Are Alcoholics Allergic To Alcohol?

August 18, 2014

IMG_0013.JPG
By Terence T. Gorski, Author

In the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) the alcoholic was thought to have a physical allergy to alcohol which caused their Alcoholism. I was recently asked about this and I thought I would share my answer.

The idea that an alcoholic has an allergy to alcohol is more of a metaphor than a statement of medical fact.

There is no doubt that alcoholics have an abnormal response to using alcohol, but technically it is not an allergic response.

Recent brain research suggests that this abnormal response to alcohol is an addictive brain response caused by a disruption in the pleasure or reward centers of the brain. This creates an intense sense of euphoria when using and a state of agitated depression when abstinent. This reinforces reinforces continued use.

As the brain develops tolerance for the alcohol it takes higher doses to feel the euphoria so the quantity of drinking in increases. This creates a pattern of compulsive use described in AA literature as a loss of control.

The metaphor of an allergy to alcohol is easier to understand for a newly sober person than the idea of an addictive brain response, so the metaphor is still useful.

It seems that people who become addicted to other mood altering drugs, including alcohol, have a similar addictive brain response to their drug of choice. I describe this in detail my book Straight Talk About Addiction: http://www.relapse.org/custom/cart/edit.asp?p=154773

I also have a book based upon Father Martin’s interpretation of the 12-Steps that I wrote as a result of our time spent together designing the Relapse Prevention Program for Father Martin’s Ashley.

I developed a two day workshop for addiction professionals on understanding the twelve steps in a way that could be easily related to cognitive therapy. This workshop was based primarily upon what I learned from Father Martin as he explained his understanding of the Twelve Steps to me. The edited transcription of this workshop was published as the book Understanding The Twelve Steps: http://www.relapse.org/custom/list.asp?c=37332&pageid=62383


Understanding The Twelve Steps

May 12, 2014

20140512-223553.jpg

by Terence T. Gorski
Author

Millions of people have transformed their lives by working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their success has come from their ability to truly understand these principles and to apply them in their daily lives. Yet for many embarking on the road to recovery, the Steps can seem vague, even confusing.

This practical, no-nonsense guide takes the mystery out of the Twelve Steps, presenting a straightforward explanation of what each step means, as well as examples of how it translates to real life. Written by a certified alcoholism and drug abuse counselor with more than twenty years of experience, it offers a wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and genuine support for anyone in recovery.
Understanding the Twelve Steps features:

Clear, easy-to-understand interpretation of the Twelve Steps — the vital building blocks of recovery.
This book provides checklists that summarize the tasks and objectives of each step.

This book explains:

– The Twelve Promises are the positive changes you can expect in your life if you follow the Twelve Steps

– What happens at Twelve Step meetings

– Why it is important to have a sponsor

– How the 12-step Program allows recovering people to share their experience, strength, and hope

From Library Journal

This highly accessible guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that comes at a time when the popularity of such programs are at an all-time high. Drawing on his experience as an alcohol/substance abuse counselor, Gorski (author of Passages Through Recovery , HarperCollins, 1989) interprets each of the steps, and explains their importance in the recovery process.

This book provides valuable insight into how the steps can be “worked” or used by those trying to abstain from alcohol is also provided. While Melody Beattie’s Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps (Prentice Hall Pr., 1990) focuses on the steps as they apply to people dealing with codependent issues, Gorski’s primary audience is the alcoholic. However, those newly involved in other 12-step programs (i.e., Al-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous, etc.) will gain better understanding from this. Recommended for popular psychology and self-help collections.

– Linda S. Greene, Chicago

Back to Understanding the Twelve Steps: An Interpretation and Guide for Recovering (Paperback)
About this item
Product Description
Millions of people have transformed their lives by working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their success has come from their ability to truly understand these principles and to apply them in their daily lives. Yet for many embarking on the road to recovery, the Steps can seem vague, even confusing.
This practical, no-nonsense guide takes the mystery out of the Twelve Steps, presenting a straightforward explanation of what each step means, as well as examples of how it translates to real life. Written by a certified alcoholism and drug abuse counselor with more than twenty years of experience, it offers a wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and genuine support for anyone in recovery.
Understanding the Twelve Steps features:
Clear, easy-to-understand interpretation of the Twelve Steps — the vital building blocks of recovery
Checklists that summarize the tasks and objectives of each step
The Twelve Promises — the positive changes you can expect in your life if you follow the Twelve Steps
What happens at Twelve Step meetings and why it is important to have a sponsor
The experiences, strength, and hope of other recovering people

