The Fork in the Road

Admitting defeat against an opponent isn’t a simple thing to do. After-all, competition seems built in to humans on some level. The moment we stop sucking on our toes, the sibling rivalries begin. Early youngsters being taught to compete on the soccer/football fields before they learn how to read.

American football is where high paid, steroid and triple bacon cheezeburger infused men are allowed to beat their wives and children, abuse animals, commit other immoral crimes and still continue their over-paid, brain damaging profession. Because here in America, competitive sports are more lucrative and entertaining than protecting abused woman, children, and animals. Being on a winning team is the outstanding moral excellence we strive for and hold as the highest of values. So what happens to me if I admit defeat or if I lose to my opponent?

School is set up on a grade scale where there is also competition. War is competition for power and dominance. Everywhere you look, there is competition.

I don’t think all competition is bad. Competition in the free market is what grows economies and infrastructures. Competition also yields better products and more efficient ways of living. It also pushes human limits to phenomenal places. My point is that from a very young age, we learn that being defeated against a competitor is not valiant or accepted with pride. Maybe there is a small amount of it directly, but the indirect message is clear.

Is this part of the reason I couldn’t admit defeat from my opponent? Did I have to get so badly beaten before tapping out?

Me VS My Opponent

All my bones had been completely fractured, like a botched skydiver splatting against earth.

My 130lb frame, in the ring with the athletic prowess of Mike Tyson. my eyes swollen shut, ear dangling by a small piece of skin.

It was like having a guitar solo against Eric Clapton. I can’t play a guitar. It was over before it started. My fingers bled for weeks.

I was fighting a hungry lion with my arms tied behind my back. I gave it all I had.

When I first started using drugs, there was no way possible for me to admit I had been defeated. In my eyes, I hadn’t. In the beginning, drugs made my life seem so much better, and far less painful. Admitting defeat before the drugs had made a significant visible impact would have left me empty, depressed, and horribly miserable. If I was powerless, I sure didn’t feel it.

As time went on, so did my justifications for any visible impact of my drug use. Within a couple years I was homeless. I went from a $150,000 house to a half a million dollar overpass bridge. Not a bad swap, right?

This is a much nicer set-up than I had.

This is a much nicer set-up than I had.

It wasn’t until I stood at the fork in the road that I knew I had been completely defeated. If I go left, I go to prison. If I go right, I die. This is when I finally admitted I was powerless over drugs, and that my life had become unmanageable. This fork in the road was where I began to build a foundation for sobriety. It wouldn’t have happened had I not admitted defeat.

Left or Right?

Left or Right? Have you reached this fork in the road?

Guest Post – Joe Wallis

What You Need to Know About Medical Detox
Written by Joe Wallis

Medical Detox - Image #2

The human body is a true marvel. There is a constant balancing act between the hormones and chemicals that give each system signals to perform their individual functions. Many mental problems are caused by improper balance in those chemicals. This is why drugs and alcohol cause dependence and addiction. When a person uses or consumes these substances, chemicals found in them begin to take the place of naturally occurring chemicals in the body.

The greater problem comes from what happens when those chemicals are removed. Once the body has become accustomed to them being there, it can be extremely unpleasant, even painful to regain homeostasis once they’re gone. Every person is different, and their current health and genetic disposition can have drastic effects on how the body will react to sudden changes. A medical detox program can help keep a person safe while they go through the early stages of finding their own natural balance, or homeostasis.

Withdrawals

Withdrawals are different for various substances and from person to person. Again, every person is different, and their bodies will respond differently to changing chemicals. In some cases it’s possible for a person to power through the withdrawal symptoms and quit cold turkey, but it’s often not that simple. How often have you heard of someone who wants to quit, but can’t do it? It’s usually due to the difficult withdrawal process.

The right approach

Getting clean on your own is very difficult, but it can also be very dangerous. Your body can have a number of reactions to the sudden change, and in some cases they can be fatal. So what is a person to do?

