Mathew Perry-Addiction and Recovery

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Matthew Perry is probably better known as the comedic character on the show ‘Friends’ known as Chandler Bing. As we all sat and watched the lighthearted show about friends and love that we related to so much; little did we know what was going on the behind scenes. Matthew Perry was battling and suffering with a serious addiction to alcohol and painkillers. Matthew Perry was in his early 30’s around that time and was at the height of his career. He had a multimillion dollar salary on the hit television show ‘Friends’ and had numerous offers for feature films and endorsements. It really goes to show that addiction can happen to anyone even if they have what many of us find an “ideal” life. Matthew Perry’s ideal life came at a high price; for him it resulted in an addiction to alcohol and the narcotic painkiller, so many of us have heard of before, Vicodin.

In 2002, Matthew Perry told People magazine that at the lowest points of his addiction to painkillers and alcohol he would take 20 to 30 Vicodin pills and drink about a “quart of vodka a day.” Matthew Perry’s addiction started when he was prescribed Vicodin for a wisdom tooth extraction. Eventually the drug abuse began to take its toll on his body. The rumors ran rampant at this point that Matthew Perry had an eating disorder due to the weight fluctuations he was having. The weight fluctuations were actually caused by pancreatitis which is an effect of heavy drinking. Perry than returned to rehab for an “undisclosed illness” in 2001, following a trip in 1997. There was constant media coverage of his addiction throughout the entire ordeal

And even though Perry admits the constant media coverage was overwhelming at times, it actually played a huge role in helping him to get sober and stay sober believe it or not. It is said this is because fans were more than willing to help the actor get clean and kept him in line while he was out on the town.

He told ABC News, “It (the coverage) actually ultimately helped me because I couldn’t just walk into a bar (and ask for a drink). Everybody in the bar would go, ‘You can’t do that! I just read that you can’t do that! I can’t (give you a drink), you can’t (drink).”

Perry is now on the road to recovery, and works with addiction specialists and government officials to reform America’s drug laws, even offering up his posh Malibu, California home as a sober living facility to fellow addicts. Matthew Perry is doing everything possible to return the favor.  He has gone so far as to even open a sober living house to help men transition from rehab into the real world. “The thing that I’m most proud of in my life is that if a stranger came up to me and said, ‘I can’t stop drinking. I can’t stop drinking. Can you help me?’ I can say, ‘Yes, I can help you.'”

Sources:

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/05/30/matthew-perry-tabloid-coverage-helped-me-recover-from-alcoholism

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/matthew-perry-talks-about-past-drug-alcohol-abuse-i-was-a-sick-guy-2013315

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-matthew-perry-friends-addiction-20130530,0,2436089.story

5 Ways you’re Losing Touch with Your Recovery

5 Ways You're Losing Touch With Your Recovery

5 Ways you’re Losing Touch with Your Recovery

Unfortunately, many recovering addicts and alcoholics need to learn lessons the hard way. We want to recover our way. We want an easier, softer way.  We get comfortable in recovery and stop doing the things that got us clean and sober in the first place. Sometimes when this happens, we relapse. Other times, we simply get miserable until we are ready to make a change. Here are some ways you could be losing touch with your recovery:

5 Ways you’re Losing Touch with Your Recovery: You stop going to meetings

Once you have a little time sober, it gets easy to find excuses not to go to meetings. Life gets busy. You start to make excuses. You’re feeling better and you don’t really think you need them anymore. Maybe you tell yourself you don’t like a particular meeting or the people who frequent it. Maybe you convince yourself that meetings actually make you feel worse, because people are talking about drugs and alcohol all the time. Whatever the excuse, it comes down to the same thing: fewer meetings. This is one of the first ways you’re losing touch with your recovery.

5 Ways you’re Losing Touch with Your Recovery: You stop praying and meditating

Conscious contact with a higher power is one of the first things to go when you’re losing touch with your recovery. It’s easy to get lazy about prayer and meditation. The only one to keep you accountable in this aspect is you. You may start feeling unhappy and not even realize that your lack of conscious contact is the cause. Maybe you start to feel resentful towards your higher power.

