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Friday, February 29, 2008

Doctor is an Alcoholic in Recovery

My very first drink loosened my previous, ever present inhibitions. Medical school facilitated my growing reliance on this chemical. Six years later, after qualifying, I found an identity to hide behind, at least during the day. I was the all knowing, devoted, and respected professional, who daily appeared red eyed and trembling. But I was forgiven by supervisors because I worked hard. After all, I was in my house jobs.

Then I worked as a casualty officer, on the front line, mistakenly believing that I could cope with the stress, long hours, and unpredictability and daily masking my sensitivity to the extremes of human pain and suffering-until I left work.

There was always an excuse to reward myself after a stressful day, such as spending the whole shift in "resus" or informing relatives of a patient’s death. The next morning, I would wake up in a state of anxiety and make the short walk into the hospital hung over, overflowing with fear of the repercussions of possible mistakes made the previous day, smiling at staff members but inside suffering extreme angst of impending doom.

I knew I had a problem, but self disclosure could result in suspension. Besides, as a doctor, with my "insight" and knowledge, I assumed immunity to addiction. The loss of work could end with me living on the streets, so I attempted to scramble through. But as any alcoholic knows, it always gets worse.

Active alcoholism and working in casualty don’t go hand in hand. After a large binge at a training course soon after my mother died, I decided that enough was enough. The hospital, extremely generously, decided to help me and sent me to "rehab." I worked up to the morning I entered the facility, and found it difficult to be a patient. For the first two weeks, the nurses in rehab were my "colleagues" and my fellow addict peers were "the patients."

Finally, I admitted I was an alcoholic, smashing through the self composed fallacy. The second I picked up that first drink, the only way I could stop drinking would be physical incapacity. I also had to face the consequences of my habit: the drink driving, the accidents, and the effect on my family, work, finances, and so on.

I left treatment after six weeks with a heightened self awareness but to the minefield of the outside world. I began to attend daily meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and was ready to go back to work. At least so I thought. There was a nagging doubt at the back of my mind. I just was not ready to stop drinking yet.

After six weeks of intensive therapy on how to spend the rest of your life not drinking, and the revelation of what will happen to you if you do, I strongly advise anyone not to do the following:

I went out and did some further "research." This research consisted of three horrific weeks drinking vodka on my sofa, tormented with the conflict of compulsion to drink against the knowledge that the habit would lead me to jail, psychiatric ward, or, the more attractive option, death. Then one night I was caught driving four times over the limit. Convinced that I would end up in prison, let alone never work as a doctor again, I made the most important decision of my life: I asked for help. Via the Sick Doctors Trust, I entered another rehabilitation facility on 23 September 2002, and, God willing, since that date I have not had a drink.

I have now returned to work as a medical senior house officer after a long absence. I wake up in the morning with a clear head, without a trace of fear, humiliation, or self loathing and with full recognition of the previous day’s events. Some days the feelings are better than anything alcohol could ever achieve.

Don’t get me wrong-recovery is not easy. The early days were painful and accompanied by the return of suppressed emotions. There were further consequences of my drinking, such as the magistrates’ court (I received a driving ban of two years) and the General Medical Council (who after a health committee hearing have allowed me to continue to practise under medical supervision, in recognition of my commitment to recovery).

I went to daily meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and clung on to the hope glimpsed in the eyes of people in the fellowship who had succeeded on a daily basis to stay sober and had been blessed with happiness. I persisted and a minor miracle occurred: after a few weeks’ sobriety, my compulsion to drink lifted, the most potent force in my life removed. The freedom experienced was genuine, and I still feel it today. I am, however, in early days, and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly.

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious group or sect, just a bunch of ex-drunks who share their experiences. I had tried everything to cut down or cut out my addiction, and the fellowship was my last chance.

In no way do I blame my profession for this illness, but it is so difficult for healthcare workers to seek help because of the fear of the repercussions of disclosure. If one person can read this, recognise that they are not alone, and overcome the unwillingness to ask for help, then these misspent years of my life may well have been worth while.

The author wishes to remain anonymous.

BMJ Career Focus 2003;327:s78 (6 September).

Further information

Alcoholics Anonymous: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/

Sick Doctors Trust: www.sick-doctors-trust.co.uk
National Counselling Service for Sick Doctors: www.ncssd.org.uk


White Rabbit: A Doctor’s Story of Her Addiction and Recovery

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dual Recovery Personal Story

Tim’s Story...

