Category Archives: LGBTQ News and Events

Trans Experience LGBTQI Focused Addiction Rehab Vogue

“Vogue” – Impoverished Women of Color & Trans Experience – My 1st Glimpse of Me

The basic human need to be watched was once satisfied by God.

In 1990 Madonna released her single “Vogue”. A window into a microcosm was opened for mainstream society peering at a staple and genius solely invented by the LBGTQ community. 1991’s Jennie Livingston’s documentary film “Paris is Burning” was the first time I witnessed a representation of people I found myself in and as a questioning teen it was the first time I found the language for what I was. I don’t know if I would have found the bravery to pursue my authenticity and my true being had I not stumbled upon this work of art in the seventh grade. I find it utterly inspiring and miraculous these impoverished women of color and the trans experience were able to create decadence and their own tribal system in the shadow of the age of Ronald Reagan and the dawn of Donald Trump. Embracing their femininity and awakening their empowerment through movement and dance.

The Trans Experience That Showed Me Who I Am

A universal safe space of celebration and unity was established in the Ball house scene. For people who were forced to live anonymously and in the shadows the Ball scene provided a place of sanctuary and encouragement to be who you are and using your talents and aesthetics that were otherwise rejected and ridiculed to compete and transcend the pains of everyday living experienced by trans and queer people. The goal being to accentuate one’s own femininity or masculinity, based on being able to blend and adapt within outside hetero-normative culture or in over the top lavish displays of  sensuality, sexuality, and sassiness. One of the aspects of humanity I find most fascinating is the undying need and wish to be witnessed. It’s the essence of all the arts and a driving force into finding our purpose here on Earth.

It saddens me that outside of the LBGTQ community this part of history isn’t valued, and these complex multi faceted creative ingenuities have been crunched up spit out and lumped into only being perceived as drag queens. For the first time in the history of media however, Ryan Murphy has produced a television Series titled “Pose” which centers around five trans women played by trans women navigating 1980’s NYC and the ball scene. It’s my hope that this is the first step in reflecting the lives of trans woman to the general public in a way that let’s us be seen as human rather than something to be tokenized and gawked at.


Fentanyl in Florida

As of October 2017 a law has been in effect in Florida that allows for drug dealers to be charged with felony murder if synthetic drugs they sold led to a death by overdose. Over the past decade the trend of either mixing lethal synthetic opioids into heroin or selling the synthetics themselves as heroin has spurred a drastic rise in overdose deaths throughout the U.S.

These synthetic opioids are exponentially more powerful and dangerous than typical opioids. The most common synthetic opioid, fentanyl, is 100 times more potent than morphine. Another synthetic, carfentanil, is 100 times stronger than fentanyl is. At this potency tiny amounts of these drugs can be lethal.

Since the Florida law allowing prosecutors to charge the drug dealers who sell these chemicals to users who overdose with murder roughly 80 people in Miami-Dade County have died of overdoses from synthetic opioids. No dealers have been charged with murder under the new law.

Tying an overdose death to a specific drug dealer can be challenging and dependant on many variables. Are the dealer’s fingerprints on the bag? Are there witnesses? Is there a link of telephone communication between the dealer and the overdose victim? Obtaining evidence can be tricky and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the synthetic opioids came from.

Fentanyl Everywhere

Today, it may be hard to locate heroin that isn’t laced with fentanyl anywhere. The Mexican drug cartels are now predominantly dealing in heroin mixed with the synthetic opioid because of its far greater potency. It’s referred to as el diablito, the little devil.

Some cartel heroin producers attest almost no one is making pure heroin anymore. The cartel drug producers are obtaining precursor chemicals from China and they’re learning from chemists how to manufacture their own fentanyl. The fentanyl is mixed with heroin and smuggled into the United States.

Law enforcement is also seeing bulk shipments of fentanyl arriving from Mexico, not mixed with heroin. Dealers in the U.S. are starting to sell just the fentanyl as heroin, while in reality the product contains no heroin whatsoever. The fatally potent fentanyl is diluted with caffeine, quinine, powder laxatives, or anything at all. In Florida, fentanyl has also been found to be mixed in with Cocaine. All this is adding more complication to the ongoing drug addiction epidemic now gripping the country.

Do I Drink Too Much Alcohol-LGBTQI

Do I drink too much alcohol?