From Library Journal
This highly accessible guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous comes at a time when the popularity of such programs are at an all-time high. Drawing on his experience as an alcohol/substance abuse counselor, Gorski ( Passages Through Recovery , HarperCollins, 1989) interprets each of the steps, and explains their importance in the recovery process. Valuable insight into how the steps should be “worked” or used by those trying to abstain from alcohol is also provided. While Melody Beattie’s Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps (Prentice Hall Pr., 1990) focuses on the steps as they apply to people dealing with codependent issues, Gorski’s primary audience is the alcoholic. However, those newly involved in other 12-step programs (i.e., Al-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous, etc.) will gain better understanding from this. Recommended for popular psychology and self-help collections.
– Linda S. Greene, Chicago
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author
Terence T. Gorski is the president of The CENAPS Corporation, a training and consultation firm specializing in recovery from addictive disease and relapse prevention therapy. He is a popular speaker and conducts training and workshops in more than twenty different cities each year.

Mr. Gorski is the author of numerous books, audio, and video tapes, including Passages Through Recovery — An Action Plan for Preventing Relapse, Staying Sober — A Guide for Relapse Prevention, The Staying Sober Work-book, and How to Start Relapse Prevention Support Groups.

He is the clinical director of the National Relapse Prevention Certification School, which trains counselors and therapists in relapse prevention therapy methods.

Here is an excerpt from the book. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: WHAT IS A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM?

This book describes the single, most effective program for the treatment of alcoholism. That program, of course, is Alcoholics Anonymous, best known as A.A. Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other in an effort to recover from alcoholism. It is a voluntary fellowship. No one is forced to belong, but millions of voluntary members benefit greatly from their involvement. If you want to make Twelve Step programs work for you, you need to understand the fellowship of A.A. and how to work with it. This book is intended to help you do just that.

Many people find the miracle of sobriety by working the Twelve Steps. Since nothing else has worked for them, many believe that the Steps are mystical and magical, and, as a result, these same persons fail to search for and identify the underlying principles that make them work. Working the Steps can create the miracle of sobriety, but the miracle isn’t magic. The miracle occurs because working the Twelve Steps allows people to use powerful principles of recovery. Those who are willing to dig beneath the surface and truly understand the principles upon which the Steps are based are better able to use the principles in their lives.

The primary purpose of A.A. is to help alcoholics stop drinking. It was never intended to be all things to all people; however, A.A. recognizes that the Twelve Steps can help people with other problems. Thus, it allows organizations such as Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and others to use its Steps and principles. These related fellowships are developing as separate organizations so that A.A. can keep its primary focus on helping alcoholics to stop drinking.

A.A. is based upon a program of Twelve Steps to recovery that act as a personal guide to sobriety, and Twelve Traditions that act as guiding principles or bylaws for A.A. as a whole. Knowledge of the Twelve Steps is of critical importance to all recovering people for two reasons: (1) The Steps work if you work them, and (2) Twelve Step programs are inexpensive and readily available in most communities. As a result, they are the most widely used lifeline for people recovering from chemical dependence, codependence, and other compulsive or addictive disorders.

A.A. AS A NONPROFESSIONAL GROUP

As a result of the Traditions, A.A. is and shall forever remain nonprofessional. There are no medical professionals, as such, involved in designing or running A.A. or other Twelve Step programs. Although medical professionals do join as members, they have no more or no less influence on the organization than other members. Twelve Step programs do not provide medical or psychiatric treatment or psychotherapy. If you are involved in any Twelve Step program that has a psychotherapist in charge who runs it like a therapy group, be cautious. You are probably not at a Twelve Step meeting. This situation rarely, if ever, occurs in A.A.; however, it does happen in some of the newer Twelve Step programs.

If you are attending a Twelve Step meeting that is run by a psychotherapist who individually counsels the members, it is not a Twelve Step meeting; it is a therapy group. It is important to learn the difference, because Twelve Step meetings are based on the Twelve Steps of A.A. and the leaders act in a nonprofessional role.

