10 May 2020

ADDICTION: (I'm getting a little choked up here) STRIVE


Addiction is a degenerative disease characterized by progressive and sometimes irreversible deterioration and partial or total loss of all matter of bodily organs and functions.
Some changes are unchangeable (I'm getting a little choked up here).
Imagine being the sibling, parent or child of someone deep into their addiction. Now imagine wondering if the addict doesn't stop now, they may be on the road to where certain changes to their brain will become permanent. It may be too late already, you think.
You know that the addict or alcoholic is still using because with your own eyes you see that they have been slowly dying. You are glad when they get arrested because you know that when they are behind bars, their disease has also been arrested. It's not living, but it's not dying either. You squeeze a little hope out of this jail cell interruption. This is wearing on you, has been wearing you down for years now. Your hopes are slowly eroding, hoping for the best, but beginning to expect the worst.
Each time, each relapse, each arrest, each drama more like the countless times before. Hope itself has become degenerative.
Unwillingly, you are swept up in your user's addiction too.
You, too, will now need help.
Whether you can feel it yet or not, you are becoming the victim of a victim of addiction. Twice removed from reality you may begin to wonder about those around you. Are they becoming a victim of a victim of a victim? Thrice removed.
Addiction spreads outward from the human pool, infecting the waters.
None will be untouched.
These waters have become dark and silent.
You have long felt that everything you do and/or don't do has somehow become part of the problem.
"You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it."
You'll hear this in an Al-Anon meeting. The 3 C's. Cause, Control, Cure. "You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it."
There are no 100% right or easy answers. Every situation is different. Every person is different.
It is easy to forget that Change is possible.
"Addiction spreads outward from the human pool, infecting the waters. None will be untouched.
These waters have become dark and silent."
"Hope is still possible," I tell you.
You are reluctant. You've heard it all before, from the addict, from others in recovery, from deep within your own heart (I'm getting a little choked up here).
Change is possible.
I've seen it before.
I warn you that I've seen people suffer permanent brain damage. Suicide. Complete and utter hopelessness. But I have seen change, too. The possibility of change. The reemergence of hope after the smallest hope seemed nothing less than foolish. 
I have seen too, that recovery may miraculously spread outward from the human pool, purifying the waters. All may begin to heal. These waters may become restorative and resilient.
"It is not the most intellectual or the strongest of species that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself."- Charles Darwin
These are the waters in which we find ourselves. These are the waters of addiction and these also are the waters of recovery. Every flick of our fins may move us towards the Beauty of Recovery and away from the complicit and degenerative qualities of Addiction. 
Swim in the direction of Recovery and away from the progressive, downward pull of Addiction. There are 10,000 ways forward. 
Find your way forward because "nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
Recovery is possible, doable, beautiful.
Strive on.
It is the least, the most and sometimes the only thing that we can do.
ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com by this same author. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

18 January 2020

BECOMING UNBROKEN: Waves of Recovery*

"Some people who survive a life-altering disorder or experience develop special sensitivities, insights, and skills to help others similarly afflicted." - William L. White
Striving to motivate others is fodder for my own recovery. Brick by brick, a life in recovery is built. Fast and slow, in uncertain measure, the days go by and years of recovery are built. 'It takes a village to raise a child' and I could not have been raised out of addiction (SUD Substance Use Disorder) by my own bootstraps alone.
I encourage courage because courage will be necessary.
Shared Courage was my Gateway Drug to Recovery.
My celebration is solemn, quiet and quieting.
Delete the scientific jargon and the religious jargon and pretty much the only thing left, for me, has been others. By myself alone, I am lost, or will and would become lost again.
I live in a perpetual feedback loop of recovery. No alphabet soup of the letters of diplomas or sworn testimonials by people of faith are enough alone to keep me sober.
Connection is key.
Recovery is constructed from the debris of the persistent pummeling that addiction has been. Recovery constructs itself out of nothingness.
This short post is a single wave of recovery. I think of it as a single inhalation and exhalation. It is one continuous brushstroke forever repeated.
Recovery is life itself to me.
I will express another breath of it tomorrow or soon after.
For me, today, this is enough.
Becoming Unbroken: Waves of Recovery.
This single wave of recovery has broken on a sober shore.
And of this, I am sure: each sober day brings me closer to Becoming Unbroken.
*I think, perhaps, my second book begins right here. To read my first, ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal, click here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
For thousands of Recovery Tweets: twitter.com/JimAnders4

21 December 2019

"The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal"