Perhaps you have found yourself wondering, do I drink too much alcohol? Chances are if you are questioning your drinking habits, there is a problem. Alcohol has ingrained itself in LGBTQ social culture as a mainstay at get-togethers, clubs, and functions. It is easy to develop a problem with alcohol without realizing it before it’s too late.

The Facts

According to a government publication focused on drug and alcohol consumption of members of the LGBTQ community, sexual minorities are more likely to participate in binge drinking consisting of up to and over 5 drinks at once. Studies show that the percentages range anywhere from 20% to 30% higher than in the heterosexual population.

Many factors contribute to these statistics including family and personal relationships and cultural norms. If you feel that you are developing an alcohol problem, know that you are not alone. Alcohol addiction affects a high number of people belonging to the LGBTQ community. Fortunately, there are programs that specialize in treating drug and alcohol addiction affecting people belonging to the LGBTQ community.

The Signs

What are some of the factors that have you asking, do I drink too much alcohol? Beware of some of the following signs of a developing alcohol problem:

  • Drinking Daily
  • Consuming more than 3 drinks at once regularly
  • A need to drink when with friends
  • Binge drinking (5 or more drinks)
  • Loss of memory after drinking

If you have noticed any of these behaviors, it may be time to seek help. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that can not only affect your health, but it can also create legal issues or even cause a wreck or other injury to you or someone else.

Seek Help

There is a professional facility that specializes in assisting in the recovery process for LGBTQ members. Inspire Recovery has highly trained, caring staff that is sensitive to the needs of our LGBTQ community members, and are committed to your well-being and recovery. Contact us today and look forward to a brighter tomorrow.

West Virginia Opioid Crisis

West Virginia Opioid Crisis

Kermit is a dot on the map. It’s a town in West Virginia with a population of about 400 people. Over a two-year period, one pharmacy in Kermit was flooded with almost 9 million pills of addictive opioid painkillers from wholesale prescription drug distributors. Other small towns in West Virginia have also experienced receiving exorbitant amounts of powerful opioids from wholesale distributors. From 2006 to 2014, the Family Discount Pharmacy in Mount Gay-Shamrock received nearly 12.5 million doses of opioids and the town of Williamson, West Virginia received 10.5 million pills. So let’s take a look at this West Virginia Opioid Crisis.

Prescription Drug Distributing Companies Questioned about their Role in the West Virginia Opioid Crisis

In early May this year, 2018, wholesale drug distributing companies Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and others were called to testify before a House Energy and Commerce committee regarding inquiries into these companies’ involvement in West Virginia towns receiving the massive amounts of addictive opioids. The drug distribution companies expressed condolences about the impact of the West Virginia opioid crisis but skirted responsibility with an official statement from the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, an association that represents them, “we need to be realistic and acknowledge that this epidemic was not caused by distributors who neither prescribe, manufacture nor dispense medicines.” But the drug distribution companies failed to report the suspicious amounts of opioids going into several small West Virginia towns and continued shipping millions of pills to those locations for years.

West Virginia has the country’s highest rate of opioid overdose fatalities, about 900 people a year. The situation with the West Virginia opioid crisis is very grim. Overdoses are killing so many that the state can’t keep up with the cost for funerals and burials for indigents. There’s no denying the obvious correlation between the sheer volume of opioids sent to the state and the reality of the crisis there.

The question was posed at the committee meeting which the drug companies were summoned to if they believe the conduct of their companies has been a contributing factor in the opioid epidemic and the West Virginia opioid crisis. Four out of five of the executives of the companies summoned replied, “No.” Cardinal Health, one of the distributing companies questioned by the committee panel is involved in more than 300 lawsuits with local and state governments having to do with their involvement in irresponsibly distributing painkillers at this time.

Gay Men Crystal Meth Addiction Rehab

Should I go to Rehab for my Crystal Meth Addiction?

Finding a rehab for a crystal meth addiction that will meet your unique needs as a member of the LGBTQ community can help you get clean and sober and stay that way.

I can’t stop doing meth. Should I go to a crystal meth rehab if I’m addicted?

The short answer? Yes. Treatment at a crystal meth rehab can help you kick this dangerous drug and get your life back on track.

Should I seek a recovery program tailored to LGBTQ people?

