Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Doing Lunch With The Girls


Sometimes I forget how it used to be, but just now a reminder tapped me on the shoulder.  You see, I'm "doing lunch" with some of my friends. It's actually kind of a good-bye lunch for me since I'm heading back to the states next week. One last chance for us to get together.

It's a pool party and I'm sure there will be all kinds of pool drinky-drinks. I've been trying to decide what I'll take to drink for the last two days because I've been trying to quit my Diet Coke habit and I've actually gone two days without one!  Not once have I thought about mixing up a mocktail, they're so much trouble. Even better, not once have I thought, "Damn, I can't drink."  I'll take some tea or maybe I'll let myself indulge in a Diet Coke.  I found myself beating myself up about that and I knew my friends who are still struggling with their drinking would roll their eyes at me. Hey, there are other secret killers out there besides booze, ya'll. 

While I was shuffling around, putting the lasagna in the oven-cajun chicken-sausage in alfredo sauce lasagna, another secret assassin-I 'membered (getting my Cajun on) that six years ago, my day would be finished at that party.  Even if the party ended at 3 pm, I would be too drunk to do anything else, except drink some more. And, tomorrow? Tomorrow I would be sick, wouldn't even need to pencil that in, I could write it in permanent ink.  The next day? Probably still sick, if not, I still wouldn't feel as good as I do right now.

What a waste.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

No Wonder It's So Damn Hard!

I got to read this article for my nursing continuing education hours.  I don't know whether I agree with the disease model of addiction or not-all those wordy arguments came to be meaningless to me because the only thing I needed to understand is that I needed to quit, whether I was diseased, whether my grandpa Hatch passed the bad genetics down to me, whether I was abused without knowing it in my childhood. None of it would change the final verdict.

But this article does explain to me, why it is so hard to quit. Why we can't just put it down. Why we fail at quitting so many times.

It's not all our fault.

Neurobiologic Advances from the Brain Disease Model of Addiction.
Author(s): Volkow N D, et al.
Journal: N Engl J Med. 2016; 374: 363-371. 58 references.
Faculty Disclosure: Nora D. Volkow, MD, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6001 Executive Bld., Rm. 5274, Bethesda, MD 20892. Email: nvolkow@nida.nih.gov
Objective: Review and evaluate the latest advances and newest information in the area of Addiction