In the far-flung future, when I will have written and rewritten this post several times, it will have become more refined, sculptured, recognizable. Memory of its original contents will have been altered in each subsequent remembering.
That's part of my point.
Let me proceed in rough-hewn form.
The Dilophosaurus pictured here is a fairly complete fossil.
Not so the remains of the bones of memories from my drunken days.
Like the children's puzzle book, "Where's Waldo?," I would have to do much searching to reconstruct my 30 years of drinking into a recognizable form. 
The skeletal remains of my drunken days were incomplete. 
I was broken.
Addiction breaks everyone.
Those who remain have much reconstruction to do to put together a clean, sober and survivable sense of self, a life worth living.
Go back to the title of this post, "The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal." 
What do destruction, deconstruction and reconstruction have in common? Like any fan of "Where's Waldo?" might advise you, "Keep Looking!"
It's simple. The word "STRUCTURE" is buried deep (or not so deeply) within each of these words.
Alcohol destroyed my life (structure destroyed).
What little was left would have to be held up to the light of day, examined for clues as to how it could have gone so well for so long until "by the time I had a reason to stop drinking, reason no longer had anything to do with it." 
I would have to deconstruct my past addiction to construct a life fully in recovery.
Point to make: I did not even see the word "STRUCTURE" as the unifying element underlying my book's subtitle when it was first published. Such an awareness took time. 
Recovery, for me, has been, ultimately, about structure.
Strive on! 
All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal.
It's beginning to make sense to me now.
I hope it serves you well as a tool in your Recovery Toolbox.
ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

03 December 2019

Bipolar Disorder, Crystal Meth (& lest we forget... My Alcoholism)

"Bipolar disorder can be characterized by extreme mania followed by dark depression - but so can using crystal meth."- David Sheff in Clean, p. 242.
My daily intake of alcohol followed a wide curve, a roller-coaster much as David Sheff expresses in the quote, above. Up, then down, Up, then down, my pattern of use and misuse continued for me emotionally, long after all alcohol was drained from my system. 
The first few drinks of alcohol elevated me until their accumulated effect was to bring me down. Up, Down, Pass Out, Come To. This pattern repeated itself daily for 30 years.
If three separate sheets of graph paper are drawn showing the up and down cycles of bipolar disorder, crystal meth use and alcoholism, they might (minus words of explanation) easily be mistaken for each other.
It's no wonder when I first got sober that I was misdiagnosed as having a bipolar disorder.
Long after a ship's engines are shut off, it will coast forward in the water under its own momentum before it slows to a stop.
After 30 years of daily drinking, the ups and downs produced by alcohol continued in my early sobriety. 
",,, extreme mania followed by dark depression" is only the slightest exaggeration of my worsening 30 year ride on a sea of alcohol.
Stigma slows the treatment and recovery of these 3 disorders and a boatload of other disorders that I have not included here.
Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. To each and all.
No matter what boat you're on or off or in or out or under or around or through.
Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
You may also enjoy my Autobiographical Fiction, ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

07 October 2019

The Symbolic Emergence of a New & Sober Self (at JBRC)


"At my second two-week Rehab at the Institute for Human Development [now John Brooks Recovery Center (JBRC)], ... high on Librium as we detoxify on alcohol and other drugs, one guy gave five or six of us a new haircut, one after the other. That was the symbolic start of the emergence of a new and sober self for me. An aboriginal ritual. 'Today you are a man. Free of alcohol and drugs. Go forth. Build a new life.' None of that was said aloud, of course, and the symbol of the haircut and the reality of the haircut were quite different things.
Am I splitting hairs?
Yes, but wisely (Har-de-har-har hair)."
And 'build a new life' indeed, I did.
Without OTHERS, my Recovery would be un-doable & un-sustainable. In no time flat, I would be replaced by a Relapse (and unknown consequences leading up to and likely including death).
With the help of OTHERS (this is a very partial list) these are some of the stops on my trip to my life of Recovery:
JBRC (twice)
AtlantiCare Hospital (countless times)
Homeless Buddies in & out of Recovery (homeless twice)
Atlantic City Detox (back-in-the-day, twice)
Lakewood Hospital (extended stay)
Atlantic City Rescue Mission (twice, once sober, once not)
and with a Host of OTHERS, I have remained Clean & Sober....
Let me end by saying "THANKS!" to You and All the Many OTHERS without whom I would not even be here today!!!
Recovery is doable, sustainable, irreplaceable.
Share the Riches of your Recovery.
I'd like to suggest that you consider donating some of your time &/or money to a favorite charity. Help others in the Emergence of Their New & Sober Selves.
(I am a John Brooks Recovery Center volunteer and have donated $10 to Jim's Birthday Fundraiser for John Brooks Recovery Center - A New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation).
Share the Wealth.
Move forward....
Give back....
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
The quote at the beginning of this post is from my Autobiographical Fiction: ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

