Alumni Perspective: Willingness

Alumni Perspective: Willingness

by Mandy
Munro Alumni, March 2017

 

So many of us seek recovery when we are desperate and have tried our own ways and failed. We have had our share of pain and suffering and are looking for the solution. Yet the biggest riddle is this: When given the solution, many of are unwilling to fully accept it or do what we are told will make us better. Many of us want recovery on our own terms. “I’ll do this, but not that.”

I was one of those people. Initially, I never even wanted to be a sober person. Sobriety to me was the end of the road and signified the end of my life. Unknowingly, I sabotaged my every attempt to be sober. It took me six years of constant relapsing to become completely 100% willing to go to any lengths.

When I first entered AA, the initial problem I had was with God. I didn’t believe nor did I plan to. My mind was a steel trap. Completely closed. This was the first sign of my unwillingness. Straight out of the gate, I wanted it my way. I relapsed.

My next attempt at recovery was doomed because of my dislike of the 12 steps. I was aghast at the notion of being told that I might have some character defects or was less than perfect. How dare AA suggest that, without knowing me! No AA for me and I continued to relapse. I chose a different path of recovery, known as harm reduction. No 12 steps, no need for God. This I would do. I entered a harm reduction treatment centre and relapsed five days after leaving.

My options were running out and my relapses were getting worse. I didn’t yet understand that my alcoholism was progressing. My work was being affected, my family was at their wits’ end, and I was isolating and binge drinking. I decided I would give AA another try and imagined I would be finally healed. I went to some meetings and sat in the back row (relapse row). I never went early and I shot out of there as soon as the Lord’s Prayer was recited. I continued to relapse.

I decided to get a sponsor but was unwilling to calI her because I was full of fear, I had social anxiety, and a phone phobia. In my mind, I was going to AA, I was accepting God, and I had a sponsor and believed this was enough. Now when I relapsed though, my short spurts of binge drinking had progressed to not being able to stop once I took that first drink. The nightmare of a binge would not end until I went to the hospital.

I decided I was not connecting to my sponsor so I got a new one and she made me begin the steps. I started to get better and got a little bit of sobriety time. I didn’t really enjoy AA though. I didn’t connect to the fellowship. I still had some of my old friends and still wanted my old life. I was one foot in and unwilling to jump in with both feet. And although my relapses were farther apart, they had become dangerous, terrifying, and worst of all, life threatening. I was locked up in the psych ward on a Form 1 more than once, in and out of the hospital, suicide attempts, injuries, and loss of my driver’s licence. My body and my mind were no longer working properly. I was a shell of my former self.

I was beaten. I knew this disease was going to kill me so I put myself into Renascent. There began a journey of real recovery and the beginning of a new life. I became willing. I decided I would do anything and everything I was told to do. I did the work. After leaving Renascent I did their Continuing Care program, I did 90 meetings in 90 days, I did the 12 steps, and I got active in the program and in service. I went to retreats, round ups, conferences. I went to closed discussion meetings and Big Book studies. When I was afraid or unwilling, I prayed for help for strength and willingness. I built a foundation of trust in my Higher Power and began to think of myself as a student of AA and recovery. The more I did, the more I began to like it, and even love it. I learned tools to live happily in this world without the need or desire for any substance.

This past February I celebrated two years of sobriety.

I am continuing to learn and grow and I feel grateful every day. I look back at my stumbling blocks and I remember thinking that because I couldn’t understand how or why things worked, that they couldn’t possibly. I remember thinking “How will praying help me find a job and pay my bills?” “How will going to a meeting affect my day today?” I had been unwilling to listen and trust. In the end, I just had to do the things I was told to do.

At a 12-step retreat I attended a little over a year ago, I read something that has stuck with me, because it described the old me. It read, “Most people say to God, ‘Prove to me that you exist and I will believe in you.’ God says in return, ‘Believe in me, and I will prove to you I exist.’” For me, that says it all. Believe first. Do the work. Live a life beyond your greatest dreams.

Last year I went to India for two months to study yoga and meditation. This year I am travelling to Thailand for a month to volunteer for an organization that rescues street dogs. This is a life I never could have imagined. I have had a spiritual awakening and the desire to drink has been lifted from me. I have a love for recovery, for AA, and for 12-step living. I am no longer running the show; thank God for that!