5 Ways you’re Losing Touch with Your Recovery: Your ego comes back

It has been said that a spiritual experience is the death of ego. Maybe you’ve already had a spiritual experience but slowly but surely your ego starts to creep back in. You start to compare yourself to others, and feel above them. You are not open to suggestions, and you are not checking your actions with anyone else.

5 Ways you’re Losing Touch with Your Recovery: You slip into old behaviors

One of the ways you’re losing touch with your recovery could be that you are slipping back into old patterns of behavior. You may start to be dishonest. It starts off small, little white lies, and you don’t think it’s such a big deal. Pretty soon you are hiding things from everyone. Maybe you are acting out sexually, causing harm with your actions. Maybe you have started to slip back into a selfish and self-seeking mindset, and you begin to look at every situation in terms of what it can do to you.

5 Ways you’re Losing Touch with Your Recovery: You start to feel miserable

If you are feeling miserable, for any reason, in your recovery, it is a sign that you are losing touch with your recovery. There is something that you are not doing. If you are feeling miserable, it’s time to take a good hard look at your program and to reach out to sober supports. Feeling miserable is often the last stop on the road to relapse.

Ways To Have Fun in Recovery

Ways to have fun in recovery

Most people before they get sober think that recovery is going to be boring. They have no idea how to live life or really do anything without getting drunk or high; in fact getting drunk or high was half, if not all of the fun they would experience. So it really is an incomprehensible thought to be having fun in recovery without drugs and alcohol. Luckily, this is just a thought and there are many ways to have fun in recovery. When it really comes down to it having fun in recovery is less about what an individual doing and more about the way they feel inside and their attitude. The perception of an alcoholic or addict can really alter an experience so if you are having fun in recovery it is probably because of your perception and less about what you are doing, although, it is still good to have great ideas of what to do for fun in recovery.

Here are some ways to have fun in recovery:

Ways to have fun in recovery: Play!

Whether it is laser tag, paint ball, or a pickup game of basketball; playing is a great way to stay youthful, have fun and be sober all at the same time. Not to mention playing is a really great way to get exercise. You will be amazed at how much you laugh and how competitive you get when you play games sober and you will probably wonder why you hadn’t thought of it before.

Ways to have fun in recovery: Go downtown.

There are lots of things to do in your hometown besides drink or use drugs believe it or not. If you think there isn’t go and try to find all the spots there are that don’t involve alcohol at all. Another thing you could do is go get frozen yogurt or coffee with a friend and then find a bench and people watch. This is especially entertaining at night and can really give you some good laughs. Another great way to have fun in recovery people watching is to try and guess everyone’s story as they walk by based on who they are with, what they are wearing and the way they talk etc. You will be surprised at how it’s the little things that become the most fun in recovery.

Ways to have fun in recovery: Movie nights

This one is an obvious one. Whenever you are looking for a night of fun, invite all your friends over pick some movies. For instance you could do a scary movie theme, pop tons of popcorn, go buy some candy and scare each other silly. This could even turn into a sleep over or game night too if movies aren’t your thing. Once again you will be surprised at how much fun you have and how much you laugh.

When it comes to having fun in recovery it really is all about your attitude. A small and simple appreciation for the little things in life can make all the difference. Plus you don’t have to worry about waking up in the morning with a hangover or in withdrawal if you are having fun in sober. And that’s way more fun.

Prescription Drug Abuse Recovery is Possible

Prescription Drug Abuse Recovery

My name is Jenny, and I’m a drug addict.

It took me years to admit to being a drug addict. I didn’t get my drugs on the street. I didn’t have a drug dealer, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.

I got my drugs in clean sterile rooms. My drug dealers wore white coats.

I was addicted to prescription drugs.