Again, yes. LGBTQ addiction and relapse rates are higher than those of heterosexuals. Members of the LGBTQ community face challenges like discrimination because of the way society views gender dysphoria, various gender expressions, and same-sex relationships. For these reasons, a crystal meth rehab with an LGBTQ staff can help you address your specific needs in a safe and comfortable therapeutic environment.

Which types of treatment are available in a crystal meth rehab?

A Day/Night program, much like a partial hospitalization (PHP) program, provides a high level of care for people in early recovery. Within the first 30 days, relapse is likely and this type of program will give your mind and body a chance to stabilize and help you avoid engaging in high-risk behaviors. This period of treatment is a time to assess your condition and come up with a treatment plan that will work for you. An LGBTQ rehab will help you to integrate better into a peaceful life long after you leave your treatment facility. The last thing you should be worrying about as you recover is oppression from your counselors and fellow patients.

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) involves a total of nine or more hours of addiction education and structured counseling services three days a week. IOP includes individual therapy sessions, group therapy with other members of the LGBTQ community who are struggling with addiction, as well as psychiatric care, art therapy, holistic programs and nutritional counseling.

In an Outpatient Program, the amount of individual counseling and group therapy sessions you receive will vary, depending on your individual needs. With a strong foundation of coping skills that have been learning in previous treatment, being involved in the recovery community and a 12-step program or other recovery fellowship can give you the support you need to stay sober. Learning how to live a healthy lifestyle is essential, and an LGBT crystal meth rehab can help you learn how to put what you’ve learned into practice.

Pick up the phone and call our admissions department today to discuss how you can receive help at 561-899-6088.

suboxone maintenance

Medication-Assisted Treatment Debate

By Martel Bird

A relatively new paradigm in the treatment of addiction to opiates has come into vogue known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (M.A.T.). This form of treatment typically hinges on the prescription of a medication called Suboxone. Suboxone is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine, an opioid itself, and naloxone, a drug that, among other things, can block the euphoric high associated with opioids. This combination satisfies the physical craving for opiates, therefore deterring patients prescribed to it from taking street drugs to get high. M.A.T. is a subject of controversy among addiction treatment professionals.

Suboxone Maintenance

More often than not M.A.T. means long-term Suboxone maintenance, which is not dissimilar from methadone maintenance, a much older form of M.A.T. “Maintenance,” in this sense refers to a means of remaining abstinent from addictive opiates like heroin and prescription opioid painkillers by continually taking Suboxone. The main argument for long-term Suboxone maintenance is one of “harm reduction.” The stance is grounded in the idea that opiate addicts are generally unable to recover from their addiction. That being the case, keeping them on a prescribed Suboxone regiment will help them stay away from more dangerous drugs they’d be more likely to overdose on in the event of a relapse.

Some physicians and treatment professionals advocate for a short-term Suboxone treatment model. In this model, Suboxone is used to stabilize addicts in early recovery by avoiding the harsh withdrawal effects associated with opiates. After a short period of time, they can be tapered off Suboxone until they are opiate free. Others believe long-term treatment with Suboxone is more effective.

Statistically, people who remain on Suboxone for longer periods of time are less likely to relapse on heroin or prescription opioids. The trump card in the case for long-term Suboxone maintenance is that the number of deaths from overdoses can be cut nearly in half with recovering addicts who participate in Medication Assisted Treatment. This means a lot in the atmosphere of the nationwide deadly opioid addiction epidemic.

Exactly how long is “long-term?” How long is long enough? How long is too long? It’s difficult to make a blanket statement and the answers to those questions most likely depend on individual case considerations, but it’s disconcerting that some people remain on Suboxone for periods of time longer than ten years in this practice of treating opiate addiction with another opiate.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Suboxone can, in fact, be abused. It can be used to get high if injected, snorted or used in such a way that buprenorphine can be separated from the opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone. Also, Suboxone is often used as a way to simply stave off withdrawal symptoms before addicts can return to using their drug of choice. For people who are not addicted or accustomed to taking opiates, using Suboxone results in an intense high (and it can be a risk for fatal overdose). For these reasons, Suboxone has begun to be trafficked illegally on the street.

