The Rehab Experience

  I have spent my fair share of time in treatment facilities. I have experienced state-mandated, public, and private treatment. All of the centers I have attended have been extremely different. I have written this article to share my experience with treatment and explore the ins and outs of different treatment centers.

 

By the time I was 16 I had an extensive relationship with the police in my city. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before I got locked up, and it finally happened a few weeks before I turned 17. I had head-butted a police officer as he attempted to arrest me for a DWI. The county decided to send me to a phenomenal lock-up facility in south Texas. At this time in my life I couldn’t imagine being sober and following the basic rules of society. But there I was, young and well on my way to being a drug addict, headed for south Texas.

 

 

What I learned at my first state-funded treatment facility:

 

1.     No matter where I ended up, I had to want to be sober in order to get sober.

2.     If the state made me do it, I would never be able to stay sober successfully.

3.     I learned the 12 Steps worked, but I had to work them (which I was unwilling to do).

4.     State-funded centers had terrible food and the staff didn’t seem to be fully invested in the patients’ recovery.

 

When I left treatment, I immediately got on Suboxone and Xanax. This would end up being one of the worst decisions I had ever made. I tried to go to college, but ended up leaving. I went back to my hometown and the evil progression of addiction took hold. It was a matter of months before I had picked up a couple of felonies and was back in jail.

 

            After I was arrested, a judge in Austin (where I got my final conviction) allowed me to attend a rehab facility under the county’s supervision. I spent some time incarcerated, then was transferred to this facility.

 

 

What I learned at my second state-funded facility:

 

1.     I learned people could change if they were ready to change.

2.     I realized addiction takes hold of people’s lives and leaves them either incarcerated or dead.

3.     I realized the importance of the 12 Steps.

 

            I was not attentive to any part of the program, and refused to abide by the rules. I was kicked out shortly after the 1 month mark for getting high, and my probation was revoked. I spent some time in jail before they released me back to my home county to deal with the pending felonies.

 

            After returning home, I was on bail awaiting my court case. I ended up getting another felony before my trial. The cycle of addiction and desolation was very real for me. I had few remaining options until an offer materialized on the day of my signing. Somehow my attorney worked some magic and made it possible for me to avoid years of prison time in exchange for attending a privately funded rehab facility. Little did I know then, but this decision was going to change my life forever.

 

            I was transferred, for a third time, from county jail to the new facility. I was more broken than I had previously thought possible. I had no friends, no belongings, and my family relations were nonexistent.  This was the beginning of my new life.

 

What I learned at a private treatment facility:

 

1.     My willingness could be forged by experience only.

2.     A community of like-minded peers could guide me to admit my faults and find my truth.

3.     The 12 Steps could and would save my life.

4.     A connection with my family, God, and the people around me was possible.

5.     A better life than I had ever imagined was possible-- without drugs.

6.     The food was great and all of the staff were recovering addicts and alcoholics who knew what it took to be sober.

7.     I was given a plan for recovery, providing realistic and attainable goals for the future.

 

I wouldn’t change my past for anything in this world. I have grown, lived, and experienced things which I can utilize to help others. My goal with this article was to share my experience at different treatment centers. This is not to say you cannot get sober and stay clean in a state-funded center (or even at home). However, the chances of getting and staying sober are much greater in a private facility. I spent most of my savings on treatment and it was the best investment I have ever made.  

Sex: The Hardest Topic

People will say I'm nuts (not that they don't already) if I plan on providing details of how to have a morally successful sex life in this article. That isn't what this is about. This is only what I see as wrong, which leaves room for the right.

 

First off, if you're putting another individual above your relationship with God and staying clean, then you are screwed. A mature and genuine relationship cannot be through two humans pretending to see each other as God. It will not work, drug addict or not. Relationships should not be about living life around the other person, but about living life WITH the other person.

 

Second off, if you are meeting this person in a place of discernment, then you are going to lose yourself in fixing them. You cannot begin to fix someone else if you haven't fixed yourself. Life is not a fucking Nicholas Sparks novel. Take care of yourself, so you can be happy with someone who does the same.

 

Thirdly, if you both suffer from the same issues BE CAREFUL. I hear a lot in life "don't eat where you shit." But is that applicable to recovery? It definitely can be. Check your motives. Are you attending certain places hoping to find another person? Or are you going to help yourself?

 

Finally, following the last paragraph, if you continue to live life as a means to an end situation, hoping someone will make you happy, you will continue to hurt. Stop having sex without meaning and chances are you have a chance of not only bettering yourself in the meantime, but meeting someone who will and has done the same.

