I know that feeling so well.
I was so desperate to get sober I would grab onto anything that could help me except for “The Program”. Anything but that. I want to share with you a few things that helped my journey into sobriety like supplements, medication, movement and affirmations. It truly is a holistic deal.
And here’s the thing, I am going to say some controversial things in this article that some people might not like.
Most people in traditional recovery programs don’t go against the traditions and in fact, I’m not supposed to even mention it publicly. I have failed countless times — way more than I’ve succeeded. I also have very little time sober.
The entire program is based on anonymity. However, it has worked for me to wear my sobriety on my sleeve. It helps to disintegrate the shame.
“It’s time for the AA communities to come up out of the church basements and into the light.” — Tommy Rosen
Start by detoxing the fuck out of your liver. First thing in the morning on an empty stomach, mix 4 tablespoons with 12 ounces of water. Add some lemon and chug. It tastes bad and depending on how toxic your body is, you might get a little nauseas, but it will pass.
You’ve been putting a lot of crap into your system — you have to work a little to get it out. Apple cider vinegar and lemon are very alkalizing, whereas alcohol is very acidifying. It will lessen the bloating and inflammation. If you make this a regular practice, you will start to look and feel better much more quickly. People like a clear face and when your skin glows, they tend to respond better than say, when you’re grey.
Science has well beyond proven that neurons that fire together, wire together. So when you are calling on the powers that be to support and assist you — and look on that note — your Higher Power could be Mother Nature since she is bigger than you.
We know is there is an intelligence to the earth, and the universe far more powerful than our little individual selves. So think of yourself as a cell, one organism that’s part of a larger body called Earth. Cells gotta work together.
Go with it! You’ve got to be desperate enough to try anything at this point. Ask this “something bigger than you” to support you in staying sober today. It can’t hurt: “help me stay sober today.” The power of group prayers or affirmations gets multiplied infinitely, tap into that.
“Emotion is created by motion.” — Tony Robbins
Drinking gets depressing. If you are anything like me, you have really whacked out your neurochemistry and your serotonin and dopamine are low. Exercise is better than Prozac, but don’t take my word for it.
The point is, you don’t feel like moving. You are probably sluggish and could really give a shit, if moving your body will make you feel better. But if you want a shortcut, go for a 15-minute walk. Breathing more oxygen and getting the blood circulating helps to detoxify the body, but you know this already. Then, do it again tomorrow.
This is not new information. But I know how hard it is when you’re newly sober and how easy it is to blow it off as pointless. It’s not. It’s everything.
“Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.” — Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Sit silently for one minute and pay attention to your breath. That’s all I’m asking you to do. One minute. They say in recovery that “the one thing you have to change is everything” but let’s do it by making micro-adjustments, one at a time.
You really don’t have to have the whole thing figured out. If you start by making small, incremental changes, you are going to feel better, whether you believe it or not.
If you live in a city, there are lots of 12 step meetings all around you.
If you are in a rural area, your options may be more limited. In that case, try www.intherooms.com.
I hated meetings for a very long time. I resisted them. I still resist them. But they help keep me stay sober. There is a lot of progressive stuff happening like Smart Recovery, Refuge Recovery and Women for Sobriety, to name a few. Personally, I tried everything but the traditional route and it’s the only thing that worked for me. Explore… the good news is, you’ve got options. As much as I told myself that I hated AA, it was such a relief to be around other people who could relate to what I was going through and I’m sure you will have a similar experience with whichever group you choose.
There are amazing books on the topic like Tommy Rosen’s “Recovery 2.0” and Gabor Mate’s “In The Realm of the Hungry Ghost”. Major advances are happening in this field and it’s very exciting. Those two books changed my life. Educate and allow yourself to open up a little. The payoff is huge.
I was lucky to find a Complementary Alternative MD, Dr. Mathis who helps people taper down on meds and move away from them towards the non-toxic alternatives. He started as an allopathic doctor who became an naturopath giving his patients the best of both worlds.
He has helped me boatloads. Seek out the alternative practitioners who know their shit!
When I first got sober I took antidepressants. And I know this is a dicey topic. I am not telling you what to do. The fact is, if you get on antidepressants, you’ll likely want to get off of them at some point.
They do tend to shut you down, and kill your sex drive, and your personality, and they seriously mess with your mitochondria — which are essentially the energy source for your cells.
My doctor gave me a product called Neuroreplete and my neurotransmitters are happy now. But again, everyone’s mental health is at a different place. I was really freakin’ depressed when I got sober. I wanted to die. However, I question how long my journey into authentic wholeness has been delayed by antidepressants. Perhaps, I am not even there yet and maybe they just served their purpose for the time being.
Once I was sober for about a week, I got really clear that I was going to have to attack this thing on every level: spiritually, mentally and emotionally and physically.
If the brain doesn’t get adequate essential fatty acids, it can’t function properly. They bring essential nutrients into cells and keep harmful toxins out. Since I had been drinking and using drugs just to try to feel better — I knew I needed to do everything in my power to experience my own internal strength naturally.
One thing they kind of bash into your head in 12 Step Programs is that you can’t trust your own thinking. While this is true in the beginning and I love calling my sponsor to ask for advice and I am so grateful for her freely given time and input… At some point, you have to learn to trust your own internal G.P.S. again. I say this especially in reference to things like what drugs to take or not as well as supplements.
There is something they say in the rooms that goes something like: “We can’t make a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet.” Well I don’t know if that’s really true anymore.
There is a drug called Naltrexone that blocks the opiate receptors, preventing the release of dopamine causing the addict to no longer receive pleasure from the drug hence diminishing cravings…
Watch this movie and see what you think: http://www.onelittlepillmovie.com/
I took this for my first six months and I probably needed it. Be wary, there are doctors who will tell you to try drinking on it. Personally, I am not going to mess with that. Too many times, I have tried unsuccessfully to drink like other people and I am not willing to experiment with that again.
Start where you are. If all you have is some change, put it in there. It’s symbolic. Everyone knows you’re broke in the beginning. The truth is when you stop doing this one thing, whatever your one thing is, it is going to free up oceans of energy for other things.
By creating little rituals to replace the darker ones, say for example like fixating on the way we prepare to snort lines, we are well on our way. After I got sober, and reviewed my bank statement, I was blown away by how much money I’d spent at liquor stores and on Ubers.
You are setting the intention to fill the void that was once lost to countless wasted dollars with more meaningful stuff. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, the world is truly your oyster now, what do you want to do? First you get physically sober, then you get emotionally sober and then you get financially sober, one fucking day at a time.
But it fell to the wayside because of your addiction? Remember this thing. You know what it is and even if your heart is dulled and your brain is in a fog and you don’t care if you ever do this thing again, just remember it.
It’s there waiting to light you up again like it never could before because now you have been through the darkness. This thing will also save your life because that void I just mentioned has to be filled — the one that gets created when you take away drugs and alcohol.
We cannot experience the light without knowing the dark as that is called Welcome to Being Human. Addicts are particularly afflicted but it also means we are especially prone to shininess. The further down you’ve gone, the further up you get to go. These are just universal laws baby. Embrace it, sure you’ve fucked things up royally, now it’s time to transform. If you’ve managed to destroy everything… just look now at what you’ll create.
Do you want to make sure you stay sober? If so, check out the simple yet effective Daily Relapse Prevention Checklist written by my friend Gordon Coburn, MFT.
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Originally published at medium.com