“Life sometimes unfolds in some mysterious ways.  I’ve spent a good deal of my life working on the front lines with addiction sufferers, attempting to guide them on their individual journeys down the road to recovery.  As most people know, the chemical dependency treatment success rates have not been promising”. . . .

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Whether it’s street drugs, alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, pornography or gambling, the effect is the same . . . escape from reality . . . they all numb emotional pain . . . . . . temporarily. If we are genetically predisposed to addiction (i.e. we have had others, before us, in our family who suffered from addiction) it is at our first attempt with any drug, we experienced the unmistakable certainty that we have discovered our very best friend in the entire world. Over time, that best friend, however, turns on us only to become our worst enemy. That first high, or buzz that once promised us paradise on earth has turned out to be nothing more than an illusion. Once our disease has progressed beyond the middle stage, there is no more high. There is only the self-recrimination and shame, followed by more self-abuse from the resulting compulsion to re-abuse ourselves by re-indulging, again in our addiction. Make no mistake about it. Addiction kills. Don’t let it destroy you! It was once believed that people suffering from addiction must “hit bottom” before they can be helped. We now know that this is not true. To the contrary, thanks to interventions by family, by professionals and by law enforcement, many people suffering from addiction find the help they so desperately need! In fact, once someone has “hit bottom” that individual may be unable to seek help. It may be too late. Thus, the individuals who tragically die from their disease. (Many music and movie stars have been examples of only a few of these tragic stories such as Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith.)You have a choice! Make the right one. Freedom from addiction brings about a renewed sense of life, of living. Suddenly we are once again able to hear the sweet music of the bird that sings outside our window, of the trees that move in the breeze with their leaves ever so gently carrying their soft, rustling music to our ears. Don’t give-in and give-up to addiction’s lies. It will all too gladly take your life from you and from those who love you. You’re worth fighting for! Reach out! There are so many caring hands just waiting to reach back to grasp yours. Hands of those whose addiction went before yours. Those who know, who’ve lived what you’ve lived and who’ve followed the path to freedom. Don’t allow yourself to become one of the countless tragic stories we hear everyday. Make yours, a success story . . . COME TO YOURSOBERSOLUTIONS.COM (Our upgraded site!)

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 2010 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Three Crucial Steps to Prevent Relapse into Addiction

When I began working in the field of chemical dependency thirty years ago, there were some common beliefs of treatment professionals with which I strongly disagreed.  One of those beliefs was that if an individual underwent treatment for addiction and then drank or used illicit drugs again , he’d never really wanted to be sober at all.  (In my opinion, it was the old proverbial “throw the baby out with  the bathwater” philosophy.) 

I took issue with this belief because I happen to know both from professional and personal experience that it takes a good deal of determination and hard work to maintain early sobriety.  (Whether the individual maintains sobriety for a long or for a short period of time is not the point.)  I believed that for as long as professionals continued to focus on that which was beside the point, no progress could be made in solving the problem at hand.  (In it’s infancy, the chemical dependency treatment world was a punitive one.  The problem with that was that someone who is already beating himself up, certainly doesn’t need others to add to his already deep, emotional sense of shame.)

 I firmly believed that when an individual went to all of the work it takes to develop new sobriety and then ended up using, there had to be other issues involved that were interfering with his goal of continuous sobriety.

I began to ask some very probing questions of these clients.  Questions about how they’d been feeling emotionally, how they’d been sleeping, eating, etc.  What I learned was that people who relapsed after working hard to get sober, were definitely struggling with other issues besides their addiction.  I began referring clients who were having problems with cravings and with relapse for a thorough psychological assessment.  Making sure that they were referred to an office that housed both a psychologist and psychiatrist was critical.  It was critical because if the psychological testing revealed the need for a mood-stabilizing medication, the psychologist who customarily performs testing, can consult without delay with the psychiatrist in the office for appropriate prescription medication.