Be More Than All Talk — 7 Easy Ways To Be An Action Hero!

Be More Than All Talk — 7 Easy Ways To Be An Action Hero!

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, but all we can think about is action! Opening up the conversation about mental health is important, of course, but in the work Team Renascent does we know that recovery is more than just talk: it’s about action.

Taking action in support of mental health and addictions can make sure that someone else is able to reach the recovery you have found, and it’s also a fulfilling way to keep your own recovery on track.

Here are just a few ideas for how you can be action hero this coming week:

1. Sign up as an alumni contact.

Our alumni contacts bridge that daunting gap between leaving treatment and achieving stable recovery at home. As an alumni contact, you will be put in touch with someone leaving treatment who lives in your community. You’ll meet them, take them to a local meeting, introduce them to program contacts, and generally help them find their footing in your area’s recovery community. It’s an important job and an amazing way to give back.

2. Become one of Renascent’s monthly donors.

Our monthly donors can choose exactly how much they give every month, so if $9 a month works for you, great! When you give the gift of recovery, you help us keep our promise of never turning anyone away from drug and alcohol addiction treatment because of money. Over the course of a year, your monthly donations will accumulate into an impressive annual gift, and you’ll get a tax receipt for the full amount.

3. Go to an alumni meeting.

When you go back to the house where you found recovery, you’re not only giving yourself an amazing reminder of how far you’ve come, you’re also showing everyone currently in treatment what’s up ahead. If you aren’t feeling like a shining example of recovery this week, go anyway. When you share your struggles, hope, and experience, you’re doing everyone a favour.

4. Review us on Facebook and/or Google.

When you let others know how and where you found recovery, you’re helping them find it for themselves. This is probably the easiest way to spread the word! On Facebook, go to facebook.com/RenascentCanada and submit a review. (While you’re there, “Like” us to connect with the Renascent community and get resources, support, etc.) On Google, search for your house (Munro, Punanai, Sullivan, or Wright) and on the results page, you’ll see an option on the right hand side to write a review.  

5. Go to a meeting and introduce yourself to a newcomer.

Remember your first meeting? How nervous you were? How weird everything felt? A friendly face saying “hey” can be the difference between running out the door and never looking back, or coming back next week and finding a supportive community for life.

6. Volunteer.

Being of service is a key factor of long-term recovery — you’ve got to give it to get it! Whatever you’re good at, from gardening to computers, there’s a charity or non-profit organization who could use your help. (We might even have some opportunities for volunteers at our suite during the upcoming ORC.) Apply to be a volunteer today!

7. Email your MP and/or MPP.

Members of Parliament and Provincial Parliament are responsible to you. If you think more government money should go toward funding addiction treatment programs, let them know! They work for you, and need to hear from you to know what their constituents care about.

Now celebrate your action hero status with a little dance party!

Video: Lessons from the Child of an Addict

Sadly, children are often the first hurt by alcohol and drug addiction and the last helped. Children of alcoholics are four to nine times more likely to develop an addiction as a direct result of their family experience. Left untreated, these kids are more likely to suffer from depression and other mental health issues as teenagers and adults.

Our Essential Family Care Programs were designed specifically to address this, and help families break the cycle of addiction. Our Children’s Healthy Coping Skills Program helps children aged 7-13 come to terms with the impact addiction has had in their lives.

How to Recover from Marijuana Addiction through Treatment

How to Recover from Marijuana Addiction through Treatment

Marijuana has a storied history in pop culture as a casual drug, a ‘soft’ drug, the one so socially acceptable even President Barack Obama admitted using it. If you’re reading this though, you may also know it as an addictive substance that can have serious life-changing consequences for those who use it and their loved ones. Partners, employers, friends, and family members often lose patience for the person who is unable to stop using, and have trouble understanding just how an addiction to marijuana can cause such a change in a person’s life. Whether you call it weed, pot, cannabis, marijuana, or any of the other names it’s had over the centuries, in this how-to guide, you will gain the knowledge you need to recover from your marijuana addiction once and for all.

