Monthly Archives: August 2016

Seeing Addiction From The Other Side

By Rose Lockinger

After being sober for a little while I have found that sobriety has become normal for me. I don’t often think about my life before sobriety and in many ways, I can no longer relate to the person that I was. In this journey of recovery my days of active addiction can seem like another life. This is not to say that I am not acutely aware that I could return back to the insanity that was my active addiction, but most days I don’t think about drinking or drugging. I no longer wake up with the hope that maybe today I’ll die and I no longer feel guilty about not being present as a mother. It is as if that part of my life was some sort of a dream and I have been given a completely different life, better than I could have hoped for.

However, this means that often times I cannot see just how far I’ve come. I can be incredibly hard on myself, thinking I should be further along in life because I lose track of where I came from. Last week though something happened that changed this a bit for me. A good friend of mine relapsed, and in her relapse I caught a glimpse of myself two years ago.

She was not the first person that I’ve known to relapse over my time in sobriety but her relapse definitely struck a chord with me in a way that many of the others did not. She is a mother like myself and she is struggling with the same things that I was struggling with when I first got sober.

Two years ago I was faced with the dilemma that many alcoholics and addicts are faced with, get sober or die. That was essentially the place that I had arrived at. My death felt as if it was imminent and many days I woke up just wishing that it would happen sooner rather than later. I could not envision my life with drugs and alcohol and I couldn’t envision my life without them and so I had reached a standoff with my disease. I stood there waiting for something to give but with each passing day, things only got worse. Until eventually the standoff came to an end and I surrendered to change.

Talking to my friend last week and trying to convince her to go to treatment I was aware that she was currently in her own standoff with the disease. I could feel her guilt and shame and I could see how these feelings were trying to keep her from asking for help, just as they had done to me two years ago. I remembered my own struggles with reaching out. Feeling that if I did I would somehow disappoint my family further and that admitting defeat would be seen as some kind of weakness. I remembered the fear that I had over going to treatment and what it would mean for my children. I could see all of this in her and because of this I knew, even if she didn’t, that there was a way out.

The program talks about how alcoholics and addicts are perfectly positioned to help others with substance abuse problems. The reason is because we have been where they currently are and so the words that we say to them carry the depth and weight of experience. They are not just philosophical notions conjured up by some therapist, but are based in the very facts of our lives. That being said it is not always enough and the person has to be willing to change in order for the words to get through. Luckily for my friend she was ready.

After some convincing and back and forth I was able to convince her to go to treatment and give sobriety another try. I can’t say for certain how this will all play out but I am hopefully that her 60 days in treatment will give her a good chance at achieving and maintaining sobriety.

It is always tough to have someone close to you relapse. You desperately want them to understand what you now know, but at the same time you are aware that it is not that simple. Talking to my friend last week I heard the disease speaking to me but at the same time I knew that she couldn’t see it. I had to remember that there was a time in my own life when I believed everything that my mind told me and that nothing that anyone could say would change that.

That is one of the interesting things about being sober. You get a front row seat to the inner workings of your mind while you were in active addiction. You get to see the peculiar mental twists play out but from the perspective of someone who no longer has them. I imagine it must be similar to how John Nash, from A Beautiful Mind, felt when he was finally able to recognize his schizophrenic hallucinations for what they were. Like Nash, I am able to see the disease working in others and recognize it for what it is, a lie.

Last week also made me think about how in sobriety we often times deal with circumstances on a semi-regular basis that normal people never have to deal with. My friend’s relapse is a perfect example of this. Most people can go through their entire life without ever having to intervene in someone’s life in this manner, but yet as someone in recovery there is a fairly good chance that this will occur a couple of times a year. This can be draining at times as you watch people build up their lives only to repeatedly tear them down again. At times I have found myself thinking, when will they get it or haven’t they had enough yet? Which are all of the same questions that were posed to me when I was actively using.