The emergence of Cash-Only Suboxone Clinics raises red flags because of the close similarity to the problem of the so-called “pill mill” pain clinics, where opioid pain medications became exceedingly over-prescribed, contributing in a big way to the now nationwide addiction epidemic. Combatants of Suboxone maintenance are wary that Suboxone is being over-prescribed in the same way. By and by, Suboxone is still an addictive substance and there are fortunes of wealth to be made for providers and manufacturers in peddling an addictive drug.

After long-term use, if someone decides they want to come off of Suboxone, the withdrawal period is longer and a markedly worse experience than it is with other opiates. It can last for months. Furthermore, research studies on potential negative health consequences related to long-term Suboxone maintenance are non-existent. There’s no certainty what the long-term effects could be.

Many believe that Suboxone maintenance doesn’t effectively treat the true nature of addiction, which is largely psychological. Regularly taking Suboxone can temporarily alleviate emotional pain, depression and anxiety, but the root causes of those afflictions are left untouched. In this way, Suboxone maintenance is like keeping a band-aid on an infected wound. Further harm may be kept at bay, but the real problem is left to fester just underneath the surface.    

LGBTQ Addiction Help

Is There LGBTQ Addiction Help Available?

Yes, we have LGBTQ addiction help at Inspire Recovery

The LGBTQ community is known for having a heightened level of addition beyond what people outside of the community experience. For more information, you may look at some statistics on the SAMHSA website*. After all, having to live in a world that does not respect you can hurt a lot. Fortunately, LGBTQ addiction help is available and you can get better, no matter how far down the path of addiction you may have fallen.

Getting Out

When you are in an environment that gives you feelings that are hard to deal with, this is when you are at the highest risk of using. Even if you are feeling fine at the moment, the wrong kind of people tend to be in toxic areas. The easy way to fall into active addiction or keep the cycle going is “just this once,” or that it is just “having a little fun.” It never stays fun in a toxic environment.

One problem that the LGBTQ community has in common with cisgendered* hetero-people is that the world is full of well-hidden toxic places. Getting out of one and into a more caring environment is often the first step to recovery.

Being Out

A traditional problem of LGBTQ people is that counseling requires you to be completely honest, and sometimes there is unspoken judgment. Particularly in traditional religious types of recovery centers, you can feel and you may actually be treated like a bad person just because you are part of the LGBTQ community. Coming out to the wrong people can start a whole new cycle of fear, anger and intolerance that can make using seem like the most sane option.

Help is available from counselors who are part of, or allies to, the LGBTQ community. These are people who care and who will not judge you for being who you naturally are. Real acceptance is a major part of healing the pains inside yourself, so the outer manifestation of using does not happen again.

Staying Out

The hardest part of any recovery is that it never endsan addict is an addict for life. However, you can build a better set of habits and beliefs that are more likely to keep you clean and sober for the long haul. It is never too late, no matter how bad things may seem. One place to get help from people who will not judge you is Inspire Recovery. Contact Inspire today, and start getting the help you need to live a life free of your addictions.

A Couple of Terms Used in this Article: 
*SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and they have excellent resources for people supporting LGBTQ clients in addiction treatment centers.

*Cisgender refers to a person whose gender corresponds to their birth sex. Because a person’s sexual anatomy does not always relate to their gender identity, terms like cisgender help to distinguish LGBTQ individuals, no matter what their sexual orientation is. That is to say that not all trans people are gay and not all cisgender people are straight. Gender identity is completely separate from sexual orientation and one does not dictate the other.

LGBTQI Focused Addiction Rehab

Why Are LGBTQIA Focused Addiction Rehabs Vital to Recovery?

My war with addiction began when I was 12 years old. After moving to Florida and hitting puberty I was faced with an onslaught of feelings and ailments I didn’t know had a name, let alone how to cope with them in daily life. I now know I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and what is known as Gender Dysphoria. I started taking Xanax to medicate myself and coast through life and didn’t look back for 8 years.

