Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Turn Your Negatives into Positives!

You are a relative of someone who has substance abuse issues. As a responsible individual, you are likely to possess many wonderful qualities that have helped you cope thus far. Though things may not be going well or as planned, you can take all these negatives and feel empowered to turn them into positives.

Positive strengths you may possess include:
  1. A great deal of insight
  2. Faithfulness
  3. Loyalty
  4. Endurance
  5. A thick skin 
  6. Helpful
  7. Selflessness
  8. Confidence in others
  9. Wanting to see people develop to their full potential
  10. Write more strengths that you have…!
Ask yourself these questions:
  • How can we target these forces within ourselves for the better?
  • Where should they be channeled?
  • How can I use these characteristics in such a way that they lead to positive development, both for myself and others?

In other words,
How Will You Use Your Positive Strengths?

Turn all of your negatives into positives and watch your life begin to transform. Even though you may be faced with negative circumstance, a positive attitude will inspire other around you. You may be the example that an addict may need to be inspired by.

By setting up goals for yourself, you can work at one positive attitude to perfect each day or you can look at it from a weekly perspective. The amount of time you spend on yourself will not only enhance your quality of life, but will also help others around you. From there, you can feel empowered and feel great about your accomplishments instead of being pulled through the muck and mire of those who have not gotten their lives together. Be you. Be positive!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

If You Can't Deliver, Then Don't

When dealing with a relative who is an abuser of alcohol or drugs, it is very easy to get extremely frustrated with their behavior. The choices made by one person can have a long lasting effect on others. Dealing with consequences of alcohol abuse or drug related problems, can tend to have long lasting effects on the quality of life for those who love them most.

This frustration often leads one to feel hopelessness about the situation. Maybe you have tried different alternatives to help keep them on the "straight and narrow" but none of these options ever seem to work. Time and time again, they will agree to change, but the same bad choices and habits remain.

So, the only choice you may feel is appropriate is to give them an ultimatum. While this may shock the abuser into quick action, will it have lasting effects? 

You will find that after an ultimatum has been issued, the individual with the substance abuse problems will stop short term, or at least they will not do it in your presence. From there, you will slowly see the drugs and alcohol reappear.

The ultimatum is ignored, and oftentimes loved ones cannot deliver on it, so no action is taken. The words become empty threats in the mind of the substance abuser.

Instead of creating a string of empty threats, it is better to say nothing at all, than to give an ultimatum that you will not deliver on. That way, your boundaries are not moved further, and the substance abuser does not lose respect for you. It is better to choose to tell them what you think about the drug abuse instead. Only give ultimatums that you are 100% sure you will deliver on so that they don't lose respect for you, and you don't feel guilt or shame towards yourself. Don't fall into the Ultimatum trap!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Don't Become a Control Addict

Do you live with a loved one who has a serious addiction? You have exhausted your options and are doing all you can do to aid the situation in your household. Now you have decided it's time to take matters in your own hands and take control. You feel that if you take control, it will help you better manage or change the other person. While this option may seem more acceptable to you, step back for a moment and consider this.

A controlling nature can lead to an addiction of your own. The strong need for control. As you begin to squeeze down on the situation at hand, you could experience anxiety, shortness of breath, fast heart beat, or panic when you feel that you have lost control. These symptoms will then disappear again, when you are back in control. Because there is no way for you to stay in control all of the time, you will be in for an emotional rollercoaster. This, in turn, begins a vicious never ending circle. It may not be on purpose, but you have now formed your own dependency of control!

Don't worry, you are not alone. It's very common. There are some tell-tale signs to help you know if you have fallen into or are entering the "control-zone". Here are some questions to help you conduct a self examination.

  • In what kind of ways do you try to control your loved ones drug/alcohol intake? (i.e. "I hide the drugs/alcohol". "I gave an ultimatum". "I set up "rules." "I sit home at night waiting them to arrive home.")
  • In what ways do you seek to gain control? (i.e. "By throwing away the drugs". "By using extreme ultimatums." "I want to know everything that is going on at all times." etc).
  • What do you think would happen if you let go of the control? Would your/your loved ones situation be any different?  (i.e. "My home situation would become chaotic."  "I would have time to hang out with my friends instead of sitting home waiting for him/her". "The situation of my loved one would actually not be any different." etc.)
  • What type of control-"behavior" would be easiest for you to let go of? (i.e. "sit home waiting at night" etc.)

