Tag Archives: addiction recovery

So What Does a Recovering Addict Look Like Anyway?

20 Jun

A good friend of mine asked me to do  Q&A for a new London-based magazine that is aimed that the recovery community and kind of begs the question, well “How normal are we now?” after a bit of recovery time. It’s called Normal for that very reason, I think.

When we lived lives of addiction, we did so many abnormal things that we just passed over as “one of those things”, because the addiction ruled us. In early sobriety, it is terribly easy to feel wrong and out of place, to be up and down with your emotions and to still practice many addictions, whether to food or love or Thierry Henry (sorry, just me that one).

But after several years clean and having trodden our own path of recovery, we feel a bit less like we stand out as the guy or gal ordering a diet cola at the bar. We are not necessarily as reactive or up-and-down as in those early days. We’re not as hung up over the addiction and are able to, never be complacent, but weave back into a fun and fulfilling life.

And what we find is that none of us are quite normal. My friend, Ali, who sub-edits the magazine certainly isn’t. She’s a Rawk Chick at heart, lives on a barge on the Thames and is an ardent fan of West Ham. Abnormal. Definitely.

But I’m not normal either. I’d describe myself as a Buddhist with a cracked sense of humour, a cat who I have named “Carwash”, and an indescribable urge to help people. What the freak is normal about that??humour, a cat who I have named “Carwash”, and an indescribable urge to help people. What the freak is normal about that?

Anyway, for all you US recovery peeps, I send you my love. You can read the full interview below. Thanks to Ali, and all the normalish people who decided a mag for recovery peeps was just what we needed. (And I happen to agree) .normalish people who decided a mag for recovery peeps was just what we needed. (And I happen to agree) .

ZOOOOOOMMMM INNNNN!!!!!

Q and A with Normal

Oh, and if you’re in any way as inspired by DiversityInCare‘s wonderful, life-changing work as I am, please think about donating. we’ll take pounds, pennies, dollars, cents and gifts in kind. Thanks and you’re amazing 🙂

Who Are Your Recovery Heroes?

15 Dec

Recovery heroes are people who are vital for various reasons: hope that one day we may also be addiction-free and happy is the greatest reason of all. But there are other reasons why recovery heroes are so important.

Although we have to find our individual path to recovery, there is no need to totally reinvent the wheel. We can follow in the footsteps of people who have been there before, we can learn from their mistakes, see how they have faced challenges and still remained sober and happy. We can use them in times of trouble. We can ask ourselves “What would my recovery hero do or say about this situation?”

There are many people in recovery from addiction who I look up to, admire and respect, but here are some of the 5 people who deserve to be named as recovery heroes for me personally, and why I love them so much:

Noah Levine

Me and Noah Levine

Me and Noah Levine

There is no-one I respect so much as someone who completely turns their life around – it’s a big task to go from angry trouble-making criminal to sober serene author, speaker and someone trying to reach out to young people who need help.

Noah Levine’s talks, podcasts, books and videos made me see that spirituality in recovery is not something to be sneered at or afraid of – it’s a way of making your recovery, and your whole life, much better. He’s a really accessible guide for people who don’t necessarily think of themselves as ‘the spiritual sort’.

 

Wynford Ellis Owen

Wynford's book

Wynford’s book

Wynford was an alcoholic who had the same severity of problem as I did. Once sober, he wrote a book which validated so much for me about the problems I was experiencing. He really was a keystone in me reaching out for help, just by reading his book.

In person, he’s a wonderfully warm soul who holds positions at several recovery projects and steering groups. I feel I could ask him anything, literally anything, and he would reply with honesty, compassion and wisdom. In fact, I have often asked him several things about addiction and recovery – he never fails me.

 

Kuladitya

Many of my recovery heroes are not particularly famous. Kuladitya was an alcohol counsellor I had many years ago, who used a person-centred approach (a la Carl Rogers) and understood addiction in a way that most counsellors I saw at the time didn’t.

He worked with me as an individual, not just as an addict (thanks for the lend of the Bukowski book). He was the first person in recovery I met who I emulated. I wanted his peace, his individuality, his recovery.

 

Kristen Johnston

KJ rocking recovery

KJ rocking recovery

I have never met Kristen, though we’ve had a few Twitter chats. I love how open she is about her recovery and  how she shows the world that recovery doesn’t have to be dull and boring. You’re allowed to keep your cheeky sense of humour when you’re sober and you’re allowed to be who you are.