In countless numbers of cases, what was discovered through psychological testing was that the individual was suffering from depression and/or anxiety issues.  But there were other problems that I encountered.  The addiction community at that time frowned upon the use of medication for mood changing purposes.  My relief was monumental when the term mood-stabilizing became better known among professionals in the field.  That was because there is a tremendous amount of difference between mood-altering and mood-stabilizing medication.

 ood-altering medication either raises or lowers the mood away from that which is considered a general sense of well-being (either high or low.)  Mood-stabilizing medication on the other hand, moves the individual’s mood back into the general vicinity of a general sense of well being (i.e. a stable mood.)

To help understand the differences in psychotropic medications is crucial.  Unless one possesses this knowledge, it is impossible to know which medications are hazardous to chemically dependent clients and which ones are safe.  For example, if a medication contains a minor tranquilizer, it is a highly addictive medication.  That makes it off-limits to anyone who is chemically dependent person who does not want to place his sobriety in jeopardy.  Narcotics, opiates, sedatives and many others are also highly addictive.  Consequently it is imperative when choosing a psychologist/psychiatrist office, that one finds out whether or not these professionals are well-trained in chemical dependency.  One issue with which I’ve watched numerous chemically dependent individuals struggle, is failing to be their own advocate when it comes to their medical and/or psychological health.  Many relapses occur because a client failed to inform their doctor or psychiatrist of their addictive personality.  The tendency seems to be to then blame the professional for prescribing a drug to which they became addicted.  The burden of responsibility here clearly does not fall on the shoulders of the professional involved.

 Part of addictive behavior is the habit of ingesting whatever drug/alcohol and then letting life happen without being a responsible participant.  Learning to take full responsibility for themselves, for their lives, for their debts and for their health can be extremely challenging to most.  It is simply behavior with which they are basically unfamiliar.

 When clients are new to recovery in treatment, I repeatedly remind them that changing our thinking is crucial to recovery!  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Neither is stable, positive, healthy recovery!

So, you see, while it is absolutely true that the most important things to do repeatedly in early sobriety is:

1)     Don’t use,

2)     Go to meetings,

3)     Stay away from using places and using acquaintances!  (I tend not to refer to using buddies as “friends” because  although it is always shocking to the         newly recovering individual just how quickly these people vanish from their social calendars once they realize that the individual is serious about  no longer choosing to use alcohol or other  drugs, it is true, nonetheless.)     

Never underestimate the negative power of exposing oneself to using people and situations!  Countless recovering individuals manage to expose themselves to these dangers for quite some time before they unwittingly begin to slowly, but surely, wear down.  Addiction is all powerful and extremely insidious.  Make no mistake about it.  Unless you are vigilant and willing to do anything you have to do to maintain recovery, it can and will sneak-up on you like the thief in the night that it IS! 

Come check-out my website:!

(Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 2009 – 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Overdose: Help Your Therapist Help You

Accidental overdose can be prevented by helping your helping professionals help you. I clearly recall my first two experiences with a therapist. My first experience was with an older, kindly gentleman. I’d been afraid of my anger one day when I’d shaken my six year old son who had just lit a candle and placed it underneath our infant daughter’s bed. I met with Al for a few sessions when he concluded that I was a fine parent and really had just needed someone to talk to. Immediately following our final therapy session, I went home, took three five milligram valium (about which he’d known nothing) and wrote Al an overly enthusiastic letter about my success with implementing the information I’d just finished reading in a self-help book I’d recently purchased at the local drug store. Little did Al know, I could barely remember what I’d read.

My second experience was just a few years later. I’d been living a nightmare in a bad marriage and had experienced thoughts of ending my life. Out of genuine fear that I might be tempted to act upon these thoughts, I decided to seek professional help. I intuitively realized that the levels of hopelessness and despair to which my mood had been plummeting rendered me in some very real danger. I searched the yellow pages and found a wonderful therapist. He was attentive, supportive and validating. Lord knows, I’d desperately needed to find all three qualities in a hurry. When he suggested an antidepressant medication, I knew that he’d recognized the severity of my emotional state. When he recommended ongoing therapy adding, “I don’t want you brought in here on a slab” for the first time in years, I felt my heart fill with hope. (My hope stemmed from the fact that I knew he’d not only heard, but fully realized my cry for help.) This validation was to carry me through the coming year at a time when I believe I very well might have otherwise reached the end of my rope.