It is sort of ironic when you think about it, that a couple of years removed I should find myself thinking these things. So I have to remind myself that this is a powerful disease and it takes what it takes for someone to get sober. Hopefully with a bit of luck and a lot of prayer this will be my friend’s last trip to treatment and the beginning of her path to long-term sobriety, so please keep her in your prayers.

-Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

Sharing My Story At Church

By Aaron Emerson

This past Sunday I had an amazing opportunity. I spoke and shared my story at Williamston Free Methodist Church, and it not only went great, but it uplifted me. The church was so receptive to my story and seemed to genuinely care about me, a recovering heroin addict.

I have spoken at many schools, churches and venues over the last couple years, but I still get extremely nervous beforehand. However, this church was so open to my message and made me feel like I was a loyal member of their congregation.

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The way this all came together shows how God works in our lives. Williamston Free Methodist Church pastor Doug Bradshaw happened to follow me on Twitter years ago due to the fact that I wrote about Williamston sports at the time. But as he was scrolling through his Twitter timeline years after following me, he happened to see a blog I posted about my recovery. After reading my blog, he felt called by God to reach out to me to speak at his church.

Even though we had never met and never even spoken a word to each other, I was in his church speaking, sharing my message of hope from heroin addiction on Sunday. My story is all about the power of God and I feel so blessed to be able to share it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to be an instrument of God after all of the hurt I caused others due to the tornado of destruction my addiction caused. But God can use even the worst of us; people who have been through hell.

Anyway, the service at the church was packed. They average over 300 in attendance each Sunday and I’m guessing it was more than that. Every single person in that church seemed to be paying attention to every word the Pastor and I spoke. After the service, at least a couple dozen of them approached me to wish me well in my recovery journey and I sold 15 or 20 books.

I am still so excited that such a successful pastor would reach out to me to speak at his church. He really is a great guy and seems to truly care about people. I could tell he has a soft spot in his heart for those affected by addiction. But without God, neither of us would be where we are. God saved my life, the least I can do is tell others about his grace. It helps and strengthens me when I share my story. Knowing that my past can be used for good and that my story could help even one person makes everything worth it in my eyes. God is so good. Thank you Williamston Free Methodist Church, you should be proud of your church.

Change The Way You See Depression

By Christine Hill

Sad woman or teenager girl looking through a steamy car window

One major difference between depression and any other mental disorder (such as PTSD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder) is the stigma attached: a stigma that says that you can fix the disorder if you can just have the gumption to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. This can make us callous and completely break our ability to help loved ones cope with depression. If you don’t have someone you love who suffers from depression, you probably will at some point. Depression affects about 10 percent of the American population during any given year. That’s one in ten people!

Depression is a Mental Disorder

The most important thing to realize first off about depression is that it’s not a mood; it’s a mental disorder. One or two blue days aren’t the same thing as depression. Neither is grief or laziness. Rather, depression is tied to an imbalance in our hormonal systems in the brain.

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Depression can be triggered by a myriad of things; from the death of a loved one, to bad weather, to social media. Sometimes depression seems to be caused by nothing at all. It comes and goes mysteriously.

Just as depression can be triggered by diverse things, it can be alleviated or cured by numerous means. Each patient may find their own solution, or way out. For example, for one person that might mean making a major change in the amount of daily stress they have. For another, it might mean starting a new adventure or undertaking. For one person, it might mean finding new ways to view themselves and their problems. Another person might find that the only cure is medication. For another it’s thoughtful counseling with a professional to run through a check on personal and mental habits, and change to more productive habits. Another person might simply need time.

The Difference Between Mild and Clinical Depression

One of the biggest things that we can do to help our loved ones struggling with depression is to encourage them to find solutions. Many times, the solution is in professional counseling. The trouble with depression is that because of the very nature of the disease, patients usually can’t see or hope for a time when it gets better. Because they’re having a hard time making plans and being motivated, they often need an extra push of encouragement to try things that will make it better.