Dual Recoveries Anonymous has offered me what I had lost or been unable to find in my sobriety. It offers me believable hope and steps to apply to both my chemical dependency and my psychiatric illnesses. It also offers me a way to heal the emotional and psychic damage that I experienced as a result of my dual disorders. This is just as true for me today as it was when DRA first began to develop.

In 1973 I made a decision to seek professional help for my chemical dependency. I had started drinking and using drugs when I was 13. By the time I was 18, I was using every day. I drank, swallowed, snorted and shot as many drugs as I could try, and rarely met a drug that I did not like.

Gradually, I began to experience problems in every area of my life. There were times when I desperately wanted to stop. I was unable to stop or control my use. I didn’t know how. Eventually, I accepted the truth - that I needed the help of other people.

The plan was for me to go to a psychiatric program for evaluation and referral on to a treatment program. The problem was that they were trying to determine if I was chemically dependent, or if I was experiencing a psychiatric illness. They did not seem to consider the possibility that I was affected by both disorders. They neglected to recommend psychiatric follow-up as a part of their treatment referral.

I accepted the diagnosis and treatment because I desperately wanted to recover. It would be many more years before I would learn that my accurate diagnosis is both major depression and attention deficit disorder. At that time I followed my doctors’ recommendations.

I completed an inpatient treatment program and went on to live in a halfway house for additional support in my early recovery. I became active in practicing the 12 Steps. Later I went on to work in the field of chemical services, and enjoyed both my recovery and my work.

I eventually began experiencing symptoms of my psychiatric illness. For several years I didn’t recognize them as being psychiatric symptoms, nor did the doctors that I saw for my ‘health problems’. But they finally began causing problems and consequences in most areas of my life.

I was quick to become defensive and blame people and situations. As time went on, it became quite clear that something was seriously wrong with me. I eventually sought psychiatric help, and was diagnosed manic depressive, and began being treated with psychiatric medication. Instead of getting better, I grew worse, and began experiencing additional symptoms that made it impossible for me to keep working. I began to experience visual disturbances that were similar to the after-effects of LSD, that became chronic and continuous. I also experienced auditory hallucinations that came in the form of hearing music or a voice.

Numerous medical tests were conducted, but didn’t provide any clear explanations or directions for appropriate treatment. I became convinced that suicide was more attractive than the possibility of living a diminished quality of life - especially if the symptoms I was experiencing would grow steadily worse.

I made a suicide plan, wrote out goodbye letters; I had the means and a location picked out where I wouldn’t be interrupted. I was calm, and at peace with my decision.

My plan was interrupted because my vision became so disturbed that I was unable to drive my car to the designated location. I sat up all that night, sincerely hoping that by morning I would be able to drive my car and carry out my plan.

During the night, I experienced a change within me. I hadn’t wanted to change; I was not trying to change. It simply took place. The feelings of fear, shame, guilt, and hopelessness faded out. The desire to die and be in the company of accepting loved ones faded.

Instead, I became filled with believable hope. I felt a sense of positive energy and motivation. I came to know that on the inside I was still the perfect person that I was when I was born. I came to know that I still have creative abilities. I came to know that I was a part of something, though I did not know what that something was, at that time. Morning came. The changes that I had experienced during the night were still a part of me. I felt that something new and fresh was happening already.

I arrived in Kansas City and arranged for medical care. The neurologist and psychiatrists who helped me still do not fully understand my symptoms of chronic visual disturbance or periods of auditory hallucinations. Perhaps shooting LSD and other psychedelic drugs caused some damage, and as I grow older, the damage is catching up with me. While they have no clear answers or cures, my doctors can help me manage the symptoms with appropriate medications.

My next task was to locate a 12-Step program for people who experienced dual disorders. I was unable to locate any such group. The only reasonable next step would be to start one. I arranged to use a room in the church that my parents attend, and on June 27, 1989, the first meeting was held that was to gradually evolve into DRA.

The growth of DRA was slow, but we were guided by a vision of a program - one that is based on the Principles of the 12 Steps, the personal experiences of men and women in dual recovery, and the principle of freedom and choice. Eventually, the blueprint and the meeting format that included the 12 Steps were written and published. Gradually, people in other states began requesting information about DRA and began forming their own groups.

DRA continues to offer me believable hope, direction to follow, the support of other people, and a way to continue the process of inner healing and growth. For me, dual recovery is ongoing. I have found that over time my symptoms have changed. Today, I continue to apply the Steps and to use the support of other members, for which I am truly grateful.