"Editor’s Note: This is essentially  a plea for more basic research in addiction.
Class: Basic science of addiction
Research guided by the brain disease model of addiction has led to the development of more effective methods of prevention and treatment and to more informed public health policies. Notable examples include the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008, which requires medical insurance plans to provide the same coverage for substance-use disorders and other mental illnesses that is provided for other illnesses and the proposed legislation that would reduce prison sentences for some nonviolent drug offenders because people who need treatment for drug and alcohol problems or mental health issues will be more likely to improve and reintegrate into society if they receive consistent care.
Advances in neurobiology have begun to clarify the mechanisms underlying the profound disruptions in decision-making ability and emotional balance displayed by persons with drug addiction. Addiction has been divided into three recurring stages: binge and intoxication, withdrawal and negative affect, and preoccupation and anticipation (or craving). Each stage is associated with activation of specific neurobiologic circuits and the consequential clinical and behavioral characteristics.
Binge and intoxication involves the same molecular mechanisms that strengthen synaptic connections during learning and memory formation. Environmental stimuli repeatedly paired with drug use may all come to elicit conditioned, fast surges of dopamine release that trigger craving for the drug, motivate drug-seeking behaviors and lead to heavy "binge" use of the drug. Whereas dopamine cells stop firing after repeated consumption of a "natural reward" (e.g., food or sex) satiating the drive to further pursue it, addictive drugs circumvent natural satiation and continue to directly increase dopamine levels.
Withdrawal and negative affect results because persons with addiction no longer experience the same degree of euphoria from a drug as they did when they first started using it. There are adaptations in the circuitry of the amygdala in the basal forebrain resulting in increases in a person's reactivity to stress and lead to the emergence of negative emotions. In addition to the direct and conditioned pull toward the "rewards" of drug use, there is a correspondingly intense motivational push to escape the discomfort associated with the after effect of use. Many state they continue to take the drug to escape the distress they feel when they are not intoxicated.
In preoccupation and anticipation, there are changes in the function for the prefrontal cortical regions, which involve the executive processes.  The impaired signaling of dopamine and glutamate in the prefrontal regions weakens the ability to resist strong urges or to follow through on decisions to stop taking the drug.
Factors that increase vulnerability to addiction include family history (presumably through heritability and child-rearing practices), early exposure to drug use (adolescence is among the periods of greatest vulnerability to addiction), exposure to high-risk environments, and certain mental illnesses (e.g., mood disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, psychoses, and anxiety disorders). Susceptibility to addiction differs because people differ in their vulnerability to various genetic, environment and developmental factors.
Awareness of individual and social risk factors and the identification of early substance-use problems make it possible to tailor prevention strategies to the patient. When prevention has failed and there is a need for treatment, research based on the brain disease model of addiction has shown that medical treatment can help to restore health function in affected brain circuitry and lead to improvements in behavior.
Although it is too soon to evaluate the effect of the MHPAEA and the Affordable Care Act, there appears to be increased enrollment and care delivery among patients with substance-use disorders and an overall reduction in spending on emergency departments visits and hospital stays in three states that were initially reviewed. 
Important Points:
Despite reports of benefits to the public from practices and policies generated by research based on the brain disease model of addiction, mobilizing support for further research will require the public to become better educated about the genetic, age-related, and environmental susceptibilities to addiction as they relate to structural and functional changes in the brain. If early voluntary drug use goes undetected and unchecked, the resulting changes in the brain can ultimately erode a person's ability to control the impulse to take addictive drugs."

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Impromptu Women's Chat Tonight!




A little while back there was a discussion over on the Moderation Management forum about starting a Women's chat, I'm not sure where that ended up but I'll be in the chat room tonight at EST 9:00 Central 8:00 pm, Mountain 7:00 pm, and Pacific 6:00 pm if some " womens" want to talk about issues women face whether they are moderating or absing. I promise I won't try to sway you to the other side. Kary May

I'll bring the watercress sandwiches. What the hell is watercress, by the way?

http://www.moderation.org/chat/

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Need Some Help, Por Favor

Hey gang! I'm still writing that book. Which one, you might ask.  I'm still working on my Guide to Online Recovery Communities which includes the blogging community.  I've got some great blog posts from other  bloggers. Thank you very much! But I could use a couple more from the early days of the journey, before the year mark. You know, when we're still scared and uncertain of what the hell we're doin' but we're doin it anyway. Even if we get it wrong a few times.  If any of you have some that you are proud of, I'd love to share them.

Don't make me use my own.

email me at karymayhickey@gmail.com

PPS! Three day later, I figured out this title sounds like a call for help to keep me from drinking. I'm sorry. I'm ok. But thanks for checking up on me.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Wine Intolerance

Jeez! I read back through my blog the other day, and, hell's bells I sure talk about going for walks a lot. No more walking blogs!

Someone on one of the message boards the other day wrote a post about how she'd taken a short abstinence stretch and then gone out to restaurant and had only two glasses of wine.  She woke up in the middle of the night with that same old anxiety and palpitations that I got to know so well.  This person has been trying to figure out if she needs to quit drinking for awhile and she's had several long abs stretches, so the first thing I thought she might be experiencing is Kindling. I've written about kindling before but in a nutshell it is a hyper-physiological response of the body in response to multiple withdrawals from alcohol. Meaning that our body punishes us for making it quit drinking so many times by going into this state of hyper-physiological state, i.e. palpitations, tremors, night sweats, easier every time.

