A Blessing and a Curse

How fair are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel!
Number 24:5
By Rabbi Kerry Olitzky
This is the famous beginning of Balaam’s third blessing. It has become the introductory Morning Prayer, said upon entering a place of worship. Although the comment was a spontaneous expression of admiration at the sight of the Israeli encampment-a holy people living in peace-it also provides us with an insight to how serenity can be achieved in life.
“Tents” are a symbol for one’s interior space. Or, how things are within us? How we really feel? “Dwelling” similarly can be understood as our place in life. Are we satisfied with where we are? Are we free of resentment and envy of others? Are we aware of our fears? Or do we continue to let then occupy space in our minds? If we are satisfied, then we are enjoying peace and are feeling the blessings of life. But, If we are not-and are not willing to make an effort to let go of anger, fear, guilt, hate and other emotional and spiritual pain, then all that our Higher Power offers us in blessings will just be hollow. We will not be ready to receive them.
One of the greatest blessings of spiritual renewal is the discovery that what we focus on affects the way we feel. There is an abundance of blessings in our life, if we are ready for them. Let’s not be shortchanged because we don’t get everything we want, lets appreciate what we do get and be grateful for the things we don’t want and don’t get.
Blessings are the path of our journey home.
Pray only in a room with windows. Don’t shut yourself off from the outside world.

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AA Comes Of Age

Dr. Harry Tiebout

Characteristic of the so- called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity.

The outlines of a common character structure among problem drinkers and that the best terms he could find for the group of qualities noted was “defiant individuality” and “grandiosity.”

In my opinion, those words were accurately chosen. Inwardly the alcoholic brooks no control from man or God. He, the alcoholic, is and must be master of his destiny. He will fight to the end to preserve that position

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Meeting Payer

Power of the Universe bless this meeting and those gathered here tonight

Help us make this group a haven of strength and comfort, giving to all who seek help here the beauty and friendliness of peace, which shall be as a shield against temptation of all kinds and against loneliness and despair.

Bless those who go forth from this room to fight the fight, to know suffering, and bless those who come here to find a better way, those who must readjust themselves to face life once more.

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What’s The Point Of A 12 Step Meeting?

Reposted From Recovery Today – http://sobamalibu.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Recovery-Today_June-2015.pdf

