Tag: alcoholics anonymous

How to Come Back from a Relapse in 5 Easy Steps

Coming Back From a Relapse

You will likely hear many people in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous say things like, “Relapse is not a prerequisite to recovery”, and, “Relapse is never necessary.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that it never happens. In fact, it happens quite frequently. It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of drug addicts and alcoholics will relapse into old behaviors after receiving prolonged, professional treatment. In most cases, this relapse is a direct result of a failure to continue with long-term aftercare.

Steps to Take When Coming Back from a Relapse

It is important to recognize that a relapse back into drinking or using does not mean that treatment has failed. It does not mean that the individual in question is incapable of getting sober and maintaining sobriety, either. It simply means that some alteration must be made – that the individual must take an honest and searching look at the way he or she is conducting his or her life, and make necessary changes in the decided problem areas.

  • Humble yourself.

Holding onto your ego will only prevent you from bouncing back as quickly as you potentially could. If you fear what others will think of you, what others will say about you, and how others may treat you, you will only be hurting yourself in the long run. Remember that this is YOUR recovery, and shying away from jumping right back in will only affect you. Hold your head up high and inspire others with your bravery and determination.

  • Surround yourself with close, sober friends.

One of the predominant reasons as to why those who relapse stay ‘out’ for prolonged periods of time, finding it exceptionally difficult to get back to the rooms of a 12-step program, is simply because they let shame and guilt push them away from those who truly love them. Get right back into your circle of friends. Let them know what happened, and let them know you are serious about your recovery – and that you recognize you cannot do it alone.

  • Dive right back into the basics.

Back to square one. And that means a meeting every day, calling your sponsor as much as you need to (once a day often suffices, but don’t be afraid to reach out to as many sober supports as necessary), starting your stepwork over, and opening your ears wider than they have ever opened before. Do what you need to do to get back on track – save your own butt!

  • Pick up as many service commitments as possible.

Go to as many meetings as you can and pick up as many service commitments as you can possibly muster. Chair meetings (one or two a week), greet newcomers at the door, and pick up cigarette butts and empty Red Bull cans once the meeting has ended. Do service outside of meetings as well – volunteer at outside organizations, give newcomers rides to the grocery store – do everything you can to stay involved and get outside of yourself.

  • Bolster your relationship with God.

Spirituality is often the vital component that those who relapse are missing. Pray and meditate on a daily basis. Explore new ways to foster a relationship with your higher power.

Relapse is certainly never a necessity, but it does certainly happen to the best of us. It is difficult to get things right the first time, and when we do it is an immense and beautiful blessing. And it is possible – it is possible no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far down the scale you have gone!

Treatment centers in Florida such as ours will certainly help you to set a solid foundation for lasting sobriety, but true recovery comes when you whole-heartedly commit to a long-term program of continuous aftercare. Lighthouse Recovery Institute is always available to provide support and point you in the right direction – simply give one of our trained representatives a call today at 1-866-308-2090. 

5 Fears That Every Newcomer Has – Debunked

Common (Irrational) Newcomer Fears

When I first came to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (a timid little newcomer), I was absolutely riddled with fear. I was afraid of people, I was afraid of failure, I was afraid of myself (of finding out who exactly I was). I was afraid of returning to my old way of life and afraid of beginning a new one. I was afraid of getting too close to people and afraid of being alone. I was a big fear-drenched ball of vicious contradictions. Come to find out, most of the fears that I desperately clung to were completely irrational. Part of me thought that those I came into contact with hated me as much as I hated myself at the time. I mean, how could they not? Look at all of the horrible things I had done. Look at all of the people I had hurt. The people who were in my life only wanted to see me succeed. Of course, I couldn’t see through the fear until newfound faith began to creep in and conquer.

 

5 Newcomer Fears – Debunked

newcomer fear recovery1.   “I won’t be able to drink at my wedding.”

I won’t be able to toast with champagne on New Years Eve… I won’t be able to taste that exotic craft beer I have always wanted to try. Okay, let’s be real for a minute – do you even remember any of the countdowns you lived through? When was the last time you bought a beer because you wanted to slowly sip and savor it? After awhile, not drinking becomes a natural part of life, just as waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth before bedtime. Sober weddings are amazing, and besides – you aren’t even engaged yet. Chill out a little bit; one day at a time.

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  1. “I will have to go to an AA meeting every day for the rest of my life until I die.”