Marijuana addiction is real, and recovery is possible. It begins with taking the first step: admitting that help is needed, and accepting that help.

What kind of a drug is marijuana, and what are its effects?

  • Cannabis has been grown and used by humans since before 2000 B.C.
  • Marijuana’s effects range from stimulant to depressant to hallucinogen, depending on the user and the various strains.
  • Herbal cannabis is derived from the dried flowers, leaves, and stems of the female Cannabis plant.
  • Marijuana can be smoked or ingested.
  • Studies vary on the addiction rates for marijuana, but dependence and addiction are known effects of long-term use.
  • Cannabis use disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a condition requiring treatment.

So what are the side effects of marijuana use? To start, cognitive impairment on attention, short-term memory, and ability to complete psychomotor tasks — that’s what makes it so dangerous to drive while stoned.

Long-term marijuana use can lead to chronic cognitive deficits like memory loss and reduced IQ, and is associated with a risk of developing other mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Physically, inhaling the carcinogenic marijuana smoke increases the risk of chronic bronchitis, lung disease, and cancer.

According to the DSM-5, the withdrawal symptoms from marijuana include:

  • irritability,
  • anger or aggression,
  • nervousness or anxiety,
  • sleep difficulty (ie, insomnia, disturbing dreams),
  • decreased appetite or weight loss,
  • restlessness,
  • depressed mood, and
  • at least one of the following physical symptoms causing significant discomfort:
    • abdominal pain,
    • shakiness/tremors,
    • sweating,
    • fever,
    • chills, or
    • headache.

Addicts can and do recover with marijuana addiction treatment.

Recovery is possible. That’s great news for the person struggling with marijuana addiction who may feel hopeless. However, a certain mindset is generally necessary in order for marijuana addiction treatment to work. Some of the things that are generally considered a helpful prerequisite for successful recovery include:

  • Willingness to admit there is a problem. As with addiction to other drugs, marijuana addiction often leads to denial. Users shrink from confronting what is actually going on, the toll the drug is taking on their lives and relationships, and the severity of the problem; owning the wreckage can be overwhelming and is often best accomplished in an intervention-type setting with the help of concerned and supportive loved ones. Admitting the truth about the impact of the addiction is essential to seeking help and ultimately recovering.
  • A sincere desire to stop using marijuana. A person must not merely pay lip service to the idea of getting clean and sober; it doesn’t work that way. Of course, he or she may not feel enthusiastic about having to give up cannabis, indeed may be terrified at the prospect, but one must be willing to put it aside in order to give treatment a fair shot.
  • A willingness to consider complete abstinence as a means to successful addiction treatment. Someone with a marijuana problem may not believe they also have a problem with alcohol or any other drug, but generally speaking, those who are entirely abstinent have a much better chance of recovering from their addiction because other mind-altering drugs can act as gateway drugs to your substance of choice.

How marijuana addiction treatment works

There is no magic pill, quick fix, or single technique to help someone recover from addiction. You can change your life and recover from addiction, and be happier than you ever were before; it’s just a matter of doing the work. At Renascent, marijuana addiction treatment consists of a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of addiction. It’s an approach that has helped thousands of people who once struggled with addiction achieve lasting recovery.

Treatment modalities for addiction include:

  • Education into the nature of addiction and its physical, emotional, social, and spiritual effects
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy: Practicing techniques to change behaviour patterns that led you to reach for a mind-altering substance in the first place
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Additional therapies personalized to your individual needs and situation, including reality therapy, person-centred therapy, solution-focused therapy, mindfulness principles, and art therapy

Treatment is facilitated individually and in groups by our team of registered psychotherapists and certified drug and alcohol addiction specialists, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.

At Renascent, the atmosphere is that of a comfortable home, not a bleak institution. You will be surrounded by loving, caring, experienced staff and peers who, like yourselves, are on a journey of recovery. We have found this to be the best possible environment to support someone as they recover. The bottom line is, marijuana addiction doesn’t have to rule your life anymore. For more information about Renascent’s programs and to find out why we are your best choice for lasting recovery, please call our Access Centre, day or night, toll-free at 1-866-232-1212 or text 1-647-691-4146 to speak confidentially to one of our counsellors.