A.A. members help themselves and others to stay sober. Members can be assured that they are not going to be solicited for donations or asked to get involved in anything else. Individual members of A.A. do have the right to participate in any religion, political forum, or cause that they wish. There are no restrictions. But they are not allowed to present themselves as A.A. members or to bring the name of A.A. into any controversy.

LEVELS OF TWELVE STEP INVOLVEMENT

Nobody is forced to do anything in A.A. It is one of the few organizations I know that supports the inherent constitutional right to do what we want. There is no coercion to participate on any level. If you want to belong, that’s fine. You are welcome to attend meetings and work the Steps. If you don’t want to belong, that’s also fine.

For most members, however, their involvement progresses through a number of levels. At the first level, they attend meetings. At the second, they read Twelve Step literature and discuss it with other members of the program. At the third level, they get a sponsor who can show them how the program works. At the fourth level, they start working the Twelve Steps. As members start to grow and change — a result of attending meetings and working the Steps — they are ready to move to a fifth level of involvement and begin sponsoring others. After they gain experience as sponsors, they are then ready for the sixth level of involvement, general service work, guided by A.A.’s Twelve Traditions, the set of principles that act as bylaws. General service work is designed to benefit A.A. as a whole. Notice the progression: Individuals help themselves first, then they help other people in the program, then they help the program as a whole. In summary, the levels of involvement are as follows:

1. Attending meetings

2. Reading and discussing A.A. literature

3. Getting a sponsor

4. Working the Twelve Steps

5. Sponsoring others

6. Service guided by the Traditions

Attending Meetings

You start working a Twelve Step program by regularly attending meetings. In A.A. it is said, “If you bring the body, the mind will follow,” because the Twelve Step program rubs off on people if they hang around long enough. Attending meetings isn’t a passive process. Working a program means you need to get actively involved, participating at the meetings you attend. The easiest way to take part is to say, “I pass” — a perfectly acceptable remark. No one in a Twelve Step program is obligated to say more. Most people, however, want to say more because they find it both enjoyable and beneficial. The more open and honest your comments, the faster you get well.

There is a joke that asks, “What is the difference between a drunk and an alcoholic?” Answer: “A drunk doesn’t have to go to meetings; an alcoholic does!” A.A. stresses the importance of attending meetings, especially during the first three months of sobriety. Many members suggest attending ninety meetings in ninety days. By doing “ninety in ninety,” beginners receive an intense exposure to the Twelve Step program and the people who use it. The principle that underlies doing “ninety in ninety” is a simple one — the more meetings you attend early on, the greater your chances of long-term recovery. There is no rule, of course, that you have to attend exactly ninety meetings in the first ninety days; go as often as your lifestyle allows. But keep in mind that the more meetings you attend, the faster you will get well.

Many members complain about having to attend meetings, but those who recover keep going even when they don’t feel like it. You don’t have to like going to meetings, you just have to keep going. Meetings are the lifeline to sobriety. When you attend meetings, you take a needed time-out from an alcohol- and drug-centered world and remind yourself that you are an alcoholic, cannot safely use alcohol and other drugs, and that you need the fellowship of other sober alcoholics to stay sober.

Reading Twelve Step Literature

The second level of involvement is to read Twelve Step literature and discuss your reactions, both positive and negative, with other members. The early members of A.A. identified the basic principles needed to get sober and stay that way. They compiled that information in two books — Alcoholics Anonymous (often called the Big Book) and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Both books are available from the central office of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York City. These books provide the basic principles needed to begin living the sober life.

Getting a Sponsor

After you feel comfortable going to meetings, making comments, and reading the basic literature, the third level of involvement is to get a sponsor. A sponsor is another member of the Twelve Step program who has more experience at recovery than you do. In order to get a sponsor, you must have participated in the program long enough to get to know people. Listen to the comments of others. Try to find someone you respect and admire, someone who knows more than you do about the program and can show you the ropes. In the business world, a sponsor is called a mentor.

When you find such a person and ask him or her to be your sponsor, you are in essence asking, “Would you be willing to spend time with me and teach me how you work the program?” There’s a slogan in the Twelve Step program: “If you want what we have, you do what we did.” And it’s primarily in the sponsorship relationship that this principle comes alive. You find a sponsor who has the type of recovery you would like to have, ask him to teach you what steps he took, and then try to do those things in your recovery.

