Thursday, July 24, 2014

GORDON'S TROUBLES DEMONSTRATE NFL'S ADDICTION AWARENESS STRIDES

Josh Gordon may be forced to miss the entire 2014 season 
Last week, while Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon was awaiting a late July suspension appeal hearing for a failed drug test, he was arrested on a DUI charge. Another troubled athlete who just can't seem to figure things out. Arrest on top of arrest. Ho hum. Business as usual in the NFL.

However, a number of stories have arisen due to Gordon's most recent incident. Several athletes and public
figures are commenting. In the past, one might expect these comments to follow a theme of disappointment, frustration, or even anger. But today, the soundbytes carry a much different tone. Support. Redemption. Understanding. Awareness. These are the words of the new NFL. When one of its brethren falls victim to substance abuse, expect to be now be enlightened.

For instance, former NFL player Cris Carter released a statement, drawing on his own his experience when he too battled addiction early in his career. He feels that the Browns, like the Eagles did to him, should release Gordon.

"My situation was very, very similar. If I'm the Cleveland Browns -- and it's gut-wrenching for me to say this -- I really think that the only thing that's going to help the kid is if they release him."

"We're dealing with addiction. We're dealing with a disease," Carter continued. "If Josh had cancer we'd put him in a treatment center. And right now that's what we need to do for him. But no one wants to do the hard thing. Everyone wants to keep coddling him, the same way they did him in high school, the same thing they did him at Baylor, where he had problems. Eventually it's going to blow up. Now it's blowing up in the National Football League, and his career is in jeopardy."

If Josh had cancer... Cris Carter just REALLY let us know that addiction is a serious disease.

Soon after, Michael Irvin chimed in. He disagreed with Carter's recommendation but too is highly supportive of the treatment process:

l-r: Cris Carter, Michael Irvin

"The people start thinking that you have insight on the situation or the issue or the problem so when you come out and make those kinds of comments and you're not in his sessions with his professional help, you don't know what's going on in those sessions, then you're being irresponsible," Irvin said. "I was a bit disappointed Cris Carter made that statement."



He went on to add:

"Now, isolation for Cris may have been the best thing. Separation, for Cris, may have been the best thing. For Josh, maybe it's the worst thing."

Treatment sessions. Isolation and separation. Disease of addiction. These are former NFL players, using the words of a clinician. Today's NFL is very aware of this complex disease.

Even the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, a rookie last season, had pearls of experienced wisdom to share:

"No one could tell me anything when I was going through it; I had to figure it out for myself. Hopefully he will get the point," Mathieu said. "Hopefully he will get the message, but most of the time it takes for people to hit rock bottom for them to start believing in their self and start seeking help. A lot of people can reach out to you but that doesn't mean you always take that help and take that advice. He just has to want it for himself."

They say Honey Badger fears no man (well at least hall of fame broadcaster Brent Musburger thinks so). His comments, however sound very much like Step One - Admission. Powerless. Help. These are the words of a new addiction aware NFL. We have come a long away from an awareness standpoint.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

Monday, July 7, 2014

CRAVINGS: THE SYMPTOMS WHICH PROVE THE DISEASE

The addiction professional community is sick and tired. We don't want to hear about how addiction is a choice - because it isn't.

I want my readers to step outside their normal patterns of thinking. Take a moment to remember your last Fourth of July Holiday. How did it go? I'll illustrate mine: We gather around a pool, we barbeque - it's a celebration of independence, meat, various salads and of course alcohol. It's clockwork - it happens every year. It's familial. It's America.

Now imagine you're an addict. I am. So if you're not I'll describe it for you. My Uncle Billy mans the grille. He's a master - he can cook for 50 hungry folks and get the temperatures correct. He isn't a chef. He's a plumber by trade; but the man can navigate a BBQ. These type of events are typically centered on three things: Food, Family and Fun. The last component largely depends on who you are and where you are in your life. Kids have fun with games and splashing around in the pool. The adults - at my family gatherings, anyway - have fun by drinking alcohol and catching up. Again, I'm an addict and I'm no kid. I can't take my eyes off of the cooler and I feel like my entire family knows it. They know I have a problem. Most of them don't know I have a disease. Most of them wouldn't look twice if I grabbed a cold one.

The lack of understanding addiction isn't their fault. For those who are not directly affected by this disease - that is, those who are not addicts, usually aren't exposed to the research on addiction. Take the grillmaster, Uncle Billy. He can have a drink, two drinks and stop for the rest of the afternoon. He's perfectly content. That's how alcohol should be used -like anything else, in moderation. But me, I have no "off switch." I've tried to have one or two drinks. I usually wind up in a dangerous situation after countless libations.

My Uncle Billy has said things to me such as, "have a drink with me, what's the big deal. Have one and we'll go home." He doesn't understand it doesn't work like that. That once triggered, the disease needs to be fed incessantly. That the first drink is never the only drink. It is only the first... of many.

What I am experiencing right now as I stare at this cooler are the symptoms of the disease of addiction - otherwise known as cravings. For people like Uncle Billy, cravings do not exist. He makes a choice and can stick to the limitations he sets. For me, I think about the substance often. I obsess over it when it's around. Cravings tell me that I know I'm an addict and I need to be aware of how to control and treat my symptoms. Uncle Billy knows he has a cold when his throat is sore, he is congested and develops the sniffles. My symtoms are my cravings. They let me know I'm an addict.

Nearly 23 million Americans - almost one in 10 - are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. I wonder how many understand their cravings and how they work? I'm lucky that I know I have a disease. I'm lucky I understand my cravings. I'm lucky I know how to answer the question: "Why not just have one drink?" 

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

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