Many experts agree the “12 Step” meeting is either the heart, the corner stone or, at minimum, a main “ingredient” necessary in breaking the cycle of addiction.
If you’ve ever been around someone new or perhaps at least somewhat resistant to treatment, there’s a good chance you’ve heard questions like these: “Why?”, “Why do we have meetings?”, “Do I have to go?” “Can’t I do treatment and get sober without them?”
Depending on which expert you’d ask, the answers may be different; traditional “Evidence Based” recovery experts certainly evangelize meetings as one of the most important processes in an individual’s successful recovery. Although there are no absolutes, the overwhelming evidence leads to this simple truth. They’re right; simply put,”12 Step Meetings work”.
But where did this concept come from? That is, having group support on the path to sobriety, and what is it that has made this critical?
The 12 Step Program is ideally suited to assist individuals in recovery by providing a set of guiding principles that focus on making a deeper spiritual connection and following a path of recovery.
All participating members adhere to these principals, in a non-judgmental manner and, as a result, every member understands they’re not “alone”.
In contrast, isolation tends to speak to the individual telling them what they’re going through is unique, that no one can relate or understand, there is no one to talk to and, … they’re all alone. This leads to thoughts of HOPELESSNESS, followed of course by their drinking or drug use again; a vicious cycle, ever repeating itself, each time growing heavier and taking more and more of the life of it’s victim.
The meeting itself is the remedy to this one facet of the cunning disease of addiction. Meeting members courageously who share their thoughts and experiences, shedding light from individual to individual that they are not alone, the thoughts they’ve had are not unique and by connecting with those further down the recovery path, one emotion is transferred; confidence. Confidence intertwined with hope.
Although originally developed and started in 1935 by two men in recovery from alcoholism themselves, the method and the principles have been adapted to a wide range of different specific types of recovery. There are now 12 Step programs which are specialized for those in recovery from many different addictions including:
• Drugs
• Sex/Pornography • Work
• Hoarding
• Food
With the entire specialized 12 Step programs today; the group and meetings are still at the center of each and every program. While there may be specific people employed by the group, it is those in recovery who use the 12 steps to keep the groups going and to provide continual support for those within communities struggling with addiction. The group self-guides through traditions, creates relationships, commitments and provides hope and the evidence of long term successful lives of sobriety.
What’s the Point of a 12 Step Meeting?
The group is there to serve the members, to provide support, and fellowship. There is also guidance through sponsors, or those more experienced in recovery and leading a life free from addiction.
In-person meetings are typically open to the public. They start with the reading of the Preamble, the Serenity Prayer, and introductory statements about the program, the 12 Steps, and the 12 Traditions as well as The Promise. Depending on the type of meeting, a specific Step may be introduced and discussed, or the group may develop the topic, and then people are encouraged to share their story.
Typically after the formal meeting, members can socialize and connect directly with each other. There is also a book provided to new members with information on the 12 Steps, as well as names of group members to turn to if you need support to prevent using between meetings.
While large cities may have near infinite possibilities for 12 Step meetings throughout the day and throughout the week, in smaller areas the choices can be much more limited. Additionally, for people with children, busy work or school schedules or for those without transportation, getting to a meeting can be a challenge.
For more information, simply go to… www.InTheRooms.com
ABOUT InTheRooms
Enter …InTheRooms.com. InTheRooms.com is proof that a virtual meeting can be effective.
This is an online support network offering continual fellowship with others in recovery using the exact same principles as the in-person 12 Step meetings. It certainly is not designed to replace the personal meetings, but to provide additional layers of support and 24-hour opportunities to quickly and easily with the click of a mouse, participate in pre-set video meetings or to chat with others in recovery.
The same guiding principles and 12 Traditions are used with within the online support community.
Connections can still be made virtually. Support is still provided by the group; and like in-person meetings, friendships are forged.
So, to answer the question about the effectiveness of virtual meetings, the near 400,000 global member community of InTheRooms.com would certainly suggest in our modern, global society of instantaneous connections, the virtual meeting more than has a place, its a perfect fit. A concept whose time has come.
For those who may not be able to make it to an in- person 12 Step program as often as they would like, they can choose from over 110 live online meetings weekly focusing in on a range of different recovery types and focuses.

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Am I Willing?

By Bill P & Lisa D

Dear Higher Power, help me

To forget what I have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for me.

To ignore what the world owes me, and to think what I owe the world.

To put my rights in the background, and my duties in the middle distance, and my chances to do a little more than my duty in the foreground.

To see that my fellows are just as real as I am, and to try to look behind their faces to their hearts, as hungry for joy as mine is.

To own that the only good reason for my existence is not what I can get out of life, but what I can give to life.

To close my book of complaints against management of the universe and look for a place where I can sow a few seeds of happiness-am I willing to do these things even for a day?

Then I have a good chance of staying with this Design for Living.

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Destructive Relationships In Recovery

