than be all harsh.  I've had a few who ask if I will sponsor them.  I tell them I'll work the steps with them.  I like the steps.  I've done up to a firm 7th step.  Briefly stalling on doing the official written 8 and 9.  And do 10, 11, and 12.......well basically most of the steps daily. 

 

It's not a one time through the steps and stay sober thing for me.  It's a lifetime practice.  So I'm good.

 

Yah.......sometimes I like the swearing ladies there too FGW.........if you have read this far.  Swearing always makes me laugh.  I try not to be a huge cusser for the most part.  It does make me laugh to go all tough talk though sometimes.  When things are frustrating.  They still are a bit more difficult these days........from where they were this winter.  Changing and growing pains.  I'm doing okay though.  Grateful.

 

Okay.......I didn't hit all JC's points.......as the discussion has continued in other areas now.  All good.

 

Love you guys.......peace, healing/inrecovery, and growth baby growth and regeneration!!!

mmt

 

 

Edited by manymoretodays

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powerback

I had an interesting thing happen the other day ,I seem to be craving  cold carbonated water [hot summer] ,I took a good mouthful and my brain loved the rush of carbonation and a similar cosy feeling came over me that happened when I would guzzle pints of larger and a few "positive " drinking experiences rushed into memory ,the last month my brain is craving euphoric experience .its great to be aware and notice these things and be very careful at the same time .

 

AA is every bit religious/cult like [no offence ].I personally don't believe in alcoholism in the typical sense ,too much pressure is put on the person to adhere to a "condition" they have .not to dissimilar to getting diagnosis from a GP on our mental health  .we are all seeking something  .but I do have tremendous respect for human beings coming together and trying to help each other .I have only been to about 20 meetings and in them I could see people struggling with life's challenges and everything points to the future generations to understand the human condition.

food,shopping,exercise ,smoking,gaming,gambling. these are just a few of things we as humans do to disassociate at different levels .we need to stop judging and understand our emotions and thoughts ,or at least set the next generations up with better understanding .

Labels are extremely simple and very easy for big pharma to make money out of .

I don't judge anyone's beliefs  but the running theme in all of the AA stories I listen to youtube is the "human condition" ,some people mite be born with a predisposition for "substance abuse " but this is the tip of the ice burg .

I for one will never talk to ignorant or unconscious people about anything anymore ,unless you've lived it how could you know . 

Take care ,

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Hibari
On 6/20/2018 at 10:48 AM, JanCarol said:

Here's another question for the 12-Steppers:  is your Sponsor your Friend?  Is there a boundary there?  Is it a "professional relationship"?  When you hang out with your Sponsor, how is it like and how is it different to hanging out with your friends?

I don't consider it a professional relationship.  I have kept a boundary with my sponsor, my choice for now.   The boundary was set because of what I am learning in Alanon-I don't have to take care of another person in order to get my needs met.   Do I ask my sponsor how she is? Yes.  Did I attend her 60th birthday celebration? Yes and had the option to say no.   I felt comfortable hanging out with her because I care about her and she is fun, intelligent and open. 

 

Many people in program do become friends with their sponsor because even though someone is a sponsor, it is still just two people make the choice to recover.  The sponsor just has more time and space to offer support at this point in their lives.  And, I do believe it's healing to give to someone else. 

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Hibari
On 6/20/2018 at 10:48 AM, JanCarol said:

So - is it the community which is Spirit to you?  (ut-oh, getting squishy here)

 

What about the words in the literature?  There's the Big Book, but there are so many other books, too - I was astonished at how much literature there is, and most of it incredibly well written - inspiring, if not inspired.


Wow, this took longer and went longer than I meant it to.  Sorry folks, I hope there's still some meat on this bone.

Initially it was the community that was Spirit to me because I was too terrified to believe that there was something greater than myself looking out for me.  A lot of that was due to my  state of depression, which was so horrific that I felt abandoned by the universe.  So, the people in the meetings provided me with the spiritual support I craved.   No one pushed anything on me; it was their experience, strength and hope that sustained me.  Even the stories of struggle were sustaining because over the weeks and months, people's lives changed. 

 

Then I started to notice different moments where I felt I was going to be okay and in fact felt supported by a power greater than myself.  tTis has been especially helpful during withdrawal when my mind is not capable of comforting me.   It's not the only resource because there are key people on this site who have helped me through those dark times. 

And, withdrawal has fallen outside of what Alanon can sometimes do for me.  Withdrawal is a different animal and often SA is the only place where I can be understood.

 

Yes, the literature is quite good.  I choose to read a daily reader a majority of the time.   I am also working the steps and found them quite deep. 

 

Again, Alanon's focus is different from AA, w here people are at times fighting for their lives to free themselves from the direct affects of alcohol on their body and mind.

Alanon's focus, in my opinion, is about breaking free of the need to focus on the alcoholic or anyone else who is not emotionally sober.   Many people in Alanon have not had Alcoholic parents but have suffered from people who raged at them, hit them, ignored them or struggled with mental trauma.   It is astonishing to me how universal some of the psychological symptoms people in Alanon share though the causes may be different.  

