Monthly Archives: September 2016

How Much Is Too Much?

By Christine Hill

Sad beautiful woman looking out window

Nowadays, it seems as though you can become addicted to anything, from the internet, to food. Of course, we all have things that we turn to for stress relief and decompression. But how do you know if it’s gotten to an unhealthy level or not?

Some Examples

One woman, a mother of two, knew that she had a weakness for chocolate. However, it wasn’t until one day a craving for a candy bar compelled her to bundle up her kids and drive to the corner store in unsafe blizzard conditions just for a fix when she realized that it was actually a problem and had to take a good look at her habits.

A young man put gaming away for the first year after his marriage. After a while, though, job stresses started to pile up, and he didn’t find as much pleasure just spending time together with his wife. He logged on again. Eventually, he realized that the only thing that he ever looked forward to in his day was getting home so he could get online and compete against his buddies on his favorite game. Hours would pass without him noting them and one day he realized that he hadn’t said a word to his wife in a week.

Speaking of marriage risks, Terry Crews’ video caused a lot of buzz a while ago when he got very real and honest about his struggle with pornography addiction. “It really really messed up my life in a lot of ways… some people say ‘you can’t really be addicted to pornography’ but I’ll tell you something, if day turns into night and you’re still watching, you have a problem…It changes the way that you think about people. People become objects… they become things to be used rather than people to be loved.”

Check out the whole video here:

Addiction Defined

Here’s the hard and fast rule: if it’s keeping you from achieving your actual goals (whether that’s being successful in business, having a healthy marriage, being a good person or simply having self-respect) then you need to make a change.

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The clinical definition of addiction is as follows: compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite risk or adverse effects. When we say “drug” we don’t just mean cocaine or something like that. It can be just about anything that you compulsively seek despite knowing that your attachment to it is dangerous and harmful. Addiction is classified as a brain disease because it can actually change the way that your brain is wired, whether this is substance abuse like alcoholism, or something more like gambling. Either way, the pleasure center of our brain becomes trained to look at the reward of the drug as disproportionate to what the actual benefit is, and it can become fixated on that, to the exclusion of everything else.

How Do You Know If You’re At Danger Point?

There are a few things that you can do to check your own behavior. First of all, run a test on yourself. Redirect your thoughts, efforts, and stress-relief patterns for a month without seeking that kind of behavior. Depending on how much you struggle to resist the compulsion, you can get a better idea of how firmly embedded it is in your brain patterns.

The second thing you can do is bring it out in the open. All addiction needs in order to grow is shame and secrecy. However, much like bacteria, if you bring addiction out into the light of day, you’ll find it unable to thrive. Talk with your friends and loved ones about your struggle. Check and see if they believe that it’s altered your behavior and relationships, if it’s holding you back from being the person you want to be.

Taking Steps to Fix It

If after these steps, you learn that you really do have a problem that can be classified as addiction, it’s time to seek help. While some people grow out of addictions, or find ways to curb the behavior themselves, most of the time addiction requires professional help. Here are a few steps to get you started:

  • There are a lot of help groups, even anonymous online ones.
  • TALK about it with friends and family.
  • Seek professional counseling.
  • Set limits on yourself. Filter your computer usage, don’t keep junk food in the house, get rid of your gaming console, whatever you need to check your behavior so that you can make a transition from compulsive behavior to conscious decision.
  • Treat the underlying cause. Usually, addiction is the manifestation of another underlying problem. Is it a crutch for love, connection, or prestige? Do you use because you seek excitement, or stress relief?

Hope From Dope: Ben’s Story

By Ben Emerling

Has the drinking age ever stopped anyone from drinking underage? Many young people start experimenting with alcohol or drugs before they are  of age. This was the case for me. By the time I was 19, I was forced into several rehab centers, and even hospitalized due to my drug use. I always thought that I had “bad luck,” and it would be quite some time before I would come to the realization that I was as an addict.