My first experience in an institution, I was 15 years old. I was not living as my authentic self at that time and drifted in and out of the mental health care system and substance abuse programs for years. I felt like a ghost in a shell  and wasn’t able to properly heal myself, not knowing who I was. When I was 21 I entered a treatment facility for the first time identifying as female. After an exasperated quarrel with both the facility and my insurance company they agreed to put me in a private room in the senior facility. The treatment center felt as though staying with my peers would be too high risk for me. I find that notion completely ridiculous. As if staying with a bunch of detoxing baby boomers in an isolated chamber would be a productive safety net? This unfortunately was the only half-assed measure taken to accommodate me as a transgender client. My time in treatment was not actually spent tackling my issues with addiction. I spent so much time explaining myself and who I was in the context of being Trans that I had no energy left and certainly didn’t have the trust needed to divulge any part of my wounded self in therapy. A facilitator even made a sidebar comment on how I could make more of an effort and put on makeup if I wanted to be addressed properly. I was in the midst of detoxing from opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and alcohol. My insides and outsides were falling out and off. Make up wasn’t exactly a priority.

I developed an almost impenetrable set of defense mechanisms to tolerate constantly being pigeon holed and dehumanized. It came as no surprise that I relapsed shortly after being discharged and continued to downward spiral. Luckily I made it back and discovered Inspire Recovery, where I cultivated my longest period of sobriety. An LBGTQI focused environment allowed me to get the breathing space I desperately needed to get my shit together. The sense of community and acceptance was essential in healing. I could actually carry out conversations with people without a raised eyebrow or calling my entire being into question. It was truly a breath of fresh air and a blessing. I came to truly appreciate my experience there a year later after a brief relapse and stint in another facility.

And now, here’s what it was like at another facility. The residency there was enforced by a religious zealot who would lock me out of the bathroom and find other creative ways to degrade and silence me. I became unhinged and reactive. I smashed a dresser in my room. I subsequently was removed and committed to a lock-down psych unit where i was administered haldol without my consent and was taken off my hormone regiment. Thankfully due to the dedication of my family and sober supports I was rescued and sent to another LBGTQI oriented treatment center that could actually help me. This dark period really taught me not to take things for granted, especially my time at Inspire. The importance of education in gender studies and an all inclusive environment is completely vital to treating a case like me and I hope for a future where the marginalized of the marginalized can be less, well marginalized.

Addiction Disease Model VS Moral Model

By Martel Bird

Many Still Believe Addiction is a Moral Failure

By now probably almost everyone is aware of the opioid addiction epidemic. Those whose live’s have been affected by the addictions of friends and loved ones or those who have been addicted themselves are certainly informed about the crisis. What about those who haven’t been directly affected? Many who hear or read the term, “drug addict,” still think of criminals that need to be locked away or that these, “drug addicts,” deserve what’s coming to them, because they believe addiction is a moral failure. Not everyone is familiar with the Disease Model of Addiction. The old stigma associated with addiction, that addiction is a moral failure of weak-willed individuals is still alive and well.

The Disease Model Vs. the Moral Model

There is an inverse theory to the Disease Model of Addiction known to some as the “Moral Model.” It is commonly supported by religious institutions and politicians influenced by religious ideals. The Moral Model does not take into account studies on the biological and genetic components of addiction and alcoholism. Through the Moral Model lense, those suffering from addiction are viewed as a product of poor choices, lack of will-power and an unwillingness to change their lives.

The more widely accepted Disease Model of today proposes that once an addiction has developed, a person is then suffering from an illness that prevents them from making a choice not to use substances. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) used by doctors and therapists defines compulsive substance use as a mental illness. The Disease Model is based on hard research. In November of 2016, former Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, M.D. stated that “Addiction is a chronic illness accompanied by significant changes in the brain.” The scientific and medical communities support the Disease Model of Addiction.

The recent and present-day research concerning the causes of addiction suggests that the so-called “Moral Model of Addiction” is laughable at best. The idea that an addict can simply stop using substances if they really want to is proven untrue by the hundreds of thousands of addicts who desperately want to get clean but find they cannot. This isn’t to say that people in the grips of addiction don’t do morally reprehensible things, they clearly do, including theft, robbery, prostitution and whatever else, but the actual mechanism of addiction, the compulsion to seek and use drugs is not a voluntary choice influenced by morality or immorality.

Does Society Suggest Addiction is a Moral Failure

Unfortunately, our society is constructed in such a way that still punishes addicts as criminals. Our system doesn’t necessarily treat them as sick people trying to get well. Harsh penalties for possession of illegal substances are still in place. Addicts are ostracized and isolated to the outskirts of society. Stigma still holds back necessary innovations that can address this problem and help save lives.

