When I first started to question the importance of alcohol and anxiety medication in my life, my confusion over, who to ask, where to begin and who to trust quickly overwhelmed me and kept me from moving forward. Year after year, month after month and finally day after day I searched online for The Answer.
Looking back, I wish someone had helped me list some options, identify some choices to gain more information, to help clear my mind and restore the functionality of my brain, my body.
So, this is my gift to you today. A simple list of options, opportunities really. My preference is to offer these as phases of regaining mental wellness. This is not to say that one choice is better or worse for you, I can’t say for sure, only you can. There is that wonderful old saying, “information is power”. Here is some solid information to help you regain some power…or possibly some hope.
You can use this information to decide, an important component toward successful change. Decide to try one of these options and get very curious about how to plan, start and sustain it. You know, that other old saying, “Learn, practice, change, live, repeat”? Actually, I just made that up…but good yes? Dig in and let me know your thoughts.
How I approach, define and teach these 4 Phases is based on my advanced master’s education, study, reading and learning to read and comprehending the research, professional clinical practice, and my own experiences with each of them.
Moderation is using the skills of self-restraint, discipline, and control in order to avoid excessive or extreme use or behavior. This is what most turn to first when we realize the early consequences of overusing substances.
Abstinence is not using the drug, alcohol or behavior for a period of time and often is used to gain perspective and confidence on how to approach further decisions around our substance use and unhealthy behaviors.
Sobriety is when we make a decision to learn and practice some skills to prevent a return to use of our substance or behavior. These skills may work for a while or a lifetime, but rarely address the “why” of turning to substances in the first place (primarily co-occurring mental health issues such as trauma, attachment, and emotional regulation). This can be observed when patterns of problematic behavior and relationships continue and/or we develop a cross-addiction such as gambling, eating, drinking, sex, etc. For example, there is a high risk and correlation of people developing an alcohol or drug addiction after gastric bypass surgery.
Recovery is (I use The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Commission (SAMHSA) definition) “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives and strive to reach their full potential.”
SAMHSA lists four signs that let individuals know they are in recovery, including…
I can address problems as they happen, without using, and without getting stressed out.
I have at least one person I can be completely honest with.
I have personal boundaries and know which issues are mine and which ones belong to other people.
I take the time to restore my energy — physical and emotional — when I am tired.
The additional elements and signs I add to my coaching and counseling are focused on developing an understanding and a healthy relationship with yourself in order to form vulnerable, honest and healthy connections with others in your life. And, a few other good things as well:)
Enjoy! xoxo Lynn