Here’s how you can know when it’s time to encourage your friend to seek out professional help for their depression:

  • If the depression occurs nearly every day, for longer than a two-week period.
  • If your friend seems to no longer feel or act like themselves.
  • They’re finding it hard to function the way they used to, including job performance, relationships, and personal goals and habits.
  • They’re perpetually having a hard time sleeping.
  • Their health is flagging, whether that’s in weight gain or loss, increased pain and headaches, or other symptoms.
  • They’re using a substance to treat symptoms of depression, whether this is sleeping pills, alcohol, or an illegal drug.

Weakness Can Also Be A Strength

I find that it’s important to remember, when it comes to loved ones who suffer from depression, that often, the personality traits that make one susceptible to depression can also be the strengths that we love about them so much. For example, sensitivity, nurturing, creativity, and high-achievement expectations can all make someone more susceptible to depression. That doesn’t mean that those attributes are problematic. Rather, the depression needs to be moderated and mitigated in order for them to reach their true strength and potential.

How to Actually Help Someone with Depression

It’s hard to know what we can do to help our loved one when they don’t have goals or a plan of their own while they’re stuck in the mire of depression. However, it’s important to stay connected and encouraging, whether or not the individual is welcoming to your overtures. Suicide, addiction, and other harmful behavior is a very real possibility in patients with severe depression, especially if they haven’t yet connected with a professional who can help.

  1. Talk to them. Let them know that they’re connected and give them a safe place and judgment-free zone to express what’s going on. Sometimes, it’s important for someone simply to realize that someone else noticed them and noticed that they’re suffering. Although it can be hard to know what to say and how to help, remember that often, being a compassionate listener is more powerful than any advice you could give. Start the conversation with “I’m concerned about you…” and enumerate the changes that you’ve seen in them.
  2. Encourage them to stay active. Often, depression is exacerbated by isolation and lack of stimulation. You can help by encouraging your loved one to take part in outside activities. Activities that leave you with a sense of accomplishment can be especially powerful in getting patients of depression out of the harmful cycles of self-talk that perpetuate depression. Invite your friend out to exercise, volunteer, work with children and animals, and reconnect with activities and people that they love.
  3. Set a positive but understanding example. It’s important, while you’re trying to help someone struggling with depression, to continue to take care of yourself. Otherwise, the situation can be frustrating and can lead to feelings of grief, pain, guilt, and irritation. You need to set your own boundaries and take care of your own mental health. Don’t overextend yourself, and set an example of positive behavior and habits. Remind your friend that it’s possible to feel better and that they’ll get there soon.
  4. Push them to seek professional help. As we mentioned before, severe depression is a medical disorder. Often, the best way to find a solution is through professional counseling. A therapist can help determine which form of treatment will be the most beneficial, monitor risks, and help find creative solutions for daily challenges.

Drug Education: Do Scare Tactics Work?

By Christine Hill

Portrait Of Little Boy Leaning At Desk

If you went through drug education in school, there are some images that probably still stick with you. I know I’ll never forget that lady who was still smoking through a hole in her throat after the ravaging effects of throat cancer. Or the victims reliant on artificial voice boxes. How about the harrowing images of meth victims, mouths empty of teeth and worn down to skin and bones? And then there was the wrecked car that sat in our quad for the week leading up to prom, a sobering reminder of the fatal effects of drinking and driving.

Okay, it’s undeniable that the effects of drugs and alcohol can lead to horrific health effects. But years later, I’m forced to look back and think… do these tactics actually work? They didn’t for many of my friends. I stayed away from illegal substances, but was that because of the drug education? Or were there other reasons? Does knowing all the ways that alcohol causes cancer actually curtail drinking habits? How well do these education programs work?