A therapist does not take the place of a sponsor. You need a Twelve Step sponsor even if you have the best therapist in the world. A good therapist will encourage recovering people to become involved in Twelve Step programs and to get a sponsor. As a therapist, I don’t mandate Twelve Step attendance, but I do strongly encourage it. If someone refuses to attend even one meeting to see what the organization is all about, I may say, “If you’re not willing to go to Twelve Step meetings, I’m not willing to treat you. Why? Because if you’re not willing to go and find out what Twelve Step programs involve, I don’t think you really want to do what’s necessary to recover.” I base this attitude on an A.A. slogan: “We must be willing to go to any lengths to get sober.” If you are not willing to clear a few evenings and attend some meetings, I question your willingness …p

About the Author
Terence T. Gorski is the president of The CENAPS Corporation, a training and consultation firm specializing in recovery from addictive disease and relapse prevention therapy. He is a popular speaker and conducts training and workshops in more than twenty different cities each year.

Mr. Gorski is the author of numerous books, audio, and video tapes, including Passages Through Recovery — An Action Plan for Preventing Relapse, Staying Sober — A Guide for Relapse Prevention, The Staying Sober Work-book, and How to Start Relapse Prevention Support Groups.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0671765582?pc_redir=1399803668&robot_redir=1


Twelve Step Programs and Treatment Outcome, Gossom et al 2003

May 12, 2014

12-Steps Outcome

By Terence T. Gorski,
Author

The relationship between regular attendance in 12-Step Programs and improved treatment outcomes is well established. This is why 12-Step Facilitation, which is an evidenced-based practice, regular attendance at 12-Step Meetings, and systematically working the 12-steps with a sponsor has been strongly recommended to support Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT). Secular support groups such as SMART Recovery are also available.

When addiction professionals recommend 12-Step Programs as part of an addiction recovery program it is import to be aware of the controversy and legal opinions related to the question if Alcoholics anonymous and other 12-step programs are religious in nature according to the law. This controversy is explored in an in-depth blog: Is A.A. A Religion by Terence T. Gorski.

Here is an abstract of a 2003 article reporting on a six-month followup study regarding A.A. effectiveness (Gossom et al 2003).

Gossom and his associates studied the relationship between attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings prior to, during, and after inpatient treatment and treatment outcome was studied. The research sample included 150 patients in an inpatient alcohol treatment program who met ICD-10 criteria for alcohol dependence. The participants were interviewed at admission and 80% of the sample was reinterviewed 6 months following departure. The following results of the study were seen:

(1) Significant improvements in drinking behaviors, including frequency, quantity, and reported problems; in psychological problems; and in quality of life;

(2) Superior drinking outcomes for frequent AA attenders compared to non-AA attenders and infrequent attenders;

(3) Greater reductions in alcohol consumption and more abstinent days for those who attended AA on a weekly or more frequent basis after treatment;

(4) A finding that this effect was sustained after controlling for potential confounding variables; and

(5) A finding that the improvements were related only to improved drinking outcomes and that many of the sample had alcohol and psychiatric problems at follow-up. It is concluded that adequate aftercare services are often lacking and that AA is a useful aftercare resource.

Gossom, M.; Harris, J.; Best, D.; Man, L.H.; Manning, V.; Marshall, J.; Strang, J. Is attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings after inpatient treatment related to improved outcomes?: A 6-month follow-up study. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 38(5):421-426, 2003. (171217)

42 Ref.

LIVE SOBER – BE RESPONSIBLE – LIVE FREE

Understanding The 12-Steps By Terence T. Gorski

GORSKI BOOKS – www.relapse.org


Long-term Recovery and the Possibility of Relapse

April 28, 2014

Long-term Recovery

By Terence T. Gorski, Author

Long-term recovery is possible. It happens all the time. The proof is all around us. Some people achieve long-term recovery after their first attempt. Others find long-term recovery after one or more relapse episodes. Some people die of the disease. Relapse is more often a temporary setback than a sign of permanent failure.

RELAPSE IS NOT A NECESSARY PART OF RECOVERY. Some people, however, do relapse.

At times the relapse is fatal. Many times it is not.

Many recovering people have several relapse episodes and they learn vital lessons from each one and eventually achieve long-term recovery.

Addiction is a chronic lifestyle-related disease. The antidote for addiction is to live a sober and responsible life.

