Saturday, July 24, 2010

Give a damn.

Of the stories I reposted from other sources this week, two really stand out in my mind. The first is the profile of my good friend Barri Pepe and Myra's Place, the center she founded for abused, addicted and traumatized women. The other is the story of Jenna Lord, the young woman who disappeared, only to be found dead by her family in a vacant lot in Camden.

The irony, of course, is that Barri founded Myra's Place for young women like Jenna. But for one tiny shift in circumstance or the whims of fate, Jenna could have gone to Myra's Place instead of that weed infested lot in Camden.

Of course, we can never know. Mysteries have truths buried in them, and this mystery is exactly that kind. I could write for pages about all the factors that create tragedies like this but the truth is so simple it hurts.

We need more places like Myra's Place.

We need to begin to take addiction seriously as an epidemic in this country that is destroying a generation.

We need to treat addiction like the illness it is, and stop trying to cure it with jail.

We need not to wait for someone else to do something.
Barri & Myra

We need to give a damn.

Life on the streets that claimed Jenna Lord | Philadelphia Daily News | 07/24/2010

Life on the streets that claimed Jenna Lord | Philadelphia Daily News | 07/24/2010: "'You would think overdosing would be hitting rock bottom but I've seen people get hit with a shot of Narcan [a remedy often applied to addicts who've overdosed] wake up right up, and get right back out there,' he said. 'A lot of times, rock bottom is cold and blue.'"~Police Captain Mark Nicholas, Camden County.

The Value and Harm of Religion � Digital Dharma

Excellent post on religion, atheism and spirituality. The Value and Harm of Religion � Digital Dharma

Friday, July 23, 2010

Myra's Place in Collingdale offers women hope and help | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/23/2010

Every day we hear tragic stories about women beaten, raped, abducted, killed. We need a thousand places like Myra's Place! Thank you, Barri Pepe, for all your hard work, but most of all, for your vision.
Barri Pepe, Founder of Myra's Place
Myra's Place in Collingdale offers women hope and help | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/23/2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Keeping it simple on Independence Day

Nothing gives us blogger types a case of ego inflation like a holiday. We think deep thoughts (or think we do) and feel compelled to share them whether you like it or not. So this year, let's keep in simple.

Aside from being our National Birthday, the day on which we set standards for ourselves that continue to challenge us to this day, it is the Summer Holiday. We celebrate with parades, barbecues and fireworks. For people in active addiction, with the exception of the presence of flammable material and explosives, it's pretty much business as usual. For people in Recovery, however, it presents some challenges. As always, on holidays, the everyday rules are suspended and permissions are granted. There 's nothing wrong with that, except that for some in early recovery it presents some unique situations.

Let me break it down:

  1. Your Recovery is your own responsibility. Don't assume that anyone understands addiction, especially a bunch of people involved in their own festivities. If it's hard for you to refuse an offer of a drink or a drug, maybe you would do better to go to a meeting than a barbecue.
  2. Watch the temptation to tell war stories. I'm not talking Valley Forge, here, I am talking about glorifying binges and other addiction related behaviors. Euphoric Recall is dangerous for recovering people, because it allows the mind to do essentially the same thing that drugs do. Pain is dulled and pleasure is enhanced. The funny story is only funny when divorced from the painful realities surrounding it. The wild, drunken beer run isn't quite so funny once you acknowledge the kids in the back seat. So keep it real.
  3. Remember the support available to you. All those numbers in your cell phone? No, not the guy with the Oxycontin connection--you were supposed to get rid of that! The numbers that you got from all those great people at the 12 Step meetings? Now's the time to use them. Phone Therapy has been one of those mainstays of the 12 Step programs from the beginning. A phone call has made the difference between disaster and relief more times than anyone can count. If you think, should I call? Call.
  4. Plan B. You know what that means, right? Plan B is what you use when Plan A doesn't work. It's the strategic retreat. It's making sure that you have an open back door and a ride in case the situation turns out to be a lot more difficult than you expected. Remember that a strategic retreat has won many a war. If the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? Plan B is the way you get going alright--right out the door!

That's the short list. Talk to other clean and sober people and you will have 10 ideas for every one presented here. Independence is the freedom to choose. It's self-determination.

Let this be your Independence Day.