Scare Tactics May Backfire

It didn’t take much time to find studies that told me this simple answer: No, scare tactics don’t work. Not at all. In fact, they might even increase the likelihood of a population to try drugs. One study done as early as the 70’s divided subjects into four groups. Group #1 received no drug education whatsoever and 3.6% of kids ended up trying out drugs. Group #2 received information-based drug education, and 4.6% of them experimented with drugs. Group #3 focused on a personal approach to drug education, and this was found to be the most effective, with only 2.6% of the group getting involved in drugs later in life. However, you’ll be amazed by the results on Group #4: 7.3% of the kids in a drug education program based around scare tactics got involved in drugs later in life. That’s right, kids in scare tactic education were twice as likely to use drugs as those who received no substance education whatsoever.

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Admittedly, that’s just one study, and there could have been many different factors that influenced these different groups and their decisions. However, the results have been duplicated in subsequent similar experiments. I can’t help thinking… if we knew about how unhelpful scare tactics can be in the 70’s… why were they still in such widespread use when I went through middle school in the 90’s?

Why Are They Ineffective?

Scare tactics grab attention and make people worried, sure. But why doesn’t it “scare them straight” like it’s meant to? There are a few major reasons that scare tactics don’t work.

First of all, extreme examples and exaggerated consequences are quickly discredited by real life experience. It’s easy for kids to see the fallacy in such reasoning. They think, “Wait… that friend of mine got completely drunk last week and nothing really bad happened to him…” and since scare tactics base all of their authority on their extreme statements (which are true, of course, but usually the exception rather than the rule, or things that take longer than the average teenage attention span to come to fruition) they’re immediately discredited.

Another reason that scare tactics don’t work is because teens just have a hard time believing in dangers to themselves. It’s an age where we feel indestructible, and matching real lives to hypothetical consequences is hard to do.

Last of all, it’s easy for teens to sense when they’re being manipulated, and scare tactics smack of manipulation. They can further alienate teens and make them feel disconnected from authority figures who are really just trying to help out. Scare tactics, instead of effecting positive change, can inspire skepticism and even derision.

The Opposite of Addiction… (and the question of peer pressure)

There’s one more aspect of drug education programs that might be doing more harm than good. How often have you heard about the dangers of peer pressure, and exercising resistance?

Well, maybe that’s not the best approach. Here’s the thing: people know that drugs are dangerous. They know that risky sexual behavior, drinking and driving, and other less-talked-about problems like cutting and eating disorders are all harmful and dangerous. That doesn’t stop people from falling into this kind of behavior! Almost every study ever done on addiction and demographics shows that the most isolated someone is, the higher their risk for potentially harmful behavior. Many drug rehabilitation organizations now hold to the motto: “The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety… it’s connection.”

Therefore, teaching children to resist the influence of their peers, and isolate themselves from the group could actually be counterproductive. Furthermore, stigmatizing, shaming, isolating, and scaring students regarding drug use and dependence could be crippling.

A New Approach to Education

The most effective approach in the study that I mentioned above, if you remember, was the “personal approach” to drug education. There’s a lot that we can do with this. Enabling conversations, personal disclosure, connection and communication can do more to combat harmful drug behavior than scare tactics ever could. In this approach, we not only look at the bare facts, but we also address the underlying causes that push people towards self-harm and risk-taking. Instead of scaring students into compliance, this approach has several goals that seek to build up students and open up their ability to find healthier coping techniques. This approach focuses on:

  • building emotional literacy
  • strengthening communication and relationship skills
  • creating an open conversation between students and adults about drugs, with emphasis on honesty and transparency
  • treating the underlying cause of drug involvement, not the symptom

My Mornings Today Vs. My Mornings In Active Addiction

Rose Lockinger

There is suddenly a loud buzzing in my ear. I try to place it but my mind is still not fully awake. My stomach is in knots and as my mind tells my eyes to open my head begins to pound. The buzzing is still going off in the background and as I look over to the nightstand I see that the clock reads 6:00 am. Coming to understand what this means, I am jolted completely awake. I am going to be late again for work. I wonder if it is even worth it to go in at all. I called out once last week and another day the week before that. My boss has really been on me about my attendance. I overshot the mark last night; can I even do this? Regardless of whether I go to work, I have to make sure the kids get to school and daycare. This was while I still had a job. At the end I no longer had a job to worry about.