This is where appropriate detox comes into play. Detoxification is doing exactly what it sounds like: removing toxins from your body. Withdrawal is going to be difficult no matter what, but going about it with the right approach can ease the process, and make it much more likely to be completed. What is the right approach? It depends on the person and the nature of their dependency, but there are some basic steps to guide the process.

Evaluation

The first step to successful detox is an extensive evaluation. This will include tests to find out what substances are present in the body and in what quantity. It’s also important to determine if there are any co-occurring disorders, including mental health problems. These can cause complications or interfere with the effectiveness of a given treatment. This evaluation should only be performed by a qualified professional.

TreatmentMedical Detox - Image #3

The treatment itself should be tailored to the needs of each patient, as determined in the evaluation. The treatment often includes an alternative substance being prescribed to ease the body’s transition. This will help reduce medical risks, such as seizures, caused by the sudden absence of the drug. Over time the dosage is reduced until it is safe to stop. This process is called tapering. In other situations treatment could be as simple as monitoring the patient through the withdrawals. For some substances, particularly alcohol, a major side effect is dehydration, so rehydrating and replacing important nutrients in the blood is a critical component.

Preparation for Recovery

Detox is only the first step toward recovery. It won’t take away all the cravings or withdrawal symptoms, and should be followed up with entrance into a recovery program that fits the person’s needs. Before release, a good detox facility will provide each patient (and their families) information about recovery programs available to them. Ideally a patient will go straight from detox into recovery. A center offering both provides an even better solution.

Medical Supervision

Something to watch for when it comes to detox is how it will be administered. Sometimes you will find a center calling themselves detox, but not offering medical supervision. True medical detox means it is performed under qualified medical supervision. Because there are so many variables, and so many things could potentially go wrong, it’s dangerous to approach detox without a trained medical staff on hand.

Setting

Another question to ask yourself when considering detox is the setting. This is another area where individual circumstances make a big difference.

Inpatient detox means the patient is checked into a facility and kept under constant medical supervision. This is the safest approach, and most likely to be completed successfully, especially for more severe situations.

Outpatient detox means the patient comes in for assessments, and is perhaps given a prescription, but doesn’t stay full time at a facility. This approach is far less controlled and usually takes much longer because the doctor must use extra caution. It is also much more likely to be abandoned. This approach should really only be taken in cases of very mild dependence.

It’s also possible to do something in between. Some facilities provide housing and regular medical checkups, but can’t be considered a full inpatient program due to lack of full time medical supervision.

Medical Detox - Image #1

How to Decide

If you are ready to get clean, it’s strongly recommended that you start out with an appropriate medical detox, followed immediately by a good recovery program. There are a lot of facilities out there. Ask yourself these questions to start of your investigation:

● Do they offer combined detox/rehab?
● Is the staff qualified and appropriately licensed?
● Are they flexible enough to accommodate different reactions to the treatment?
● What is the atmosphere like?
● How much privacy will each patient have?
● Will family be able to visit? What are the visitation policies?
● What is their success rate with prior patients?

Entering detox and recovery is a long term commitment. Addiction recovery is never really finished, it’s a lifelong process. Starting it off right can make all the difference.

About the AuthorJoe_author_bio
Joe Wallis finds writing to be a soothing experience, and revels in the chance to cut out all the distractions and focus on a single topic at a time. His family experience with emotional disorders, addiction, and the co occurrence of the two has given him personal insight in the field, and is the driving motivation in his work.

Get High or Get Higher Power?

deity-229216_1920I have been wanting to do a blog on my version of God; or more accurately, my higher power for many weeks now but I kept putting it off. The topic is controversial to say the least- mainly if the status quo deity is put into question. Religion beliefs are often a topic in recovery and I feel that having an honest and open discussion is relevant and absolutely necessary in my own personal recovery. Some of you may disagree with my beliefs and that is perfectly fine. My goal is not to argue that my higher power is right or wrong or that any of my reader’s belief’s are incorrect. I am only explaining my experience and what works for me.