But when I was doing some more research the other day, I came upon this article which offers a different possibility.  The bad news is, either way, if you start experiencing these symptoms you need to quit drinking because it's not going to get any better.

Sleepless, Eczema and Even Heart Palpitations...The Women Who Don't Know They're Wine Intolerant

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Drinking Dream #????




Warning! Morbid Post Ahead.

I don't know if other recovered drinkers do this, but I do. Sometimes I tell myself, "If (fill in blank) happens, I'll let myself drink again. Just once. One night. Then I'll go back to not drinking."

The blank is usually a death.  For example: I tell myself, "If the cap'n dies, I'll let myself drink in memory of him and I and all the good times we had while drinking. I'll buy a fifth of Jack Daniels. I'll drink and dance alone in the moonlight, like we used to."

Or: I'll tell myself, "If one of my kids or grandkids die, I'll let myself drink again. Maybe I'll never stop. I'll deserve it."

I don't know if I really would. I hope I never find out.

Then this morning, I had this drinking dream...

I dreamed that my youngest son died. He is a sergeant in the Air Force, so that is an always present underlying fear that I don't let myself think about, even when he's deployed. But, in this dream, I was at his funeral and they were just getting ready to close the casket.  I fell down on my knees in front of the congregation, grabbed the mortician's hand and begged him to wait, because it finally hit me that I would never see him again. (Gawd this was an awful dream and I'm just about to cry reliving it.) I don't think I've ever really grasped that finality of that act, the closing of the casket, as I did in this dream.

In the dream, my oldest son came up and grabbed me and pulled me to my feet.  I looked into his eyes and saw disgust.

"How could you," he said. "You're drunk, aren't you?"

I was.

"Just this once," I said. "I had to."

I looked around the congregation, my daughter-in-law, my grandkids, my ex-husband, for understanding. Surely they could understand that I needed to get drunk. But they were all sober and somber. And noble. As my son deserves.

So, now I don't think I'll drink when someone I love dies.

As I've posted on here before, my youngest is the one with whom I still feel  I have some amending to do. While his brothers sought refuge from my escalating drinking and the maelstrom of our gas and striking match blended family and moved back with their dad, Matt stuck it out. I think maybe he felt like he had to, because the other two hadn't. This is what I wrote to him on Easter:

You know, Matt, I've never told you how much it meant to me that you stayed with me all through your high school years, I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't. I feel like I abandoned you after you graduated and Chantel was pregnant. I am so thankful that I have the chance to rebuild the relationship you and I once had, those nights I'd wait for you to get home late and we'd sit outside on the step and talk about everything. I want that again. I've missed it. I love you. 

His response:


I've never gone anywhere, mom, the only difference is the miles between us.

I think this kid deserves a sober mom. No matter what.

Even death isn't a reason to drink. But we knew that, didn't we?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Abs Chat Tonight: Featured Presentation-Digging for Treasure in Abslandia




I'll be hosting Abs Chat Tonight!  So many times in early abs our focus is on what we're giving up, tonight let's talk about what we hope to discover. 


9 PM Eastern, 8 Central, 7 Mountain, 6 Pacific
Abs Chat is focused on abstaining from alcohol—on a permanent basis,
long-term, or even for a shorter period of time (like a 30!).
Everyone is welcome to attend, and to participate, but we won't be
discussing moderation techniques or plans. For discussions of
moderate drinking, we invite you to participate in the Monday Night
Book Chat or the Tuesday Night Online Meeting.
So if you're abstaining, planning to, curious about it, wondering
whether it would be a good idea, or just want to hang out for sober
fun, stop by!
See you there! http://www.moderation.org/chat/

** PLEASE NOTE: Abs Chat will be held in the Abs Chatroom. When
logging in, use the drop-down box to select MM_Abs_Chat. If you wind
up in the wrong room, you can move between rooms by clicking on the
room list to the right of the chatroom screen. **
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