16 September 2019

"HEALING: Preparing for the Next Wound"


"A man who suffers before it is necessary suffers more than is necessary." - Seneca

"Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn't get you anywhere." - Anonymous
Learning to live without the next drink prepared me for whatever battles I will have had to face without that drink. And I've had plenty.
My Recovery from Alcoholism prepared me for my diagnosis, treatment and eventual Recovery from Cancer. 
"HEALING: Preparing for the Next Wound" may sound a bit Ouch-y!, but life is tough and as a young kid, the only tools in my toolbox were alcohol and other drugs. I would and did get through practically everything with a drink in my hand.
Alcohol was my solution to everything, yet it solved nothing (much like worry in the opening anonymous quote). And alcohol, so much like any other addictive substance, caused me unnecessary suffering, much more, in most cases, than any pain it was attempting to offset or relieve. 
I used alcohol preemptively to kill the pain of any impending doom I may have anticipated. As a preemptive measure, alcohol failed miserably. 
Addiction is a cul-de-sac, a road with no apparent end or escape.
Recovery is healing, learning to cope with all of life's issues, large and small, without dependence on a substance to deaden any possible future pains.
"HEALING: Preparing for the Next Wound" is another way of saying that Recovery taught me to live life on life's terms. 
After overcoming alcohol, cancer was a little bump in the road compared to what it may have been had I not learned to survive my Substance Use Disorder (SUD) first.
Nothing about Addiction is empowering, but Recovery from Addiction IS empowering.
RESILIENCE: Recovery taught me resilience. 
And the Next Wound?
I am Ready. I am Willing. I am Able.
ALCOHOLISM: Loving to drink. Living to drink. Dying to drink. Dying from drinking.
RECOVERY: Wanting to live. Learning to live. Loving to live. Living with love.
Addiction prepared me for nothing. Recovery has prepared me for everything.
[Please NOTE: The quotes excerpted here are two of the 180 found in All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal]
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

14 September 2019


A child may not know all of the facts, theories or nuances of Addiction and Recovery. All she may know for sure is that "I Got My Mommy Back!" and her realization that one of her many nightmares and sleepless nights and crying may now be put to rest.
Addiction Dissolves Human Connection.
Recovery Reunites.
Recovery proclaims "Welcome back. You have returned to the Human Race. You are the Face of Recovery."
The reunification of this mother and this child grabbed me to the quick.
Addiction had separated these two as Addiction separates anyone from themselves and from the world-at-large.
[The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that more than one in eight American children are raised by one or more parents or guardians who have a (SUD) Substance Use Disorder.]
To these two (and to you, and yes, even to myself) I wish to offer my thanks for this Gentle and Strong Reminder that Change is Always Possible....
"You Are Not Alone."
Thank you for your Courage.
May your Resilience Reign.
Let Us all Continue to Connect in this Most Very Human Way.
Addiction be Damned!
She got her Mommy back.
(& Thanks for Giving me an Extra Helping of Hope!)

20 August 2019

"The Distinction Between a User, Abuser, and Addict...


"The distinction between a user, abuser and addict is irrelevant when a person is sentenced to prison because he was driving high and killed someone, or when he suffers permanent brain damage or a stroke, or when he OD's." - David Sheff, "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy," p. 77.
Sheff's quote left me speechless, lost in reflection of my own slow descent into addictive hell.
Escalating forms of denial accompany the up-and-coming addict as they go down-and-out.
How well I remember that "by the time I had a reason to stop drinking, reason no longer had anything to do with it." I flowed seamlessly from user to abuser to full-blown addict.
Truth and consequences took a back seat once addiction was in the driver's seat.
As I've heard in the rooms of recovery, 'Jails, institutions and death' are addiction's usual destinations.
Even after recovery has been achieved, addiction seems patiently to lie in wait, to take up where it left off.
User, abuser, addict?
"Loving to drink. Living to drink. Dying to drink. Dying from drinking. This is the progression of alcoholism. Wanting to live. Learning to live. Loving to live. Living with love. This is the progression of recovery."
Love will solve what stigma has dissolved.
Quotes which follow David Sheff's are excerpted from All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