By Dawn Maslar

http://dawnmaslar.com/

On April 30, 2015, I was invited to participate in a Recovery Forum. The evening had a variety of speakers that were asked to comment on different aspects of addictions. My job was to talk about, why relationships can be so difficult in recovery and, to address destructive and even dangerous relationship patterns.
As I reflected on my task, one terrible night came to mind. I was doubled over in a ball on the floor of my bedroom. I was crying so hard that no sound came out of my open mouth. When I was able to catch my breath, I would cry out to God. I wanted to know: “Why? Why doesn’t he love me? Why am I so unlovable?”
I had just discovered that the man I was in love with, the man that I had been sleeping with for six months was with another woman. This revelation was particularly painful because this wasn’t the first time this happened in one of my relationships. In fact, it wasn’t even the second. It was another in a long line of failed relationships and it devastated me.
What I discovered since that time was my problems with relationships started in my childhood. I had an older brother with emotional problems. He got in trouble at home, then in school and later with the law. He was the kid in the neighborhood that would smash the pumpkins at Halloween and break all the Christmas lights.
When I was ten he got heavy into drugs. So, when I went to bed at night, I didn’t know if I would sleep through the night, wake-up to screaming, or have someone crash into the wall behind my bed.
What I have since learned is that children raised in a dysfunctional or unpredictable environment tend to have larger amygdala’s. That’s the small structure in your brain that sounds the alarm. When you have a larger one, it gets set off easier. Therefore, you tend to be very very nervous.
When I was twelve years old, my aunt gave a little white pill. It was called a Quaalude. I took the pill and my amygdala instant turned off. It was heaven. I no longer felt nervous or worried. I chased that feeling all the way to the doors of recovery many years later.
The problem was once I found recovery, I got my overactive amygdala back. This made me uncomfortable. But, it didn’t take long for me to figure out how to shut it back off. I just needed to fall in love. Research using fMRI’s shows that falling in love deactivates the amygdala.
The way I did this was to walk into a room, scan the environment and if I found a man that made my body tingle it was game on. I didn’t need to date or even get to know him. All that could wait until after we had sex.
What I didn’t know at the time, but now I know, is that the act of having sex started the process of me falling in love. For a woman, the combination of dopamine (where I excited to be with him) and oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) built up to a point where I fell in love.
Once I’m in love, my amygdala shut down and I’m happy. But now I have a new problem. It’s not just my amygdala that gets shut down. My ventromedial prefrontal cortex, something I call the Judge, also gets shut down. That means I’m trying to get to know this guy, but the part of my brain that should be judging him is not working.
So, what happened was, I would meet this guy and introduce him to my friends. I would say, “Here he is, isn’t he great?” They would pull me aside and say, “Dawn, he’s an escaped felon.” But because my alarm wasn’t working and my Judge was muted, I would say, “I know, isn’t it exciting?”
But that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that men don’t fall in love the same way women do. So, I would be at home thinking I was in this great relationship, planning for the future and picking out china patterns and he would be out dating other women.
This process would set me up over and over again for a frustrating and painful relationship pattern. This is what eventually caused me to collapse on the floor of my bedroom. The good news is that although I had fallen, I did get up. I have an amazing man in my life that does love me. And, thanks to that experience, I can now help other women find love too.

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Music Aids Healing and Recovery

http://coupondipity.com/2015/05/05/music-aids-healing-and-recovery/

What a lot of you don’t know about me is that I have a master’s degree in music. Through my studies, I had to do a lot of research on various ways that music promotes learning, healing and even recovery. The statistics are astounding. Music can be as powerful as modern medicine.
Think about it – music has been around as long as the human race. It is powerful. It is personal. It is physical. You, yourself, have a favorite song. There’s the one that always makes you smile. The one that brings tears to your eyes. The one that helps you recall a special time or event in your life. Music is powerful!!!
Let’s talk for a second about how music affects us physically. As a college student, I was asked to do some sort of experiment along these lines. Admittedly it was not scientific, but it was enlightening. I had several other students measure their resting pulse rates. We then played some fast, upbeat music and measured again. Pulse rates went up. We played some slower-tempo music and pulse rates went down. As non-scientific as it was, it proved to us that music had an effect on our bodies. Studies have shown that music can even decrease blood pressure!
Music can be a valuable tool to help people who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. I asked some friends who have either personally experienced addiction or have had family members experience addiction if music aided in recovery. Every single one answered with a resounding yes. One close family member admitted her struggle with alcoholism back in the 70s. I never knew that she had a problem. She said, “The music that helped was the Eagles. There were several like ‘Lying Eyes’. They wouldn’t let us listen to spiritual music or even a pastor to come see us it because they felt it would be too confusing for us. Music helped save me.”
Another said that the song that helped his recovery was the theme from Rocky. And another adopted the anthem ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’.
Although music alone is unlikely to help someone recover from addiction, it can certainly be an effective tool. How?
1. When people are newly sober, they experience many different emotions. Creating music can actually give them an outlet to express some of these volatile feelings.
2. One reason why many people relapse is because they have a difficult time managing stress. Listening to or creating music can be a way to manage stress levels.
3. Boredom can be another relapse trigger. Listening to favorite music can help to prevent boredom.
4. People who are newly sober often experience loneliness. After all, they have broken away from their circle of friends. Even their drug of choice was a “friend”. Listening to music may help to combat this feeling of loneliness.
5. Many people, when going through recovery, experience mental ‘fuzziness’. Music can help to improve focus and concentration.

