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Recovery Stress and recovery

cj

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As many of you know I am kinda treading the line between addiction and recovery. I have prescriptions to all the meds I take for the most part and you can take that for whatever its worth.

Stress hits me like a 1000 pound rock falling from a sky scraper. I have no clue how to deal with it outside of using drugs. I maxed out my credit card and now I am struggling to pay for the methadone clinic. I committed more fraud by asking for a larger line of credit so ill know how that goes in a couple days. but I don't want this to be about me.

After we hit rock bottom many of us find ourselves jobless living with family and lacking basic coping skills. Its a lot to deal with. I have no doubt that's why many of us overdose or kill ourselves by another method. What I am saying is how do we learn to deal with stress? Or how do you deal with stress?

I try to remember that none of this matters and we are all going to die anyway but sometimes that's not the most healthy line of thinking. I try isolating myself from the people who cause me stress but that's not always possible. Truthfully then I eat pills.

So yeah lets talk about it.
 

jdfisse

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Like it or not, agree with it or not, the 12 steps are a guide for living that accomplishes exactly what you are looking for. That has been my experience and continues to be my experience (and it has been the experience of thousands if not millions of others). I clung to my fears, doubts, self-loathing, and hatred because there was a certain distorted security in familiar pain. I got so comfortable being in hell that being willing to do the work to escape it alluded me for a very long time.
 

cj

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Like it or not, agree with it or not, the 12 steps are a guide for living that accomplishes exactly what you are looking for. That has been my experience and continues to be my experience (and it has been the experience of thousands if not millions of others). I clung to my fears, doubts, self-loathing, and hatred because there was a certain distorted security in familiar pain. I got so comfortable being in hell that being willing to do the work to escape it alluded me for a very long time.
Ok what do the 12 steps suggest doing to deal with stress. Besides going to meetings. Platitudes are nice and all but I want to get down to the nuts and bolts.
 

augustusgloop

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Jan 15, 2017
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I think I dealt with the stress of recovery by hollowing myself out in a way. Not emotionally, but I mean that my problem with addiction stems from a deep deep self-hate that I didn't even know existed for a while. So to attempt to overcome every bad line of thinking, every bad habit, I put myself at the mercy of something greater than myself - not religion lol but university. It really could have been anything, work, volunteering, apprenticeship, just any institution that had a set of rules that would let me be occupied while I healed. I deal with the stress of this new environment by telling my ego that it needs to sit on the back burner for a while and learn. My 'rebellious' or 'counter-cultural' ego-driven self, the one that tells me that everything is fucked and that I dont have to prove myself to anyone, got me into a huge mess so it's like a naughty kid in the time out corner, while I fill that space with life-reaffirming thoughts and habits. Don't get me wrong, I get so stressed sometimes I think I'm going to lose my mind, but every time I overcome using the tools I learned while my ego was taking a time out, I learn a little bit more about being a healthy functioning adult who is capable of living in this world. It's a constant challenge but stress can be growth

I'm actually finding this kind of hard to describe...I can totally understand why people kill themselves in these situations, I've been suicidal a lot in the past, and it's probably because of this feeling of absolute failure and inability to cope. But in a way, and this might sound quite cruel, but to throw everything away after this experience, it's like believing your own bullshit. Because that's what it is, it's just bullshit. I feel like for me it was so important to take a huge step back and say to myself that maybe I don't really know what it's all about, and maybe I should be quiet, get over myself, and listen to something else for a change.
 

Captain.Heroin

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What I found to be quintessential is to avoid stressful situations. Sometimes they are unavoidable, yes, but I feel that often we can remove ourselves from the stimulus that's stressing us out.

Exercise is a big plus for me. If I couldn't exercise when I really want to, I would be stressed out more than I am now.

I would forget about the 12 steps. Stress reduction doesn't have to be associated with the 12 steps. Focus on meditation, exercise, mindfulness. Finding someone you can talk things about really helps. Writing things out helps too. :) I tend to rely on all of these things, but find writing and exercise to help the most for myself personally. You have to try them all out, and see what works best for you.
 

jdfisse

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I won't bother arguing about the benefits of the steps. The hardest to convince are those who perceive that they have given that path their best shot already. Captain touched on the meditation, a mindful awareness of one's current state of being (step 11). There is no God aspect unless I want there to be. If the only conscious contact I ever achieve is with the goodness inside me then I am already far from where I once was. Helping others is perhaps the highest aspiration of the human heart...only a long slow process has equipped me with the capability of helping others in a positive way.
 

cj

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I won't bother arguing about the benefits of the steps. The hardest to convince are those who perceive that they have given that path their best shot already. Captain touched on the meditation, a mindful awareness of one's current state of being (step 11). There is no God aspect unless I want there to be. If the only conscious contact I ever achieve is with the goodness inside me then I am already far from where I once was. Helping others is perhaps the highest aspiration of the human heart...only a long slow process has equipped me with the capability of helping others in a positive way.
This isn't an attack or argument on the 12 steps I promise I wont let this devolve into that.