Many conversations in the rooms of AA/NA, give strong evidence that many addicts struggle with finding, keeping and believing in a God or any form of higher power. I want to explain my higher power so that others who are struggling can see that they are not alone in their struggles. I also want to explain how I finally found what I believe to be- my higher power.

GROWING UP

I was raised in the LDS church as a young child. Up until my mid 20s, I believed in the Judeo-Christian ethical standards as well as a living, breathing deity who had a flowing white beard and had a homestead somewhere above the highest of clouds. After continually struggling to make even a single right turn into the driveway of virtue, I began to question what kind of Satan-spawn I had become. The harder I tried to do right by God, the further he faded from me. No coffee or caffeine? No hot drinks? No nicotine? No masturbation? God must have known me quite well. I was doomed right out of the placenta bursting gate.

THE CRUX

Despite my appalling past; homelessness, IV drug use, robbery, theft etc., I have always thought I was a decent and respectful human being. It may be difficult to believe that, and after reading that previous sentence, I think I may have threw up a little from the ridiculousness of my statement. Anyone who has been addicted to drugs I’m sure can relate. I knew I had done some really terrible things and for God and my sober self, that was a big problem. The thought of going to hell drove me to study religion and to study it passionately. Both sides. Both arguments and even other religions. So that is what I did. I studied Christian, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism. After studying these religions* and reading their doctrines, I began to study agnosticism and atheism. I knew I couldn’t make any accurate or true claims about anything if I didn’t understand both sides of the religious coin- belief and non-belief.

THE SEARCH

After countless hours of work, I came to my own conclusion based on empirical evidence, logical consistency, and facts. I now consider myself to be an atheist. However, just because I do not believe that Gods or Deities’ exist, does not mean I do not have a higher power.

CRUX-BASED FINDINGS

When I first realized I was in fact, a strong atheist, I began to feel an emptiness. Like my life was missing something crucial. A pinging vibration of hollowness echoed throughout my body. “If I did not believe that Gods’ exist, how could I ever stay sober?” AA/NA taught me that to continue a happy and fulfilling sober lifestyle, I had to find a higher power!

THE SEARCH CONTINUES

I had heard in a meeting one time that someone was using a doorknob as their higher power but I felt more powerful than a doorknob. After-all, I could turn one and walk through a door so I knew the doorknob would not suffice as my higher power. I think the point of a higher power is choosing something that is more powerful than me and something I CAN’T control- unlike the turning of a doorknob. That is however, only my amateur opinion. If a doorknob works for someone as a HP, then grab hold of it!

FINDING MY HIGHER POWER

My HP had to be something much smarter than me, much stronger than me, something I could not control, something I do not understand, something that would keep me safe and something I COULD allow to run my life so I didn’t screw it up again. After pondering these strict and crucial requirements for my next potential higher power, I finally realized this higher power was right in front of me the entire time. It was with me throughout my entire life and it knew me much better than I knew myself. It is thousands of time stronger than me and it is thousands of times smarter than me. Its capabilities are known to be almost limitless.This amazing higher power I am describing is the subconscious mind.

Actual X-ray of my big yellow-purple brain dots.

Actual X-ray of my big yellow-purple brain dots.

JUST SOME THOUGHTS

Being conscious of our unconscious mind is extremely helpful for living a successful life; even if you think having it (subconscious) as your higher power is ludicrous. For many years, I thought of my subconscious mind as an abstract concept and I never put much “thought” into it. Today, I work to provide a conduit of clear communication between my conscious and subconscious mind. A working relationship between the two is essential for my daily recovery. Having this deity-free higher power has continued to keep me sober and has help me understand so many things that used to baffle me.

I welcome all troll-free comments but if any of my readers are having a hard time with God or a higher power, please feel free to comment. Also, I would love to hear any of your thoughts on this topic. I appreciate all my readers support. Thank you all!

Dustin J.

It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” –Andre Gide

(*) Taoism can arguably fall outside the religion category but is still taught as a religion.