The First Hope

I was 18, I couldn’t stop abusing prescription pills, drinking and smoking marijuana. I didn’t want to stop, but at the same time I did. I had tried quitting on my own a number of times, but  never made it longer than a month. Drugs and alcohol were my life, and everything I did revolved around being intoxicated. My uncle, a hardcore crack addict, had recently gotten out of rehab, and was sober for the first time in his life. I couldn’t figure out how he did it. And then he took me to a meeting. I met tons of people who had been in the same boat I was in at some point. Everyone went around the table and described what it was like for them to get sober, and at that moment, I knew sobriety was possible.

Even though I felt a great sense of relief after that meeting, I didn’t become a regular at meetings; instead I got high. I hadn’t been through enough pain. My life wasn’t that bad yet, I simply wasn’t done using.

The Second Hope

I was 19 and had been  hospitalized and in and out of  two different inpatient rehabs in the same year. I was ready for change. After my nine month stay in rehab, and after fighting drug addiction my entire  life, I made the decision to put the drugs and alcohol down for good. I had no hope for myself;  there was no one who had hope in me. Hopeless and broken, I decided to go to an AA meeting at the request of my uncle. I walked into in the doors of AA and was greeted with open arms. A guy around my age came up to me after the meeting. He explained to me that when he first started coming to the meetings he was homeless, poor, jobless and his family had completely neglected him (not to mention, he couldn’t stop smoking crack). But after going through all 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, he had a new life. He had a job, place to live, and rebuilt all of his broken relationships. I’ll never forget how good I felt after that meeting.

This guy, who I never met before,  told me that I could  be like him, too. That I could have a life I  never dreamed of—all  I had to do was keep coming back to these meetings and “work a program.” It sounded super easy. All I had to do was go to meetings and regularly “work a program.” The 12-steps of AA guarantee a spiritual awakening. And if that isn’t hope, I don’t know what is. I am guaranteed a spiritual awakening after going through 12 steps? Why not, I might as well try it and I did. I experienced this “spiritual awakening,” or what I would call a personality change. I am not the same person I was when I started this program. My whole attitude and outlook on life has changed. I no longer obsess over drugs or alcohol.

Delivering hope

I continue to go to meetings to this day. If I want to keep what I have (sobriety), I have to give back. Fighting drug addiction with help from others is a much better approach than dealing with it alone. There is no better feeling than delivering hope to another hopeless individual. Addiction is a life threatening disease. When you put faith in someone who thinks it is impossible, you may be saving a life. I am forever grateful for the people in my life who gave me a dose of hope and faith, because without them I wouldn’t be standing here today.

How To Support An Addict When You’ve Never Been One

How to support an addict when you've never been one.

There are few challenges in life that can be as trying as watching somebody we love struggle with the disease of addiction. On top of the physical and psychological pain that addiction can cause to the addict, as well as ourselves, one of the absolutely most frustrating aspects of addiction is that it can be so hard to understand from the outside looking in. Empathizing with an addict is something that somebody can only truly do if they have gone through the same battle, which is something that is not recommended for anyone. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you cannot help an addict in their fight for recovery. On the contrary, such support is as important as ever. Here are some tips on how to support an addict, even when you’ve never faced addiction yourself…

Accept that you can’t know what they’re going through

You don’t have to understand everything about what a person is going through in order to help them face those challenges. This is especially true of addiction. The truth is that somebody who has never faced addiction can have no idea of the incredible hold it has on your body and mind. Saying that you understand, when you actually don’t, can alienate the very person you are trying to help. Accept that you can’t understand what it is really like, and know that you don’t have to. This doesn’t invalidate your efforts to help an addict get better, and it doesn’t mean that you still can’t have an educated opinion on how to go about things.

Understand you can’t force things

One of the most important things to understand about addiction, and the one thing that people struggle most with, is that you can’t force an addict to get better. You cannot make somebody want to get recovery. Even though addiction is a mental disease that affects a person’s actions, it’s important to understand that an addict still has free will. Trying to impose your own will on them will likely lead to an adverse effect that drives the person you are trying to help further from you. While you should certainly support and encourage an addict to get help, it’s important to find peace with the fact that you are not in control.

