Saturday, January 27, 2007

How Not To Relapse into Your Addiction

According to statistics in the United States, 74% of recovering people relapse. No matter what your addiction is, there will be points in time when you will have the tendency to relapse into your addiction.

One advice I got from one member is to achieve a solid, well-balanced recovery. Maintaining mental, emotional, spiritual and physical balance in one’s life is very important. If you do not pay attention to one of these areas, an addict may eventually relapse.

Memorize the acronym HALT. HALT means hungry, angry, lonely and tired. When one or two of these conditions are present in a recovering addict, there is great probability for that person to relapse.

A phenomenon, post-acute withdrawal (PAW, otherwise known as withdrawal symptom) is the long-term effect of the neurological damage caused by mood altering chemicals. This effect can last up to 18 months into recovery. Contrary to what many believe, PAW is still experienced by recovering addicts even after a year of recovery.

There is direct connection between stress and PAW. Stress intensifies PAW and PAW intensifies stress. This mutual connection means the recovering addict can spiral down in his thinking and emotion and may lead to negative behaviors or negative ways to handle stress. These thoughts and feelings the person is engaging in become relapse warning signs.

An awareness of the warning signs is necessary for the recovering person to disrupt the tendency to relapse. Relapse is a gradual process that begins with distorted thoughts, unmanageable feelings, and dysfunctional behavior. Warning signs start small and increase in intensity as the relapse syndrome progresses. Warning signs include: mood swings, high stress, depression, irritability, isolation, etc. Because the warning signs progress gradually, the recovering addict should recognize his relapse warning signs so he won't relapse.

To avoid relapsing into your addiction, develop a balanced and healthy lifestyle. You can incorporate some of the suggested strategies below into your daily living:

  • Maintain healthy diet and sufficient rest
  • Regular exercise – to help maintain good mental, emotional, and physical health
  • Spend time engaging in some spiritual activity, journaling, meditating, relaxation, reading, etc. Having this blog is my way of journaling my daily struggles.
  • Set boundaries and know your limitations. If you are alcoholic, don't go to bars, pubs, karaoke or store alcoholic drinks in your ref.
  • Set goals – realistic, attainable. Live one day at a time.
  • Utilize effective stress management techniques

A recovering addict can avoid relapsing if the person recognizes the warning signs before they go out of control.

The Heart of Worship

In our Anonymous Meeting (Fellowship), one member brought a copy of the chapter "The Heart of Worship" of the book Purpose Driven Life. It was a good reading, many were able to relate, connect and share their experiences.

The chapter talks about surrendering to God which is also contained in the 12-step program. I have made a condensed version of the chapter to guide me in my daily life.

In that chapter, the author, Rick Warren, mentioned three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride, and confusion.

Our fear of losing our wordly belongings keeps us from surrendering to God. But many do not know that by surrendering to God, we gain more. By completely surrendering, we will discover that we have a brother beside us every step of the way. So we will have a better foothold on our lives. Surrendering will actually enhance our lives not diminish it.

Pride makes us want to be God. We have different Gods. We make money our God. Being famous is our God. Our status in the society is our God. Unless, we have other Gods in our lives, we cannot surrender ourselves to God.

When you surrender, you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. The Bible says "Surrender yourself to theLord, and wait patiently for him."

Genuine surrender says, "Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose and glory in my life or in another's, please don't take it away." This level of maturity does not come easy.

Victory comes through surrender. Surrender doesn't weaken you. It strengthens you. Surrendered to God, you don't have to fear or surrender to anything else.

Those who do not surrender to God, surrender to something or someone: opinions of others, money, resentment, fear, pride, lusts or ego. If you fail to worship God, you will create other things to give your life to. You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.

Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live.

If God is going to do his deepest work in you, it will begin with this. Give it all to God, your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Jesus Christ in the driver's seat of your life and take your hands of the steering wheel.

There is a moment of surrender, and there is the practice of surrender, which is moment-by-moment and lifelong. You may have to resurrender your life fifty times a day. You must make it a daily habit.

This chapter is very beautiful. I make it a point to read it every day until I perfect the practice of surrendering to God.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Depression came my way

For the past two days, I noticed I experienced depression for no reason at all. Could be the piling unpaid bills. It could also be boredom. Or was it lack of money. I went to our 'Fellowship' last night and I discussed this with a member on our way home. He said when he was recovering during the first few months, he also experienced depression. He compared the situation to a disappointed child whose candy was taken away from him.

I missed the good laugh (or was it bad laugh). The taste and aroma of an alcoholic drink. The romantic ambiance in a bar. Beautiful ladies. I observe that I am easily upset and irritated. I get bored. I am uneasy. Is this withdrawal syndrome?

