The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 44

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 44 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In the Charles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol, the protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly banker whom no one likes and who has nothing good to say about life, sees an apparition late on Christmas Eve.  It is of his long dead partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him of the errors of his miserly ways and foretells the coming of three spirits in dreams Scrooge is to have that same night.  

In the first such dream, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to the place of his boyhood and has him witness an adolescent Ebenezer struggling with his long abandonment by his father to a difficult boarding school. The young Ebenezer is rescued and brought home by his dear sister, but, as he grows into manhood in the dream, he becomes obsessed with the idea of working tirelessly to be financially successful, perhaps as a counterweight to the feelings of loneliness and deprivation he had as a boy.

The Ghost takes Scrooge through the various times of his later life…early adulthood, middle age, and full maturity, observing his increasing focus on financial success and on a gradual withdrawal from society.

The second dream has the Ghost of Christmas Present taking Scrooge around to those people of Scrooge’s current life, showing their happiness with simple things despite a very meager set of living circumstances.

The third dream, with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, focuses on a series of dire future happenings that seem fully ordained, but for which Scrooge becomes obsessed with a desire to change.

Upon waking up on Christmas morning, Scrooge is entirely transformed.  He immediately attends to the serious circumstances of those people in his current life and commits himself to living a happy, joyous life with all those around him.

It occurs to me that, while the circumstances and nature of Scrooge’s addiction is radically different, the process of his deterioration over time and the depth of the societal chasm he creates for himself provide a stark parallel to our lives in the diseases of alcoholism and drug abuse.   Looking at the process of his change over Christmas Eve into Day, there appears a wonderful, if highly compressed, parallel to our getting sober and working the steps.

The confrontation with Marley is the beginning of the great awakening.  The journeys on which he is taken by the three Spirits seem akin to the working of Steps, traversing the long-gone and recent pasts to get a sense of the depth of his disease, and then the embrace of a new way to be present in the world.  They all seem a very sharp and poignant parallel to our own journeys.

The people Scrooge attends to on Christmas Day and beyond – his housekeeper, his clerk and family, and his own nephew, the son of his dear sister – all convey to Scrooge an infectious joy and wonder at life, one that seems to echo our own joyous lives in sobriety today.

Internet Gaming Disorder: When Entertainment Turns Into Addiction

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) may follow the same trajectory as other addictions.

For most, gaming is not a problem

Internet gaming is wildly popular. According to the Entertainment Software Association, nearly two-thirds of American homes have at least one person who plays video games. And that’s not just kids. Nearly 160 million adults play games on the internet. Of that number, 45% are women. As a major source of entertainment, games are highly engaging and competitive. For most people, internet gaming is stimulating and enjoyable.

When gaming turns into addiction

But some people cross the line from enthusiastic focus on gaming to distressed addiction.  That means their use of video games has progressed from use to misuse, and then abuse. It’s much the same trajectory as occurs with other addictions, such as alcoholism and substance use disorders.

Symptoms of gaming addiction

Like other addictions, internet gaming disorder (IGD) can create significant impairment or distress in a person’s life. Symptoms may include:

  • Preoccupation with gaming
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as sadness, anxiety, or irritability, if gaming is not possible
  • Build-up of tolerance and the need to spend more time gaming to satisfy the urge
  • Inability to reduce playing and/or unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming
  • Giving up other activities due to gaming or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Continued gaming despite problems
  • Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent on gaming
  • The use of gaming to relieve negative moods, such as guilt or hopelessness
  • Having jeopardized or lost a job or relationship due to gaming

Risk factors and treatment

The risk factors related to IGD and criteria for diagnosing and treating it are still being researched and developed. Therapeutic  interventions, such as counseling and intensive outpatient treatment, have also emerged as more is understood about this uniquely 21st century addiction.

How to get help

As with all addictions, personal awareness of the problem and the willingness to get help are the important first steps to dealing with it. The Council’s Center for Recovering Families offers clinical assessments for those struggling with video gaming and/or internet addiction to determine the scope of the problem and the best course of  treatment. We offer therapeutic counseling, psycho-educational services, and recovery support for both adults and adolescents dealing with a variety of addictions associated with the internet and video gaming.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to internet gaming or any other addiction or co-occurring mental health disorder, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us here. Start at The Council. We can help.

 

9th Annual Run for Recovery Raises Money for The Council on Recovery

2018 Run for Recovery runners & walkers on Memorial Drive

The 9th Annual Run for Recovery took place Sunday, November 2nd. One of Houston’s largest recovery events, the race attracted more than 400 people of all ages. Runners, walkers, and other supporters of recovery participated in the 5K run/walk (timed and untimed) and Kids Race along scenic Memorial Drive next to Buffalo Bayou. Post-race festivities and activities were also held for children at Cleveland Park, adjacent to The Council’s campus on Jackson Hill.

Monies raised by the Run for Recovery go to recovery-based scholarships benefiting program participants at Santa Maria Hostel, STAR Drug Court, and The Council on Recovery. These programs provide substance use treatment and recovery support services for those who are unable to afford such services.

For race results, click here.

