Posts in Spiritual Experience

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New Year’s Resolution: No More Drugs or Alcohol

January 1st, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 1 comment on “New Year’s Resolution: No More Drugs or Alcohol”

No more drugs or alcohol!?! This is something most addicts or alcoholics have said to themselves or others at least once or twice without success. With today being the first day of 2019, I decided to consider my own resolutions. Reflecting on my past resolutions, I realized a common thread. Resolutions are only successful when I integrate some sort of new behaviors into my life to substitute for the old behaviors.

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RESOLUTION (definition)

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a firm decision to do or not to do something

Why do all my New Year’s resolutions fail?

When considering my sobriety, I remember countless times I would decide, no more drugs or alcohol from now on! After some time and repetition, I would get so uncomfortable being sober I would feel like I was going crazy. My anxiety and depression were extremely high, which brought out irritability or anger towards anyone around me. Eventually, I would get extremely uncomfortable with myself and very insecure. I resorted back to justifying another drink or drug, saying I will just do a little this time and learn to control it.

The problem was, I could never control it even though my mind told me otherwise. The days of having a couple of beers and a joint in the first week after a relapse turned into using dangerous street drugs…. AGAIN!! With that came misery and delusion leading to suicidal thoughts and severe depression. Even more frightening were the health complications that only more drug use could cure. Of course the end result, hospitals and jails. Better than dying at least!

Changing Behaviors Through the 12 Steps

After completing residential treatment, studying the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and listening to happy sober people in meetings, I began to understand that I needed to do some serious “internal housecleaning” to have a chance at staying sober. This meant, I needed to actually replace my addiction with something else in order to achieve sobriety. This meant that I needed to work the steps and connect to a higher power or higher purpose in my life. After doing some intensive therapeutic work, I came to the same conclusion. My old ways of thinking and behaving needed a major upheaval if I wanted a shot at staying sober. I had to replace my behaviors with new behaviors which then would lead to new thoughts and insights about myself.

The Doctor’s Opinion

Men and woman drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The effect is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the truth from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort that comes at once by taking a few drinks-drinks they see others taking with impunity.

After they have succumbed to the desire again as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope for his recovery.

Big Book of Alcoholic’s Anonymous

alcohol glass tipped over with wine bottle next to it black background - new years resolution blog
Addiction Cycle (Emotional Trigger, Craving, Ritual, Using, Guilt)

Feeling Connected and Aware of My Surroundings

After completing drug and alcohol rehab and working the 12 steps, my internal feelings began to shift.

I was starting to feel relief in sobriety.

Soon, the desire to get high and drink was removed from my consciousness and I started to feel more connected to the world and people around me. Because my attitude was getting better, my external world was getting better as well. I was able to hold a job and make money and clean up my legal issues. I was also able to amend some old relationships and become a better friend and family member. The more positive feedback I received from my new lifestyle practices, the more that I wanted to expand my new healthy choices and belief systems.

Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit

Today my recovery consists of implementing health into all 3 areas of my life which are my mind, body and spirit. I fuel my body with healthier choices like better eating habits and doing yoga. I fuel my mind by attempting to learn through reading and writing, as well as challenging myself every day to think critically and focus on my goals for self-improvement. And, both my mind and body seem to thrive better when I work on my spiritual condition. I work on this through practicing things like meditation, the 12 steps, going to meetings and trying to contribute to my society and the world. In these ways I feel connected to a higher power and the thought of using and drinking ceases to exist for me.

woman meditating black and white with bushes behind her

Loving My New Way of Life

Today, instead of waking up every morning trying to, “just say no to using,” I’m saying “YES” to so many other aspects of life, and the need to cover up my insecurities, ceases to exist.

Now no more drugs and alcohol is a reality…. I DON’T WANT TO LIVE THAT WAY!

Today, by practicing this new way of life by replacing old behaviors with the new, I get to love who I am and love life which for this addict/alcoholic, is a complete miracle.

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Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction

December 2nd, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction”

The holiday season, many believe, is a time to spend together and to appreciate one another. But for someone experiencing a substance abuse issue or in recovery, this time might become incredibly stressful. (more…)

kratom-green leaf

Opioid Alternatives: Kratom…? Let’s Find Out

November 28th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Opioid Epidemic, Spiritual Experience 0 comments on “Opioid Alternatives: Kratom…? Let’s Find Out”

Kratom has been widely used as one of the “safe” opioid alternatives that are available and legal. Considered as one of the “millennial” drugs with the likes of Molly (MDMA) and such, kratom has been making headlines lately. In particular, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) warns that kratom is responsible for 36 deaths. Specifics on these deaths are not disclosed. However, some of the long-term side effects of kratom include liver damage and seizures. Regular kratom users, in response, have insisted that these claims are misleading and overstated. [1]

Is the truth somewhere in between? Let’s find out…

What exactly is kratom?