So your saying that helping other people helps you deal with stress? Is it the fact that you see others have it worse then you? I could see that being a great thing once you've reestablished your life after addiction and are pretty close to normal. I really do enjoy helping others that's why I decided I wanted to moderate this forum again. I can only give words and encouragement but it still feels good. So I can see the validity of your technique. Lately Ive been thinking that as far as self help programs go I should take what I want and leave the rest though that is hard sometimes when it comes to social pressurs

Anyway lets keep this going.

Lets keep em coming.
 

Jabberwocky

Frumious Bandersnatch
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I won't bother arguing about the benefits of the steps. The hardest to convince are those who perceive that they have given that path their best shot already. Captain touched on the meditation, a mindful awareness of one's current state of being (step 11). There is no God aspect unless I want there to be. If the only conscious contact I ever achieve is with the goodness inside me then I am already far from where I once was. Helping others is perhaps the highest aspiration of the human heart...only a long slow process has equipped me with the capability of helping others in a positive way.

What hogwash. Step 11 gives no actual or meaningful guidance with meditation (and what it does is an absolute joke). It requires you go elsewhere for actual instruction. There are LOTS of different types of meditation techniques out there, but nothing in the 12 steps qualifies as formal mindful meditation (read: vipassana).

And just because something is called meditation doesn't mean it is all that valuable to one's recovery. Mindfulness has more than 20 years of CLINICAL research supporting its efficacy in various treatment settings, in terms of recovery (MBRP) and other chronic conditions (MBSR). To day no other form of meditation has come close to this kind of research backed basis in medicine or science. The least of which is the so called meditation pushed in traditional step circles (although they have tried to appropriate MBSR like principles, they have failed to do so effective due to a horrible lack of adequate training - it takes years if not decades to become a proficient meditation instructor, and as AA/NA is nonprofessional, well, you get the idea).

12 step communities work really well for whom they work for. However, they only see to work for about 5-10% of the population (a very generous figure). For those the 12 steps don't end up work for, we are told that it is something wrong with us and that "it works if you work it." What utter bull. The 12 steps were never designed to work for everyone, as least not unless you fit its particular mold. But that by definite means its scope is limited.

12 step culture can be a beautiful thing, but when it's presented as the only or best option out there in recovery it does what it actually does have to offer the recovery moments a huge disservice. It is a product of the kinds of thought that was populated over a hundred years ago. So much has been learned about "addiction" since then it boggles the mind it's still so popular.

I think about it like this. If you had a plumber come over to fix your toilet, and it ended up breaking again a week later and he came out again to fix it, after which it ended up breaking again, at which point would you find yourself another plumber? The fact of the mater is that the 12 step DO NOT work for everyone. This isn't a slight again anyone for whom it works well for. If it works for you, that is fucking awesome, seriously. We all need some kind of support, and who am I to tell anyone what I've found helpful is what they should be doing? Yet that is what I hear time and time and time again from folks in the 12 steps (and the literature).

Is this where you tell me I'm in denial just because you can't accept the fact the majority of people find their own road to recovery outside 12 step communities? That is my favorite cop out, it works for anything anyone else believes in that you personally disagree with and are unwilling to accept your views aren't universally true for all people 8)

Ok what do the 12 steps suggest doing to deal with stress. Besides going to meetings. Platitudes are nice and all but I want to get down to the nuts and bolts.

And when it comes to stress and mood disorders, this is where the 12 steps fail. They were never designed to be more than a replacement to the socializing aspect of substance use scenes. Hence the nonprofessional thing, although most seem to end up acting like they are more professional in scope than that actually are (or are qualified to be).

Step step communities aren't about treating mental illness or dealing with stress, they are about spending time socializing with other addicts. Nothing more, nothing less. Even the steps themselves focus on this socializing aspect more than anything.
 