My primary message is this: If you start drinking/drugging again and have a moment of sanity — reach out for help.

I am not saying that relapse is a necessary thing or a good thing. I am just saying that relapse tends to be part of recovery from chronic lifestyle related illnesses, of which alcoholism and drug addiction is one.

Have a plan to prevent relapse should you experience early relapse warning signs.

Have an emergency plan to stop relapse quickly should it occur.

Learn to live and enjoy life fully in a sober and responsible way.

Respect the power of the disease and the fallibility within our human nature.

Expect the best in recovery and work to achieve it. Have an emergency Plan B to stop relapse quickly and get back into recovery.

I hope you will never need to use Plan B. Having a Plan B, however, can save lives should a relapse occur.

Live Sober – Be Responsible – Live Free


Long-term Recovery and Relapse Management

April 25, 2014

By Terence T. Gorski, Author, April 25, 2014

images

The Long Road Home

Recovery can be a long road home, but many people make the journey and arrive safely. This is demonstrated by a 1997 study by Keith Humphreys, Rudolf H. Moos, Caryn Cohen entitled Social and Community Resources and Long-Term Recovery from Treated and Untreated Alcoholism the published in The Journal for the Study of Alcohol in 1997 (J. Stud. Alcohol 58: 231-238, 1997) clearly showed the need to focus upon life-long disease management in the treatment of alcoholism. This means moving rom an acute care treatment model to a chronic care model is important to improving long-term recovery rates. Acute Care Treatment Models focus upon intensive up-front treatment at high levels of care, often medically supervised detoxification and residential rehabilitation while neglecting ongoing coordinated long-term continuing care. In contract, Chronic Disease Management Models for the treatment of alcoholism focus upon improving long-term recovery rates by providing effective stabilization services matched to patient needs, managing relapse by stopping it quickly should it occur, and supporting ongoing recovery that changes as the needs of patients change over the course of a lifetime. It is important that addiction professionals become familiar with the effectiveness of Long-term Chronic Disease Management Approaches to the treatment of addiction. This approach involves:

  • Early identification and intervention;
  • Effective stabilization programs that break the immediate addiction cycle
  • Teaching patients primary recovery skills;
  • Involving families in the recovery process;
  • Building community support services around the needs of recovering people and their families;
  • Preventing relapse when possible by teaching people how to identify and manage early warning signs of relapse and high risk situations;
  • Effectively managing relapse by stopping it quickly should relapse occur and getting the patient back into an ongoing recovery process.

The following outline can be used for presentation summarizing the Humphreys et al 1997 study. Feel free to use it in your public presentations. 1. Long-term studies of the course of alcoholism suggest that a variety of factors other than professional treatment influence the process of recovery. These factors include:

  • Demographic factors;
  • Baseline alcohol-related problems;
  • Depression;
  • Professional treatment;
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA);
  • Other social and community resources

2. This study evaluated the role of these factors in predicting remission and psychosocial outcome over 8 years. 3. In this study a sample of 628 previously untreated alcoholic individuals was recruited at detoxification units and alcoholism information and referral services.

  • Of these participants, 395 (68.2%) were followed 3 and 8 years later.
  • Most (83.3%) were white (n = 329) and 50.1% (n = 198) were men.

4. At each contact point, participants completed A self-administered inventory that assessed their:

  •  Current problems,
  • Treatment utilization,
  • AA participation and
  • Quality of relationships.

4. The results showed that:

  • The number of inpatient treatment days received in the 3 years after baseline were not independently related to 8-year remission or psychosocial outcomes.
  • More outpatient treatment in the first 3 years increased the likelihood of 8-year remission, but was not related to psychosocial outcomes.
  • The number of AA meetings attended in the first 3 years predicted remission, lower depression, and higher quality relationships with friends and spouse/partner at 8 years.
  • Extended family quality at baseline also predicted remission and higher quality friendships and family relationships at 8 years.

5. The Conclusions drawn were:

  • Alcoholism is a chronic, context-dependent, and lifestyle related disorder.
  • Short-term up-front interventions have little long-term impact upon recovery rates or quality of life improvements.
  • Social and community resources that are readily available for long periods are more likely to have a lasting influence on the course of alcoholism.