More scientifically known as Mitragyna speciose, kratom has a multitude of descriptions, reputations, and most of all opinions. This tropical evergreen tree is in the coffee family. Its origins are Southeast Asia, more specifically Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea. Kratom can be ingested in powder, capsule, and tea, and there are different strains of this substance based on location. This can slightly vary its effects on the user.

And what exactly are those effects, now that we’ve got the formalities out of the way? This is where it gets interesting. In smaller doses, kratom creates a stimulant effect, much like a mild amphetamine, offering a jolt of energy, alertness, and euphoria. However, at higher doses, kratom provides a more sedating effect, similar to an opioid effect. This provides freedom from anxiety, stress, and a false sense of overall well-being, safety, and love.

The effects of kratom last around 5 to 6 hours, and the onset is about 30-40 minutes after ingestion on an empty stomach. With food in the stomach, this time doubles, although this is all an estimate as it depends on the user and the way they metabolize.

Kratom Facts

Kratom, with regular use, does, in fact, create a physical dependency and a withdrawal, although there are many claims that this withdrawal is “mild.” Regular users claim it is comparable to a withdrawal from coffee or tea after steady intake of caffeine, where other research seems to point more to a withdrawal similar to that of an opioid detox, which is quite different. The reported effects of kratom withdrawal are craving, muscle pain, yawning, nausea, fatigue, tremors, mood swings, runny nose, and hostility. These are, in fact, similar to an opioid withdrawal.

Long-term side effects are also similar to that of opioids/opiates: constipation, dependency, and addiction. In addition, reported long-term effects include liver damage, seizures, and hyperpigmentation of the cheeks.

Kratom has been reported to have been used since the 1900s for its “therapeutic effect.” Among some of the therapeutic effects are a natural painkiller, anti-diarrheal, and “increased sociability.” In addition, it is reportedly a natural anti-anxiety medication.

The Addict Perspective

Now that we’ve laid out some facts about kratom, or at least what the users report, let’s look at this from an addict’s perspective.

A drug addict needs to walk on eggshells when considering any substance he/she introduces into the body. There are many red flags in here regarding kratom use, both for the addict and anyone else contemplating use. In the interest of considering addiction, we will look at the addict. Kratom is described as having a “mild dependency syndrome.” I have never known a dependency syndrome to be “mild.” Dependence, by nature, is a terrible beast. There are, perhaps, some more horrific in nature than others. By default, dependence is going to cloud the mind and body, creating attachment, and haunting the user. This is all the more prominent for the drug addict, who will have a reaction to this dependence that is life-altering.

Kratom Capsules

With both the effects of the drug and the withdrawal echoing similar qualities of opioid use and withdrawal, the overall experience must be similar.

What we know of addicts is that there is not much choice involved with the amount of any given drug ingested. So if the preferred effect is the mild stimulant quality achieved in smaller doses, it is doubtful that the decision to manage the amount taken will be entirely in control of the user. When a good thing is presented, the immediate need is always “more.” As tolerance develops to any substance in both the drug addict and the average user, the amount needed increases, some quickly, others slowly.

Opioid Alternatives that are “Natural” or “Therapeutic”

Words such as “natural” and “therapeutic” are dangerous. We love to hear we are taking something natural or taking something for the right reasons, “therapeutically.” Let’s take hallucinogenics, for instance. Hallucinogenics have been experimented with, therapeutically, as a treatment for depression, spiritual experiences, clarity, perspective changes, mind expansion, etc. While this research is valid and results are positive, this is not valid proof that hallucinogenics are the right or safe choice for everyone. The term “therapeutic” legitimizes the use of substances to treat any condition, and this issue must be taken into careful consideration.

“Natural” holds a similar association. Natural does not always mean better, as many think. Opium is natural, as is poison ivy. The holistic approach is excellent, but that does not mean in any way natural will protect one from dependency or dangerous effects. This is another loophole used often by addicts to get away with substance use and/or abuse.

Supporters of kratom insist the medicinal use of kratom is safe, when used properly and in moderation. Many report long time use of kratom with success. Others insist it can be of use in these times of an opioid epidemic. It is being portrayed as a safe, herbal alternative that could potentially help those dealing with opioid addiction. This might be true to someone that is not an addict, and might be a reason why it was able to get the scientific backing necessary to gain DEA and FDA approval. However, in these times of a prescription drug and opioid crisis, FDA approval does not make a drug safe – not by a long shot.