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Captain.Heroin

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This isn't an attack or argument on the 12 steps I promise I wont let this devolve into that.

So your saying that helping other people helps you deal with stress? Is it the fact that you see others have it worse then you? I could see that being a great thing once you've reestablished your life after addiction and are pretty close to normal. I really do enjoy helping others that's why I decided I wanted to moderate this forum again. I can only give words and encouragement but it still feels good. So I can see the validity of your technique. Lately Ive been thinking that as far as self help programs go I should take what I want and leave the rest though that is hard sometimes when it comes to social pressurs

Anyway lets keep this going.

Lets keep em coming.

Seeing the look of thankfulness in someone else's eyes is really rewarding in itself, even if it doesn't help your problems.
 

starting_over

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May 7, 2016
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Honestly if I don't feel like exercising or meditating that day... usually eating a bunch of (junk) food. Not particularly healthy but I'll work off the calories at the gym anyway. Gives a dopamine release and having a full stomach dampens the effect of drugs.

I used to have a punching bag and boxing gloves / hand wraps, that was also good stress reduction. Some would argue this is bad.

Living sober with chronic pain at a relatively young age is incredibly frustrating, some days I just want to scream in rage..........
 

jdfisse

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I certainly don't think that 12 step programs have a corner on addiction recovery. For the 11th step to suggest a specific path or paths of meditation would be an endorsement of one belief system over another. The most critical word in the 11th step for me is "sought". It is through the persistent "seeking" that I will find a better understanding. The only thing I understand fully today is that I understand nothing fully.

As for the social aspect, I will not argue. It is like trying to argue "God". God is a concept, much as the color blue is a concept. We can both look a the sky and say, "that is blue." However, I have no idea what blue looks like to you and you in turn have no idea what blue looks like to me. We just both know that what we are looking at is blue.

I will say that I had a few "friends" before recovery, but my twisted perception of the understanding of "friend" had become "victim" or "accomplice". Perhaps you didn't live in the cycle of self-defeating behaviors that led to lower self-esteem, that led to more self-defeating behaviors that led to lower self-esteem, that led to more self-defeating behaviors that led to lower self-esteem...that I was perpetuating.

Today I find real value in my interactions with other people and I don't expect a tree to bare fruit without planting the seed, nurturing it, clearing the dead-fall, pruning it, ect. I always wanted something for nothing. That's my story.
 

Jabberwocky

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Please don't misunderstand. I am obviously highly critical and outspoken when it comes to the 12 step community, but this is mostly because of all the mindless self promotion (ironic given their stand on "attraction") and glorification of how it has helped members without much said about it's limits in how it doesn't work that well for most people.

But that all said, as a community the fellowships provide a lot of support sorely lacking the abyss that is American recovery culture. It's sad, but it's still the most accessible mainstream recovery community out there.

I'm becoming to feel that what folks in early recovery can benefit more from is therapeutic communities not so narrowly defined by the limits of recovery from addiction and harmful substance use. I mean, recovery for me has very little to do with the drugs I used or became addicted to and infinitely more to do with the unhealthy lifestyle and pre-existing trauma and mental health issues that made substance use so appealing in the first place. Place like MARC and ATS are two perfect examples of therapeutic communities perfect for people struggling with issues related to addiction with limiting their scope to dealing just with issues related to addiction.



Anyways, so sorry to derail your thread OP 8) ;) carry on!

BTW, indulging in comfort food every once in a while is totally fine. It's only when taken to the extreme when it becomes problematic and unhealthy. Plus, one of the joy of recovery for me has been discovering healthy foods that blow the standard calorie/fat/sugar/carb overload comfort food out of the water (think Thai and other S.E. Asian cuisine).
 

cj

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Please don't misunderstand. I am obviously highly critical and outspoken when it comes to the 12 step community, but this is mostly because of all the mindless self promotion (ironic given their stand on "attraction") and glorification of how it has helped members without much said about it's limits in how it doesn't work that well for most people.

But that all said, as a community the fellowships provide a lot of support sorely lacking the abyss that is American recovery culture. It's sad, but it's still the most accessible mainstream recovery community out there.

I'm becoming to feel that what folks in early recovery can benefit more from is therapeutic communities not so narrowly defined by the limits of recovery from addiction and harmful substance use. I mean, recovery for me has very little to do with the drugs I used or became addicted to and infinitely more to do with the unhealthy lifestyle and pre-existing trauma and mental health issues that made substance use so appealing in the first place. Place like MARC and ATS are two perfect examples of therapeutic communities perfect for people struggling with issues related to addiction with limiting their scope to dealing just with issues related to addiction.