For instance, in October 2017, Lawrence County in Indiana ended its needle exchange program. Years of studies have found time and time again that needle exchange programs help curb the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C without increasing the statistics on drug use in associated areas. One County Commissioner who voted to end Lawrence County’s needle exchange told NBC News that he “could not support this program and be true to his principles and beliefs.” As the result of ending the needle exchange program, people will die, and it’s because there are those who considered the program to be immoral.

Concerning law enforcement and medical personnel’s use of Naloxone, an antidote to opioid overdoses, there are those who express frustration to authorities about reviving addicts who may potentially revert back to heroin use. Complaints about government budgeting and tax dollars are usually cornerstones of these frustrations and that people who overdose ought to pay the full penalty for their criminal choices and actions. In the recovery community, the emphasis is put on saving lives, not punishment. The hope is always that sick addicts will recover from their illness. Dying from an overdose is obviously not conducive to somebody’s recovery from addiction. If someone is kept alive then they can get into treatment eventually. Dead people, on the other hand, don’t go to treatment.

The truth that there is a lack of compassion in the Moral Model of Addiction is evident. The Disease Model isn’t about not holding people accountable for their actions. It’s about finding effective solutions to the addiction crisis. Substance Use Disorders are what they are: mental disorders. They should be treated as such, with compassionate care, not condemnation for a lack of morality due to a belief that addiction is a moral failure.



Social Media and Recovery

By Leah Bell

Social media has had a bigger impact on our lives today than it ever has in the existence of computers, the internet and cell phones. At no other time in history has the whole world been so engulfed in electronic devices that have become like appendages to not only Millenials but also those who are established middle-aged business people, as well as, parents, teachers, activists and retired individuals that are more likely to be using desktop or laptop computers than smartphones to connect to the never-ending thread of social media.

OK, so we all know this stuff, what we don’t necessarily know is whether social media is having a positive or negative impact on our lives? As a whole, it’s easy to say YES! It is. One of the most powerful influences the many platforms have had is helping to energize generations of people to be informed about what is going on in the world in terms of social and political events. More people are finding their voice and taking a stand for justice, and these very acts are more accessible with the birth of Facebook and Twitter. However, there are aspects of how our interactions with social media affect our neurotransmitters and have quite easily formed an addiction to social media and our electronic gadgets.

When you are living in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction the consensus is that as long as you are living clean and sober than all the other vices out there are way less harmful than the ones that can easily kill you. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE. Living clean and sober is the first and foremost important part of recovery from addiction. However, we are always better off when we can assess ALL our addictive behaviors and question whether or not they are helping or hurting our recovery, our spirituality, supporting our life goals and so on. At Inspire Recovery, our cognitive behavioral therapy groups help individuals become aware of their behaviors and patterns and find action steps to adjust what may not be serving one’s mental health or addiction recovery. 

Does Social Media Hurt or Help Your Recovery

Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker and author of the 2009 bestseller “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” delivers a great talk about how exactly our brains become addicted to social media. This may come as a surprise, but we “get a hit of dopamine” when we check our Facebook, Instagram or receive a text message from someone we like. Sinek says, “Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink and when we gamble. In other words: it’s highly, highly addictive.”

As a neurotransmitter, Dopamine plays a big role in our reward-receptors. Dopamine is released when you eat a piece of chocolate, but it also tells your brain that you want more, because of the way the dopamine release is “allowing” you to feel good. If we don’t have the self-control or willpower to not stop eating chocolate we can easily get sick from eating too much of it.

This doesn’t mean that we should stop using social media and our cell phones – that would be crazy. The point is – we do need to be AWARE of our habits and relationship with the social media platforms we’re on and how much we use our phones.

Social-Media-Obsessed-Inspire-RecoveryFor example, when you are sitting with your friends, family or people from your fellowship – there should be little to no reason to constantly be checking your phone for texts or social media notifications. This very act contradicts what wisdom we gain in our recovery: that being in the present moment is the most important and valuable time in our lives. Through the 12 Steps, we learn how to make peace with our past and not fear or worry about the future. It is the here and now that is precious and purposeful.

When people stand or sit around constantly checking their phones they are often, though subtly, saying, “I’m not really interested in what’s going on right in front me, something more important is going on in my electronic world.” They are creating a distance between themselves and the people they are interacting with. Short of an emergency, there are few times we have to check our phones as often as we do. The next time you are with a group of people, observe these human behaviors. Become aware of the patterns that have been formed and the distance that is being created by our lack of concern for the way people distract themselves from being present by obsessing over their phones.