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manymoretodays
58 minutes ago, Hibari said:

due to my  state of depression, which was so horrific that I felt abandoned by the universe. 

 

Oooooh.........yuck........but nice description.........and.......NEVER!!!  Never abandoned by the Universe.

 

I Love this thread.

I just apply a lot of it to my "dependencies" on psychiatric medication for so long.  And it does help me not cave...... and go back that direction.  I'm passionate now about coping without medication anyway.

 

Love, peace, healing/IR, and growth,

mmt

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FarmGirlWorks
13 hours ago, powerback said:

AA is every bit religious/cult like [no offence ].

Absolutely none taken, @powerback. I like to say that I'm in two cults, kundalini yoga and AA. I need a third cult to round it out. But seriously, kundalini posits that you are god (a physical manifestation anyway) and AA wants you to rely on a "higher power." Aaaagh... I believe that there are several paths or windows to Truth. I guess I do believe in a "higher power" that is honed by practicing kundalini.

 

13 hours ago, powerback said:

I for one will never talk to ignorant or unconscious people about anything anymore ,unless you've lived it how could you know . 

This is a hard lesson although I think I am finally learning it... I tried again the other night with a doctor friend who believes in ADs full-on and realized I was unsuccessfully wanting her to acknowledge *my* pain. How Sisyphean and stupid is that? I like @manymoretodays referring to herself as a "psychiatric survivor" and letting people ask her about it instead of going on about it. I am beginning to see the pointlessness of speaking about WD to someone who has not experienced it.

 

18 hours ago, manymoretodays said:

Taking responsibility.  Not getting mired in self pity.  Traditional psych care can have one going on and on with finding all the reasons.........it just got old for me.... Has made me stronger and less concerned with people pleasing.

Me too, me too. I realized that therapy, while fun with EMDR and CBT and hypnotherapy and other things, was not ultimately working for me. I was performing for the therapists and they loved my stories... but there is a big, wide world out there and I want my story to be in it. And while I have to work on not going too far on not-pleasing-people (I still have spontaneous rage that I occasionally have to deal with), I am getting better at not feeling like I have to please others for them to like me. They will or they will not, I guess.

 

4 hours ago, Hibari said:

Initially it was the community that was Spirit to me because I was too terrified to believe that there was something greater than myself looking out for me.  A lot of that was due to my  state of depression, which was so horrific that I felt abandoned by the universe.  So, the people in the meetings provided me with the spiritual support I craved. 

Love this, @Hibari. I have just felt not "worthy" of the Universe and only recently have been seeing that maybe, just maybe, that is the narcissistic desire in myself to be "special" and "outside" the world and its needs. Or maybe it was because of not being looked after in childhood and not believing that anything or anyone would look out for me.

 

3 hours ago, manymoretodays said:

I just apply a lot of it to my "dependencies" on psychiatric medication for so long.  And it does help me not cave...... and go back that direction.  I'm passionate now about coping without medication anyway.

Yup. Last year was the shock of WD and dealing with a lot of the somatic symptoms. For the most part, except for akathisia, only the mental ones (depression/anxiety/suicidal ideation) remain; if last year was the Body, this year is the Brain. Doing what I can to stay drug-free but also deal with the crazy brain. I realize it will take time and work and AA is a *great* help in getting real about my role in this. It's not all on my mother anymore 🙂

 

I am listening (audiobook) to Lauren Slater's book about her several decades use of psychotropics and the history of drugs and new treatments (psychedelics etc). It has made me more deeply realize that it is a choice to go drug-free and one that cannot be made lightly. While I still get jealous of folks living their happy, productive existences on drugs, I remind myself of why I am off and that I need to be vigilant about my mental health every single day. AA is a tool in the metaphorical toolbox of mental health.

 

 

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Rabe

My Sponsor has also been a best friend for years.  Thing is, no one gets to the station...the train is ongoing and so believe we all, in program or not, sponsor or not, years of sobriety or not, have problems and challenges that are faced with.  If you put yourself at the top rung of the ladder, where do you then go when you are struggling, need support, etc.  I never felt better than...I have felt less than...but know that was my shame and guilt, not a position someone else was putting me in.

We have talked to each other and supported each other.  I still feel she is wiser than I...but some times she tells me I am...hope to get there on a more regular basis.  Blessed to have such a friend and mentor in my life!!!

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JanCarol
On 6/21/2018 at 2:27 AM, Rabe said:

we could parse SA.  It has its own setting, situation, 'rituals' in a sense, words,  things to read, suggestions...

 

Ah - but - the rituals - are just "here are the links"

We don't meet eyes.  We don't hear each other's voices, there is no order of service (unless you count this order:  1.  I wanted to come off the drugs, 2.  Doctor said taper this fast, 3.  I followed Doctors orders, and 4.  Now I'm up a creek without a paddle, and 5.  We can help, and try to do so.)