Marti MacGibbon Tells Her Story

January 16, 2014
cf853f1a23cc0ad8986cfe.L._V357795905_SX200_

Marti MacGibbon
Author and Motivational Speaker

By Marti MacGibbon

My name is Marti MacGibbon and I am an addiction treatment professional, award-winning author, a professional humorous, and an inspirational speaker. I specialize in addiction, trauma resolution, recovery, resilience, and all forms of inspiration.  I am also a person in long-term recovery from addiction, with 18 years chemical-free. I entered treatment for Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when the symptoms became unbearable in sobriety.

I am writing this blog for two reasons:

– To summarize my story of personal recovery which I told in detail in the book Never Give Into Fear, and
– To express my gratitude to Terence T. (Terry) Gorski for his life work.

Terry has dedicated his life to creating practical systems of recovery that are describe step-by-step skills that can be learned and used. He presents these skills in clear, easy-to understand, and no-nonsense language. He has always put recovering people and their families first. His primary goal has to help people to live sober and responsible. His methods have always fostered a movement from dependence, to independence, and then to interdependence. His methods are always collaborative and respectful. He believes in rational thinking and sober responsible living.

Terry Gorski has dedicated his life
to helping addicted people and their families
to learn effective skills
for helping themselves to recover.

My Story Encapsulated

In my active addiction, I might have been described as one of the hopeless cases, and looking back now, I know that both childhood sexual abuse (first instance at 14 years old) by authority figures, and the extreme trauma I survived in adulthood fueled my addiction. Knowledge is power, and this is especially true in recovery.  Organized knowledge is even better. The more I learn about the disease, the stronger my recovery grows, and the more positive action I can take to build a better, more enjoyable lifestyle and share experience, strength, and hope with others.

Knowledge is power.
Organized knowledge is even better.
~ Terence T. Gorski ~

In 1984, I was a successful standup comic (check out part of my act on YouTube), with a scheduled appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but I struggled with addiction. I’d been a heavy drinker in an attempt to cope with emotional pain and self-loathing, but couldn’t perform well on stage under the influence of alcohol, so I’d begun experimenting with stimulants.  That’s when I discovered methamphetamine, specifically crystal meth, and it was “game on!”

In the manner described in Gorski’s book, Straight Talk About Addiction, when I used meth I had an addictive brain response that released the brain chemistry of self-confidence. I felt more in control on meth, and I felt excited at the prospect of a new drug of choice that seemed to benefit me. I met a man¾a handsome criminal with lots of contacts in the drug world. The relationship went downhill fast, morphing into a classic abusive relationship. My downward spiral became a power dive, resulting in my being trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime figures. I endured rape and physical abuse, and lived under threat of death, but someone helped me to escape, and I returned to the U.S.

There’s a good reason
not to get intimately involved with a criminals.
That reason is … Ummm?
Well, the reason is they’re criminals.
As a general rule criminals can’t be trusted!
~ Terence T. Gorski ~

At that point, I began using my drug of choice as a means of coping with the trauma I’d experienced, and, as many trauma victims do, I returned to the abusive boyfriend. He beat me up and almost killed me. After that, I spent a year and a half homeless, sleeping under bridges and in abandoned houses. I lived in terror of reprisal from the traffickers I’d escaped. I suffered from nightmares. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was suffering from PTSD.  (See Gorski’s Approach To PTSD)

Eventually, I met the man who is my husband today. We’ve been together for 26 years, and although we experienced active addiction together for several years, we both entered recovery during the 1990s, and we still enjoy strong recovery today. When I got clean, I returned to professional standup comedy for some years, and I know the power of laughter as a healing force! For me, gratitude, laughter and fun are mainstays in my recovery program. As I motivational speaker, I still do standup comedy, I just call myself a humorist and my audiences are sober people who enjoy a message of hope delivered in a way that helps them life at the ironies of life.

I always wanted to be a comedian,
but I lacked one thing – Talent!
So I did the next best thing.
I became a therapist!
~ Terence T. Gorski ~

Recovery Is An Action Plan

Recovery is a plan of action that creates motivation, which in turn creates more positive action. During my first few days clean, I took a look at my daily schedule and saw that my average day in addiction consisted of a series of bad habits, negative thought patterns, and self-defeating behaviors. At that point I instinctively knew I needed to learn more effective skills and practice them in every area of my life until they became habitual. When I was addicted, I was driven by the automatic and unconscious habits involved in getting ready to use, using, and recovering from using so I could start the cycle again. I didn’t have to think about it. It was a habit – and habits don’t require thought.