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Letter From You To Your Addiction

Dear __________(his name),
You may be feeling better, but I am out here doing push-ups, getting stronger, smarter, and hiding in your shadow. I miss that warm, fuzzy feeling I would get when you would turn to me in times of despair. I won’t let you get rid of me so easily. We were together for years and suddenly you think you can let go? Nothing was your fault, my friend! It was the cop’s fault for pulling you over. It’s your family’s fault for never understanding what was going on in your head. It was your friends’ fault that they couldn’t accept you for who you are. I am a part of you and will never stop trying to be your beloved again. I enjoyed when you would listen to my every command, acting without hesitation. Why not steal that money from your parents? You are entitled to it. Why not expect others to change the way they live? You are perfectly fine the way you are. Who needs an education with your level of intelligence? I hope you will come back to me soon enough and snap out of this. I will be waiting for you, right by your side, for the rest of your life.
Yours truly,
Addiction

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Running Into Clarity

By William Pullen

http://dynamicrunningtherapy.co.uk/running-clarity/

Recently The BBC news website ran a piece based on an article in Neurology magazine about how “running may preserve thinking skills”. I’ve included it below as I think it illustrates another benefit of exercise. Although the research concerns younger people I believe the benefits of movement whether it be walking, tai chi, or running, are available to everyone. I need to include my usual addendum that DRT is not about getting fit nor about colluding in fantasies of perfection. Instead DRT aims to promote what Dr Jacobs refers to below as “total fitness” which incorporates social, physical and mental aspects of health. And for those that just want to talk/walk/sit and not run it’s very much there for you too. DRT is talk therapy first. By doing that in outside spaces with “mother nature” we already begin to break up rigid thinking.
As mentioned before, we don’t aim for perfection so “total fitness” is a concept we hold lightly for those who subscribe to a more holistic understanding of health. Sometimes, for some people, it’s better to just sit down on a park bench. For others, the info is below:
• Aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age, according to a US study.
• Activities that maintain cardio fitness – such as running, swimming and cycling – led to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on.
• Scientists say the research, reported in Neurology, adds to evidence the brain benefits from good heart health.
• Cardio fitness is a measure of how well the body absorbs oxygen during exercise and transports it to the muscles.
• Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes” They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later. They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.
Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills. People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.
People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to perform better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences. “Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author Dr David Jacobs.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” Dr. Jacobs said a concept was emerging of total fitness, incorporating social, physical and mental aspects of health. “It’s really a total package of how your body is and the linkage of that entire package of performance – that’s related to cognitive function many years later and in mid-life,” he told BBC News.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “A growing body of evidence suggests exercise may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and much research has shown a link between healthy habits in mid-life and better health in old age.

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Recovery Just For Today

Reprinted from The 12 Step Prayer Book – Hazelden Foundation
By Bill P. & Lisa D.

Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make their minds to be.”
Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study; I will learn something useful; I will not be a mental loafer; I will red something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do-just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt, they may be but today I will not show it.
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as good as I can, dress comfortably, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything, and not try to improve or regulate anyone except myself.
Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.
Just for today I will have a quiet half hour just for myself and relax. During that half hour I will not try to get a better perspective on my life.
Just for today I will be unafraid. I will enjoy that which is beautiful, and I will believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

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  • Disclaimer

    This Blog is about our primary purpose, “Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety”.

    It is my belief that the retelling of our experiences, what we have leaned from them and how we have changed our lives in recovery is key to helping others.

    If I can borrow from someone else, “I can tell you things that I have come to believe with every fiber of my being, and you can disagree with every syllable I utter, and yet both of us can be sober...both of us can be useful, productive members, not only of Alcoholics Anonymous, but of society. So, if anything I say bothers you, just dismiss it. If anything I say you disagree with, you're entitled to.”

    ……nobody speaks officially for the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, not even the founders.”

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