Addiction and The Family

            If you have been around addiction and recovery for long enough, it’s almost guaranteed you will have heard the expression “addiction is a family disease.” But what does this mean? Individuals who struggle with addiction often believe—or want to believe—that they are only hurting themselves. But the reality is more complicated than that. The truth is that addiction is like a tornado, tearing through lives. The addict or alcoholic gets hurt by it, but so does everyone around them, and usually the ones closest to them get hurt the worst. This means families often take the biggest hit when it comes to addiction.

            Addiction hurts the family in multiple ways. No one wants to watch someone they love suffer, and addiction always seems to bring suffering with it. Imagine someone you care about—a son or daughter, brother or sister—once bright, loving, and full of life, slowly starts to change. They act differently, spending less time with you and more time alone or with new friends, seem tired, become depressed or angry. Their appearance changes as well. They start to get sloppy, not caring about how they dress or look as if they aren’t taking care of themselves anymore. They start to steal from you, to start fights with you and other family members. Imagine not knowing if they will come home tonight, and worrying they might die. This can give you an idea of how hard it is to be the family member of an addict, and how much damage it can do.

            That’s why addiction treatment focuses on more than just getting the addict or alcoholic to stop using drugs or alcohol. This is a good first step, but it’s only the beginning. The addicted person needs to heal—and so does the family. After the damage done by addiction, it can take years for things to get better. Family members should be involved in the recovery process. They were also hurt by addiction, and they need to have their own journey of recovery. Once this happens, it becomes possible for the family to be happy together again.

            My own addiction did a lot more damage than I would like to admit. My father recently told me he had to change his ringtone since the old one gave him bad memories of hearing from me when I was on drugs. Between the lying, stealing, and yelling on my part, and my family constantly wondering where I was and what kind of problem I was going to cause next, I caused more stress than anything else in their lives. And the whole time, there I was telling myself it was only my problem.

            While it wasn’t an easy thing for them to do, my family couldn’t handle the stress of dealing with me anymore and had to cut me off. We didn’t speak for years. I was no longer welcome in the house I grew up in. Thankfully, recovery has helped immensely to remedy the situation. After I was sober for a year, I was finally able to sit down with my family members for a heart-to-heart. I did my best to admit what was wrong and make things right. Things are getting better now—I’ve been back to my old house for dinner, and I’m even invited to my sister’s graduation. And this means the world to me—what would I have without family? Addiction tears families apart—but recovery can help put them back together.

 

How To Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety

 

Throughout our lives, we each experience anxiety. Whether it’s the nervousness of the first day of school, a first date, or when our favorite sports team is playing, we all feel it from time to time. Anxiety can usually be attributed to external situations and is often harmless. But there is a serious type of anxiety that leads to constant worry and tension. It begins to interfere with our lives, creating extreme discomfort and eventually depression. This more serious anxiety is what I am here to write about. I hope this article can help you or anyone you know who is struggling with anxiety.

 

            I remember clearly the first panic attack I ever had. I was in San Francisco visiting my uncle. I was about 12. The summer before this trip I had developed an odd phobia of vomiting. I was so afraid to vomit that I would plan my life around avoiding it. I made sure I never ate anything bad, washed my hands compulsively, and avoided anyone I thought was sick. This obsession had taken full control of my life, causing me to lose about 25 pounds. On the way to San Francisco, I was terrified that I would, at some point, vomit.

 

            Once I got to San Francisco my uncle and I spent some quality time together. We went out to eat (making sure the food was fresh), toured the city, and even went to see the Athletics play baseball. My first panic attack happened at the game. It was the fifth inning, and my stomach starting feeling bubbly and sour. I started to panic, sweating and breathing hard. I thought my life was coming to an end. I quickly raced up the steps and into a bathroom where I began to pace back and forth in fear. My mind was telling me I was going to puke unless I did something extreme. I ran to the sink and poured water all over my head and shirt. That didn’t help. Now I was wet and still had to vomit. I raced outside the bathroom to find my uncle standing there looking very confused. My mind raced for an explanation to give him, and as quickly as that, I didn’t feel like vomiting anymore.