By Tim H., Founder of D.R.A.

 


The Twelve Steps And Dual Disorders: A Framework Of Recovery For Those Of Us With Addiction & An Emotional Or Psychiatric Illness

The Twelve Steps And Dual Disorders: A Framework Of Recovery For Those Of Us With Addiction & An Emotional Or Psychiatric Illness

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alcohol Hurts Women

Does alcohol affect women differently?

Yes, alcohol affects women differently than men.

Women become more impaired than men do after drinking the same amount of alcohol, even when differences in body weight are taken into account. This is because women’s bodies have less water than men’s bodies. Because alcohol mixes with body water, a given amount of alcohol becomes more highly concentrated in a woman’s body than in a man’s. In other words, it would be like dropping the same amount of alcohol into a much smaller pail of water.

That is why the recommended drinking limit for women is lower than for men.

In addition, chronic alcohol abuse takes a heavier physical toll on women than on men. Alcohol dependence and related medical problems, such as brain, heart, and liver damage, progress more rapidly in women than in men.

See also;


A Woman's Way Through the Twelve Steps Workbook

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Alcohol Related Brain Injury

Acquired brain injury refers to any brain damage that happens after birth. Alcohol is one of the many causes of acquired brain injury. The injury inflicted by alcohol abuse is referred to as alcohol related brain injury (ARBI). Just how much damage is done depends on a number of factors. These include individual differences, as well as the person’s age, gender, nutrition and their overall pattern of alcohol consumption.

A person with ARBI might experience problems with memory, cognitive abilities and physical coordination. A younger person has a better chance of recovery because of their greater powers of recuperation. However, the effects of alcohol related brain injury can be permanent for some.

Alcohol and brain injury

Brain injury can be caused by alcohol because it:

  • Has a toxic effect on the central nervous system.
  • Results in changes to metabolism, heart functioning and blood supply.
  • Interferes with the absorption of vitamin B1 (thiamine), which is an important brain nutrient.
  • May be associated with poor nutrition.
  • Can cause dehydration, which may lead to wastage of brain cells.
  • Can lead to falls and accidents that injure the brain.
  • Can lead to motor vehicle and other accidents

Alcohol consumption and ARBI

Alcohol consumption ranges from light (social drinkers) to heavy consumption. Decline in thinking and brain functioning is gradual, and depends upon the amount of alcohol consumed and for how long.

Alcohol related brain injury is more likely to occur if a person drinks heavily on a regular basis over many years. It is possible to develop ARBI over a short period of time, if the drinking is heavy enough. This can be known as ’binge drinking’, which means drinking more than six drinks at a time. Safe levels of alcohol consumption include:

For men - a maximum of four standard alcoholic drinks per day with at least two alcohol free days every week.

For women - a maximum of two standard alcoholic drinks per day with at least two alcohol free days every week.

Disorders associated with ARBI

  • ARBI is associated with changes in cognition (memory and thinking abilities), difficulties with balance and coordination, and a range medical and neurological disorders. Some alcohol related disorders include:
  • Cerebellar atrophy - the cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for muscle coordination. Damage results in difficulties with balance and walking, which is called ’ataxia’.
  • Frontal lobe dysfunction - the brain’s frontal lobes are involved in abstract thinking and planning. Damage results in cognitive difficulties.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy - many people with alcohol related liver disease develop particular psychiatric symptoms, such as mood changes, confusion and hallucinations.
  • Korsakoff’s amnesic syndrome - a loss of short term memory.
  • Peripheral neuropathy - the extremities are affected by numbness, pain, pins and needles.
  • Wernicke’s encephalopathy - a disorder caused by a severe deficiency of vitamin B1. Some of the symptoms include ataxia, confusion and problems with vision.

Treatment

A person with suspected alcohol related brain injury needs to be assessed by a neuropsychologist. Treatment depends on the individual and the type of brain damage sustained.

Helping people with ARBI

People with impaired brain function can be helped, if the demands placed on them are reduced. A predictable routine, which covers all daily activities, can also be a great help. Carers might like to consider the following points when communicating with people with ARBI:

  • Break down information and present one idea at a time
  • Tackle one problem at a time
  • Allow the person time to work at their own pace
  • Minimise distractions
  • Avoid stress
  • Allow for frequent breaks and rest periods.
  • Where to get help
  • Your doctor
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Acquired brain injury associations
  • Support groups for alcoholism.

