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Megan's Mosaic

Addiction RecoveryMegan's Mosaic, is a blog for addiction recovery topics and resources. Written by former Addiction Therapist Megan Fisher, this forum addressed the unique needs of each individual through a holistic and spiritually guided approach to addiction treatment.

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You Will Join Them

October 15, 2014
By Megan, Fisher, MHS, CAADC

Approximately ten months ago, a perky man with an impressive physique visited my church and explained how he organizes marathon runners for a charity which provides clean water for Africa.  I was barely paying attention when the Spirit spoke to me, saying “you will join them.”  I kid you not;  I looked around that church as if someone was playing a practical joke on me.  I responded in my head, “who me?”  There was absolutely no way God was referring to me and running in the same breath.  I had never run a day in my life.  I was excused from the mile requirement during my school years because of a knee issue.  I did my best to ignore the message and continued worshipping.   After the service, however, I found my feet taking me over to where the happy, buff man was talking to a group of eager running beavers.  I sat down and signed a sheet that I would participate in Team World Vision.  That, my friends, is how I ended up training for the Chicago Marathon. 

I began a journey of training which took way more time and energy than I had ever considered.  I ran on my own several times a week at 6am before getting my daughter ready for school.  I woke at 5am every Saturday to join my team for group runs with ever-increasing mileage.  I was fitted for proper running shoes, learned about different brands of nutrition chews for sustaining energy during runs, and began foam rolling my muscles.  I exercised my mind as much as my body, discovering how to play games with myself in order to pass the time when running for hours on end.  I prayed, prayed, and then prayed some more for God to keep me healthy and injury free.  During my training, I ran over 500 miles and went through two pairs of shoes.  I lost about 15 pounds and gained multiple friends.  I met my fundraising goal of providing clean water for as many people as miles I was running in the marathon – 26.2. 

Finally, the weekend arrived, and I was as nervous as could be.  More time went into this goal than my pregnancy!  I prayed some more and trusted that I had done all I could to ready myself for this life-changing event.  This past Sunday, October 12, 2014, I completed my very first marathon and it was one of the most incredible experiences with which I have ever been blessed.  I am in awe of the opportunity God gave me to achieve something I had never believed achievable.  I am amazed at World Vision and the good deeds they do on a daily basis.  Last, but certainly not least, I am so grateful for all of the support I have received from family, friends, and New Leaf Resources.  Thank you for your encouragement and love.

When the Only Person You Can Control is Yourself

August 20, 2014
By Megan Fisher, MHS, CAADC

As an addiction specialist, you would think that I spend most of my time working with individuals struggling with addiction.  In reality, much of my time is spent with the family members of the addicted.  One of the most common issues I encounter as a therapist is a spouse or parent of an addict wanting to know how to get a loved one to stop drinking/using/watching pornography/etc.  The honest answer to that question, as frustrating as it may be, is – nothing.  The follow up question becomes, “so what do I do?”  My answer to that question is, begin your own recovery.  I get some interesting reactions to that answer.  Why would I, as the concerned, loved one need to recover?  Isn’t it the spouse or child who is addicted that needs recovery?  Yes, your loved one needs recovery, but you can’t force them to seek it.  The only person you can control is yourself.  When addiction attacks a family system, the addict is not the only one who becomes sick.  The other family members adapt their behaviors in order to accommodate the addict’s illness.  A spouse might take over all of the finances, household management, child-rearing, etc., because the addict certainly can’t handle the responsibility.  A parent might bail a child out of jail multiple times to the detriment of his/her own financial stability.  When you, as the family member of an addict, find yourself putting the needs of the addict ahead of your own well-being, you could probably use your own recovery program.  The formal term for a person who puts others ahead of oneself is a ‘codependent.’  If you are close to someone suffering from an addiction or displaying a controlling personality, consider the following questions honestly.

  1. Do I focus on others’ needs at my own expense?
  2. Do I have a hard time asking for help or accepting help when offered?
  3. Do I feel most worthy when giving advice or handling a crisis situation?
  4. Do I obsessively think about another person and what he/she is doing?
  5. Do most people like me because of what I can do for them?
  6. Have I experienced abuse or emotional neglect in past relationships?
  7. Do I avoid expressing my emotions because it shows weakness?
  8. Do I have difficulty with intimacy?

There is no magic formula, but if you are answering yes to many of these questions, you might want to seek some help with your recovery.  Here are a few places you can start:

  1. Reading material – I highly recommend anything written by Melody Beattie, particularly her renowned book ‘Codependent No More.’
  2. Al-Anon – a 12-step program for the loved ones of alcoholics/addicts. 
  3. Individual or group therapy.

If you would like to learn more about codependency or set up counseling, please call our office at 708-895-7310 to arrange an appointment.  If you would like to share your feedback or thoughts on this topic, please feel free to e-mail me at megan@newleafresources.org.

Are E-Cigarettes a Safe Alternative to the Real Thing?

July 14, 2014
By Megan Fisher, MHS, CAADC

Can ya’ll believe the summer is already half over?!  I was running this morning during the gorgeous sunrise and I began reflecting on my health improvements over the past 10 months.  I’ve been without a cigarette for just about that long now (September 29 was the date last year).  I’ve also been running since January and training for the Chicago marathon this October.  Not only am I a brand new runner, but my lungs had been the subject of abuse for 16 years.  Despite these two facts, I am running approximately 20 miles per week and enjoying it!  It is absolutely incredible how the body can adapt and what amazing things we can accomplish when we take care of our temples.  On that note, I’m interested in how the readers feel about the latest e-cigarette craze.  There seems to be quite a bit of media coverage on both sides of this argument.  On the one hand, e-cigs are touted as less harmful than cigarettes due to their limited toxins.  A new study has also been accepted by the journal Addiction, reporting the first findings which confirm e-cigs as helpful for quitting tobacco (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.12623/abstract).  On the other hand, some folks are worried about e-cigs being a gateway tool for new smokers.  In addition, the long-term effects of e-cigs on the body are still unknown.  Finally, the liquid nicotine used to fill e-cig vessels is highly poisonous and especially dangerous to young children.  When I was trying to quit smoking, I admit that I tried using e-cigarettes.  For me, however, the action of smoking was triggering in and of itself, causing me to want the genuine cigarette.  I became successfully when I turned to God for help and stopped feeding my disease through duplicitous actions.  That’s simply my experience, though.  I would love to read your thoughts on this hotly debated topic.  Please send an email to megansmosaic@newleafresources.org.  In the meantime, everyone enjoy the multiple opportunities for healthy and active summer fun!

Tricky Time of the Year

June 16, 2014
By Megan Fisher, MHS, CAADC

For those of us in recovery, summer can be a tricky time of the year.  Celebratory activities gear up quite a bit with the warmer weather.  From barbecues to the 4th of July, wanting a reward after mowing the lawn to surviving the neighbor’s pool party, there are opportunities galore to forget how sneaky the disease of addiction can be.  This can apply to alcohol availability, sugary foods, and the wandering eye to a scantily clad individual – all types of addiction triggers. 

In order to protect our recovery and enjoy the season, we need to have a solid relapse prevention plan in place.  First and foremost, carefully select those parties and occasions which you will attend.  If you have a sponsor, accountability partner, or trusted friend, tell them about your plans and get an objective opinion about how dangerous the event might be for your recovery.  If you decide to attend the event, always have a Plan B. 

Make sure you have your own transportation or someone driving who is willing to leave at your request.  Let the host know as soon as you arrive that you may only be able to stay for a short while.  This removes the pressure of feeling obligated to remain in an uncomfortable position and, if you find yourself having a ball, stay as long as you like!   

If someone offers you something you know you can’t have, such as a drink or a trigger food, saying “no thank you” truly is enough.  Most people will not question your decision.  Another tactic is to say something along the lines of, “I’d love a drink and an iced tea would hit the spot!”  A positive answer can help avoid the feeling of deprivation.  If you find yourself having an urge, try waiting just 30 minutes before acting on the urge.  Most cravings are short-lived and will dissipate in less than 30 minutes if given a chance.   

Finally, if all else fails, get out!  There is no shame in making the healthy decision for you and leaving a slippery environment that could endanger all of your hard work and your relationship with God.  I hope you find these tools helpful and have an enjoyable summer.

Spring Has Arrived!

May 14, 2014
By Megan Fisher, MHS, CAADC

Finally – Spring has arrived!  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am personally so very grateful for the new season.  The long and difficult winter seems to have taken its toll on many of my clients, colleagues, family and friends.  I have witnessed and experienced increased feelings of isolation, low mood, and fatigue.  Sound familiar?  For the last few weeks, my body has been telling me to get outside as much as possible and I’ve been doing my best to honor that urge.  I’ve been running in the mornings, going for family walks after dinner, and I made it to my first farmer’s market of the season.  It feels tremendous to be a part of nature and allow my body and soul to rejuvenate through God’s beautiful world.  As addicts, many of us spent countless hours inside, wasting away in a pit of dark despair.  In recovery, we can join society again and experience the joy of living.  Here is an exercise that I encourage you to try.  Plan ten minutes to spend outside in any environment you choose.  Select one of your senses on which you will focus – whether it’s sight, smell, hearing, etc.  Now, for ten full minutes, focus on that one sense and experience your surroundings to the fullest.  If you find your mind wandering, just gently guide your focus back to your chosen sense.  Practice this exercise daily for one week and I promise a shift in perspective and a newfound appreciation for God’s blessings.  Happy Spring to all!

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