 

            The key in dealing with anxiety is understanding the power of the mind. Like I explained in my story, my mind was obsessed with the idea of failure. I was so wrapped up in the fear of vomiting, I created a literal hell inside my head in which vomiting was going to happen. Writing this now, I can laugh at the extreme places my mind will take me. Today I have absolutely no fear of vomiting. To be honest, I like puking now. It’s relieving, especially after an Oakland A’s baseball game. J

 

 

Anxiety Solutions

 

1.     Recognize anxiety and panic attacks alone cannot kill you. You may feel like you’re dying, but you won’t die.

 

2.     Anxiety is all created in the mind. Without the mind, would you suffer anxiety? Absolutely not.

 

3.     Focus on your breath. Every time you are feeling anxious, notice the way you breathe without even having to think about it. Breath in deeply and feel it reach your lungs. Then breath out slowly.

 

4.     Affirmations: Think of five things you love about yourself. After all, there is no need to be anxious if you understand your beauty and importance to this world. We can all succeed by realizing our value.

 

5.     Notice the world around you. Anxiety and being in the present moment cannot coexist. Be grateful you are who you are, where you are, with whoever you’re there with. J

Are You Ready for A Relationship?

 

    There are differing opinions on when a recovering addict or alcoholic should enter into a relationship. Many people say “wait a year.” But what is the right amount of time? This article is targeted toward those that enter into recovery single and does not apply to individuals that are already married or in serious relationships. I hope that through sharing my own personal experience, readers can learn to love in the right way.

 

            Within twenty days of leaving inpatient treatment, I began dating women. I had been sober for a grand total of four months and felt I was ready to take on the world (and all the big-breasted women living in it). In reality, I had no idea how sick and unprepared I was for a relationship. The first girl I started seeing was in for a treat: I thought that in order to be “honest and transparent” I needed to tell her everything. I told her I planned on having meaningless sex with her and still seeing others. Things ended soon after that.

 

            My second fling, at six months clean, was filled with sex and only sex. We spent no time getting to know each other. All we did was have sex. Afterward, I would put on my clothes and she would leave. To some, this may sound like an ideal relationship, but it was not. It was empty. She felt shame for finding validation in the bedroom, and I felt bad for using her for sex. We never took the time to understand each other and find something deeper. This relationship soon ended as well.

 

            The next few women were nothing more than one- or two-night stands. It was easy, but it meant nothing beyond physical enjoyment. What I learned from these encounters was that I was, in my first fifteen months of sobriety, not willing to take women—or myself-- seriously. I brought into each relationship an inability to respect the boundaries of another individual, place my priorities (and keep them) in order, and practice patience. Most importantly, I hadn’t been willing to bring God into my sex life. It ended badly each and every time.

 

            So when is it the right time? I can’t give you a number, but I can tell you that you need to be able to bring a couple of things into relationships. You must be able to offer more than you take. You must be able to hold on to what kept you sober before the relationship. And most importantly, you must be capable of bringing God into your relationship consistently. There is no set timeframe for these things to happen, but ten to fifteen months of strong recovery on your own will greatly improve your chances of making it with someone else.

            

Do You Know Love?

 

          The crazy thing about love is that it is always available. Love has always been there and always will be. The problem does not lie in its lack of availability, but in its lack of application. Meaning that I have spent years in a pool of self-pity without any regard for positive views of myself. Therefore, I could never love anyone else because I never accepted that I was worth loving. I am hopeful that this short article will help anyone struggling with the idea of love, loving themselves, or showing love to others.

 

            The first time I felt alone was when I was five years old. I remember that day clearly. My dad had just been released from prison and was extremely violent. One day when I returned home from school, I found my Dad beating my Mom. She was being choked, her face white, and covered in bruises. I quickly rushed over to them and pleaded for this to stop. They refused to acknowledge their child. The abuse continued, so I quickly ran to my room and laid under my bed. This place under my bed became my comfort zone. I finally, at five years old, understood isolation and loneliness.

 

            The violence did not stop. It continued on and off for years. I could not help to feel as though I was responsible for my mom and dad fighting, and for such pain inside of the household. One day, I asked them why they fought, and the reply was simple. “Because of you.” He said.

 

            This is a vivid memory I have of my childhood. I am not telling this minor story out of a state of victimization. It is quite the contrary. I am extremely grateful for my experiences as a child because it has allowed me to understand reality. Before I continue with the story, I would like to highlight some things I realized about life:

 

1.     I do not have the power to control others. People will always act out of their own perspectives. (In other words, I will never make someone do something.)

 

2.     Some behavior is learned to do and some behavior is learned to avoid. Regardless of external circumstances, upbringings, or situations, we can make good choices. (Excuses can be found anywhere. But when we stop seeking them, truth arises.)