So you make your own conclusion. Serenity Springs stance is this: if you are seeking opioid alternatives, kratom is not a safe choice and we will continue to firmly discourage the use of kratom!

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REFERENCES


  1. Hicks, Jesse. “FDA Warns People Not to Use Kratom, Citing 36 Deaths.” Tonic, 15 Nov. 2017, tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/ne3mdq/fda-kratom-warning-deaths.
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No Preparation: Our Son is an Addict

September 2nd, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 2 comments on “No Preparation: Our Son is an Addict”

Nothing could have prepared me for what I would encounter in my life. I was so fulfilled as a mother of three sons living miles from the infamous Jersey Shore in Monmouth County, NJ. They were all handsome, intelligent, athletic, and had the greatest senses of humor ‒ all of them. There were the normal hurdles, but our family was so happy and so very close. My husband and I, both teachers, were involved In our community serving on many different committees and actively participating in programs involving youth, including the Alliance Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Long Branch, New Jersey. Never did we imagine our lives would be so impacted by drug addiction.

This Wasn’t Our Son

Somehow we missed the obvious signs that existed in our home. Suspicions were often quelled more by what we wanted to hear and believe. The strongest medication in our medicine cabinet was aspirin. We knew that many of their friends and classmates were having issues, but certainly not our sons. Then the reality hit us hard; one of our sons was acting strangely ‒ no drive, unproductive, coming and going at strange times, and not associating with his good friends. He was not at all like the man we once knew.

“Suspicions were often quelled more by what we wanted to hear and believe.

The strongest medication in our medicine cabinet was aspirin.” -Louise B.

video from drug-alliance.org

What do we do now?

Upon discovering (another story for another time), we had no idea what to do, where to go, who to ask for help. My son was battling opioid addiction (i.e. Oxycodone, Oxycontin & Methadone) coupled with benzodiazepines addiction (i.e. Xanax & Klonopin); a dangerous drug combination that mirrors the effects of heroin. I turned to my computer to find help. A site came up offering help. I did not know what else to do, so I called the number that popped up when I entered… “son, drugs, help.” The next day, after an intervention with a young man who flew in from the program, our youngest son left for a program in California. I cried nonstop for days. I was never so scared. For many reasons, this program (based on Scientology methods) did not work. This was just the beginning relapses with months and years of bouncing around to different drug/alcohol rehabs. Finding facilities was still a trip into unknown territory. One facility claimed to take insurance, released him after two weeks… only to have him return to quickly using.

This time when I discovered what he was doing, I knew I had to find a better program. Ironically, the NJ News channel was doing a story on a new rehab center in Florida started by a father and son from New Brunswick, New Jersey. They believed that a successful program would be one that had just a few clients, all the same sex, and the program encompassed treatment for mind, body, and soul for the three-part disease of addiction. It sounded like a perfect fit. Certainly worth a try!

Serenity Springs is Different

The attention Serenity Springs gave to my son was just what he needed. The staff was professional and caring. They kept us informed and allowed our son to call us. (That first program did not allow any contact for weeks, and then calls could only be made from a pay phone on the site with an expensive card we had to purchase). I loved that they knew that healthy family involvement was a factor in healing, and it helped us as well.

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Outside of the famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ - Sober Sons of Monmouth County - Serenity Springs

Sober Sons of Monmouth County, NJ: Stephen G

August 24th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Featured Alums, Spiritual Experience 2 comments on “Sober Sons of Monmouth County, NJ: Stephen G”

My name is Stephen G and I am from Monmouth County, NJ, and today I am a free man. I am a person who has recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body. Serenity Springs Recovery Center not only showed me a way out of the insidious disease of addiction but also made a long-term investment in me as a sober, recovered man. This was a far cry from where I was when I arrived in the quaint little fishing and surfer town of New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Jersey Shore to Florida Coast

For years I suffered from low self-esteem and had difficulty with relationships and life in general. My insides and outsides did not match. I never developed my own sense of identity. I had grown up as normal as normal can be; surfing along the beaches of Sea Bright, playing ice hockey on the banks of the Navesink River, skateboarding in Long Branch, hanging out with buddies on Broad Street in Red Bank, rock concerts at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. All the normalcy of an all American boy growing up in Monmouth County, New Jersey. What I did not know at the time was that there was a lingering beast inside me; hidden and dormant waiting to ravage my whole world along with everything and everyone around it. I had achievements in life such as an honors student at Rumson Fair Haven High School, Dean’s List at Rutgers University, and a promising career in investment banking on Wall Street. Although one looking in might say I was a very successful man, there was always the lurking feeling that I was creating a facade and I would be found out; I was a fraud.

