In the article Relax and Recover Part 1, I whole heartedly endorsed the 12 step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. And I think that deserves repeating. Both the Big book of AA and the basic text of NA outline a clear path to recovery that has helped millions of people worldwide achieve sobriety. As the coordinator of a treatment program it has been my experience that those who follow the suggestions outlined in the book, obtain and utilize a sponsor, work all 12 steps, and attend meetings regularly, greatly increase their chances of a successful recovery. I would also like to mention the positive aspects of working all 12 steps. Most of the relapsing that I have witnessed occurs after step3 or step5. The relapse rate for those that make it all the way through step 12 is vastly decreased. So go to meetings, follow the suggestions in the book, get a sponsor and don’t stop working steps until you get to 12.

Alcoholism and other drug dependencies are primary illnesses, and once the disease is in remission the afflicted person can begin to live a productive life again. However many people that suffer from addictive disorders also have another mental health illness such as depression, bipolar, or anxiety. But most people with multiple or co-occurring mental health disorders that learn how to treat them, can move on to lead meaningful, sober lives.

The next thing to consider is quality of life and this is where I place a lot of the focus in my practice. The usual outcome for the addict who puts down the drugs, and then feels miserable on a daily basis, is relapse back to drug use. The rational being, if sobriety feels this bad I may as well get high. And after abusing alcohol and other drugs for many years, even the most basic and simple joys of life can be hidden from view. Feelings of increased self-esteem, purpose and meaning can suddenly be replaced by anxiety, stress, emptiness and confusion. Therefore it is necessary to not only put down the drugs but to also increase wellness, the healing of mind, body, and spirit that leads to wholeness.

I am writing a series of articles that will discuss specific techniques, life style changes, and ways to reframe perceptions to assist one on their journey to wellness. Addiction and other mental health disorders are chronic illnesses that we will have the rest of our lives however we can learn to live that life feeling well and whole. I teach a wellness class and help people do the 12 step program. I am available to try to answer any questions you may have.

Author's Bio: 

Tom is a licensed alcohol and drugs of abuse counselor, and professional musician. He has blended these two passions to produce a series of relaxation albums. With the gentle sound of moving water as a backdrop,and using progressive and passive muscle relaxations along with guided imagery and music, Tom teaches you how to relax your body and mind.