 

3.     I am worthy of Love. (This is the most important. And within this realization all things in life are possible.)

 

            My Dad and mom divorced time and time again until they finally split for good. He remained in prison, and my mom and I moved on with life. It was then that I began to look at myself in the mirror and see the truth. I was beautiful. What had happened to me was only a testament that God allowed in my life. I had set myself free by finally accepting the past, people, and situations for what they were. I understood love because I realized I deserved love myself. 

 

Accountability: Building Tomorrow with Action Today

When I was a younger, I would always look to my grandfather for advice. He would spend hours sharing his personal experiences of emptiness and greed with me in order to try and teach me to avoid such things. No matter how many stories he told, there was always one commonality; he would end them with the same distinct solution. At the end of each tale, he would look at me square in the face and say “What did you learn from these stories?” What I learned from my grandfather was something that I would carry with me into my adult life. Whether it was a story of his friends getting into thievery or his narratives of losing money, I understood one thing: by holding myself accountable to my actions, I will always find true prosperity. 

 

In an earlier stage of my life, I came to a point of losing all accountability within myself, my family and my jobs through addiction. Looking back on it now, the one thing that seems clear (even through the haziness of my using years) is that I was always deceitful to myself. I maintained this theory that if I was dishonest to myself I was harming no one, that my self-destruction was only affecting me. If you’ve had the misfortune of seeing someone you love self-destruct, you know very well that that wasn’t the case. It’s crucial that people understand that when a person is lacking accountability for themselves, it start a series of events that causes harm in themselves as well as harm in others. There will never be healthy relationships on this earth without individuals taking responsibility for their actions, learning from their mistakes and moving towards a solution.

 

It wasn’t until after I got clean that I really found the importance of holding myself responsible for my choices. I started by creating lists of people that I had harmed and exhausted my efforts in making things right again. I realized that if I wanted to continue to stay clean, preserve healthy relationships, hold a job and continue to help others, I needed to continue to do what is right within myself. 

 

Throughout my experiences, I learned that accountability is not always a smooth and painless process. After setting aside my pride, I learned practical ways to act upon what is right. As a result, I started to gain happiness, positive relationships and courage. By holding myself accountable to doing what is right, I was able to look myself in the mirror and know that I love myself because I have accepted my mistakes, failures and misdeeds. I can now move forward with my life and believe tomorrow will be better because of the action I put in today. 

To The Normal Parents

How do I know if my child is an addict? What is addiction? Why is it affecting my child?  This article is for the parents of those who struggle with addiction. In the relationship between an addict and their parents, I often see anger, confusion, and mistrust. When addiction becomes a problem in your child’s life, what do you need to know?

 

Addiction is much more than “struggling.” We don’t use simply because we are having a hard time in life. Addicts or alcoholics will use whether they are happy, sad, or indifferent. The important thing to understand is that once an addict has started using, they feel a fundamental need to continue. Using is not simply an immoral choice. In order to understand addiction as a disease, we must avoid blaming those who suffer from it.

 

Your child is an addict if they are an addict. “No shit,” I hear you saying. But you may not understand the seriousness of that simple statement. Addiction can happen whether you are a phenomenal parent or you feed them ramen through a hole in the closet door. Once a certain threshold has been reached in the brain, there is no turning back. Time and again, I see parents blaming themselves for their child’s addiction. Sure, sometimes kids don’t grow up in ideal circumstances. Sure, stress and conflict can make recreational drug use more likely. But these events do not create addiction.

 

Here is an extremely personal example. My father grew up in a household with both parents. He had a brother and a sister. The family was happy and money was not an issue. He was a football star, got all the girls, and had tons of friends. In spite of everything, he became an addict.

 

On the other hand, I grew up with a single mom, struggling for money. We were happy together, but things were not easy for us. I became an addict as well.

 

My father and I had two completely different upbringings, yet we both happened to be addicts. Genetics may have played a role, but the point is this: my dad grew up with good values and everything provided for him and became an addict anyway.

 

It is impossible to diagnose another person as an addict or alcoholic or begin to place blame on the causes of addiction. For any parents that may be questioning themselves, please remember it is NOT your fault. But you can offer help and support. If you see your child struggling, whether 15 or 35, please reach out. We are always here to help. 

Be Glad That You're Unhappy

Beyond being a phenomenal sober living facility, we also have enough real world experience to share around. One thing I learned is that regardless of external circumstances, there is always beauty to be found in any situation. Whether being locked in jail or having complete freedom, all of those unhappy feelings are actually wonderful.