There is a British journalist named Johann Hari, who shared in his now famous Ted Talk, the research he conducted helped him form the conclusion that the opposite of addiction is human connection. Many people argue the validity of Hari’s poignant debate, check out the response from The Fix – a recovery-based website. In general, though, what Hari is saying is making a case for is incredibly important to consider. The point to appreciate is how crucial it is for us to surround ourselves with people who make us feel safe and supportive, who are reliable, and who are also empathetic or at least attempting to be more vulnerable. In active addiction so much of our connections are clouded by our drugs of choice. Most of us use drugs and alcohol to suppress our feelings and hide our secrets. In recovery, it is through our in-person connections with others that we will be able to create meaningful relationships – which have the potential to release us from the shame, guilt, resentments, anger, sadness. Social media can be meaningful, but a lot of it is superficial. 

It is in the Information Age that so many people have become addicted to substances and technology, creating fewer opportunities for healthy ways to connect with other people. Another benefit of social media is how beautifully it can make us feel more connected to family and friends that live in our cities. On the flip side, research shows that one-in-three Millennials spend more time on their smartphones than they interact with people face-to-face. The rise of these statistics also coincides with the rise of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts among Millennials. In fact, Millennials, more than any other generation, are diagnosed with some form of mental distress. Similar to drug and alcohol use, when feeling depressed or anxious, we gravitate to something that takes our mind off these feelings. However, the distractions we really need are human connection, physical exercise, reading, journaling, hobbies, time in nature, strengthening our spiritual practice, doing 12 step work, etc.

We all enjoy cookies and candy, but if we ate it as much as we checked our phones for notifications we would rot our teeth out and not be able to enjoy sweets. In recovery from addiction of any kind, finding a healthy balance with all our habits is key.

OK, ok. Hopefully, some of this is starting to resonate with you. In recovery, one of the most important lessons is how to become mindful and aware of our actions and behaviors. Since none of us are about to delete our social media accounts lets continue to talk about what we can do to foster a more balanced relationship with this addiction we have to it.

Challange-Equals-Change-Inspire-Recovery5 Ways to Adjust Your Social Media Habits

– Take the time to meet and engage with people at your 12 step groups before and after meetings. Not solely because your sponsor told you to, but in pursuit of making genuine connections.

– Do not check your phone during 12 step meetings.

– Try not to check your phone or, in general check it less, while you are hanging out with your friends and family (unless absolutely necessary).

– Unfollow anything that does not support your recovery and start following more people, pages and hashtags that are positive and supportive of a life free from drugs, alcohol and other toxic aspects of your life! There is an endless amount of content available to uplift and motivate you. On Instagram, treatment centers, motivational speakers and other people working recovery programs are an excellent resource to support you on your journey. On Facebook, if you can’t “unfriend” someone like a family member or childhood friend whose posts or lifestyle choices are triggering for you –> you can adjust the way their posts show up in your feed. Use social media to help your recovery, not hurt it.

– Consider what activities you want to do more in your life that can decrease the amount of time you spend on your phone. Activities such as exercise or other physical activities, volunteering and being of service within your fellowship and spending more time in nature. Part of the plague of phone addiction is the fact that more people are spending less time in nature. However, nature is an important part of keeping our mental health and emotions in balance.

While all of this information might be overwhelming to you, there’s much more to consider the topic. This is literally the tip of the iceberg. Today, researchers are suggesting that people stop checking their cell phones while in bed – both at night and in the morning. Some experts say that we need to not check our phones for the first hour we are awake, especially the news. While this might sound extreme to you, there is good cause to believe that checking our phones and social media heavily increases our daily levels of anxiety and furthers any amount of depression that we might live with. Our phones have a negative effect on our sleeping patterns, our productivity and even affect the retina in our eyes if we do not adjust the screens or view our phones with proper lighting.

These are all great things to consider on your path to living a happy and healthy life! Consider what suggestions are included in this article that resonates with you and starts switching up the routine you have established with your phone and social media platforms. Many people claim that they have found themselves to be much happier after cutting back or cutting out social media from their daily lives. Might sound crazy, but at some point recovery probably sounded like a crazy idea, as well.