 

17 hours ago, powerback said:

I had an interesting thing happen the other day ,I seem to be craving  cold carbonated water [hot summer] ,I took a good mouthful and my brain loved the rush of carbonation and a similar cosy feeling came over me that happened when I would guzzle pints of larger and a few "positive " drinking experiences rushed into memory ,the last month my brain is craving euphoric experience .its great to be aware and notice these things and be very careful at the same time .


My bro-in law taught me about sipping cold water.  He is a lifetime 12-Stepper, mentor, you could call him professional, really, travels around the world to Meetings and holds Mens' Groups.  Spends a lot of time on the phone.

 

When you have a craving, obsession that you can't shake - replace it with something that nourishes your survival. 

Water is something we all need.  He talked about the mindfulness of bringing the glass to your lips, feeling the moisture near your face, bringing the water into your mouth, and paying full attention to it as you swallow just a sip.  Keep sipping, and you have shifted your neuro-cognition towards nourishment and survival, and away from self-destruction.   

 

17 hours ago, powerback said:

I personally don't believe in alcoholism in the typical sense ,too much pressure is put on the person to adhere to a "condition" they have .not to dissimilar to getting diagnosis from a GP on our mental health  .we are all seeking something  .but I do have tremendous respect for human beings coming together and trying to help each other .

 

This is pretty much where I stand, too.  But - I have not destroyed my life with alcohol, and nobody in my life has done so.  I've never awoken from a blackout wondering where I was and what have I done?  I have friends who take comfort in the Meetings, and use it to stop excesses - and I just see that as a healthy way of coping.  But the lack of wreckage from alcohol in my life (my wreckage was from psych drugs & self-serving attitudes) - means that I can afford to be light footed on this matter.  Other people really do have less choice, and thinking of it as "brain disorder" or "disease" (even if that's not wholly accurate) may be the needle that removes the thorn.  Everybody is where they are (and I have to learn that lesson about the masses of psych drugs that people are taking, too).

 

3 hours ago, FarmGirlWorks said:

I was performing for the therapists and they loved my stories...

 

OH YES!  That's what I was talking about when I spoke of the raw honesty of the meetings. 

 

It wasn't conscious, but there were masks with the psychotherapist.  Am I the sad mask?  Or the "struggling mask" or the "angry mask" and I would wear these masks and feel these feelings, but - like a crafty actor, improvise the character to be something that the therapist "approved of."

There are many things about me which are shocking or socially unacceptable - so I kept those in reserve.  It was kind of like poker, where I looked at my cards...3 hearts (friends, lovers), a diamond (finances), a couple of clubs and spades (thick knotty issues), and then "read" the situation and play the cards I felt would give me the "best hand" on that day.

In a way, that's still real.  Even if everything I talk about in therapy is totally imaginary - using imagination to free up emotions is an excellent way to heal.  And theatre has been a sacred art from the very beginning.  But the performance aspect of it.  I feel I have to perform in many areas of my life - whether it was work, or relationships, or doing what I thought would help me build friends & community.  When I was young & sick & selfish, I didn't care what other people thought.  I'm more considerate now - but - it's the balance Tom was talking about between the rigidity of "preventing amends," and the free-wheeling stuff that crashes are made of.

 

1 hour ago, Rabe said:

Thing is, no one gets to the station...the train is ongoing and so believe we all, in program or not, sponsor or not, years of sobriety or not, have problems and challenges that are faced with.

 

I love this!  It kind of goes along with what I say about "Life comes in Windows and Waves," as many people want to know when this whole ordeal will be "Over."  Well - it really never will be, as long as you choose to thrive & survive, there will always be Windows and Waves, layers of the onion, issues to be addressed, and improvements to make to yourself as Human.

 

Wow!  This is really feeling a bit like a Meeting - but a really open one, with heartfelt honesty and truth - and sharing.

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Rabe

This is very powerful indeed!  

I can say that the very first time I drank in high school I blacked out...dont remember anything and had my friends not taken care of me I don't know that

I would be here as I was vomiting and not well.  Did not drink after that until panic returned so intensely and consistently after birth of my first.  Did not take long...months I think...before my liver function tests were abnormal and alcohol was affecting me one way one day and another way another...paradoxical just as I am finding the drugs have been doing.  Pretty scary really and I did not understand what or why this was happening just as I don't understand what is happening with the medications.  It just is happening.  

I did a presentation on alcoholism and it is true that people who cannot tolerate alcohol metabolize it differently...it essentially becomes an opioid type chemical in your body.  I have seen people die from this disease...I absolutely believe it exists...why would someone keep drinking when it has taken everything in their life and now is going to take their life?  I have also seen people who are able to drink longer...and then get stomach cancer or pancreatitis and some die from that.  If AA can keep just one person or a handful of people from going through that then I say what a wonderful thing!

As I said, wish the drug consequences were as 'easy' for me to get well from as the alcohol was...this WD makes the alcohol look like a walk in the park...and it wasn't.  Gratefully I did not drink long enough to have it ruin my life...but it would have taken my life had I continued because it was poisoning my body. 

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