We are typically recommended a ’90-in-90′ when we first get sober, entailing the commitment to 90 meetings over the course of 90 days (which is one meeting per day, for those who are super, super bad at math). Once we have completed this 90-in-90, we are typically recommended another. In general, our first year of addiction recovery should include a plethora of 12-step meetings and an overall head-first plunge into the 12-step program of our choosing. However, this intense involvement will not and does not need to last for the remainder of your life. Once you have gained solid sobriety, you will be given a meaningful and fulfilled life – one that requires a certain level of attention. AA gives you your life back, and while it should always be utilized as a tool in maintaining sobriety, it does not to become your entire life.

3.        “I won’t be able to have fun.”

Actually, you will LEARN how to have fun. Being so drunk or high that you can’t remember any of what happened ever is not fun. Steadily accumulating anxiety-producing interpersonal and legal problems is not fun. Contracting a slew of sexually transmitted diseases because you engage in promiscuous and irresponsible sexual activities is not fun. You wanna know what is fun? Finding out what you like and doing it, remembering it, and really, truly experiencing it. Laughing – really laughing. Going on adventures and seeing the world in all of its beauty and splendor.

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4.      “I will never meet a romantic partner at somewhere that is not a bar.”

Meeting people at bars is easy, because your inhibitions have been totally annihilated by shots of Fireball and $3 Long Island Iced Teas. But the caliber of people that you typically meet while heavily intoxicated are typically the caliber of people that you will wake up next to in the midst of a vicious morning hangover, wondering whether or not a condom was adequately employed. Meeting people in bars is insane overrated. There are millions of other ways to meet people. Usually people just kind of… meet. Give yourself the opportunity to love YOU before searching out Mr. or Mrs. Right. Romance will happen when it is meant to happen.

5.     “I will be living in fear of alcohol for the rest of my life.”

False. You might be exceedingly concerned about relapsing and things of that nature while in the very early stages of sobriety, which is absolutely understandable considering you have never lived drug or alcohol-free for an extended period of time. As you begin doing the work and focusing on yourself, the fear will begin to rapidly dissipate. Soon sobriety will just be a standard part of your daily routine – and while it will always be something you covet, cherish, and work for, it will stop being a source of stress and anxiety.

Overcoming Fear in Early Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous is a true blessing – it is a tool designed to help spiritually deficient alcoholics regain a vital sense of interconnectedness and purpose. The goal of the program is to help give you a life back, not to consume your life. I remember one of my biggest fears early on was that I would have to dedicate the remainder of my life to AA in order to stay sober – attending meetings every day, taking hundreds of women through the steps, and constantly focusing on how much I needed to accomplish on a daily basis in order to stay sober. The first year or so of my recovery was dedicated to throwing myself head-first into the program, doing as much as I could to stay involved and give back as soon as I was able to. You will be okay – do what you are told to do, and let God handle the rest.

Group Therapy – What Should I Expect?

Group Therapy

If we haven’t experienced group therapy firsthand, we probably have a pretty inaccurate and dramatized conception of what to expect. We tend to base our hypotheses on what we have seen portrayed in the movies and on television – a solemn circle of disturbed sickos, sharing secrets, crying, and hugging one another with uncomfortable intensity. As it turns out, this representation is not altogether too far off. However, the experience of group therapy is not as scary at you may be making it out to be, and the benefits are both extensive and crucial to prolonged and meaningful sobriety.

The Importance of Gender-Specific Group Therapy

If you are attending inpatient addiction treatment for the first time, you should expect that the majority of your stay will consist of group therapy sessions in one form or another. Many of these sessions will be facilitated by a licensed therapist, and will revolve around pertinent recovery and addiction-related topics, such as: relapse prevention, dual diagnosis disorders, trauma, and healthy relationship building. Because group therapy sessions require individuals to open up honestly about highly personal topics they may not normally discuss, gender-specific addiction treatment proves extremely beneficial. Therapists will work to uncover underlying causes of substance dependency in group settings. In many cases, underlying causes are directly tied in to past emotional, sexual, and physical trauma. A large percentage of women suffering from addiction and alcoholism underwent some form of significant sexual trauma at some point in their lives – usually at the hands of a member of the opposite sex. Because of this, women usually find it far easier to openly discuss personal matters in a group of compassionate and same-gendered individuals. On the other hand, many men have a hard time openly discussing painful experiences and deep-seated emotional distresses in the presence of members of the opposite sex, usually because societal gender roles disallow men from conveying what they mistakenly view as ‘weakness’. If you are looking into an inpatient treatment facility for yourself or your loved one, be sure to look into gender-specific options for the best possible results.