Things to remember

  • Alcohol has a toxic effect on the central nervous system and can cause significant brain injury.
  • Alcohol related brain injury is more likely in people who drink heavily over a long period of time, but aggressive binge drinkers are also at risk.
  • The symptoms depend on which part of the brain has been damaged, but can include problems with coordination, thinking, planning, organisation, memory and perception.

See also;


Living with Brain Injury: A Guide for Families, Second Edition

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ativan Withdrawal - How benzodiazepines Made me Sick

 

By Melissa

This has been my experience with Benzodiazapines.

I was prescribed the benzodiazepine drug Ativan by a psychiatrist for some depression I was having due to a physical attack I had at work. I was not seeking drugs, I just wanted someone to talk to. He suggested I should really try Ativan, they wouldn’t do anything but “help me”. So I did, I took .05 mg once a day and returned to his office every month for a follow-up and another script.

After 4 months I tried to stop taking them and had some problems doing so. I contacted him about it and he said he needed to change my dose to 1 mg. I wasn’t sure of his decision because I wasn’t feeling well. So I picked up the script. When I got home I only took half the pill and discarded the other half keeping the dose the same.

A year had passed and I still felt unwell, I told him “again” I really didn’t feel like myself anymore and felt ill constantly. He thought I needed something else. He gave me script for Seroquel, Resperidal, Prozac and Ativan and replied “try these and tell me which ones work for you”.

I had the scripts filled and went home. As I stood in my kitchen looking at the new scripts I was to scared to take them so I threw them all in the trash except for the Ativan.

I was worried and didn’t feel well. I was single and lived alone. I didn’t want to go back to the psyche so I went to my primary doctor. I was sure he would help me. He agreed there were problems with the Ativan and said I really needed to be on Xanax. I’d never heard of it before and didn’t realise it was another benzodiazepine, but I trusted him so I took his recommended dose of 0.5 mg once a day.

After 6 months I still felt awful. I asked my doctor why and he said he needed to adjust the dose to 1 mg a day because 0.5 mg wasn’t working anymore.

At this point I am having panic attacks and I can’t function, so I get the script for 1 mg but only took half the pill for the next 6 months. This completes another year.

My health had gotten much worse and I was extremely dizzy, couldn’t comprehend things and was having a very hard time breathing. I went back to my primary doctor and told him I couldn’t breathe and he ordered a few tests and diagnosed me with asthma. He put me on Albuterol and Advair 250 mg inhalers.

After taking Xanax and inhalers for 3 months I thought I was going to die and my physical appearance was terrible. I went back to my primary doctor and he finally sent me to a pulmonary specialist, one of the best in New England, I have heard of him before and knew I’d be in good hands. I had to wait another month to see him and hoped I could hold on that long.

Finally, I was at his office and severely sick. He did a heart test and it came back abnormal. He immediately took me off the inhalers and I was sent directly to the hospital. I spent the next two and a half days in the cardiac unit. I underwent more tests and was hooked onto a heart monitor. I was finally diagnosed with a Muscular Skeletal problem from Benzodiazapines. Prior to being in the hospital I had tons of blood work, MRI’s, CatScan, and so on. Costing my health insurance thousands of dollars. You can imagine how mentally and physically exhausted I was.

My primary doctor arrived at the hospital and told the physicians I am a panic attack patient and gave me a new script for another benzodiazepine Klonopin, instead of Xanax and I was discharged. So I took the Klonopin, 0.5 mg, once a day as prescribed.

Four and a half months later I couldn’t go on and went back to my primary doctor. This time my eyes were very glassy and I was holding onto the walls almost unable to talk because my words were slurring so bad. He told me I was having adverse effects from the benzodiazapines and that I was very sensitive to them. I now know that I was in tolerance for a long, long time.

I have since dismissed my primary doctor for letting me suffer for so long. I left his office that day so lethargic I couldn’t even express myself. For the next six weeks I took myself off of benzodiazapines, they were literally taking my life.

I went on the internet desperately searching for answers, help and anything I could grab on to. I finally found an excellent support group. I discovered there are thousands of people everywhere devastated by benzodiazapines. It is comforting to know there are people I can talk to everyday that truly understand the severe impact and hellish nightmare of benzodiazapines and they sadly also carry the scars that these drugs have left on me.