I managed to put the complex behaviors required to get and use illegal drugs under automatic habitual control – and I did it during a drug war, while I was homeless, suffering from severe PTSD, and surround by dangerous people. I certainly could develop a set of automatic/habitual recovery skills when I had a safe place to live, food to eat and meetings filled with sober and responsible people willing to help me.

So I rolled up my sleeves and got started. I replaced bad habits with good: began an exercise program, focused on a healthy diet, learned about cognitive distortions, began using positive affirmations and mantras, and started building a sober support network. The results came quickly and my success filled me with enthusiasm for my new lifestyle and the healing process. One success built upon another building momentum until I had moments of genuine well-being which I call spiritual experiences. The recovery process was a similar but opposite to the process of addiction. When actively addicted one failure built upon another until hopelessness crushed the soul.

Recovery is a plan of action that creates motivation,
which in turn creates more positive action.
~Marti MacGibbon ~

After ten years in recovery, I entered into therapy. I still had nightmares from the experience in Japan, and the additional trauma during my homeless period on the street.

Therapy has been, and still is, a game changer for me.  The healing is deep and profound. After therapy, I knew I wanted more than standup comedy, so I obtained education and training in addiction treatment. My goal was to be able to carry the message of recovery to others who suffer. During my studies, I discovered the work, of Terry Gorski. I learned about his Relapse Prevention Certification School. After earning my CADC-II, I enrolled in the RPT training and earned the ACRPS. I have worked with special populations, (Women and Homeless Veterans), and in outpatient, inpatient, and transitional housing settings.

Terry Gorski’s books provide education about the disease of addiction. His material is well organized. He presents valuable information for therapists and recovering people in plain language that anyone can understand.  When I read his books Learning to Live Again, and Understanding the Twelve Steps, I knew I’d discovered valuable recovery tools! Terry didn’t really say anything I didn’t know. He did, however, give me a better way to put what I knew intuitively into words so I could explain it more clearly to others.  I’ve purchased the two books for sponsees and friends in 12-Step programs as gifts they can use as additional resources and companions to the Big Book and Twelve and Twelve. The women I have shared these resources with have always been enthusiastic about the results they achieve when they study the books and take action.

While reading many of Gorski’s books, and in my addiction treatment training, I was thrilled to learn that fun and laughter are important to recovery even though the evidence for relationship between humor and health is not as strong as many believe it to be. This idea, however, continues to electrify me. Although I do not currently work as a counselor in a facility, I maintain my certifications and work to carry the message about recovery.

Today I am producer, founder and host of Laff-Aholics Standup Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. The purpose of the show is to provide a fun event for people in recovery, with social connectivity and plenty of healing laughter. Newcomers learn it’s possible to have fun in recovery, that our community comes together for our most vulnerable members, and “old-timers” are refreshed and inspired. 100% of the profits from the show go to facilities that provide transitional housing and access to treatment for those who have little or no financial assets. We prefer to benefit facilities that will take clients who have “only the shirt on their backs,” so to speak.

Now I am launching a talk show on a recovery radio network called Pure Motive Radio. The show is on Blog Talk Radio, and it’s called, Kickass Personal Transformation with Marti MacGibbon. The purpose of the show is to provide entertainment, education, and tips on personal development in recovery. I’m booking comedians, authors who write about recovery, and thought leaders in the addiction treatment field. I enjoyed the two guest appearances that Terry Gorski made on my show. I am excited because he has agreed to do more in the future! My listening audience will be fascinated, educated, and enthralled!

Terry’s generosity to the recovering community is extensive. His many books, lectures, and the services of The CENAPS® Corporation provide a wealth of resources for those of us who suffer from the disease of addiction. He’s a brilliant clinician with a keen sense of humor and his contribution to recovery has made it possible for countless lives to be saved, healed and improved.  Terry Gorski Rocks! ~ Marti MacGibbon

C2953-MacGibbon Cover-Mini

Mari MacGibbon’s inspiring story of recovery.