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Be open and communicative

People who suffer from an addiction are going to engage in behavior that they might never have considered, otherwise. This can include lying, stealing, cheating, and manipulative actions, in order to sustain their addiction. Although there may be no way to stop this, the best thing that you can do is simply be as transparent with them as you can. Always keep an open line of communication so that your loved one knows that you are a source for that. Having a safe space to be truthful can do wonders for someone who is struggling with addiction.

Educate yourself

Truer words than these have rarely been spoken, “knowledge is power.” Indeed, it is. Whenever you find yourself facing any difficult challenge in life, educating yourself on all of the factors surrounding it is always going to be a benefit. Even if the news isn’t always good, knowing is always better than the alternative. This simple truth is especially relevant to dealing with addiction. The first responsibility that anyone with a loved one who suffers from addiction has is to educate themselves on the particulars of substance abuse and recovery, so that they can be an effective resource of encouragement and support.

Equip yourself with tools to help

There are many different tools that can help an individual with addiction, whether it be therapeutic resources to get to the root of what is causing their addiction, or specialized drugs that help prevent opioid overdoses (such as the kind featured in this article here). Looking at all the options to help an addict goes hand in hand with getting educated, but it is important to specify that you need to find a way to put your education about your loved one’s addiction into a tangible resource.

Don’t feel guilty

At the end of the day, no matter what happens, you cannot allow yourself to get caught in an endless spiral about the state of your loved one’s addiction. Guilt, anger, sadness, and frustration will undoubtedly be on your mind, but becoming overwhelmed in these emotions is counter-productive for your own health, and for your loved one. Millions of people struggle with addiction. This isn’t your fault, and you can’t blame yourself for their situation. While addiction is indeed a disease, an addict is still their own person, and they must want to get better.

Dealing With Shame And Guilt In Sobriety

By Rose Lockinger

A woman sits on the concrete stairs in a very depressed mood, lying next to her on the stairs of her backpack.

I have found that guilt and shame are perhaps one of the most difficult things to face in sobriety. I carried around an immense amount of guilt and shame for the things I did while in active addiction. Shedding this has been a process like peeling away the layers of an onion. Although I have come a long way, I still catch myself feeling ashamed for my past from time to time.

Before I got sober, the guilt I experienced was overwhelming. It plagued my every waking moment of the day, and I didn’t really realize it at the time, but this shame and guilt were one of the primary motivators for my continued usage. Being left alone, sober thoughts were too much for me to bear and so I had to continue to drown out my feelings with drugs and alcohol. In sobriety, I have learned how to manage guilt and shame. But not just manage them, you see recovery is about learning to express, process and move forward, and that is always the end goal.

This carried over into the beginning of my sobriety. For the first few months I was plagued with guilt over the things I had done. I would think about my children and I would feel awful. I felt as if I had completely let them down and that I would never be able to make up the wrongs that I had done. I would think about my parents and cringe over all I had put them through. Anytime that I would think about my past I would get trapped in these thoughts, becoming mentally paralyzed and unable to break free from the images of my past. This went on until I started to work my Steps and during the course of working Steps 4 through 9, my guilt and shame began to diminish some.

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In particular, after I started to make amends to people I was no longer racked by guilt. I began to see that I wasn’t inherently a bad person, as I had believed for so long, rather I was a sick person. I found many of the people from my past no longer held grudges against me. Because of this I was able to let go of some of the guilt that I experienced.

However, I am still not sure that I have entirely forgiven myself. It is one thing to have others forgive you, and knowing this brings about a certain level of relief, but not having totally forgiven myself I still feel guilty from time to time. It is almost as if I just can’t seem to let myself off the hook for how I acted during my addiction even though over two years have passed. It is interesting because this isn’t always the case and there have been times in my sobriety where I felt like I made total peace with my past and had forgiven myself, but as of late I have really been struggling with this. I think what this really reflects to me is the cyclical nature of life. There are cycles and seasons to life and as much as I would like to believe that you can master life, that is not a realistic goal or belief. The reality is that we are all students of this thing called life, never mastering anything, instead simply learning in many different ways.