In fact, recovery gives you the ability to be who you really are without wearing a mask of intoxication. Kudos to Kristen, who shows how much recovery rocks, and is willing to devote a lot of her time to helping others who are struggling with addiction. Kristen’s got guts. And some.

 

Greg Williams

I have to give a shout-out to the director of The Anonymous People. I’ve never met him in person, but he has pushed the agenda of recovery forward massively. His film with Bill White, who also deserves special mention, made people realise that addiction is not a shameful thing – it’s a disorder. Recovery is possible and we should be loud and proud about it.

Thanks, Greg, for contributing a really important work to the world of recovery. And he deserves even more praise for rocking the recovery world at a relatively young age.

Who are your recovery heroes? And why?

What Are The Best Addiction Recovery Books?

20 Aug

Although 1:1 work and support are the ideal ways to beat addiction, books on addiction recovery have their place, too. If you are confused about where to start with recovery, need some identification, or just need a few helpful reminders about how to make your recovery even stronger, addiction books can fulfil that need.

One of my books,The Recovery Formula: An Addict’s Guide to getting Clean and Sober Forever has just been awarded five stars out of five by Reader’s Favorite, so other people obviously agree that books on addiction recovery can be very valuable.

I know that on my own journey, one particular book sparked so much hope, identification, and some real practical lessons on how to start recovering, that I really credit it for motivating me to make the decision to reach out for help when I was really struggling to stay sober on my own. That book was No Room to Live: A Journey from Addiction to Recovery by My favourite addiction recovery bookWynford Ellis Owen, which I know hardly anyone has heard of.

But that book personally inspired me so much that I actually typed out an email to thank the author for writing it when I was in the middle of alcohol withdrawal (Yes, my keyboard was covered in sweat and and the email had many typos!). And when I had recovered and decided to write my first book, The Recovery Formula, I sent my book to him to see what he thought. Luckily, he loved it, and even gave me a review for the back cover.

This shows just how powerful connecting with others’ experiences and wisdom can be in recovery, and the place of books in enabling us to give and gain hope, motivation, and sometimes even help save someone’s life.

I also love that there are books which are really specific to certain addictions. For example, if you suffer from a gambling addiction, Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat) could offer you a lot of identification and motivation, while In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction is a great read for those with less ‘classic addictions’ who find themselves identifying with addicts nonetheless.

What are your top books on addiction recovery, and why?

Ex-Addict Writes 2nd Most Popular Article of All Time on Tiny Buddha!

20 Oct

I am very excited to announce that my article 6 Secrets to Moving On From Serious Struggles has been named the second most popular article OF ALL TIME on the Tiny Buddha website in the category of ‘Overcoming Negative Emotions’, and in the top 100 articles on the astoundingly popular personal development site EVER in any category.

I say this not to blow my own trumpet (well, a teeny tiny bit), but to show what is achievable no matter how far back you have to come from. I’m an ex-alkie, ex-self-harming, ex-bulimic, ex-agoraphobic, ex-social phobic, ex-depressive, ex-borderline…There wasn’t much I didn’t have to be honest.

Read the article to get the whole picture. You CAN achieve success no matter what you’ve been through. And you can help others afterwards 🙂

My aim has always been to help as many people as possible after overcoming the majority of my own struggles. I do that mainly by working 1:1 with people and writing books. But countless people have told me the free videos I make and the articles I write have changed or improved their lives.

It’s quite amazing to go from a semi-homeless alkie to someone that is now able to provide help and inspiration to millions of others around the world.

I’m very grateful that Andrew Walton of Cracking the Happiness Code notified me that I was placed in the Top 2 and Top 100 positions on Tiny Buddha; and I’m grateful to everyone who read and shared my article too.

Remember, as the article says, whatever struggles you’re going through, there is always an answer. And when you find it, there’s nothing better than using your experience to help others 🙂

If You Hate Being Sober Sometimes, Read This….

5 Aug

Is this you??

hatesobriety

Read this! It’s my new article which will hopefully make you feel a bit better about being sober.

How To Make New Sober Friends

24 Jul

I’m writing this post in honour of a gorgeous new sober friend of mine. There are lovely sober folk all over the world – and my latest companion came all the way from the US to find me. He’s called a Sobear and he’s a great gift for the sober person in your life.

Me and my Sobear reading The Happy Addict together!

Me and my Sobear reading The Happy Addict together!

If you’d like a Sobear yourself, or would like to get one as a present to mark a recovery birthday, or just to help someone celebrate the sober lifestyle, you can order one here. A proportion of proceeds from the bears will be donated to help people find, and keep, recovery. Your gift will help fund alcohol and drug recovery programs and substance misuse research.

So, what if you don’t have a gorgeous bear like this and want to make some new sober friends?

Here are my top 5 places to meet people who may be more interested in enjoying themselves without drinking.

1. Fellowships: Obviously Fellowship groups can put you in touch with many sober people. Whether or not you choose to follow the whole program or not, you can always find supportive, sober people at AA, NA and the like.

2. Spiritual groups: Many spiritual groups are so focused on personal and emotional development that drinking doesn’t really come into it. You can usually find lovely people there who may actually be on a similar path to you.

3. Sports clubs: If people really take their sport seriously, they may have a fitness regime that doesn’t involve drinking. Look for sports that require discipline and a healthy body, such as Martial Arts, athletics, and swimming.

4. Coffee shops: Lots of people who don’t drink prefer to visit coffee houses with their friends than go to the bar. Find your local coffee hotspot and hang out there.

5. Volunteer centres: Volunteering is a great way to spend your time, and you usually meet lots of lovely people as well. Most volunteering will require that people don’t drink on placement, especially if you’re on the frontline helping other people. Volunteering is quite common in people in the process of rebuilding their lives in some way, so don’t be surprised if there are other people in recovery there too.

Q & A about the Recovery Process with with a Real-Life Recoveree

28 Mar

As someone in recovery from alcoholism and Borderline Personality Disorder, I often get questions about the recovery process. To recover, I mostly did Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), which I now use to help others out of addiction and mental health problems. I then went on to use other tools and practices to work on my recovery further.

I must stress that everyone is an individual, but here are some questions I have been asked, along with my honest answers. I hope you find them helpful.

1.  When did you realise that you had to stop drinking for good, rather than doing controlled drinking?

When I faced the fact that, in reality, I was rarely able to control my drinking. I almost always had more than I planned, and whenever I managed to limit myself to just a few drinks I felt so horribly deprived and grief-stricken at not being “allowed” any more, that it was better not to have any, frankly! Trying to control my drinking became far more painful than just not drinking at all.

2.  How did you know when treatment was working for you?

I had a breakthrough moment when I was doing DBT. I spoke about it in the first chapters of my book, The Happy Addict. I realised that I was either going to let go of the past and get on with making my life magnificent, or I was going to be condemned to suffering forever. I realised that whatever had happened in the past, and however much I was suffering, I had to be the one who pulled myself out.

I realised that my own thinking, beliefs and behaviours were sabotaging me more than anyone or anything from the past or the present ever could. I had to decide that I would win in the end, and commit to doing that, no matter what. For me, for my family, for my cat. But mostly for me. Because there was no other choice.

All I was doing by fighting reality was losing. If I drank, I was just making myself incapable of solving problems. If I acted out, I was just making myself feel worse about myself. The only thing to do was thoroughly and utterly commit to doing the right thing by me, no matter how I felt. It was only by doing the right things that I even started to like myself.

Our behaviour is what gets us results, including changing how we feel about ourselves. One of my biggest realisations is that I don’t have to act on how I feel. I can choose to do the right things to move forward, no matter how I feel. I never regret doing the right thing, and I always feel better about myself when I choose to act wisely.

3.  Was it a long time before you stopped having more bad than good days?

It was about three months of constantly and stubbornly applying the DBT I was learning until the worst of the days passed. Three months of constantly looking at the positives, constantly fighting down my urges to self-sabotage, constantly doing the right thing. Those three months were the most difficult, and then after that, it got easier to do the right thing – I was seeing how much better I felt for it, and how I could go upwards in life now, rather than downwards. It became like a positive dynamo.

4.  Sometimes Addiction and Mental Health services don’t understand. Did you have this and how can this be resolved?

I had people who didn’t care. I had people who didn’t understand. I had to face waiting lists that would take years. Again, those are things I couldn’t control, so I decided that I would largely do it without them. In the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or believes – you can still choose to get better. And you can focus on the people who do understand and are willing to help. They are there if you look for them.

5.  After you stopped drinking, did you switch to anything else, or was drinking the last coping mechanism?

If I have problems now, I either solve them, or if I can’t solve them, I let the feelings go. I don’t need to “cope”. My two options are: solve it or let it go.

6.  How long after stopping drinking did you stop counting days sober, and realise that however hard the work was, it was worth it?

I stopped counting at just under a year. I always knew it was worth it – because the alternative was staying in the misery I was in before. No matter how hard it was, it had to be better than that.

7. Do you believe anyone can recover like you did?

Yes. With all my heart.

If you’d like your questions about recovery answered, drop me a line here.

by Beth Burgess