Archive for November, 2009

Loss In Recovery

Friday, November 27th, 2009
Letting Go

Letting Go

This morning I am going to a funeral of a young man, a friend, whose struggle with addiction was too much for him , and he was overcome.  While his path of recovery was arduous, to say the least, he always remained lighthearted and jovial, in the face of his demons.  But as much as we try to remain strong, sometimes we falter and the darkness does us in.

So what is my obligation, my responsibility as a sober person, in the face of tragedy?  Is it cliche to feel a need to promise to draw close to my friends and family, and my community?  To vow to help the less fortunate and the newcomer? To pledge to reform my character flaws and shortcomings?  Why is it that in times of sadness, in the pinacle reminder of my own mortality, do I make the hardest, and often the most neglected decisions?

While it is important to learn and grow from these difficult moments in our lives, we must remind ourselves to use them as speed bumps and not necessarily launching platforms.  The founders of AA knew that changing lifestyles burdened by addiction was no easy feat.  Each step down the road of life is a challenge, and thus we are reminded that we cannot fix all our problems in single leaps and bounds; we are not sober supermen.

Instead, we must take away a strength to endure, to thrive in our sobriety, to fight the great fight.  We must reflect upon our journey, and accumulate the wealth of our experiences, and pass on that wisdom to those who have yet to taste the bittersweetness of this disease.  We are endebted to the newcomer, who constantly reminds us of our beginnings, and to the old timer as well, who points us to the promises of satisfaction and warm sentiments of being content.

And we are urged to look within ourselves and find the part of ourselves that we wish to bury with the deceased.  What part of ourselves are we ready to let go of, and what part to we wish to breathe new life into?  Our suffering is not unwarranted, and the pain of loss is not unfounded.  We cry over the poor soul that couldn’t hold on any longer, and in our tears we see our own reflection.  Perhaps, at the end of the AA meeting, when we take a moment to pause and reflect on the Alcoholic who still suffers, we are not just paying homage to the degenerate drunk in the alley.  Perhaps we take a moment of silence to say goodbye to the parts of ourselves that we bury each day, and to the path of recovery we trudge, onward towards the future.

Written by: Yonah, an Alumni of Beit T’Shuvah

What is Recovery?

Friday, November 20th, 2009
One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

What is recovery? Is it just avoiding doing drugs and drinking? Or is it something more than that? Recovery is so much more than abstinence. It is fundamentally the process by which we learn to be healthier and happier human beings, as well as productive members of society. For a long time I depended on other people’s hard work to sustain me. I simply took what I wanted with no regard for anyone. I became very comfortable with that type of reckless lifestyle, in spite of the fact that it was destroying me from the inside out. Once I was removed from that lifestyle I really did not know what to do with myself; my skill set was not at all useful in this new life. It was very uncomfortable. All my attitudes and beliefs had been conditioned to help me get loaded and stay loaded.   It was no wonder why many addicts find early sobriety so counter intuitive and disheartening.  This feeling of discomfort is an essential factor to early recovery. By walking through that initial discomfort is how we grow as people. It is  how we accept new ways of dealing with old situations. Recovery is developing new ways of thinking and new attitudes towards life. And you’ll  find that once you change your attitude towards the world , the world will change its attitude towards you.

Why Sober Companions?

Friday, November 13th, 2009
Relapse Prevention Blog: Sober Companion

Trudging the Path of Happy Destiny

I recently started working at CAST Recovery as the Manager of IT and have seen great successes through the Sober Companion program.  At first, I struggled with the idea of sober companionship.  I have over a year sober, live in a sober dorm, and I work a strong program.  I found it hard to believe that grown adults needed, what seemed like, overpaid and often over-stressed, babysitters to keep them in good behavior.  After seeing the interaction between the CAST sober companions and clients, I came to find a new understanding of the dynamic and the invaluable role the sober companion plays.


The sober companion acts more of a life-coach than a babysitter, a sober sherpa per say, using personal strength and experience to show the client a new way of living.  While the client may have established a decent foundation of sobriety in treatment, often the client is unprepared for the onslaught of temptation. That is, while roaming the streets of Santa Monica, it is easy to be bombarded by personally directed marketing media encouraging the consumption of alcoholic beverages, not to mention a culture which flirts with easy money, fast cars, and the slightest hint of wanton sexuality.

While the treatment center and 12 Step meetings feel safe and warm, the greatest test comes in the space outside the rooms.  The Sober companion lends an aura of support and stability, a safety net of confidence and restraint to the client who is in pursuit of some semblance of self in relation to the greater outside world.  The Sober companion lends program and structure, and in return gains a greater sense of serenity, giving back to a system of symbiosis that once lent stalwart compassionate guidance to them.

Enjoying Life in Recovery

Friday, November 6th, 2009
Relapse Prevention Blog: Bowling

Fun in Sobriety

I got sober when I was 19, and by far one of my biggest worries was that I would miss out on being young and having fun. Of course I didn’t consider at the time that my life over the last couple years, cooped up in someone else’s messy drug den waiting for my next fix, was not what most people would consider fun.

I believe that learning to have a good time in sobriety is one of the most important parts of relapse prevention. I had to re-learn how to be with people without being high and how to put my self in social situations I found uncomfortable and deal with the discomfort. I found out that it is not the event that makes it fun, but what you bring to it.

Today I am able to enjoy things that before I got sober I would have dreaded. I went to the West Hollywood Halloween parade (I hate big crowds) and had fun, I went mini golfing (I suck at sports) and had fun, hell, I can hit up CVS with the right company and have a better time than I would have had two years ago getting drunk. Personally I’ve never been a big fan of clubs or parties, but I know plenty of people who are, and once they are comfortable in their sobriety they are still able to go and have just as much fun as they used to.

In sobriety, not only are there still plenty of things to do, I actually have more fun doing them than I did before.

Written By: Shayna Niewald , An Alumni of Beit T’Shuvah