Use the answers to these questions to assess your situation, and began to develop a plan to release your control and redirect your energies on standards that will not allow you to develop addictions due to the addiction situation.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Be your own best friend!

Are you always giving to others but when you are in need, no one is to be found? Do you often find yourself stuck in a situation and are doing things that you do not really want to do? Sometimes you may neglect yourself constantly in favor of others needs. Do you feel like your life is no longer even on the priority list?

It's time to take inventory.  There is nothing wrong with taking out much needed time for you. Shut off your cell phone for a while, and take a mini vacation. Make yourself unavailable and stick to it. Take out "me" time and schedule it regularly. The earth will not stop spinning while you are away.

Line up some interesting or fun activities and go on a short distance road trip. Meet new friends. Treat yourself to a spa treatment inclusive of a massage. Go out and eat your favorite extravagant meal and treat yourself to that big ice cream cone that you never seem to have time for. Buy a new outfit and get a new hair cut. Attend that concert that is coming to town or take a short cruise. Sometimes, all it takes is to shake up the schedule a little to change the course and direction of your life.

Who are you guaranteed to live with every second, minute, day, week, month and year for the rest of your life? Yourself, of course!

Treat yourself like your own best friend!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ground breaking meditation app!

Is your life filled with stress, anxiety or worries? Or do you just need to relax from time to time?  

I can HIGHLY recommend a meditation app called Headspace! It includes hundreds of hours of simple meditation lessons, such as mindfulness, and has definitely made my daily life easier in many ways. 

Meditation has proven to relieve stress and improve sleep, focus and self awareness. Try it our for 10 minutes and see how it feels :) 

You can download the app in your app store, just search for Headspace, or check it out here.

Stay calm and take care! 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Addiction, shame and stigma

Over 20 million people are struggling with drug- or alcohol problems, but only about 2 million of them receive treatment. Why? 

One of the reasons has to do with our view of the person with an addiction. Many people put labels on the person; he/she has a bad character and ought to straighten up. This label is also transmitted onto the families; “what kind of family let this happen?” Relatives are often questioned by outsiders, like friends, colleagues or neighbors. These “third parties” may also have a variety of advices for the families, for example: "Make sure he obtains a hobby in order to be detached from the alcohol/drugs!" Yes, if only it were that easy to make someone recover from an illness. The stigma of addiction prevents so many people from seeking help, just because of the fear of being labeled by others!

Addiction is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine as a "primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry." Addiction changes the structure of the brain and its ability to function
. Despite this, many people still look at alcohol and drug addiction as a moral dilemma.

Karen is 62 years old and the mother of the now sober 39-year-old Marcus. He's been clean for many years, but it's not until now that she've begun to talk about what she experienced during the time of his addiction. She was always afraid of what others would think of her. It made her quiet and she suffered a lot more than she had to. For there is help to be given out there.

Denial, blame, anger and bitterness are all common attributes in families that are affected by the disease of addiction. It is often uncomfortable for families to talk to their friends and/or relatives about the problem, and they are often afraid to seek support. But talking about it is very important when it comes to their own well-being,
provided that they get the opportunity to talk to non-judgmental people. If a person is judged during the conversation, there's a risk that he/she feels even more shame and therefore gets even more isolated.

Karen felt, like so many others, a strong shame in talking about her sons addiction with others, especially with all the rumors going on about him. She thought that they would judge her as being a bad mother, and it happened many times that she defended him in front of others or denied that he had a problem. This further strengthens her isolation and the feeling that no one understood; she was alone to live in a situation like this.

People form opinions based on the information that they have on hand. If we don't educate people about the nature of addiction, what causes it and research in order to find better treatments, nothing is ever going to change. No one will benefit on clinging on to old stigmas and rigid beliefs. If these beliefs are maintained, it'll take longer time for people suffering from addiction to seek help, or they may not even get to that point, and in the worst cases, they will die due to the disease. And many close relatives, like Karen, will always be afraid to seek support for their own sake, although there's millions of people around them who are suffering, just like them.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on the subject? Or anything else you want to talk about? Please write a comment below, or contact me at: info@carinabang.se



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