Prescription drug abuse is an insidious problem. It’s not always recognizable for what it is. I always looked to doctors as authority figures, healers, and most of them are. Perhaps my doctor had the best of intentions when he first prescribed painkillers for a sore back. I certainly don’t think he was intentionally trying to hurt me. And if that first doctor had known where I would end up, I doubt he would have ever pulled out that prescription pad.

Because I was getting my drugs from doctors, my prescription drug abuse went unnoticed or at least unrecognized for what it was for a long time. I DID actually have pain, and my doctor was treating that pain. Everything I did was legal.

It wasn’t too long until my prescription drug abuse took on a life of its own. I exaggerated my pain. I started going back sooner and sooner to get my prescriptions for the month. I lied and said I’d lost the pills or had them stolen so I could get more.

Several doctors recognized my prescription drug abuse for what it was and refused to treat me. I would just find another one. By the end, the only doctors that would take me operated out of shady back-alley storefronts and only took cash payment. I wasn’t copping drugs in the street, but the clean sterile rooms were gone. Those doctors would barely look at me before writing me a prescription. They were only in the room long enough to give me what I wanted. I thought of myself as a “chronic pain patient.” I believed that I would be on these medications for the rest of my life. I was resigned to it.

Today, I can tell you that recovery is possible. Even for prescription pill addicts. Even for prescription pill addicts who started using drugs to treat a real medical problem.

You may not believe it. I certainly didn’t. I didn’t want to. I couldn’t imagine trying to get through the day without pills.

It’s not an easy process, but it is so worth it. I was a slave to prescription pills. I obsessed about how many pills I had left and what I would do when I ran out. No matter how many pills I had left in the bottle, I never had enough. I used to live and lived to use. Every day I would promise myself that tomorrow I would stop my prescription drug abuse. I would cut down. I would take only the amount I was prescribed. I would wean myself off. Tomorrow would come and I couldn’t do it.

Today I am free. And recovery is possible for you too. If you are suffering from prescription drug abuse or addiction, get help. Free yourself.

What the non-addict needs to know about recovery

Internet Addict

What the non-addict needs to know about recovery

Many people don’t truly understand addiction. Unless they have had some compelling reason to learn about it, like a friend or family member that is addicted, most don’t give it a second thought. Even those with addicted love ones may not know very much about the disease.

What the non-addict needs to know about recovery: Rehab is not a cure

Rehab is by no means a cure, and it should not be treated as such. An addict cannot attend a thirty day treatment program and then expect to be back to “normal” when they get out.  Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and relapsing disease. And while rehab is certainly a good start to recovery, it takes continuous action on the part of the addict to achieve sobriety in the long term. For most people, it is what they do after treatment that makes or breaks recovery. Quitting drinking and drugging is just the first step.

What the non-addict needs to know about recovery: The substance doesn’t matter

When addicts and alcoholics first come into treatment, they tend to identify themselves by their “drug of choice.” Some used heroin, some drank, and some took pills. What non-addicts and even some addicts don’t understand is that the substance doesn’t matter. A true addict who used cocaine cannot one day be a social drinker, even if “alcohol was never their problem.” For most people, true recovery means staying away from ALL mood and mind altering substances, not just whatever substance landed them in rehab. Thinking of alcohol or prescription narcotics or marijuana as different from other drugs can be very dangerous.

What the non-addict needs to know about recovery: Time takes time

Once a person quits using drugs or drinking, there are some people that will expect his or her life to come together, just like that. What the non-addict needs to know about recovery is that the drugs and alcohol WERE NOT THE PROBLEM. Rather, drugs and alcohol were the solution to the problem. And the problem was internal. It is the inability to cope with day to day life. It is trying to find peace or happiness by getting high. When you take alcohol and drugs away from a true drug addict or alcoholic, their lives get worse, not better. Until they have another solution, there life will likely be chaotic. It takes time. Many alcoholics and addicts make mistakes in early sobriety. They are learning how to live in a new way, learning how to cope with emotions they have numbed for years, and trying to fix all the wreckage that was caused when they were using drugs and/or drinking. They must learn how to balance their lives again, learn how to connect with others again, and learn how to enjoy life without drugs and alcohol. Recovery is not a destination, it is a journey, and the early days are usually the most chaotic. The good news is, if an addict and alcohol works a program consistently, things will get better.

What are the 12 steps of AA?

What are the 12 steps of AA?

What are the 12 steps of AA?

The 12 steps of AA are the spiritual foundation for recovery from the effects of alcoholism. These steps are not just a way to stop using drugs or drinking. They are the foundation of a new way of life. The twelve steps of AA have been adopted by other programs to treat addictive and dysfunctional behaviors.

The first 12 step program began in the 1930’s and has since grown to be the most widely used approach to deal with addiction and other dysfunctional behaviors. The first book written to cover the 12 steps of AA was entitled “Alcoholics Anonymous” also known as the Big Book by program members.

The 12 steps of AA are as follows:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The 12 steps of AA have been adopted by other groups to address their own addictive or dysfunctional behaviors have similar ideas, usually with only minor variations. The 12 steps of AA are meant to be worked sequentially with a sponsor, which is a member whose purpose is to guide others through the steps.

The 12 steps of AA involve certain basic ideas including:

  • Admitting that one can’t control one’s addiction or compulsion
  • Recognizing that a higher power can give strength
  • Examining past errors
  • Making amends for past errors
  • Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior
  • Helping others who suffer from the same addictions and compulsions

The 12 steps of AA are suggested as a program of recovery for Alcoholics Anonymous, but the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees required to join Alcoholics Anonymous. Ultimately, the 12 steps of AA are more than just a way to stay sober. They’re a blueprint for a new, spiritual way of life, and they consist of universal spiritual principles.

Common Myths About Recovery

Common Myths About RecoveryPeople tend to have many misconceptions about recovery from addiction. These misunderstandings can be harmful to people who are struggling with alcohol or drug use. It may prevent them from getting treatment or be used as an excuse to shun recovery. Here are some common myths about recovery:

Common Myths About Recovery: Relapse is a normal part of recovery

This is one of the most common myths about recovery. Yes, many people relapse before they eventually quit for good, but you do not have to relapse in order to recover. Some people take the claim that relapse is a normal part of recovery to mean that they need to relapse or as permission to keep on relapsing. For some, relapse can be a death sentence.  Relapse is actually the ABSENCE of recovery. There are plenty of people who have long-term sobriety without relapse.

Common Myths About Recovery: Addicts must hit rock bottom in order to recover

The idea that addicts must hit bottom in order to recover is often misunderstood to mean that an addict must lose everything before they be helped. This is a misconception. Rock bottom is a subjective state of being that basically means that an addict has had enough. Often, an emotional bottom is just as powerful as or more powerful than a physical bottom. Some will go to jail, overdose, and live under a bridge, but still not accept help. Others will still have jobs, families, and homes when they decide enough is enough. This is one of the more dangerous common myths about recovery because if an addict thinks they must hit a physical bottom before getting help; their bottom could very well be death. Plenty of addicts have overdosed and died while they still had money in the bank and a place to live.

Common Myths About Recovery: Recovery is boring

For someone who has been drinking and using drugs for a long time, the idea of living without them can seem really dull. In reality, it is the life of an addict that is become dull. Sure, in the beginning of substance abuse, life may have seemed one big party, and sometimes addicts romanticize these early times and forget what came after. The truth of the matter is that the life of an addict is repetitive and tedious. They repeat the same things day after day. They often isolate, and rarely do they try new things. Quite simply they use to live and live to use.

For people who have a good program of recovery, life is anything but boring. Let’s face it, if recovery was boring, most people would not do it. Recovery means trying new things, growing, enjoying life. It is common for people with a good program to even complain that there is not enough time in the day to do all of the things they want to do. Having good recovery means expanding your horizons and discovering your passions. If you’re bored in recovery, you’re doing it wrong.