For additional information on the 2018 Run for Recovery, visit www.HoustonRunforRecovery.com

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 44

Ariadne’s Thread

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 44 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

There is an ancient mythological story about King Minos of Crete who builds a massive, intricate Labyrinth to contain a creature named the Minotaur, half man and half bull, the issue of his wife who mistakenly mates with a bull in a ruse of the god Poseidon.  The Minotaur is a monster that only feeds on humans and Minos has exacted a toll on the city of Athens to send him young girls and boys on a regular basis as food for the Minotaur. Theseus is one of those and, while on Crete waiting to be fed to the Minotaur, he meets Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, who falls in love with him.  She gives Theseus a sword and a ball of twine, the twine to be used by Theseus to tie to the opening of the Labyrinth and let unravel as he and his fellow victims are led to the center to be eaten by the Minotaur.  Once there Theseus uses the sword to kill the Minotaur in a monstrous battle, and then escapes using the twine, “Ariadne’s Thread,” to find his way back to the opening with his fellows.

As we have seen, many of these mythological stories have wonderful analogies for those of us on the Journey to Recovery from the ravages of alcoholism and drug addiction.  The Minotaur, a monster of ugly proportions, could clearly represent our disease, one which was spawned by early life mishaps and one which consumed our loved ones as we trampled through our life in the disease. The act of conquering the disease is the first step, but then we must use the tools, carefully and doggedly working the steps, using the steps as “Ariadne’s Thread,” to find our way to a life of freedom and service. Each of these steps provides us with a wonderful sense of progress in escaping the dread of our lives in the disease.

My wish is that it be universal…that all of us be Theseus…that we find Ariadne’s Thread as the lifelong avenue to a sober life in the Sunshine of the Spirit.

The Council on Recovery’s Successful Outcomes: By the Numbers

Outcomes report for 2017 shows strong and successful results for The Council’s many programs and services:

Overall

  • The Council on Recovery touched 60,241 lives last year.
  • Among clients, 93% are more hopeful about their future after participating in a program or service offered by The Council on Recovery.

Children & Adolescents

  • On average, 85% of children receiving Children’s Clinical Services improve individual well-being, and 67% of caregivers perceive improvement in their child’s overall well-being.
  • 89% of children participating in Kids Camp at The Council increase their ability to communicate with their families.
  • 72% of elementary students participating in The Council’s school-based prevention programs increase their knowledge of life skills.
  • 97% of middle school students participating in school-based prevention programs decrease or maintain no use of alcohol, and 72% increase bonding to positive friendship and groups.
  • 88% of high school students participating in the school based prevention programs decrease substance use.
  • Heavy Drug Use (i.e. cocaine, prescription drugs, etc.) among high school students participating in the Choices program is lower than the national and Houston average.
  • 80% of adolescents participating in the Adolescent Services programs improve their emotional and behavioral well-being.
  • 92% of juvenile probationers participating in the Drug Free Youth program increase their knowledge about the harms of substance abuse, and 92% decrease or maintain no use of alcohol.

Adults & Families

  • 73% of caregivers participating in the Cradles Project improve attitude toward parent-child family roles. 100% of pregnant caregivers report abstinence from alcohol and drugs at delivery.
  • 83% of clients using alcohol that complete a screening session through Outreach, Screening and Referral (OSAR) report an increase or maintain their readiness to change their use behavior.
  • 80% of peers involved with Recovery Support Services report an increase in total recovery capital (strengths) from enrollment to 12-month follow up.
  • 81% of clients completing the Healing Choices Intensive Outpatient treatment (IOP) and Aftercare programs report a decrease in substance abuse symptoms from admission to completion.

Older Adults

  • 100% of service providers would take action to help an older adult with alcohol or drug problem after attending an evidence-based workshop.
  • 98% of older adults and their family members know of at least one place to call if they need help with an alcohol or other drug problem after attending a Wellderly Program presentation.
  • 96% of service providers for older adults indicate that some or all of the information from the Wellderly presentation was new to them.

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 43

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 43 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In the multi-season show, Stargate SG – 1 and its offshoot, Stargate Atlantis, there is a force to be reckoned with called the Replicators, which are antagonistic self-replicating machines that are driven to replicate themselves by consuming both alloys and technologies of the nearest most advanced civilizations. They grow to destroy the societies which spawned them.  Their original beginnings were a mistake of an earlier species and they prove very difficult to eradicate.

It occurs to me that there is an interesting parallel here with the recurring incidence of the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction in families.  The disease seems to replicate itself in strange ways…it consumes us and our families across generations and among siblings and cousins. Sometimes it skips people in generations or in extended sibling or cousin relationships, but when it does strike, it can be as deadly as it was for the original sufferer.

In the Stargate Atlantis story, the Replicators are finally controlled by the development of a “disruptor gun” which breaks down the electromagnetic bonds inherent in the replicator machinery and causes them to disintegrate. My parallel with the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction and the replicator menace as told in these stories provides an interesting twist here.

We break down the replication of our disease in family structures by getting sober, by developing and maintaining a life of committed sobriety and service, which begins to model new, healthy behavior patterns.  These create a psychological and spiritual force which disrupts the development of the disease in our loved ones, thus breaking down the elements of the disease in the family structures and the tendencies for it to replicate.  Our loved ones absorb these patterns of recovery and service into their psyches and, in time, that helps them deal with their own latent or initiatory tendencies; they can thus avoid the patterns that could lead to future development of the disease.

In 1995, Pete Hamill, a journalist in New York, published a memoir called A Drinking Life.  It is the story of his Irish family’s drinking history, his own early life consumed with alcohol abuse, and his career associated with a community of people of some renown where the one defining constant was alcohol.  He hit a bottom one day and, recalling his familial history with alcohol, he said to himself: “The madness must stop.  The madness stops here,” and he stopped drinking forever.

In our own commitment to sobriety and to a life of service, we help to eradicate the replication of the disease for all future generations.