The guilt that I am feeling lately is centered on the fact that I am a mother and I used to abuse drugs and alcohol. I sometimes, when I allow myself to wander into a particular mental space, wish that I wouldn’t have set that type of example for my children and carry a lot of guilt that they saw me in that way. I try not to let myself think this way for too long because I know that I now have the opportunity to set things right with them, but it is sometimes difficult to remember this.

I’m not really sure why I am struggling with this so much lately, but one friend of mine told me that it may be related to me finally being home after a couple of years of living in South Florida. He told me that for the first couple of years of his sobriety, whenever he went home he’d always start to think about his past and he would often feel guilty about it. Being in his childhood room and surrounded by the places where he did so much damage always brought up feelings that he didn’t have when he was away.

This may partially be what is going on because when I was away in Florida I didn’t have the constant reminders of my past in my face. I didn’t have to see my ex-husband or the places that I drank and used in, and now that I am home I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of these things.

I also haven’t yet created new associations with my hometown and so a lot of what I see is linked to the past and it brings me right back to it. I travel down a certain street and there are memories there that I haven’t made peace with yet, so on top of feeling uncomfortable about finally being home, I am also constantly confronted with the shame of my past.

I am told that it is normal to experience this and that truly letting go of my past is something that will take time. I guess I just thought that after 2 years I’d be a little further along in this process than I am.

The positive thing in all of this is that I have the opportunity to actually confront my feelings of discomfort and guilt today. I sometimes want to run from them, but that really isn’t an option for me. The longer I have stayed sober the more I have realized that being sober doesn’t necessarily mean being happy or comfortable all the time. It means having to deal with the same things that everyone else on the planet has to deal with, with the exception of being able to drink when things get overwhelming. I have to face my feelings of guilt and shame as they come and hopefully with time and the support of the people in my life, I will truly be able to forgive myself and learn a little bit more how to love myself.

-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, & Instagram

A Recovering Addict: Sending My Kid Off To School

By Aaron Emerson


It finally happened. My daughter started “big girl” school for the first time ever. Her first day of Kindergarten was today, and I – a recovering heroin addict – was there to take her to her class.

It was one of the proudest moments of my life in recovery. Melody is five years old and was so excited while walking into the school doors this morning. Looking at her glowing face, I could tell she was nervous but that she also knew she was embarking on a new, fun journey.

When I took “Mel” down to her classroom, we were greeted by her teacher as she got a tray with a cereal, crackers and milk on it. I was able to go in with her, sit her down at her desk and put her book bag on her assigned shelf and hook.

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After I quickly snapped a couple of photos of her, I said my goodbyes. When I walked out, I looked back to see her sitting down by her breakfast with a smile on her face. The sight warmed my heart.

I didn’t want to leave, but I knew it was time. As I walked out of the school, I thought to myself that she was in the right place; a school that will treat her good, help her learn and grow as a child, and give her some needed structure.

When I got in my car, however, my thoughts shifted to how blessed I am. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to be there for Melody for one of the biggest days of her young life. A few years ago, I would not have been able to do this.

Melody has been such a treasure in my recovery. When I think of all of the blessings that have happened in my life since I’ve gotten sober, being reunited with her, restoring my relationships with my family, and finding a great girlfriend top the list. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve any of them, but deep down I know I do. I am worth it. I was always worth it, but today I know it’s actually true.

There was a time when Melody was one or two years old that I thought I would never be able to get sober. I was convinced I would never be able to get in Melody’s life as a father. I am so glad God pulled me out of that life and proved me wrong. Things are so much different today.

Never give up. Even if you feel like life is hopeless, it’s not. I used to feel the same way. If you are alive, hope is alive, and God can perform miracles. I promise.