The Big Five Personality Traits

The Big Five Personality Traits

The Big Five Personality Traits

In psychology, the Big Five Personality Traits are very broad dimensions of personality that are used to describe the human personality. The Big Five Personality Traits are based on the Five Factor Model. The Big Five Factors are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Here is a summary of the Big Five Personality Traits:

Openness to experience – Openness is an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and a variety of experience. It is inventiveness/curiousness vs. consistency/cautiousness. Openness is a reflection of the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and want for novelty and variety a person has. Openness is also described as being to what extent a person is imaginative or independent. A high score in openness shows a preference for a variety of activities instead of a strict routine.

Here are some sample statements of high openness:

  • I have a rich vocabulary.
  • I have a vivid imagination.
  • I have excellent ideas.
  • I am quick to understand things.
  • I use difficult words.
  • I spend time reflecting on things.
  • I am full of ideas.

Conscientiousness – Conscientiousness is the ability to show self-discipline, be committed, and aim for achievement over spontaneous behavior. Conscientiousness is organized and dependable; it is efficient and organized vs. easy-going and careless.

Here are some statements that describe conscientiousness:

  • I am always prepared.
  • I pay attention to details.
  • I get chores done right away.
  • I like order.
  • I follow a schedule.
  • I am exacting in my work.

 

Extraversion – Extraversion is the amount of energy, positivity, assertiveness, sociability and tendency to seek outside stimulation in the company of others a person has. Extraversion also describes talkativeness. Extraversion is outgoing and energetic vs. cold and unkind.

Here are some sample statements of someone with extraversion:

  • I am the life of the party.
  • I don’t mind being the center of attention.
  • I feel comfortable around people.
  • I start conversations.
  • I talk to a lot of different people at parties

 

Neuroticism – Neuroticism is the tendency to experience unpleasant or negative emotion easily; emotions such as anger, depression and vulnerability. Neuroticism also means to what a degree a person is emotionally stable and able to control their impulses. Neuroticism is sensitive and nervousness over security and confidence.

Here are some sample statements of someone who has high neuroticism:

  • I am easily disturbed.
  • I change my mood a lot.
  • I get irritated easily.
  • I get stressed out easily.
  • I get upset easily.
  • I have frequent mood swings.
  • I often feel blue.
  • I worry about things.

When the Big Five Personality Trait test is scored the scores are most commonly in percentiles. An example would be an extraversion score in the 65th percentile. This indicates a fairly middle to average amount of extraversion, energy, assertiveness and talkativeness.

The first Big Five model was made by Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal in 1961. These two failed to bring the Big Five model in front of an academic audience though. In, 1990 J.M. Digman advanced the five factor model of personality which Lewis Goldberg took to the highest level of organization.

Sources:

http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydevelopment/a/bigfive.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits

Emotional Stability in Recovery

Emotional Stability in Recovery

Emotional Stability in Recovery

Emotional stability in recovery is also known as emotional sobriety. Emotional sobriety is different than merely sobriety. Emotion stability in recovery is a set of skills that are absolutely vital to staying sober. It is the foundation upon which an individual will live their lives and continue the long-term journey of recovery. Emotional stability in recovery includes:

  • Being aware and at ease with emotions
  • Having a stable mood
  • Developing enduring and satisfying relationships
  • Having an optimistic outlook
  • Achieving a balance between body, mind, spirit, relationships and more
  • Feeling calm during times of stress
  • Coping with difficult emotions such as fear, hurt, sadness, and frustration

Emotional stability in recovery comes slowly over time. Just stopping the use of drugs and alcohol does not automatically give someone emotional stability. Those people who are addicts and alcoholics are often out of touch with themselves and how to take care of themselves emotionally. Emotional instability even once an addict or alcoholic is sober may be from loss, neglect, abuse, trauma, etc. Most addicts and alcoholics want to avoid emotions at all costs and this becomes glaringly apparent when they get clean and have to feel everything. Emotional stability is the want and need to feel emotions without having to use when normally an addict or alcoholic would. Even in sobriety addicts and alcoholics who are dealing with emotions can find themselves not necessarily getting high or drunk but engaging in emotionally unstable activities such as overeating, purging, gambling, promiscuity, etc. to try and achieve a sense of gratification or escape from their emotions instead of having the emotional stability in recovery to deal with them.