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Different Types of Group Therapy Sessions

You will likely be exposed to a multitude of group therapy sessions, many varying in structure and intention. Take a look at some standard session formats in order to help further familiarize yourself with what to expect.

  • Therapeutic group discussions.

Group discussions will be facilitated by a single licensed addiction therapist or a group of licensed clinicians, and will allow clients to openly discuss recovery-related issues in a safe and supportive environment.

  • Relapse prevention courses.

Therapists and the team of licensed addiction specialists will facilitate groups geared towards the installation of relapse prevention techniques. Clients will be taught healthy coping mechanisms, how to deal with potentially triggering situations, and what steps to take in case they feel their recovery is ever being compromised. They will also be instilled with a ‘spiritual toolkit’ of tools to employ throughout their recovery in order to protect their sobriety.

Clients will employ role playing, self-depiction, and dramatization to take a further look into their own lives. Acting out specific events helps clients to relive, address, and heal on a deep and thorough level.

  • Meditation and spirituality.

Spirituality classes will focus on the role of spiritual connectedness in addiction recovery, and are geared towards teaching clients to bolster a connection with a higher power of their understanding through mediation, prayer, and certain holistic methods of healing.

  • Introduction to the 12-step method of recovery.

Clients will be introduced to the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous and will be exposed to in-house meetings, typically brought in by members of outside groups. In some cases, clients will be transported to outside meetings.

  • Life skills.

Clients will be instilled with basic and pertinent life skills, such as communication, healthy boundary setting, the job application process, self-care, and healthy relationship building.

If you are looking into an inpatient treatment program, be sure to ask about the group therapy sessions the specific program has to offer. The incorporation of therapeutic healing in a group environment is essential to early recovery, seeing as ‘group therapy’ (by way of Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12-step fellowship) will be a necessary maintenance tool for years to come. For more information on the Lighthouse group therapy model, please contact one of our trained representatives today.

‘One Day at a Time’ – And Other Helpful Cliches

If you have ever been exposed to any 12-step program of addiction recovery, you have likely had the pleasure of hearing quite a few favored clichés. Long-time members of Alcoholics Anonymous readily share classics like “one day at a time”, “it works if you work it”, and “keep coming back” – but what do all of these sayings truly mean? Because we tend to hear these well-worn and incessantly recurring mottos on a near-daily basis, we sometimes brush them off, rarely taking the time to sit and consider how valuable they truly are. Let’s take a look at a few of the most commonly recalled adages, and try to identify the indispensable message of recovery in each.

Common and Meaningful AA Clichés

“One Day at a Time”

In early recovery (and frequently later down the line), the concept of a lifetime of total abstinence can seem a little overwhelming. For this reason, it is highly suggested that recovering alcoholics stay exclusively focused on maintaining sobriety ‘just for today’. Upon waking, it is suggested that we get on our knees and pray to God to help keep us sober over the course of the next 24 hours. Considering we have all of the tools necessary to make it through a 24-hour period unscathed, this amount of time seems entirely manageable. Old-timers also like to say, “Just drink tomorrow.” If we tell ourselves each day that we can drink tomorrow, tomorrow will never come. And eventually, as a greater amount of sober time is accumulated and the program is thoroughly worked, the desire to drink will dissipate entirely.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

Self-deception is relatively common amongst addicts and alcoholics. We convince ourselves, while early on in our active addictions, that we have everything under control – that we can stop whenever we want, that we don’t really have a problem (if everyone else would just stop being so dramatic). We almost constantly go against our gut instinct, shutting out the moral and integral voice in our heads and our hearts that tells us what is right and what is wrong. One of the most beautiful gifts of sobriety is the self-awareness we begin to foster. We become more in-touch with our genuine selves than ever before, and we begin the rewarding and fulfilling process of authentic self-discovery. ‘To Thine Own Self Means’ true simply means trust your gut instinct – set boundaries, protect your own sobriety, and have fun learning to love who you are.