Times Square in Manhattan, New York City filled with people - Serenity Springs (Sober Sons of Monmouth County blog image)

Drinking, drugs, and material possessions never filled that empty hole inside. I could not find a kind word for myself. Somehow my life took me from working off Park Avenue in New York City to living on a park bench in Daytona Beach, FL. I was slowly dying. How did this happen? This is the disease of addiction.

My New Identity

One day a group of guys was placed into my life while I was at my lowest. These men had found the solution to my problem. These guys were sober and I wanted what these guys had. And guess what? These guys were from the same beaches of Monmouth County I spent my summers on. One thousand miles away. Coincidence? Definitely not! I was asked to follow their lead. I did so, and my life has never been the same.

The twelve steps these men walked me through awakened me to a side of myself I had never experienced nor dreamed off. I realized that my identity is not in the world’s belongings or materialistic things, but lives in my soul. I came to know that I am a spiritual being. Altruism, mindfulness practices, and working with others who suffer have a profound impact on my choices today.

“Little New Jersey in Florida”

Who would have thought that a large group of guys from the beaches of Monmouth County, NJ would transcend to a sleepy little surfer village, recover from addiction, and create a life beyond their wildest dreams? There are so many of us guys from Monmouth County in the recovery community that even the local grocery store now stocks up Taylor Ham pork roll!! We often joke about becoming mayor to change the town’s name to Long Branch, Asbury Park or Belmar, Florida. But we don’t have to.

Serenity Springs Surf Team - brotherhood at the beach in New Smyrna Beach, FL

We have created a brotherhood here in Florida that binds us together as recovered men helping the next guy from Monmouth County to land on our beach. Today I learned to open my heart, my mind, and spirit. I am utterly dumbfounded at the abundance of love in recovery. Today I can be gentle and kind to myself. I attribute my new found successes in life and my happiness to recovery, and the men during my recovery from addiction at Serenity Springs Recovery Center.

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The Solution is Simple

August 16th, 2017 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Featured Alums, Recover, Spiritual Experience 1 comment on “The Solution is Simple”
The Cycle of Addiction (below) illustrates the different phases of the addiction disease which will continue over and over again until the addict or alcoholic finds a Higher Power and digs into the real problem, which is SELF. A real addict cannot get out of this cycle on will power. They will continue to replace the spiritual malady (feeling restless, irritable, discontent with an obsession to use) until this power is found. (more…)

The STIGMA of addiction can make one feel lost | Serenity Springs Recovery Center

Your Stigma, My Disease of Addiction

June 19th, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Spiritual Experience 0 comments on “Your Stigma, My Disease of Addiction”

The Perils & Misconceptions of Addiction

What thoughts come to mind when the word addiction is brought to the surface? Is it “junkie”, “drunk”, “druggie”, or “crackhead?” Why not the words “awareness”, “substance use disorders,” and “mental health?” Our society has created a stigma towards the disease of addiction. (more…)

Kyle Fleming standing in front of the pond at serenity springs recovery center

Featured Serenity Springs Alumni: Kyle Fleming

February 2nd, 2017 Posted by Blog, Featured Alums, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “Featured Serenity Springs Alumni: Kyle Fleming”
Kyle Fleming is an alumnus of Serenity Springs Recovery Center and has about two-and-a-half years of sobriety. A native of New Jersey, consequences weren’t enough to keep Kyle sober, but they were instrumental in getting him the help he needed. (more…)

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Why Practice the Twelve Step Program of Recovery

December 16th, 2016 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “Why Practice the Twelve Step Program of Recovery”
The twelve step program of recovery originated in the publishing of the first edition Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939. Bill Wilson, a long-suffering alcoholic, precisely detailed in this book the steps required for others to recover from this “seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (Alcoholics Anonymous pg xiii) that characterizes drug and alcohol abuse and addiction: (more…)

Serenity Springs Alumni Joey Mazzo

Featured Serenity Springs Alum – Joey Mazzo

December 13th, 2016 Posted by Blog, Featured Alums, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 1 comment on “Featured Serenity Springs Alum – Joey Mazzo”
Two and a half years ago, Joey Mazzo came to Serenity Springs Recovery Center and as he describes it, his life was in shambles.  (more…)

Yoga instructor and former addicts practicing a half moon pose on the Serenity Springs grounds

12-Step Yoga

September 12th, 2016 Posted by Blog, News, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “12-Step Yoga”
Serenity Springs Recovery Center is dedicated to treating the whole person when it comes to recovery from the disease of addiction. We realize that this disease is multifaceted and all encompassing which is why we take the approach of healing the mind, body, and spirit with holistic methods like yoga. (more…)

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