Ask Dr. Al: What is Recovery?

What is Recovery?

Getting and staying sober is the first priority when someone gets into recovery. But most soon learn that recovery is about so much more. Here are some basic truths about living in recovery.

Recovery is a way of life. Recovery is about building and enjoying a better life for yourself in sobriety. It’s about finding and developing loving relationships, solid friendships, strong community ties, satisfying work, and invigorating play. It’s about spending your life in good health and good spirits. It’s about living a good life steeped in the culture of recovery.What is Recovery

Recovery is about healing. Over time you’ll notice that your body is healing. Even  better, your brain will be healing as well. Addiction hijacked your brain, making it very hard for you to make good choices. As you focus your thoughts and actions on sobriety and recovery, your cravings will disappear and your thoughts will no longer focus solely on getting your next fix. Thinking about recovery, and building your life around it, will be your new normal.

Recovery is a process. It takes time. You can’t expect it all to happen overnight. You need to build your new life one day at a time, on top of a rock-solid foundation. That means following the Recovery Zone System, where you focus first on saving your life (Red Zone) and then on rebuilding it (Yellow Zone). Eventually, you’ll reach the point where you can celebrate your life and share the gift of recovery with others (Green Zone).

For many people, the process also means sticking with a 12-step support fellowship like AA or NA. In fact, these two pathways—the Recovery Zone System and the 12-step philosophy—work hand in hand. Continue Reading →

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Ask Dr. Al: Why are so many people using heroin now?

It seems there has been an increase in the number of heroin users. Why?

Heroin use is indeed on the rise. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of people who abused or were dependent on heroin more than doubled, from 214,000 to 467,000 (another 202,000 had used heroin at least once in that year).* It’s a complex issue, but in large part it goes back to the misuse of prescription painkillers in recent years. These drugs became so much easier to get—legally and illegally—and many people were getting hooked on them. Between 2004 and 2012, the number of people abusing or dependent on painkillers rose from 1.4 to 2.1 million.

Many people then found that prescription painkillers were too expensive to buy on the street, or found that their supply dried up, and turned to heroin, which is cheaper and easy to find. We’ve been left with a full-blown heroin epidemic in the U.S.

Far too many people are now dying of overdoses of heroin or prescription painkillers.

 

* Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.

 

The Recovery Book

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Ask Dr. Al: How big of a problem is addiction today?

How big of a problem is addiction today?

According to recent statistics*, about 22.2 million people in the U.S. age 12 or older (8.5 percent) were abusing or dependent on drugs or alcohol in 2012. The largest subgroup, 14.9 million, misused alcohol only.

Most of those 22 million people needed treatment for their addiction. But sadly, very few get it. Only about 2.5 million got treatment at a specialized facility that year. That leaves more than 20 million people who needed treatment but didn’t get it.

 

* Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.

The Recovery Book

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Quick Start Guide to The Recovery Book

Newcomer, old-timer, family member, doctor? Not sure where to dive into The Recovery Book or how to best use it? The quick start guide to The Recovery Book is for you. We also have handy guides to the Recovery Zone System, the Recovery Zone System chart (annotated with relevant chapters), and chapter highlights. (Or get them all with the All Guides document.)

The Recovery Book – Quick Start Guide (pdf)

The Recovery Book – The Recovery Zone System  (pdf)

The Recovery Book – The Recovery Zone System chart  (pdf)

The Recovery Book – Chapter Highlights  (pdf)

The Recovery Book – All Guides  (pdf)

 

The Recovery Book (2nd ed)

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Recovery Stories | Jerry Moe: Helping Kids at Betty Ford

Jerry Moe worries about full-grown alcoholics and addicts, but he worries more about their children. He’s been dedicated for 36 years to mitigating the damage to boys and girls 7-12 years old. He leads a model Children’s Program at the Betty Ford Center, to help kids understand the past and present chaos in their lives. Jerry shared his story with The Recovery Book.

I’m focused on the one disease that tries to convince you that you don’t have it, thereby preventing you from reaching out for help until it’s close to destroying you and all you love. But children who’ve lived in fear and confusion can’t wait. They need help as soon as possible: explanations of “Why do my Mom and Dad fight and scream at each other all the time and do those wild weird things?” And they desperately need assurances that it won’t happen again next week, or after their parents are in recovery. Continue Reading →

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My Recovery | Frank: Staying Sober on Campus

College campuses can be minefields for recovering drinkers and drug users. Many of them are as well known for partying as for scholarship. Frank B. dodged that bullet when he registered at Georgia Southern University. With support from the Willingway Foundation, Georgia Southern opened a Center for Addiction Recovery, a program that serves the needs of students in recovery. It is one of a growing number of colleges where students in recovery can find a “safe harbor.” Here’s what Frank experienced.

I had quite a few concerns about transitioning from a halfway house into college. The main one was the fear of losing my newfound sobriety in an environment where a lot of students were probably there as much for a good time as for an education. I worried, too, that there’d be a stigma on campus to enrolling specifically in the university’s Center for Addiction Recovery (CAR). Good news. When the subject came up, fellow students just figured the CAR was a division of the psych department. They assumed I was majoring in the study of addiction and recovery. Continue Reading →

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