“Keep Coming Back”

The majority of long-standing AA members did not ‘get it right the first time’. You will hear many members admit that they were not “one white chip wonders” – meaning that relapse is a part of their stories. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous is designed to be a safe place for those who are struggling to come and share and be greeted with nothing but support and understanding. It is important that you continue coming back to meetings when you stumble and fall – the compassionate fellowship members will pick you right back up, loving you until you learn to love yourself.

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“It Works If You Work It”

Essentially, this axiom simply means, “If you work the program of Alcoholics Anonymous thoroughly and honestly, it will undeniably, absolutely, without fail, work for you.” When people refer to ‘the program’ they are not necessarily only referring to the completion of the 12 steps. It is important to work the whole inclusive package – fellowship as much as possible, stay involved in service work, and begin to take others through the steps as soon as you’re able.

“Stick with the Winners”

Don’t hang out with the people who sit in the back of the meeting playing Candy Crush, laughing at the speaker and glamorizing their using days. Spend time with those who have prolonged and quality sobriety – those who have worked the steps with a sponsor, attend meetings on a regular basis, partake in service work, and are taking other men or women through the steps themselves. ‘Stick with the winners’ simply means spend your time with individuals you respect and admire – men and women with time, who are consistently doing the next right thing.

Don’t brush off these clichés next time you hear them – take into consideration the fact that each bears a meaningful message, and that they have survived the decades for a reason! Please feel free to share your favorite recovery cliché below… we look forward to reading your contribution!

A Real Life Halloween Tragedy

What Happened to Karla Brada?

AA being sued

In what reads like a horror movie script, a California A.A. member was murdered by her boyfriend. In late 2011, Karla Brada was smothered to death by her boyfriend, Eric Earle.

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment of silence for Karla’s family, Eric’s family, and everyone else involved.

Karla and Eric lived in Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles suburb famously dubbed “Hollywood North” and the hometown of Tim Burton and Ashley Tisdale.

On Monday, October 27th, Eric was sentenced to twenty-six years in prison. His sentencing wraps up one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read. Except that it doesn’t. Karla’s family is now suing Alcoholics Anonymous.

Learn how to overcome anger today!

You Can Sue A.A.?

In a strange twist of events, Karla Brada’s parents are actually suing various A.A. entities.

Hector and Jeroslava Mendez have filed a wrongful death suit against the Santa Clarita Intergroup office, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., and Patrick and Joanne Fry (the sponsors of both Karla and Eric).

“If this is going to continue with A.A., that they’re sending criminals there, then we need to make people aware of that so that they [A.A. members] know they may be sitting next to a criminal,” Karla’s mother told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

What Does the Lawsuit Actually Say?

According to the actual civil suit document, Karla’s parents claim Patrick and Joanne Fry “provided counseling to members attending meetings and specifically became sponsors for Karla H. Brada and Eric Allen Earle.”

The legal paperwork goes on to claim that the Frys “facilitated a romantic relationship between them [Brada and Earle].”

As if that wasn’t enough, the lawsuit also claims,

“The defendants … so negligently, carelessly, recklessly, wantonly, and unlawfully treated, counseled and failed to report apparent abuse of the decedent thereby allowing the abuse to continue and escalate as to directly and proximately cause death of the decedent.”

Police and lawyers involved in the trial have identified Eric Earle as “having a history of domestic violence,” after assaulting his ex-wife.

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Misunderstanding How A.A. Works

While I agree that Earle should pay for what he did, I don’t agree that Alcoholics Anonymous should be sued. Taking this one step further, I think Karla Brada’s parents have a fundamental misunderstanding of how A.A. works.

Their claim that Brada and Earle’s sponsors “facilitated a romantic relationship” is ridiculous. The idea that the sponsors were negligent in reporting abuse seems a little strange as well.

I’m a recovering alcoholic who actively sponsors other alcoholics. When a newcomer asks me to sponsor them, I’m very clear with what I can and can’t help them with.

My role, as a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous, is to take others through the twelve-steps and introduce them to a God of their own understanding. I’m not a marriage counselor. I’m not a therapist. I’m certainly not a financial expert. I know about recovery. That’s it.

So, for Brada and Earle’s sponsors to be required to act in a “counselor” position seems unfair. Their responsibility was to take both Karla and Eric through the twelve-steps and then show them how to take others through the steps. Nothing more.
What’s emotional sobriety?

Let’s have another moment of silence for all those suffering, be they alcoholic or normal.

Let’s take Karla Brada’s life and celebrate it, rather than mourn her passing.

We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.

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