Marti’s MacGibbon’s Website:
http://martimacgibbon.com/

Marti’s MacGibbon’s Blog:
http://martimacgibbon.com/blog/


Social Support In Recovery – An Important Relapse Prevention Tool

December 3, 2013

By Terence T. Gorski

The Importance of Good Support Systems in Sobriety

 wrote an interesting article for Psych Central on The Importance of Good Support Systems in Sobriety. This article stirred up some ideas that I wanted to share. I also wanted to add to the excellent ideas that she presented.

Addiction is a biopsychosocial illness that is chronic, lifestyle-related, and relapse prone. The pathway to relapse is often marked by high stress, lack of social support for people who understand addiction, and easy access to high risk situations where there is ready availability to the drug of choice, social support for using, and isolation from people who are part of the recovery network. Once the social accountability factor is recovery is gone, the addictive mind of the addict comes into play and go wild romping in the fields of fantasy with alcohol and drug users.

Recovery is not just an individual experience. Because human being are social animals, we need to find other people who can support us in living a sober and responsible life. In an addiction centered culture that is not always easy. Most people are either addicted themselves or support the addictive cultures that surround us.

Recovery requires communication and feedback. We need to be around people who will tell us the truth in a helpful way that will allow us to hear what we are saying and invite us into a conversation. Most people who have not been in recovery get threatened by this level of honest or just don’t get why it’s important. After all, it is hard to fit in a good 10th step inventory (taking a daily review of what happened and correcting things that didn’t go well) while you’re in traffic with a friend rushing to the Casino getting ready for a hot date with the sixth stranger this week.

This is where recovery support groups, many built around the 12-Steps of AA, provide an important social outlet. twelve step programs guidelines (in the form of the 12-Steps), organizational guidelines for running coordinating groups (The 12-Traditions), and a solid and consistent social structure based around regular meetings, sponsorship, and mutual support. There is a rich a varying community of sober and responsible people from all walks of life with a wide variety of interests. It is a sober social network par excel lance.  Other support groups such a Women for Recovery and SMART Recovery are also available in manage communities. The Self-Help Group Source-book On-line references over thirty support groups for alcoholism and over 1,100 for just about every major lifestyle related problem that people experience.

Avoid Relapse By Developing A Sober Social Network.

 Having a network of people striving to live a sober and responsible life provides social options. It give us a place to look for people who are also building a life that is not centered around alcohol and other drugs. AS these new sober and responsible relationships begin to form, we feel less of a need for out old buddies that we used to drink and use drugs with. It also allows you to change relationships with codependents who have enabled you ongoing addiction.

The people you encounter in 12-step and other support groups are, like you, actively working toward a healthy life and using the tools necessary to stay clean. Associating with other sober people helps you avoid triggers and remain focused on maintaining your sobriety.

As with any important life change, the road to recovery is not always easy. Rather, as you continue to work on your recovery, you are likely to encounter many obstacles and challenges. A sober support group gives you the opportunity to talk through challenges.

Just as unhealthy people can drive you to use drugs and alcohol, a sober support group can help create pressure to make healthy choices. Attending meetings on a regular basis and maintaining a consistent dialogue with your sponsor means knowing that there are a great number of people who do not want you to relapse. This type of pressure can be very helpful as you work to stay clean.

They provide a lifeline during difficult times

Cindy Nichols says this very well in her article: “All recovering addicts face triggers throughout all stages of sobriety. Having access to a sponsor and a group of people you can turn to when you are tempted provides a healthy alternative to succumbing to triggers.”

Cindy also describes the role a sober social network can have in times of trouble or crisis: “Life is full of unplanned events. There is no telling when you may face anger, sadness, or stress because of circumstances that are outside of your control. As you become accustomed to dealing with these feelings in a constructive way, you continue to strengthen your ability to maintain your sobriety, regardless of what life throws at you.”

In working with relapse prone addicts for over forty years, one issue remains constant: those who can develop sober and responsible relationships and learn how to give and receive help are more likely to stay in long-term recovery that those who are isolated or stay connected with their old friends who are heavy drinkers and drug users. Stay sober.

The details of addiction and how to develop a solid recovery plan including sober social networking is explained in the book: Straight Talk About Addiction. 

READ CINDY’S ARTICLE ON THE INTERNET

LIVE  SOBER – BE RESPONSIBLE – LIVE FREE 
Use No-nonsense Recovery Methods That Work

GORSKI BOOKSGORSKI TRAINING/CONSULTATION


%d bloggers like this: