Yes You Are – Christine Beck

My Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings end with members stating an Affirmation. We began by using the list on page 329 of the Big Red Book. Those affirmations all begin with “It is okay.” Some examples are “It is okay to know another way to live.” “It is okay to say no without feeling guilty,” and “It is okay to say ‘I don’t know.’” Many of these affirmations mirror the statements that different meetings have developed into a Bill of Rights. Examples are “I have a right to say no.” “I have a right to take healthy risks,” or I have the right to expect honesty from others.” These affirmations are helpful, but they do not go to the heart of claiming who I am as a person in recovery.  They do not include statements such as “I am lovable just as I am,” “I am vulnerable in relationships,” or… Continue reading

Beyond Recovery Exceptionalism – Bill White

Oppression involves objectification and rendering the targeted person or group as the ‘other.” That distinctive “otherness” is then conveyed in caricatured images that feed stigma, social exclusion, and, in its most extreme form, genocide. The first task of the social reformer is to illuminate the humanity of those objectified and break down barriers between “they” and “we.” The machinery of oppression and strategies of liberation rely on these opposing scaffolds of belief and perception. By projecting recovery stories into the public arena, recovery advocates undermine the demonized addiction archetype. These stories are often first viewed by the public through a lens of exceptionalism—seeing these ennobled individuals as the rare exception to the rule, “Once an addict, always an addict.” As recovery advocates, we can inadvertently contribute to this perception by only thrusting our most attractive, most articulate, highest achieving members into the public eye and characterizing our own redemption as an… Continue reading

Facing Your Feelings – Nicola O’Hanlon

Many of us have been brought up to perceive certain emotions as a weakness. We come to believe that certain emotions are defective or not allowed. In turn, we suppress our emotions, which are indicators of what our true feelings are on any given subject, and instead take on the opinions and beliefs of others in an attempt to fit in or be accepted. In my own life it has taken profound courage to look at my deepest and most challenging feelings, and then attach these feelings to some of the most disturbing of circumstances in my life, past and present. Processing our feelings is terrifying sometimes. If we find we are experiencing what is societally a negative emotion, we can often be shamed and told there is something wrong with us. How many times, for example, do we hear that anger is not lady like. You must accept the… Continue reading

A Cultural Look at Body Bashing By Andrea Wachter, LMFT

Unfortunately, I think it’s pretty accurate to say that most people in our culture are dissatisfied with their body. Many people even despise their body (or certain parts). And this epidemic has no age limit. In my psychotherapy practice I have worked with clients as young as 6 years old, who are already obsessed with calories, carbs and getting fat. I have treated people in their 70s who have no memories of eating bread or dessert without guilt. And I have seen people of nearly every age in between who battle their body on some level. It’s like being a member of a club to trash and bash your body in our image-obsessed culture. Many people bond over what I call “fat chat,” and many people spend enormous amounts of time trying to change their bodies. Thanks to the media and the diet industry, we have all been set up… Continue reading

HEALTH CHALLENGES IN ADDICTION RECOVERY – (BILL WHITE AND DAVID EDDIE, PHD)

The wide range of injuries inflicted on the human body by excessive and prolonged alcohol or other drug (AOD) use have been extensively documented for more than two centuries, but until recently little was known about the relative health of people recovering from addiction. The potential burden of continued health problems in recovery has been obscured by general findings of improved health and quality of life in recovery from follow-up studies of clinical samples. Little information has been available on the health status of people in recovery within larger community samples.   In 2010, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services contracted with the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) to incorporate recovery-focused items into PHMC’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey of Philadelphia and four surrounding counties. Nearly ten percent (9.45%) of the adult population surveyed reported once having but no longer having an AOD problem. Those in… Continue reading