Fear and anxiety grip me. I can taste the booze from the night before on my breath. My hands begin to shake and my legs become tense. My head is now pounding as if a thousand little hammers are hitting my temples. I pick up my cell phone and text my boss. I tell her I am going to be late again. I lie and tell her my alarm didn’t go off. I know that she doesn’t believe me but I don’t care to tell the truth this time. I don’t want the inquiry into my life. She wouldn’t understand anyway. As a parent struggling with addiction I knew that I needed help, I just did not know where to turn.

I find my footing on the floor and make my way down stairs to where I immediately go to the cupboard and grab my bottle of pills, taking some right away. As the opiates hit my system I feel my stomach clench and I know I’m going to be sick. I run to the garbage can, thinking at least that’s out of the way now. Now I can at least function as the warmth overtakes my body. My head stops pounding, my anxieties subside, and I know that I am going to be okay.

There is no time for a shower, barely even time to do my hair. I run upstairs and throw on some clothes. I swig what’s left of my bottle, swallow a few pills, and brush my teeth. Spraying perfume on me on my way out the door, I hope it will cover the smell of booze coming from my pores. I rush around the kitchen getting the kids lunches ready and starting the process of getting them ready for school. We rush out the door and I feel my mind race as I hope we are not late for school.

I drive through what’s left of the morning traffic wondering how everyone does it. How do they wake up and go about their lives every day without a substance or drink to keep them going. Aren’t they bored, do they really like living?

I drop the kids off and then hesitantly start my drive to work dreading the upcoming conversation with my boss. I pull into the parking lot at work an hour late. I sit there for a minute composing myself, putting on my game face. Mustering up a big smile so that I don’t draw attention, knowing that tomorrow is another day, and another chance to do this again and hating every second, wishing more than anything that I could stop but knowing that’s a pipe dream.

What I just described was the basic outline of my mornings before I got sober. I never woke up quietly but was always almost immediately greeted by an overwhelming sense of anxiety and doom. If I woke up before my alarm it was because the alcohol had completely left my system and if I slept thru my alarm it usually meant I had drank too much the night before. Towards the end I didn’t even really get drunk or high any more. I just got functional. Without the alcohol or pills I would experience withdrawals, which made me completely useless throughout the day. I was always trying to hit the sweet spot, where I had just enough in my system to stave off withdrawals while also being able to do my job and semi-participate in my life.

The problem was that more times than not, this really wasn’t possible and especially towards the end I didn’t have a job to worry about. When I reached this point I also started to experience every alcoholic and addict’s worst nightmare—the drugs and alcohol stopped working. They would keep me from withdrawals but they would no longer help with the anxiety or guilt, and so I was stuck in a no man’s land with no solution. From this point I finally got the help I needed and entered into recovery.

My mornings since getting sober are nothing like what I described above. Most mornings I wake up when my alarm goes off. My alarm is set to a time that I actually need to wake up at and not an hour later like it was many times in the past. I no longer wake up and feel sick and most days I am not gripped by anxiety and fear as soon as my mind kicks into gear.

When I get out of bed I usually make myself some coffee and then with coffee in hand I sit quietly in prayer. After this I usually read a morning meditation or two, depending on what I have going in my life, in order to get my mind and spirit ready for the day.

Once this is complete I get ready for the day. I no longer have to skip showering because I woke up late or needed more time to drink. I no longer have to dose myself in perfume in order to cover the scent of boozes, and during my morning drive I no longer think about how I am so incapable of living life. I don’t dream of driving into the medium and ending it, but rather I am able to look at the sky and enjoy its beauty. Traffic still sometimes annoys me, but even this I am able to be grateful for. Grateful that I am up in time to sit in it and that I am no longer plagued by a life driven by addiction.


Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children, she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing, you can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.