i spoke with a friend yesterday about some ideas i have for developing a stronger sense of community among people in recovery. this guy is a networking nazi and very well known around town. he and i met after i had become a drug and alcohol counselor. he was a fairly high profile client. he had been instrumental in bringing crystal meth anonymous to denver and had been working as a peer navigator at denver’s drug court. additionally, i was walking and talking with him when he hatched the idea of “surrounded by recovery” which evolved into 2 years of recovery celebration at the capital which lead to a hand holding event each year around the gold dome with the intention of raising awareness that recovery works. when i met him, i had been clean only 2 years- he had been struggling for 5. i told him that i didn’t believe i could really be an effective counselor for him, but that it seemed he might need a good honest friend.
sadly all of his amazing and ground breaking efforts resulted in relapse for him. this humbled him and threw back each of the efforts he generated back several years. but this is life and this is how the brain operates. it likes dopamine. it bends and reshapes synapses to allow the dopamine release process to flourish and take over. if it were uncommon, our culture would not have many of the problems it does. he has again built time and has been dancing with humility which looks good on him.
as i spoke with him yesterday i ran down the basic concept of a recover resource and networking event in september and trying to market this. it includes using and developing a radio program- probably using blog talk radio. it’s a big task, but i think i am ready for a new project. and it would be beneficial to be able to reach more pockets of individuals.
funny- i feel a familiar sense of excitement in my gut. fear, hope, wonder usually accompany my muse. definitely excited to see how this unfolds. came across some web-based recovery support programs yesterday which i am hoping we can beta with some younger patients at my workplace-exciting. i have 2 interns starting on tuesday – this is my first mentoring gig as a counselor. i work 2 parties this week and hope to catch up on a couple of outstanding bills.
i am planning to restart cardio classes this weekend and see the star trek -in 3d-. i am ready for some fun.
with fun in mind, i remember a time in the late 70’s that i could throw a b52’s vinyl album on the turntable and let the whole thing play through- all the while dancing, bopping, and having a blast. today i find the same joy with nicolas jaar. he is a composer, dj, producer that creates a rhythm pattern that makes my heart and soul smile.
today i talked with someone who is in the middle of the insanity of cravings. she has been substance free for about 2 months and has found herself adrift in her own emotions. the waves of feelings were visibly crashing upon her self-esteem. she seemed worn out from the pitching side to side that she must have been feeling.
i felt unequipped to console her in her process. one can’t continue to pick a scab if one wants it to heal without scar. but this message may not have been heard. there is not much ease in sharing logic with someone who is wearing their “emotional” outfit.
i recognized the combination of frustration and fear that she wore. it didn’t fit, but it looked familiar on her. she ended our chat abruptly and escaped as quickly as she could.
yet again, i understand that i am not the great and powerful oz.
as i sit in front of my keyboard today, i find myself feeling lighthearted and smiling. i can’t think of a good reason really. i had plans for the morning and the afternoon, but they both fell to the wayside. yet here i am. my house resembles the pathway of a small tornado, and i have paperwork to finish at my office. all these things will come though. right now, i am floating in feel good.
of course, if you know me, this doesn’t happen often. i have learned that i spend most of my waking hours in some sort of twisted self-absorption or narcissistic state in which i tear myself apart like a lost puppy does furniture when left alone in the house.
but not today. (silently thanks the universe)
i crossed paths with someone i know pretty well who has releapsed on meth. they have been trying to hide it- mostly from themselves- but now don’t have that option. they have lost their job, their housing, and they have been released from duty from their volunteer work. it’s a very common and very sad scenario. i tried to help this person get into treatment. they had an opportunity to get treatment very recently, but didn’t take advantage of it. this was work-related and a subsequent loss of income may have changed their mind.
i wish peace today for all people i know struggling with their addicitons or their emotions. my own experience has given me insight that even after the drugs are gone, the damage has only begun to be addressed. that repair takes time. it takes courage, strength, and lots of understanding and insight.
just look at new orleans.
rehearsal…. recovery.. reconstruction… rebuilding.. redoing… all have amazing similarities. they can be slapped together to save time, energy, and money. or they can be designed, planned, and executed with care. certainly there ain’t no guarantees as the outcomes, but my money is on taking a designed approach. this way, there is something to fall back on for inspiration if something goes awry…
doesn’t something always go awry?
i have been in denial about the things i have been noticing and wondering about a friend. he has been in recovery from iv meth use for a coupla years and has shapeshifted these last few months. i have known something was stinky, but didn’t want to make it real.
i live very close to him and drive by his house frequently. the front door traffic pattern and the porch varmints have been increasing with each month. and a few months ago i had him over to check it out and it was evident that he wasn’t with me in the room. i convinced myself that he had stopped taking his add meds, which he heartily agreed with.
now i understand though that old ways have returned and he is using again. i’m sad. disappointed. a little angry. but i’ll get over those. i guess it brings the possibility of such a thing closer to me, since it happened to someone i know.
weirdly, it has been like watching an accident in slo-mo. the fragments of a cracking veneer and random disrepair continue to become evident. his other friendships are becoming like tall model sailing ships in glass bottles, just sitting on shelves collecting dust. his company du jour are all younger males that most likely don’t have much stability. i recognize well the predatory sexual practices that are likely at work.
i have only begun to understand addiction. i have lived around it and with it for my entire life, but i am only at the tip of the iceberg of comprehension. as i am reading the wonderful book on addiction by gabor mate right now i will quote from him on addiction. I found this series of quotes on a lovely site called change therapy.
in the english language, addiction has two overlapping but distinct meanings. in our day, it most commonly refers to a dysfunctional dependence on drugs or on behaviours such as gambling or sex or eating.
surprisingly, that meaning is only about a hundred years old. for centuries before then … addiction referred simply to an activity that one was passionate about …
in the words of a consensus statement by addiction experts in 2001, addiction is a “chronic neurobiological disease … characterized by behaviours that include one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving” …
the issue is not the quantity or even the frequency but the impact …
he then gives his own definition:
1. compulsive engagement with the behaviour, a preoccupation with it;
2. impaired control over the behaviour;
3. persistence or relapse despite evidence of harm; and
4. dissatisfaction, irritability or intense craving when the object – be it a drug, activity or other goal – is not immediately available.
he concludes his chapter, “what is addiction?” by saying
we need to avoid the trap of believing that addiction can be reduced to the action of brain chemicals or nerve circuits or any other kind of neurobiological, psychological or sociological data … addiction is a complex condition … we need to view it simultaneously from many different angles … to get anywhere near a complete picture we must keep shaking the kaleidoscope to see what other patterns emerge.
i am posting a paolo nutini song from his latest cd. i listen to this often when i’m driving. i am completely mad about him…