Sadly, there existed a dangerously intrusive element about which I hadn’t told my therapist. That cunning and baffling saboteur was my (as yet undiagnosed) alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs. Little did he know (and little did I know it mattered) that each evening as I’d ingest my antidepressant, I’d chase it with anywhere from one to four vodka gimlets. Then, of course, were the ongoing prescriptions for Fiorinal I was ingesting every four hours without fail for chronic headaches along with the occasional valium pill for anxiety.

In many ways, I’ve credited that therapist over the years with having been one of the guardian angels who contributed to saving my life. Indeed, he played a critical role in saving this addict from herself in that his compassion came at a time when no one else was able to show me any care and concern. Could I have helped my therapist help me more effectively though? Absolutely. Without informing him of a few of the most imperative pieces of information of all, could he have unknowingly contributed to the catch-22 in which I’d unwittingly become trapped by my addiction? Absolutely. In retrospect, this had been a classic case of the blind leading the blind. He could have known nothing about my addiction. His very sincere compassion provided me the glimpse of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel I’d needed to go on fighting my exhausting battle with depression. However, needless to say, with my daily ingestion of my liquid central nervous system depressant, alcohol, the antidepressant medication he’d recommended was rendered useless. In a worst case scenario, could this have inadvertently resulted in an accidental overdose? Most definitely!

As for working through the issues he and I talked about, I was literally either too emotionally numb, or too busy riding a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows from my drug use to have been able to make any kind of progress therapeutically. Fortunately, with the searching that my ongoing misery led me to pursue, I finally located another of my guardian angels. This lady (a chemical dependency counselor) performed a merciful intervention on my addiction one morning at 2 A.M. It was that night that my addiction to pills and alcohol was “called out” into the open where it could be clearly identified, confronted and dealt with. Later that same morning, I admitted myself to a residential treatment hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thirty-three years later, here I am, still sober and extremely grateful. It was my fond memory of that therapist’s compassion for my emotional suffering that inspired me to move forward with my dream of helping other addicts find their way out of the nightmare of addiction. I returned to college not long after having gotten into recovery from addiction, divorced my alcoholic husband who refused to quit drinking and began to experience the richness and joy of a sober life. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that my battle with addiction was easy, but having received the specialized treatment of my addiction counselor in treatment, I learned that I could face and deal with any problem that I encountered.  It became exceedingly clear to me just how fortunate I am to be alive and to have been spared suffering the agony of having taken anyone else’s life on those small town roads I’d so haphazardly, repeatedly navigated while under the influence.

So . . . . here is where you, the client, must take responsibility for being your own advocate! You absolutely must be totally open with your therapist about every medication you take and the amounts and frequency with which you use mood-altering substances. Don’t take chances with your life. Accidents usually happen because someone has been careless. Know that accidental overdoses are exactly that . . . they’re accidents that happen because someone has been careless in neglecting to research the possible dangers of mixing their prescription medication with another mood-altering substance. Whenever two mood-altering substances are mixed, each intensifies the potency of the other! Any pharmacist will gladly answer any questions you might have about any drugs and/or their interactions with one another. They can also be easily “googled” on the internet. The necessity of taking responsibility for everything we put inside our bodies cannot be overstated.

Don’t take chances with your life.

Make it your business to be in-the-know!                               

(Copyright 1974 – 2014 by JC Fredlund) Copyright 2014 by JC Fredlund (JC Eberhart, Past Pen Name): ©JC Fredlund and JC Fredlund’s Artistry Blog, 1974 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JC Fredlund and the link to blog is included with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



“Many patients have asked me to explain addiction and to tell them what they can do about it. This thing called, “Addiction/Chemical Dependency/Alcoholism” is, in my opinion, the most insidious disease in existence today” . . . . 

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