It took a long time for me to be able to see positivity in the world. I was always angry before I got sober. It was as if everyone was doing something wrong and out to get me. When in reality, no one was out to get me. In fact, no one noticed that I was the center of the universe. I was creating an evil world, producing a negative view of everyone around me. I constructed all of this inside my head. I was unhappy, it seemed, to appear important, better than, and most of all, noticed.

To be clear, this is not an article on the root of why we feel the need to be unhappy, or why our perspectives create our realities. I could go on and on about why unhappiness existed in my life. This is an article to congratulate you for being able to feel. If we weren’t able to feel, then would we be human beings? Isn’t it time that we start to appreciate our unhappiness for what it is?

So, I have created a little homework for anyone who takes the time to read this. (thanks by the way) The next time someone pisses you off, congratulate them. Instead of cursing their name and the day they were born, exclaim your gratitude for being able to hear from them. The next time that you feel alone in this world, thank God for being able to have a chance to realize this. And most importantly, the next time you think you have it bad, look into the mirror and be thankful you have a chance to live today. After all, to deny our feelings is to deny ourselves. And we may love ourselves too much to deny it.

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Eminem: His Addiction to recovery

Marshall Mathers, better known to the world as Eminem, is one of the most popular recording artists of all time. He has sold over 172 million albums—making him the bestselling hip-hop artist in America, and one of the bestselling artists of any genre.

 

            Many of today’s young people grew up listening to Eminem. But what they may not know is that he is in recovery from addiction. For years, Eminem could not control his use of painkillers and benzodiazepines. Today, he does what he needs to do in order to stay sober and keep his life together.

 

 

Spiraling Out of Control

 

            Eminem discusses his drug addiction in detail in the documentary “How to Make Money Selling Drugs.” When he first took Vicodin, a prescription painkiller containing acetaminophen and the opioid hydrocodone, he loved it. But taking the pills didn’t seem like such a bad thing. After all, he told himself, it’s not as if he was using cocaine or heroin.

 

            As time passed, his desire for the pills only grew. Soon, Eminem was mixing drugs, adding the benzodiazepines Xanax and Valium into the mix. Eventually, he would overdose on methadone, another opioid commonly used as a maintenance drug for heroin addicts. But within a month of leaving the hospital, he had relapsed.

 

            His drug use took a toll on his body as well. The amount of pills he was taking started to eat holes in his stomach. To deal with the discomfort, he would eat mass amounts of food, causing him to grow to around 230 pounds.

 

            Eminem knew he had to find recovery or die.

 

 

Recovery

 

            Eminem’s first step toward recovery was detoxing himself. At home, he spent three weeks without sleeping as his body adjusted to sobriety. His motor and speech skills suffered and he struggled to function. But over time, things got better.

 

            Exercise became a major part of Eminem’s recovery. He started running, working his way up to 17 miles per day. When all the distance began to take a toll on his legs, he switched to using workout videos. His weight dropped until he was under 150 pounds.

 

            Eventually, Eminem released two albums: “Relapse” and “Recovery,” about his struggle with drugs. Today, he identifies himself as a drug addict in recovery.

Hope for the family

Why do we have such an intense focus on bringing the addict back to the family?

 

Bringing an addict or alcoholic back into their family’s lives seems obvious to us. But at many other sober living homes, including some in Dallas, the focus remains on the individual. We at Real Deal Recovery believe that for an individual to find successful recovery, the community and family must be considered.

 

The rules at our program are very simple.  We have a strong focus on rebuilding the relationship that was lost between the suffering addict or alcoholic and their family. With time and personal growth, the hurt, shame, and devastation of lost family relations can be healed. Families will be better than ever if the addict or alcoholic is prepared to work for it. We offer a lot more than experience and hope. We can tell you true stories of families rejoining and being happy together. 

 

We strive to be the best sober living in Dallas. If you ask our staff or any of our current residents and their families about us, you will get the same answer. We are confident we will produce results in rebuilding families-- either the resident will work to repair relations, or he will not stay in our facility. If the resident is progressing correctly in his program, we see success in the residents and their families. It is that simple. If the family members chose us for sober living in Dallas, they will see one thing very clearly: provided he is ready, the resident will reintegrate successfully.

 

So what’s the next step? Apply online if your son is struggling. If you have any questions, please contact us. We strive to not only be the best sober living in Dallas, but also to give each resident the skills and desire to treat his family properly.

 

It’s no wonder each resident we have successfully discharged now enjoys a strong relationship with his family.