30 July 2019

Book Review of "Unbreakable Mind: Channeling Your Survival Instincts after Catastrophic Injury"

by Jim Anders

A Book For Everyone Recovering from Anything (5***** Stars)

Steven Quigley's  spinal cord injury was his Lemon. "Unbreakable Mind: Channeling Your Survival Instincts after Catastrophic Injury" is his Lemonade.
The 18 Chapters of "Unbreakable Mind" contain many seeds of wisdom (Lemonade pun intended), far too many to include in this short 5***** Star Reader Review, but here are a few I found particularly Awesome:
1. "... quietly, below the surface, each of us has a wound we need to heal." (Chapter 12)
2. "It is only twelve inches from the mind to the heart, but so few manage the journey." (Chapter 1)
3. "Doctors and hospitals do not heal you- you heal yourself!" (Chapter 3)
4. "... masking pain can be deadly, it only hides the underlying problem and can lead to an escalation in the use of painkillers or creating a dependency." (Chapter 9) I masked my pain with alcohol. Let "Unbreakable Mind" serve as a tool of introspection so that you may become Unbreakable, too.
5. "Your team is everything- so built it wisely and strongly." (Chapter 10) This book is powerful. Reading it will put Steven Quigley on YOUR Team.
6. "The physical fight is only the first of many battles in your recovery and some will be broken by it before they begin their journey to a new life." (Chapter 17) To paraphrase Steven Quigley, the biggest fight exists in your mind.
From deep within yourself, through connection with others, you will "find a way to help other people." (Chapter 18) "Unbreakable Mind" is engrossing, thought-provoking, inspirational. Dive deep, connect, emerge more fully whole. Pass it on. 5 Stars.

Here's the link to "Unbreakable Mind" https://www.amazon.com/Unbreakable-Mind-Channeling-Instincts-Catastrophic/dp/0692129901/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=%22Unbreakable+Mind%3A+Channeling+Your+Survival+Instincts+after+Catastrophic+Injury%22&qid=1564506413&s=gateway&sr=8-1

29 July 2019


"Ninety percent of people who need help never receive it. Indeed, people with addiction are more likely to wind up in prison than in rehab." - David Sheff, "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy," p. 15
Our so-called War on Drugs has turned out to be more a War on Addicts.
It goes beyond lawyers and laws. If David Sheff's quote (above) is correct, which I believe it is, it points to larger problems than our criminal justice system.
Blaming the victims of addiction by stigmatizing substance use disorders does nothing to help people striving to get their lives back together. Stigma kills. It makes the recovery process ever-more difficult. Punishment doled out in the form or employment and housing discrimination are among a host of other below-the-belt punches, far beyond and after an addict is released from a jail cell. Looks of disgust and mistrust will accompany them for years to come. Social barriers to recovery are so prevalent, so part and parcel of expected behavior as to be nearly unnoticed by the uninformed John Q. Public.
Stigma for those still using. Stigma for those struggling to live in recovery. Looked at in abhorrence, an anathema to be scorned without pity, recovery for many and most has not been made any easier by the social-fabric-of-the-day. Injustice. The War on Drugs has hardened our Culture to the Core.
I am an alcoholic in long-term recovery. I had been dehumanized by alcohol, humiliated by the world-at-large. The Stigma Enigma, as I've called it elsewhere, is the punishing by the outside world of those already punished by addiction. The stigma continues long past the last drug use, long after the prison door of addiction has opened.
The slightest glimmer of hope sustains me.
The smallest of changes may have the most profound effects. Here, where I live, there used to be an institution called DRUG COURT. This is a place where addicts on drug-related offenses are given the opportunity to start a new life in Recovery.
The smallest change, miraculous, has been a simple change in language. DRUG COURT is now called RECOVERY COURT.
My job is done here. Check out this wonderful article: https://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/employment-key-to-recovery-court-graduates-success-judge-says/article_978893e3-c46a-5cf3-9b3b-763864296c0b.html
One simple change: Someone said something like let's call DRUG COURT something that better describes its purpose. Let's call it RECOVERY COURT.
This reminds me of my wonder as a child after giving a kaleidoscope a simple quarter turn: Everything changes.
One small change. A simple change of focus can move mountains.
It's a start. It's a start. It's a start.
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
[NOTE: I've never been in jail, but I know full-well the prison of addiction. You might enjoy my book: ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal ]
Find it on Amazon.com here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4