Anyways, so sorry to derail your thread OP 8) ;) carry on!

BTW, indulging in comfort food every once in a while is totally fine. It's only when taken to the extreme when it becomes problematic and unhealthy. Plus, one of the joy of recovery for me has been discovering healthy foods that blow the standard calorie/fat/sugar/carb overload comfort food out of the water (think Thai and other S.E. Asian cuisine).

Your not derailing anything. Can you explain what MARC and ATS are? Ive never heard either term. I do agree with you that if I get sober I will need more support for my mental health issues then my issue of drug use. I use drugs to numb the pain of past experiences not because I find them awesome.

I feel like many half way houses and rehabs are far too punitive. They think drug users cant follow the rules and need to there ego broken. I find that offensive personally. We need places that are supportive and can respond to the individual needs of clients. Too many places are rigid and force the patient to bend to there way of thinking. A good treatment center should bend to the patients needs.

Damn now we are off topic lol. whatever. Everyone feel free to respond to these last too posts or ignore them and continue with stress in recovery.
 
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simco

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I agree with CH, as simple as it sounds, avoiding stressful situations is key. Pulling this off usually demands a lot of discipline and skill. But I have found that asserting my right to say 'no' to people gives me a lot more autonomy than I tend to believe I have.

After I went into the psych hospital this summer, I realized how important it was gonna be for me to lower my stress level. By necessity, then, I started a campaign of declining demands people made on me unless I genuinely felt drawn to help. Has this cured me from damaging stress? Definitely not. But I dread dealing with other people or groups of people much less than I used to.

Tying this back to the discussion above, one place that I've found my new policy of saying no to be especially helpful is in the context of 12-step groups (particularly NA). A lot of folks talk about taking what you want and leaving the rest. But in practice, peer pressure and groupthink can make this really hard in the context of 12-step fellowships. Over the recent months, I've had to impose strict boundaries in my dealings with NA. But the result of this work has been pretty positive for me. I used to find all the bullshit that swirls around NA to be really stressful (e.g. am I really clean? am I in denial? this doesn't seem like a disease...am I wrong?). But by rewriting my rules of engagement with the group, I've found some real value in participating.

I'm not sure any of this makes sense...hope so!
 

simco

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I thought I'd add my 0.02 to the earlier discussion about the merits of the 12 steps with respect to stress. Personally, I find the most helpful step in this context to be step 1. The whole idea of powerlessness is pretty dispiriting and dreary. But in the NA literature, it becomes clear that a big part of step 1 involves not wasting energy trying to control shit that we have no control over. Trying to assert this kind of control over things definitely lies at the root of a lot of my stress.

Now, I would *never* tell anyone that they should use stepwork as a substitute for clinically supported methods of stress reduction such as well-instructed meditation and exercise. But I also take an all-of-the-above stance on getting better. My pimping step 1 here is only in that spirit.
 

jdfisse

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Very thoughtful responses Simco. I appreciated reading them. "No" is an extremely powerful tool in stress reduction. It is also the shortest complete sentence in the english language. It requires no explanation. Just saying "no" was a stressful endeavor until I had practiced it enough. I often tell guys that I mentor that if they have trouble saying "No" that they are welcome to use the explanation, "because Justin told me to say no." I have yet to have anyone approach me and ask me why I told them to say "no". That offer extends to anyone who has trouble saying "no". Just tell them that Justin told you to say "no".
 

herbavore

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I think I dealt with the stress of recovery by hollowing myself out in a way. Not emotionally, but I mean that my problem with addiction stems from a deep deep self-hate that I didn't even know existed for a while. So to attempt to overcome every bad line of thinking, every bad habit, I put myself at the mercy of something greater than myself - not religion lol but university. It really could have been anything, work, volunteering, apprenticeship, just any institution that had a set of rules that would let me be occupied while I healed. I deal with the stress of this new environment by telling my ego that it needs to sit on the back burner for a while and learn. My 'rebellious' or 'counter-cultural' ego-driven self, the one that tells me that everything is fucked and that I dont have to prove myself to anyone, got me into a huge mess so it's like a naughty kid in the time out corner, while I fill that space with life-reaffirming thoughts and habits. Don't get me wrong, I get so stressed sometimes I think I'm going to lose my mind, but every time I overcome using the tools I learned while my ego was taking a time out, I learn a little bit more about being a healthy functioning adult who is capable of living in this world. It's a constant challenge but stress can be growth

I'm actually finding this kind of hard to describe...I can totally understand why people kill themselves in these situations, I've been suicidal a lot in the past, and it's probably because of this feeling of absolute failure and inability to cope. But in a way, and this might sound quite cruel, but to throw everything away after this experience, it's like believing your own bullshit. Because that's what it is, it's just bullshit. I feel like for me it was so important to take a huge step back and say to myself that maybe I don't really know what it's all about, and maybe I should be quiet, get over myself, and listen to something else for a change.