What is emotional stability in recovery so important?

  1. Emotional stability in recovery is going to allow an individual to avoid relapse
  2. It will allow a person to recognize and work with their emotions as teachers that are there to tell them what they need, whether their needs are being and what circumstances in life need to be changed in order to meet those needs and whether those needs are even healthy.
  3. Emotional stability in recovery is important because it is the development of confidence, satisfaction and resilience that only comes from dealing with emotions directly and effectively rather than using drugs or alcohol to deal with them.
  4. Emotional stability in recovery allows a sober person to become the person they want to be. Their actions are now able to be congruent with their morals and values as well as their aspirations for life.

Developing emotional stability in recovery take times and it does not in any capacity happen overnight. Emotional stability in recovery starts with having a full grasp of what recovery actually means and recovery doesn’t just mean staying clean or away from drugs and alcohol. Emotional stability in recovery is just that-stable emotions along with the end of all addictive behaviors. Recovery means being able to accept emotions and get out of pessimistic thinking without self-medication with substances, compulsive behaviors, sex, etc.

Emotional stability in recovery comes with practice and the want to progress on a daily basis towards a new way of living. Emotional stability in recovery is also more easily achieved with outside help and support group which is why it is highly recommended that individuals in recovery have a large sober network of people who they know. Emotional stability will come for all addicts and alcoholics if they are willing to put the work in.

Stop Fearing Change

Stop fearing changeStop Fearing Change

I’ve always hated change. I’m a creature of habit, so when life throws me a curveball, it upsets me. When faced with a decision, I often find myself paralyzed. One day someone said to me “If in ten years, your life was still the same, would you be happy?” I admitted that no, I probably wouldn’t be. This person then asked “So why are you so afraid of change?”

She had a point. Change is an inevitable part of life, necessary if we are going to grow into the people we want to be. So why fear it?

Stop Fearing Change: Why we fear it

1.) Leaving the comfort zone: One of the biggest reasons we fear change is because we are comfortable where we are. We know what things are now. We do not know what lies ahead. So it’s easier to stay where we are. It’s safer.

2.) Fear of making the wrong decision: Sometimes change can frustrate us and overwhelm us because we fear we are making a mistake. What if we change something in our lives and it turns out to be the wrong decision? We’re human. We make mistakes. We have weaknesses. But we’ve been taught from a young age that this is a bad thing. Change freaks us out because it threatens to expose our vulnerabilities. We may make a mistake. We may not be good at handling the new situation at first and there may be a learning curve involved.

3.) Fear that needs will not be met: A big thing that keeps us fearing change is the belief that too much of one thing means not enough of the other. We fear that we will not have enough time, money, or energy for other things if we make a change.

4.) Fear of being alone, unloved, unseen, unheard, not cared for or taken seriously: When things change without our permission, this fear may surface as the “Why me?” reaction. It may be the anxiety we feel as we feel like we’ll be the last one to get it, or that we’ll never get it. Or it could surface as the panic we feel if life or love gets tough, because we’re afraid it won’t work out.

Stop Fearing Change: How to do it

The best way to stop fearing change is to understand the emotions underlying the fear. Is it fear of scarcity? Fear of being alone? Fear of what other people think of you? Once you identify the core fear, it is easier to deal with.

Another way to stop fearing change is to realize that you can’t control everything. Understand that things happen and you will make mistakes. It’s inevitable. But part of getting past fear is embracing the idea that everything happens for a reason, and things will work out for the best. You can’t spend your life fearing the future; you can only make decisions based on the information you have in front of you. Just breathe, relax. Learn to control the things you can and let go of the things you can’t.