In the first six months, it will be like this. If we compare it to the baby, the most difficult is the first few steps. After that, the baby can walk easily and with less effort. I am excited to fast track my recovery. I should remain focused in my objective. I live one day at a time. No alcohol for 2007.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New AA recruit

I got a text from my counselor and she referred a potential AA recruit who is still in the denial stage of his alcoholism. Fortunately, for the counselor she was able to convince him to join our group. I will see him this Friday and bring him to the fellowship. My counselor warned me not to have a drinking session after the fellowship. I answered in jest I won't do it. I've been sober for the longest time (almost three weeks) in 20 years and I won't waste that achievement just for a drink.

For recovering addicts, 3 weeks is a significant achievement. In my old life, I drink on the average 3 times a week, at times everyday. So having gone thru 3 weeks without even a single sip of alcohol is quite an achievement for me.

On your path to recovery, it is good to lend a helping hand whenever you can to another person who may need to discover also the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am excited to see this guy and see how it goes. Anyway, regardless of the result, it will also be a form of therapy for me on my path to recovery.

Recovery is not an easy road to take. There were nights when I crave. I told my wife to give me just 2-3 bottles of beer. She won't allow me. She threatened me that if I do that I better pack my things and leave. One time, the crave to drink was very strong. I discussed this with my wife. She came up with a brilliant solution. I got a gift from somebody last Christmas. It is an imported grape juice housed in a wine bottle. There is no alcohol content for this juice. So whenever I crave, my wife gives me one glass of grape juice from this bottle. I get a psychological high from it and the craving goes away.

It works for me. The grace of God is working wonders to me.

Serenity Prayer

Brilliant in its simplicity, The Serenity Prayer is one of the key spiritual tools used by virtually all 12-step recovery support group members.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

For so many people in desperate situations — seeking peace, strength, and wisdom — those simple words, whispered to a “God as they understand him,” have seen them through the darkest hours.They have come to believe that those qualities can come only from a power greater than themselves. And because they believe, they find the serenity, courage and wisdom they seek from somewhere outside themselves to face another situation, another step, and another day.

Although literally millions of people — in and out of the recovery community — have been helped and strengthened by those few lines, few are aware they are actually the first stanza of the entire prayer as penned in 1943 by Reinhold Niebuhr, who may not be the original author, however.

For those who may be curious, and for those who are seeking the full power that lies within, we present here the complete and unabridged prayer:

The Serenity Prayer

    God, give us grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    courage to change the things
    which should be changed,
    and the wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other.
    Living one day at a time,
    Enjoying one moment at a time,
    Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
    Taking, as Jesus did,
    This sinful world as it is,
    Not as I would have it,
    Trusting that You will make all things right,
    If I surrender to Your will,
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
    And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

— Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Copied with permission from

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Staying Cyber

Most of our brothers in Alcoholics Anonymous tell our fellows to stay sober. That means, keep away from drinking alcohol ever again. Not even a single drop of alcohol is allowed. We are just one droplet away from becoming an alcoholic again.

This is how an addict mind works. A single sip is all it takes to go back to the road of addiction. No matter how fully recovered an addict is, if I take a single shot, the alcoholic wirings built into my brain reconnect and become active again just like when a dormant volcano suddenly erupts.

I remember when I was a teen, I started with one bottle of beer. I cannot even finish one bottle. If I did, I became drowsy and drunk. As I grew older, I noticed I can consume more and more bottles. 10 bottles is never enough in one session. I can go on and on drinking until the wee hours in the morning. One New Year celebration, we continuously gulped beer for more than 24 hours.

It is never exciting anymore. The next day, I am usually bedridden because of hang-over. I have told my boss canned excuses not to work the next day because of hang-over. I attribute losing a high-paying job two years ago to drinking alcohol over my limits. My countless fights with my wife (I actually separated from my family several times in the past), were the results of my drinking habits. I have no peace at home and with myself.

Until one day, I realized I have nothing anymore. I have no work. No family. No wife. I have no money to pay the bills. Legal actions for the unpaid bills and the home mortgage came next. All I have is my car. All because of my addiction. I have to put my life in order. I have to live again. I need to put my life back.

That was the time I went to counseling because of depression. I met my kind and very accommodating counselor and I admitted to her everything. I need help. I cannot help myself. I need God in my life. She referred me to Alcoholics Anonymous. At first, I was in denial. But I had no choice. My life was rockbottom. I remember the priest who gave me regular confessions. He told me that he will administer confessions to me with one condition, that I attend my meetings with the Alcoholic Anonymous. I was forced to attend. I was reluctant because I was afraid. What if I knew someone there. Two months after, I am now relatively sober. Never tasted alcohol for a while.

My wife is a big help. BTW we got together just this January. I spent Christmas and New Year with my parents. My wife guards me like a leech. She understood what I am undergoing right now in my path to recovery. Every addict has the tendency to crave once in a while. Evey time I crave, she gives me an orange juice with a taste resembling that of a wine. It removes the crave and I can survive for a day.

