For my last tour in the U.S. Navy I wanted to end my career continuing to do something bigger than myself. I believed my natural qualities of warmth and compassion could be used in the field of military welfare. In March 2010 I completed Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program School in Point Loma, California and in December 2011 received my Certificate of Competence Certification as an Alcohol Drug Counselor (ADCI). I managed 119 drug and alcohol abuse/dependency cases, facilitated 212 hours of Early Education and Awareness classes and conducted 490 hours of therapy sessions that fostered successful recovery plans. If there was one thing I often told patients that they must be willing to change as to increase their chances of a successful recovery is people, places and things.
Change happens when we become spiritually broken, physically weak, and mentally exhausted. For the addict, these are the characteristics that can lead to relapse, which is normal when traveling the long road to recovery. Hopefully those that abuse or who are addicted can make the connection before it's too late. Denial, fear and stubbornness can be our own worst enemy when we repeatedly try to do the same thing expecting different results. If what we have been doing is leaving us running on empty, then trying a whole new method with a higher success rate must be in order. Normally surrendering is the first step in the right direction. When we try to hide, duck and dodge it only prolongs the pain. Admitting and confronting the issues head on can be truly uncomfortable but necessary. With supportive friends, family, resources and a renewed faith to believe that we can do better because we deserve better, those are the ingredients to a recipe for happiness, wellness, quality of life and most importantly sobriety.
I remember a patient who was alcohol dependent that also admitted to being a sex addict as well. He attended AA meetings, appeared to be open and honest during group therapy plus offered to help others struggling with their sobriety. Wanting to be sociable, he thought that hanging back out at the local bars during karaoke night sipping on club soda was harmless. For the first few nights, he did ok. But when life threw him a curve ball of his estranged wife asking for more money while finding out she was dating other men, missing his children compiled on top of having sexual desires, relapse was knocking at his door. Bottom line, he frequented a place that triggered old habits, surrounded himself in an atmosphere that fostered drinking and met people who were out to fulfill their sexual appetite too. People, places and things led to his setback. He stopped doing the things that were working. Like many of us who are resistant to change, we find ourselves clawing our way out of the pit where rock bottom is trying to swallow us whole. Reaching rock bottom is when we get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
In order for positive personal growth and development we need to be around a positive environment. Why would you choose to be around someone who is not encouraging, always complaining, and surrounded in drama? Why would you gain insight from the isolation of being incarcerated, having the desire to get your life back on track and reunite with loved ones only to return to those that know your weaknesses and bad habits? Ultimately we lack because we fail to do what is necessary even when it is not popular and requires much effort on our part. Peace of mind and heart, purpose in life and power in our voice is awaiting us, all we have to do is make the essential changes to obtain it. Life can be as simple or as hard as we make it. If you fall or stumble, pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. Vow to yourself to learn and grow from the process, using hope and faith in God as a life preserver when met with the next challenge. This is how we prosper through life's journey.