I am thankful for the support group, after all, I just wanted someone to talk in the first place. It is 5/25/07 and I am 70 days Benzo Free and in withdrawal suffering dizziness, nerve pain, restless legs syndrome, migraines, breathing problems, tinnitus, distorted eyesight, sensitivity to sound and sunshine, blood pressure problems, confusion, flu symptoms, just to name a few!!

How the hell are these drugs ever going to help anyone? I can’t believe how many people are suffering have suffered and have yet to suffer from these horrific, sickening, disabling, evil, lethal drugs. I am outraged and angry at how I was mislead by medical professionals who told me these drugs will help me.

My prayers go out to everyone who is struggling and trying to make it from day to day and also for the people who have died in association with benzodiazapines.

This is truly the worst experience of my life and I hope I make it through withdrawal and become the happy, energetic, warm, friendly and loving person I was before I was introduced to these inhumane drugs.

The success from my experience is I am finally BENZO FREE! These drugs not only had a destructive impact on me but also on the people I love and care about.

Melissa

See also;

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Recovery List to Live By

 

The most destructive habit............................................Worry

The greatest joy...........................................................Giving

The greatest loss.........................................................Self-respect

The most satisfying work........................................Helping Others

The ugliest personality trait..........................................Selfishness

The greatest problem to overcome…………………...................Fear

The most effective sleeping pill...............................Peace of mind

The most powerful force in life........................................Love

The most dangerous outcast...........................................A Gossip

The worst thing to be without.......................................Hope

The deadliest weapon...............................................The Tongue

The two most power-filled words...................................."I can"

The greatest asset........................................................Faith

The most beautiful attire................................................A Smile

The most prized possession............................................Integrity

The most powerful channel of communication.................Prayer

The most contagious spirit.........................................Enthusiasm

Our greatest teacher ….………………………………….……Experience

  • And always remember: To the world, YOU might be one person; but to me, you might be the one person.

AMAZON BOOKS; Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality And Spirituality

See also;

Thursday, February 7, 2008

50 Most Read Posts January ‘08

 

  1. 12-Step Speaker Tape Links
  2. AA and Al-anon Comics
  3. About Recovery Is Sexy .com
  4. Addicted to Love
  5. Aggressive Sexual Behaviour of Alcoholic-men
  6. Alcohol and Sexuality
  7. Alcohol hurts women
  8. Alcohol Related Brain Injury
  9. Alcohol side effects
  10. Alcoholic Family Roles
  11. Better Oral Sex
  12. Cannabis and mental health
  13. Character Defects
  14. Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics
  15. Choc Chip Cookies
  16. Coping With Alcoholism / Addiction in the Family
  17. Dysfunctional family
  18. Emotional Sobriety
  19. Hep C Factsheet
  20. How benzodiazepines Made me Sick
  21. I am a Cocaine Addict
  22. I’m not an Alcoholic!
  23. I'm a 15 year Old Alcoholic in AA
  24. LIE, CHEAT, DRINK, SWEAR and STEAL
  25. Male and Female Condoms
  26. Native American traditions and AA
  27. Older sex - less but still great
  28. Porn Addiction
  29. Recognizing a Pain Pill Addiction
  30. Recovery Is Sexy?
  31. Relapse is never an accident
  32. Sensual Massage
  33. Serenity Prayer and Recovery
  34. Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
  35. Sex is better than masturbation
  36. Sex partners - How do you rate?
  37. Sex relations
  38. SEXUAL ADDICTION
  39. Sexually Compulsive
  40. Six types of gamblers
  41. Stages in the Alcoholic Family
  42. The Sexual G-spot, Male and Female
  43. What are signs of sex addiction?
  44. WHAT IS ALCOHOLIC LIVER DISEASE?
  45. What is codependency?
  46. Which sexual acts can transmit HIV?
  47. Why Men Have Sex
  48. Why Women Have Sex
  49. Women's Sexual Arousal
  50. Women's Sexual Fantasies

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A.A.’s FREEDOMS

 

I craved freedom.

  • First, freedom to drink;
  • later, freedom from drink.

The A.A. program of recovery rests on a foundation of free choice.

There are no mandates, laws or commandments. A.A.’s spiritual program, as outlined in the Twelve Steps, and by which I am offered even greater freedoms, is only suggested. I can take it or leave it. Sponsorship is offered, not forced, and I come and go as I will.

It is these and other freedoms that allow me to recapture the dignity that was crushed by the burden of drink, and which is so dearly needed to support an enduring sobriety.

Just for today.

See also;