What a great post. I think the wisdom in this post is that we are the storyteller and our lives are that story. What if you told a completely different story to/about yourself? Life is stressful. Being human is stressful. But it is the relationship to stress that can be changed. It is changed through very concrete actions.

1) Identify your vulnerabilities. Do you lack trust in yourself? Do you undermine yourself? Do you tend to blame outside circumstances or other people for your unhappiness? Do you live in the past or in the future rather than deal with the present? Do you use shaming language in your own head? Do you overthink? Are you afraid of emotions? This is a pretty daunting but common list of questions and it is probably a fraction of those that could be asked.

2) Step outside your mind and watch it calmly for a while; get to know yourself without judgment first. Just like a good teacher would observe an unruly student for a number of days in order to come up with a solution that is based on an understanding of the behavior rather than just an impulsive reaction to it. Or the way a good parent would try to understand the roots of her child's feeling and not simply react to the feelings themselves.

3) Encourage and nurture strength. That seems so obvious and most of us have no trouble doing it with others but we default to doing the opposite for ourselves! In terms of stress this plays out like this: A person writing a post on Bluelight relates a very stressful situation that triggers a craving. We feel empathy and we immediately look for ways to put the stressful situation in some kind of perspective for the person. But if that same thing happens to us, we jump to panic mode and then judgmental feelings of weakness and failure for not "dealing with it" in a better way. Learn to be your own best friend.

4) Stress always comes with a choice. You can grow from it or you can deepen a rut. You can allow it to push you out of your comfort zone or allow it to cause you to isolate and hide. You do have an opportunity to change your response every time it happens. We get so locked into our habits of the mind that we forget we are the authors of these thoughts and we can edit.;)
 

F'Loki

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Can't really add much other than to suggest the mindfulness meditation (and all the billion other meditation techniques - mindfulness is being used everywhere now especially in recovery, because it actually works lol) that Herby and Toothpastedog suggested.

If you can get hold of the book by a guy called Noah Levine, he went from a polydrug addict who tried to commit suicide in jail at age 15 by running at walls and slamming his head against them and then trying to cut his wrists with a metal hair comb, to then being put in a padded cell, to a meditation teacher and psychologist who now combines some of the 12 step programs with meditation for recovery working with young offenders. The book is called 'Dharma Punx' and it's also a documentary online to stream for free in the usual places.

I like for many reasons - Noah's still a punk but he is just straight-edge and a Buddhist who is now taking his own very dark experiences and how he got through it into something that is helping people: It kind of proves that you can still change and keep doing whatever you liked doing originally: Being sober doesn't mean your life will be eternally boring. In fact, when you start writing down the things you can now do into two lists "On my Drug of choice" and "Off my drug of choice" you'll find is one much larger, more rewarding and will make you much happier in the long-term...Even if you just want to go with the "cutting down route" as opposed to abstinence (that's everyone's choice).

I am very fortunate to be in outpatient rehab with a charity who know what they are talking about and offer so much: Mindfulness meditation, art therapy, acupuncture, on top of peer group workshops, 1 to 1 counselling and an on site doctor who can prescribe if people want to go the methadone/subs route with opiates and benzos for stim users and alcohols (and benzo/heroin addicts like myself). I would go for something like that as it sounds you are unhappy and may have underlying mental issues as you say you are unhappy and seems you might not be able to control your use.
I personally like the outpatient option as everything is then on your own terms with treatment options.

In any case, I would at least see a doctor and be honest as your first point of call. This is what I did and eventually got referred to the outpatient clinic I am with now which I never knew existed. I think that is a problem sometimes, people don't realise there is a lot of help and support out there is you just look for it and ask around and be honest.

In any case i'd pick Against the Stream and Mindfulness Awareness Research Centre over NA/AA or inpatient stuff any day.
 
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