In the serenity prayer, alcoholics live one day at a time. Don't think about tomorrow or next month or this year. If you do, it will overwhelm you. Focus just today. That you will not drink or give in to your addiction. If you achieve that objective, congratulate yourself. When tomorrow comes, again tell yourself to live one day at a time. I do that and it works for me.

I have discovered this site They hold meetings online. I have registered and joined the group too. If you are an alcoholic and hesitant to do a face-to-face meeting, this is the way to go.

DonInChelsea London Times

This is a nice read for alcoholics out there.

DonInChelsea London Times

Alcohol was my master

In his own words, this was what Bill, the founder of Alcoholic Anonymous, uttered during the height of his Alcoholic Addiction. I can relate well to Bill's life as described in the Big Book. The Big Book is something like the Bible of the Alcoholic Anonymous.

Bill's struggles are too familiar. I feel at home reading about his life. I am an eternally recovering alcoholic and I cannot ever proclaim that I will ever be able to recover from it. Once an addict, always an addict. It is too familiar. My addiction started when I was in my teens at the age of 17 of 18, I lost count actually. I am now in my 40s. So that makes me an addict for more than 2 decades. When I was 25, I got married and my first son was born. My salary back then was not enough to support the family. I thought this situation will force me not to spend on alcohol anymore. But I was wrong, the more I became one, the more I spend more on drinking, going to bars, and women. Yes, women. Drinking alcohol in bars and sleezy joints inevitable equates to getting on and intimate with women. As one Alcoholic Anonymous member said, alcohol is a mind-altering and behavior altering drink. Once drunk, I feel very powerful with women. I can do anything with women. The power of alcohol transforms me into somebody I do not know. I become a totally different person. At one time, I woke up in the middle of the Magallanes street at around 6am, vehicles passing me by on both sides. Luckily, I was inside my car with the headlight on. Luckily, too, there was no police who happened to pass by.

Before a drinking session, I tell myself, it will only be for 2 rounds (2 bottles of beer), then off I go home. After 2 bottles, I tell myself, I will be off by 9pm so wife will not notice. At 9pm, my addict mind somehow negotiates with my sane mind, make it 10pm. Ok, so after around 5-6 bottles at that time, 10pm comes, and I am still on the drinking table. There is no more negotiating going on between my addict mind and my sane mind. I just tell myself, I will be home by 12midnight. 12 midnight comes, I tell myself, what the heck it is 12midnight, what is the difference if I come home at 2am or 3am.

I come home at 6am with my wife welcoming me with her dagger look. If looks can kill, my wife would have killed me a thousand times. Sounds very familiar indeed. Alcohol was my master for more than 20 years. My life has become unmanageable. I've been on and off with my wife. The last time we were separated for 2 months. I've resorted to violence inside the house. I have terrorized my kids when under the influence of alcohol. I have even challenged my eldest son to a fist fight. It is not normal. I am not normal. Why I did these things?

Until I discovered God thru my counselor. Then she referred me to Alcoholic Anonymous. My recovery is a long and winding road. It was not an easy path. Temptations lurk at every corner. Many side streets intersect the road and these are so inviting. I am still on the road to recovery. I hope with God's help and the support of my family and the Anonymous Group, I will be able to maintain the correct direction, direction where God wants me to be.

I am addict for life

Yohoo!!!! Don't be confused with the title of this blog. I am not proclaiming and rejoicing in remaining an addict all my life. The fact is I abhor my addiction(s). I hate myself when I subject myself to do things not according to the will of God. The blog title is just my way of telling you, my readers, that I am powerless over my addiction. That my life has become unmanageable as a result. And I am now acknowledging God that He alone can manage me. Not others, not even myself. Early on in my addiction, I tried many times to control my addiction thru my own willpower. The same number of times I failed. If I don't let God do His thing, I will never ever be able to control this addiction. Take note, the keyword is control, not totally eliminate the addiction. Why? Because even with God, we, as humans, are still given the choice, to make decisions ourselves. So addiction is a continuing struggle from now on. I and God have to guard against all temptations to relapse. If not, addiction will again consume me.

My Life as an Addict

This is my blog regarding different addictions I am currently struggling to getaway from. You can call me I Addict. I Addict because whenever I attend my regular support group, we used to introduce ourselves during the sessions, I, (my name), an addict. I am a member of different Anonymous Philippines groups whose members are drug addicts, alcoholics, sexaholics, gamblers, etc. I would like to remain anonymous in this blog as I will be revealing more of my life as an addict as I go thru battling this menace. I am from the Philippines and I am a father to three beautiful kids and a husband to a very pretty wife. I am doing this as a form of chronicling my life as an addict to help in my therapy of ridding these habits that I've been accustomed to for more than 20 years now. In doing so, I hope you learn something from it and possibly save some souls from becoming addicts themselves.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference."