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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss the recovery and addiction topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the views expressed here are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

hi I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery here with my co-host Jason also in long-term recovery hi everybody and we’re here this week to do our podcast I’m going to start off talking recently about a book I’ve been listening to it’s called in the realm of hungry ghosts it’s about addiction and a doctor medical doctors names gab or Matt pay and he’s a doctor in the Portland Housing Authority works for the Portland Housing Authority up in Vancouver and deals with addicts and mentally ill and the books about his journey through there but one of the things that I found most interesting about the book that he was talking about was that addiction is not connected to genetics like we used to think that it was I still remember back in the 90s you know when we heard oh we found the alcohol gene and everybody who has this gene as an alcoholic and we know and you know this is gonna be the lead to medications and things that can cure alcoholism and you know I still remember hear that and actually carrying that belief through that this is a lot of addiction as genetics and according to him a lot of the modern sciences that’s not really so true that people are more and he said actually the people that made that original prediction came out and said that later on it wasn’t they weren’t trying to mislead anybody they thought they had found this thing but they’ve come to find out later with more genetic studies at oh we weren’t quite right on that and so what we’ve this is going to get a little off addiction but what we’ve learned with genetics in the last couple of years is what they call epigenetics which is how environment affects your genetics so for a long time we thought oh if you have this gene you’ll have blue eyes if you have this gene you’ll have brown hair if you have this gene you’ll have this and what they’re figuring out now is that’s not necessarily true but you have two or three different genes in your genome and that if two are on and one is off you’ll have brown hair but if one is on and tore off you might have blonde hair and that you know you can’t isolate it to just one gene that does this or that right and that what determines whether these genes are flipped on or off a lot of times are environmental factors yeah it’s uh very much so you know if these seventeen places are flipped to the right spot when the moon is shining on the third Sunday of the month this is what will end up coming from it but I I am a little surprised I so I just recently had a class that’s about addiction and they’re still selling the the research that you know if one of your parents is an addict there’s a one in eight chance that you will be and if both of your parents are addicts there’s a one in four chance that you will be regardless of any other circumstances like that’s just the genetic portion that’s passed on so I’m kind of surprised that that might not be the truth anymore since they’re still teaching that in the college’s yet he claims and I didn’t get the name of it or didn’t write it down but that there’s actually been like an article in The Times it actually was a headlines of a Times article where it said that this you know epigenetics had way more to do with you know addiction in these things then actual genetics do I’d have to look into the study because so the study there based on the one in four and the one and eight ratios on is people who were had addicts as parents but these were kids who were given up for adoption at birth and then raised somewhere else by different parents right so they were saying that these children who did not have the environment of being raised by the addict right they weren’t giving the nurture portion of addiction and that’s why they turned out to still have addiction they were raised by somebody else they just had the genetic relationship that’s how they based the the one in eight and the one in four numbers because they were still turning out to be addicts even raised completely separate of the addiction environment and he does address some of that in the book he talks about it being more in utero type stresses that these in utero type stresses and these stress hormones get passed on you know to the baby the way you described like that I love visuals where he talks about it as a seed if you take you know a seed that’s healthy genetically and then put it into a shitty environment you’re gonna end up with a weak or sick or deteriorated plant and that not you know obviously people have genetic disorders and different genetic issues he’s not claiming that everything and Rhoni but what he claims is addiction in and of itself is not genetic that’s a really interesting analogy I like though yeah I liked it too because you know and and in utero stuff he gives he cites some research and some you know I didn’t dig deep into his research but he does cite some research and some evidence based on issues that they had with and this wasn’t to do with addiction where they started to realize some of this was Jewish parents that had children during the Holocaust and issues that they had with the babies you know because they were grown up in these you know sort of with loving parents but they had the in utero stresses you know being in hospice yeah and being living in poverty and their parents are being separated and those sorts of stresses there’s a growing belief in the in the mental health field that we look at like childhood trauma and a you know we talked about ace before out here adverse childhood experiences and we’ve always believed that that could cause issues in here now the PTSD and many other things but what we’re realizing more and more now is that these things can happen like you’re talking about in utero or even up to like pre memory age before two before three before we ever have the idea of what possibly went on and so we’re running around saying we’re messed up and we don’t know why and it’s stuff that happened before we could possibly know what’s going on so it’s really hard to defend ourselves against things that and you know like you said before you’re even born but we’re still picking up these later on effects negative outcomes of the things that happen then right and we’re this having to me where this becomes important is that if we can get sort of a a wider view of addiction out into the general public the general community I mean obviously you know to me it seems like most quote-unquote normal people you know look at addicts or people struggling with mental he’ll health and look at it as like a weakness or a moral issue or you know they’re just not trying hard enough you know they’re not taking responsibility and I think if you can sort of begin to get people to think like no these were like damage you know these were kids or children or babies that were damaged early on with a with a weekend Heidi’s work weekend with a lesser opportunities and so it you know made the potential for them to be addicts so much higher like it right right so it’s interesting I was just having this conversation on Twitter with some people in a similar manner that the research okay so there’s a lot of research and research can almost prove anything you wanted to prove and I get that right but there’s some research that shows that a large portion of the people that believed that they had really strong willpower when measured against other people who thought maybe they didn’t have such strong willpower what the outcome of that study showed was that the people who believed they had really strong and great willpower were just tempted much less often right yeah and so it was to me it was like oh man what more human thing than to take credit for something we really aren’t doing right but it it’s one of those things to her even though we have that kind of research and we can find that sort of stuff out people still don’t believe it right there’s still plenty of people running around talking about how great their willpower is and how they came from nothing even though they had two million dollars given to them on their 18th birthday and they self-made people and I just we are such a society that does not want to go with the belief that people need help and not all of us are given the same advantage at or whatever it is like I just can’t fathom why even though we can prove this with science people just don’t seem to want to believe it we want to hold those old beliefs Oh pull yourself up by your bootstraps and just make it work yeah it’s it’s tough it’s hard to overcome because I think most of us I mean even you know myself I’m in recovery I have a pretty good life but life is challenging and it’s hard and it’s difficult at times and I gotta push through hard obstacles and overcome whatever you know whatever the flavor of the day to be angry about now it seems to be politics and taxes and you know all those kind of things that we can get angry about and you know it’s like if we feel like someone else is getting a handout or an advantage or some easier softer way it like makes us angry you know it’s it’s weird and I think that more has to do with we just currently live in a society an environment where life isn’t [ _ ] easy you know we’re we don’t work together as a community to solve problems most of the time you know we’re we’re sort of everybody gets put on their own island and you got to fend for yourself and it’s up to you to provide for yourself and your family and everything else and you know if we lived in a more I mean communal type structure where we all kind of looked out for each other and help each other out and when we were down we got a handout when this guy’s down they get a handout like those kind of mentalities I think would help people more um which funny enough I didn’t just tying this back into somewhere talk about earlier I think that’s one of the things that motivates me to want to go out and do free work for people in the community it’s like I have this ability to help and it really isn’t costing me a whole lot you know a little bit of time a little bit of energy I don’t mind doing it it’s not a big out-of-the-way thing but I have an opportunity to help somebody it doesn’t get me anything in particular a head or anything but I can so I do you know you gotta stop making a sound like socialist there Billy I think your governments can step in and tell us we’re not living democratically or something I don’t know what they do but we’ll be labeled well I don’t think it’s the government’s job do any of that I think people should just do it on their own I don’t think we need the government to make laws the forces to do it that’s that’s where it becomes an issue yeah oh so I I don’t know you’re going back to I don’t know what can make people see the need for others to need help like if I guess if you live your life and don’t ever feel like you need to reach out for help then you’re never gonna understand why anybody else ever had to reach out for help and I don’t know if that’s you truly have never had to reach out for help in your life or you’re just unable to see all the times you’ve really needed to reach out for help I have a hard time believing that there’s somebody who lived that really never needed anyone elses help like that maybe it’s true it’s definitely not my experience but maybe they’re just blind to all the times they’ve been helped in different levels of help you know what I mean like there’s there’s the help of hey I am moving to a new house can you come help me this weekend help me move right or you know I’m building a deck will you come help me build a deck or you know I need to get my kids to soccer practice would you mind coming picking up the kids at soccer practice like those are common things that people need help with usually in society you don’t like that’s not out of the realm of norm to ask for those kind of things but if I were to come to you and say hey will you pay my rent for a year because I can’t hold a job because I’m mentally ill hey can you come manage my medications for me because of my mental health issues I’m not able to do those things or you know hey will you come sit with me because I really want to get high today and I don’t know how not to so you know people won’t ask for help in those ways you know and that would seem way more extreme help well and I’m just like okay so the guy who thinks that everybody should pull themselves up by their bootstraps which is such an old saying nobody has bootstraps and we need to like fix this right like pull yourself up by your Nikes or something has he never as he does he not see that like he says oh I’ve done this all myself does he not see that okay maybe his family didn’t have when they were younger but his best friend his best friend’s dad maybe happened to be in the Union and so he had a recommendation and now he got into the Union and made a good living for himself but does he not see that he got helped to get in there and had he been I don’t know a person of color or a woman he’d have never got that recommendation from his friends dad like I don’t know I just think we really missed the boat that we have advantages and we don’t know how to acknowledge or see that we’ve had advantages and so we just point the finger and wonder why everyone can’t do what we did right they’re not given the same opportunity we’re right right it really bothers me right so for me this week you know and I’m sure there would be plenty of people that would tell you I am weak or not pulling myself up or just not following through but I’ve been depressed right I know this is the season or time of year for me to go through that a little rougher than normal I’m really into Christmas I love the Thanksgiving spend time with family and then the Christmas shopping season and just thinking about my family frequently and what they’ll appreciate and that whole thing is just a really loving time of year for me right and then after everybody goes back to school and work it’s just it’s like a funk it’s like ah now I’m just all alone and and I feel maybe tied to some stuff for my childhood some like abandonment stuff when they go back to school and work and I’m just kind of like now I’m just here by myself with nobody to talk to and isolate it and I don’t know what to do and my normal reaction when I feel those kind of things just adjust okay I’ll get my sons on the bus and I’m going back to base I’m just I just cannot face the world right this minute and that’s what happened last Monday right and I was a few hours where I laid in bed and look I’m not even tired I already had like seven and a half hours the night before I know it’s not a tired thing and I’m laying there in and out of napping or sleeping or escaping life and like the thought hits me here and there like maybe your kids would be all right without you like this life thing’s just tough you just don’t need it right and it’s a scary-ass thought I don’t want to feel like I’m that close to the edge and I don’t I don’t think I’m gonna act on it or anything but it’s like just to even have that thought is so scary to me it’s like why do I have to live on this like edge of a cliff at all times wondering what dumbass thought is gonna come my way about what I shouldn’t be alive or something like that and uh and so it’s gotten just slightly better every day since then right it was really hard to get out of bed Monday Tuesday I was still pretty hard Wednesday it was a little less hard and like everyday it’s gotten a little better even today this morning like I love coming here and doing this it was still a little tough to get up right I snoozed my alarm a couple times which I usually don’t and I don’t know I guess somebody would tell me that’s weak and I should just get the [ _ ] up and live life and all that and that sounds great until I’m in the middle of some depressive symptoms and I just don’t feel capable and I don’t I don’t know I don’t have an answer for that all the time I’m pumping all this positive recovery and mental health stuff into my life I’m listening to some positive audiobooks I’m practicing all these positive things I’m trying to pray and meditate more and it’s like I don’t have a [ _ ] answer all the time for what how to fix me right sometimes I just this is where I’m at yeah and that’s so I understand that to be if I have this right the difference between like clinical depression and then people that just get depressed because bad things happen I personally have never been diagnosed with depression as mental illness but I have family members and people that I’m very close to that have and so I’ve done a little research you know my own conduct research on signs and symptoms to look for and what can I do to support that person through that you know because um to be honest I just that doesn’t happen to me like I have days or moments where I’m like [ _ ] this I’m getting out of here and kill myself I don’t care but it’s really just passes you know usually it’s because I’m really up that about something for a 10-minute moment and it never lasts um and like depression like I’ve been sick I think maybe you may be sick or my wife made me sick I don’t know so many may be sick in a soul-winner you know I’ve had the same kind of ailment head cold thing and so you know I felt myself the other day getting sort of all self-pity you know angry a mad at my wife over [ _ ] spending money and you know just all this stuff that I don’t normally do but it you know I I recognized like I know what it is like look you’re just sick you’re just in a negative frame of mind just you know take it easy on yourself go to bed you’ll feel better tomorrow and for me it’s always been that way like if I just go to bed I’ll feel better tomorrow but for people that struggle with you know clinical depression like from what I read and understand like that’s not the case like everything can be fine and you can still go into these depressive funks there’s not always reasons that you get depressed like that so trying to like search out a reason and then counter that reason doesn’t really matter because that’s not the cause of the problem in the first place it’s very um so you know for me like you know in in my relationships with people what I’ve tried to do so trying to tread lightly here because I don’t know what I’m allowed to say not saying I don’t want to throw anybody’s names or anything out there so one of the things that I know I can do is just kind of touch base with that person hey how you doing how you feeling today want to go get something to eat you know you want to go out maybe we’ll go ahead a meeting you know spend time with them hang out try to not let them sulk like you’re talking about like to spend that time down that isn’t necessarily good for them even though that’s what they want to do that’s not a good place for them to be is such a hard thing to do know that activity is part of the solution or can be part of the solution and just feel incapable of doing it it’s one of those two like I’m sitting here listening to you and I’m amazed because I think it’s people similar to you that have never had that struggle that failed to see that others right it’s that whole self-centered everyone else is obviously just like me and so since I’ve never struggled with depression why don’t you’re just [ _ ] lazy right right and so I’m impressed that even though you’ve never felt it you have the ability to at least understand that other people feel differently than you and go through these things yeah well it’s it’s helped in my relationships in my life you know because there was times where I felt exactly like that like what the [ _ ] is wrong with you why are you laying in bed for three [ _ ] days this is ridiculous you know I guess I could say I don’t know she’ll be mad at me there’s my wife you know she’s dealt with and over our marriage like we’ve had issues like we have kids we have [ _ ] to do why are you laying in bed all day like you got to get up you got a game and that was my attitude at different times in our marriage and in our relationship and one of the most extreme times like she had a couple days of like just laying in bed I went in one day and she was just crying hmm and she’s like I don’t know why I you know I don’t know why I feel like this I just I want to kill myself you know everything in our life was you know as good as it’s like my life is better than it’s ever been and you know and it really pushed me to be like wow this isn’t you know this is different than anything that I have ever been through you know I have what I would call like normal depression like yeah I you know whatever it’s got arrested again and I might have to go to jail so I’m pretty sad about that and I feel like [ _ ] well that’s normal if you do those things you should be depressed you know when I and someone explain this to me early in recovery like when I first came into recovery I was pretty you know down and depressed why should have been my life was a [ _ ] wreck and I was a piece of crap and that’s a that’s like a healthy depression like a healthy sign of like hey things aren’t going well you need to be doing something different you know you maybe you need to change what you’re doing if you want to feel better about your life just to clarify I don’t agree with [ _ ] all over yourself yeah well but that’s completely different than you know a clinical depression or someone struggles with this thing of and you know it’s almost to throw it out there it’s like addiction or recovery like we hear these words and we tend to just develop whatever we think our own definition of that word is and that becomes the way we apply it to everyone else in the world and depression is different for other people you know what I go through when I’m depressed is completely different than what you know my wife struggles with when she’s depressed right there are some common signs and symptoms you know to be diagnosed as depressed and and those would be and you’re not diagnosed it’s just depressed there’s major depressive disorder there’s a whole lot of other different less right disorders that go along with different timeframes or different intensities of what you might go through it just a you know break in here a little bit for possible people who might think that they identify with this if you’re feeling depressed one thing to do you can talk to your primary care physician you can go see a mental health specialist or even at home if you want to do a search I almost said a google search I’m not gonna not gonna advocate for them they have enough advertisement but if you want to do a search for it’s called phq-9 which is a so they made this personal health questionnaire which includes a whole lot of different stuff and they took the nine questions out of it that have to do with depression and put them together and it’s called a phq-9 and it’s free and you can find it all over the place it doesn’t cost anything to get it doesn’t cost anything to get the scoring mechanism from it like unfortunately some inventories of depression do and you can take that at home by yourself and it’s really simple it’s really basic but you can score it and get an idea of where you are on the depression scale and if you might need to look into that further with professionals yeah and there’s you know the national suicide hotline I know it gets a lot of you know promotion now as it should as soon as we see suicides you know increase you know there are people out there that want to help you know there are people out there that want you know to be available to support people when they’re going through these struggles I think so a lot of times when we talk about depression and possibly diagnosing it we talked about more the change from your norm right it’s not so much what behaviors do you have if you sleep 12 hours a day but you’ve always slept 12 hours a day that might be your norm that might be okay right it’s more about hey do you remember a time when you felt different and what’s different today from then do you eat more or less do you sleep more or less like what are these changes in your behavior a lot of time excuse me it could be accompanied with just a different feeling about your life right again it might be sadness or it might be no feeling it might be losing joy in things that used to bring you joy you might not find any more joy in you know activities used to love you used to love golfing and now you just don’t find any joy in it that can definitely be a good sign of depression not a good sign but a positive sign of it and I think one of the things that’s the biggest struggle and the scariest part of depression is that it doesn’t just feel like now like depression almost bands time it makes you feel like your past and your future also we’re terrible right it’s always been terrible in the past and it will never get better in the future it’s not just a present feeling disorder and I think that’s one of the scariest parts because you do feel stuck and like it’ll never get better it’s a hopeless disorder yeah and you know as a person trying to support someone going through that I think sometimes you know just talking to them in a in a supportive way trying to tell them that you know you love them that you care about them that they can get through this that you’re there to help them get through it that it’s okay that they feel that way instead of trying like you know in my case I try not to you know a little or punish or make you feel like oh like there’s something wrong with her you know what I mean like okay you know I’m here I can help you you know we can get through this together you know I’m sorry that you feel this way like acknowledging those feelings like yeah I understand you feel this way and that’s it’s okay that you feel this way but what do we you know let’s let’s try to get through it gather yeah I think you touched on a couple of really important pieces of that definitely it’s really important for anything we feel even though we like to judge them as good or bad or indifferent to recognize what we’re feeling or what somebody close to us is feeling and allow that feeling to just be right like there’s there’s no wrong feeling right there can be some feelings that maybe aren’t based in reality but that doesn’t make them wrong like we still feel them very real whether they’re true or not and so I think it’s really important to let people know that it’s okay or let ourselves now it’s just okay to feel whatever we are feeling and another critical point that I think you said was sitting with them is always let people know they’re not alone right because that’s what isolation is is deadly for us man we are a communal species and when we’re not feeling at our best isolation is is dangerous and deadly for us and it’s good to know that we’re not alone in dealing with anything like that somebody’s there it might not fix the problem right that second it might not it’ll be comforting if nothing else right there does not be alone which for me as the supporter of someone in depression at times like that is a that is a hard thing like am I like most of the time like I just do this and that’s the solution to the problem and then I do that and that’s the solution to the problem and so you know it’s like you know with my wife I might want to go in that one time and be like hey you know it’s okay I’m here for you what do you need you know we can get through this you know and then when it goes into day two or day three and like what I did what I was supposed to do why are you not supposed to be better now and you know I’m buying in so my wife doesn’t deal with depression but it is easy for me to judge and berate people that are close to me when they’re not living up to what I hope they do right whether that’s a mental health issue they’re struggling with or not it doesn’t even matter it’s just the fact that like it’s so hard to let other people be human when we have expectations of them doing more and really for me I think I personally I look back at it and say it has just a lot to do with the fact that when somebody else doesn’t live up to the expectations I have for them I feel like I pay the penalty for it because they’re close to my life and it involves more work for me or more pain for me in some way and so I just take it personal every time and really I need to like get over that somehow I’m not look at it that way we are coming up on time to take a break for add any real quick stuff you want to add for that no but if you notice to say if you have a loved one or a family member that you think is depressed just try to talk to him about it hey how you feeling what’s going on are you okay you know is there something I can do for you and try to keep that emotional communication open as best you can all right excellent advice we’ll take a break for that and we’ll be right back this episode has been brought to you by voices of Hope Inc a non-profit grassroots recovery organization located in Maryland voices a hope is a community-based organization that fights to protect the rights of people who struggle with substance use please support them by attending their fifth annual gratitude banquet on February the 15th tickets are $60 a person and sponsorships are available please visit them on the web at www.mayfirm.com verse Asian about depression because really that could tie into everything we ever talk about as long as I’m involved I know that but you had mentioned some you know we talked about some things you can do looking up the the phq-9 inventory for depression to kind of find out more about it and we talked about being with someone if you find that they’re close to you and they might be struggling with something along these lines and any mental health issue too we just happen to be talking about depression today but you have another I think good suggestion for maybe someone who who does struggle with depression from time to time and knows that how to kind of monitor themselves a little bit with help yeah if you know you have history of a mental health issue or you’re in a relationship with somebody that you know has a history of a mental health issue it’s always a good idea to kind of lay out what the warning signs are of when you need to reach out for professional health to have like a plan of like hey this this and this happens we really need to go to a psychiatrist or a medical doctor and seek you know help outside of our normal just trying to get through it together I think that plan is critical in helping with mental illness yeah and I think one of the crucial parts you mentioned here is including other people in this plan and and that’s so critical for this kind of thing because with mental health issues we only have our own input and that’s twisted that’s kind of a problem right it’s the problem in our minds that our thinking is not going the way it’s supposed to maybe or whatever it’s not going the way it normally does for us and like in our case I know it’s you know with my wife it’s myself her her sponsor you know people that she’s closest with whether it’s family members a sponsor if you’re in recovery or close friends if you’re in recovery or a spouse or you know just somebody that you’re really close to being open about those things yeah for me included my wife definitely knows all about my you know mental health history and and what signs and symptoms might show themselves or what kind of things might come out of my mouth when things aren’t going so well and I think my sponsor is slowly learning a little bit more about that and I have a good friend from the area I used to live in that that’s pretty weird I try to keep up to date on where my mental health status is at any point in time because I don’t trust my own opinion you know I know when things go south my opinion is bad right and I can’t see that so a lot of times when I you know lead a meeting or do a share at a meeting depend on what area you’re from and what you call that I tend to point out that I don’t think I started using because I was skipping down the street with a you know pacman lunchbox and life was great I believe there was some issues going on before I started using am i using you know I know early on when people said hey you’re just self-medicating that sounded like a good [ _ ] exchange right so I lied sort of that I’m like hell yeah I self-medicated I got problems but I really look at it and I do believe that’s part of my using you know whether that was drugs or alcohol I was trying to cover up or patch over the way I felt and those things seem to help to some extent and so I look at that down I say well maybe depression was there first right maybe that existed before the drugs before the alcohol and those were parts of the reasons that I started to use I know my father you know talking about you know genetics my father struggled with some really nasty depression at times in his life so it wouldn’t be a far stretch that I would feel some similar things if that’s genetic though we’ve of course you know from our conversation earlier we really don’t know exactly but I look at that and I say like so we get clean we get sober we start to deal with somebody’s effects again maybe we have that pink cloud time where it feels good for a minute maybe we don’t some other people go through the part of their brain that doesn’t produce the endorphins or the dopamine because they’ve been you know falsely producing it for so long so they don’t have any natural production of it going on so they’re in a funk these things can haunt us in recovery is the point I’m trying to get to here slowly like and it doesn’t always have to be right away like maybe we do notice some depression as soon as we get clean or sober but maybe later on that can come back to haunt us too and I bring that up because this week there was a guy who just celebrated 18 years earlier this year and and he he used again in September and then I just got word Thursday that he’s no longer with us right and look this isn’t a guy that I was best friends with by any means we never like called each other on a daily basis or really hung out like that but there are a couple of times throughout our recoveries where we had a mutual close friend for whatever reason I don’t that’s always a weird concept to me right like me and you can have a best friend at different points in time and yet me and you don’t ever really click like that I don’t know how that works but I do remember sharing some some evenings with this guy right like we went out as groups of three or four and we had some meals together and we shared some laughs and he always came across as a really genuine guy right I did like that about him I never disliked him I just never had a real close connection but he did he was always really genuine and down to earth and so like what happened right 18 [ _ ] years Billy like that’s a long time and it scares the [ _ ] out of me it’s a good reminder I think for like I don’t ever have this under control but does does depression come back and isolation and you don’t have that plan in place or the people around to help you navigate it like what kind of things do that to us that’s scary well I and I don’t know specifically about depression but one of the things I’ve learned about like it’s getting a little sciency but how the brain works and stuff is that when you’re going through like emotional pain it triggers the same centers in your brain as physical pain so if you were looking at brain imaging when you’re going through an emotional issue when you say oh I’m emotionally hurt you know that’s the same things in your brain as being physically hurt as breaking your arm so you you know you would think you treat those things in the same way with the same drugs like when I am physically hurt the doctors give me you know payments yeah amen narcotics you know so when I’m emotionally hurt if the emotional pain is great enough I want to take narcotics you know and the the drive to alleviate that pain you know becomes great enough you know I saw a friend that had 17 years in recovery who I was very close to and went through a divorce and he ended up relapsing and he didn’t die but you know it’s like here was someone who I had admired and looked up to and then they were you know in jail for the second or third time with duis and you just think how that happened like um I don’t know I I often say like it’s one bad decision um but I don’t know if it really is just one famiiy maybe it is maybe it isn’t you know but those are the reasons for me personally why I have always had a healthy fear of drifting too far away from my recovery supports from things like going to meetings and keeping in touch with people in recovery and and those things because I’ve also witnessed you know people get into emotionally difficult spots and not have the tools to deal with it and decide that using is a good option I mean similar to what you said I don’t think that healthy people use a lot of times not like addicts anyway um I think for most of us that drive to use at least in that addictive way is to alleviate pain we don’t like the way we’re feeling and you know we can instantly fix that yeah with the drinker drug and and you know if we don’t have tools to deal with those emotions man they’ll get us it’s really tough and you mentioned the guy was 17 years this is it like a pissing contest in any way shape or form just reminded me of another guy and him excuse me him and his wife both had 30 years they were from the the Baltimore area and I don’t think he ever actually used I think he’s like 32 or 33 he didn’t use I don’t believe but he ended up doing some really like shame inducing behaviors in recovery and due to some of those behaviors him and his wife had a split and she went through a painful time and she with her 30-plus years used right and I don’t think ever could get another day and that’s just incredible to me 30 30 years and look I’ve been conditioned I’ve seen so many new people walk in the door come to a meeting come to meetings for a week among a year whatever it may be and then they’re no longer with us for whatever reason maybe they finished their probation and they don’t need anything anymore or whatever it is many guys that I’ve sponsored for different periods of time whatever it is I’ve seen that so many times that I’m pretty cold to it I don’t know what the word would really be I just it doesn’t affect me the same way it did the first couple times right but the people with a lot of time and I’ve seen a lot of double-digit time go out 10 15 14 whatever it’s like wow and that’s really intense and it’s it’s not surprising in the sense that I get it like I know that’s what we can we’re capable of when we don’t practice this on a daily basis but it’s still terrifying in the sense that I don’t expect those people high anymore right I expect that they’ve got 14 years of a different pattern of behavior and that’s not gonna happen and one of the things when I posted it on Twitter this week about the guy and I wasn’t you know trying to claim to be his best friend or anything like that but just how I opening it is once again that like I can’t stay clean on yesterday’s shower if I took a shower yesterday and I go out and play in the [ _ ] mud today I’m gonna be dirty right same with my recovery I can’t go to a meeting yesterday and then go out and forget the things I need to do for my spiritual condition today and think I’m gonna be alright like eventually I will not be alright yeah we I think is a society or whatever seem to have this belief that there is what I would call a normal or a regular within people and it goes a little bit back to what we were talking about in the beginning with depression and I think it’s the same with addiction like I think people are unique in in everybody’s a little bit different you know addicts I mean me personally I’ll just be honest and say I think there are levels to addiction I think there are people that are way you know harder addicts than other addicts and I don’t say it as a are bad I mean as some kind of judgment thing but what I mean is the amount of pain and suffering and emotional instability in the person that drives them to use is more intense for whatever reason whether it’s their brain is you know chemically different or like you talked about with the dopamine receptors or whatever like there isn’t just a everybody’s brain does this so that we get enough dopamine no there isn’t a regular everyone is different if you studied a hundred people you’d get you know varying levels even within quote-unquote normal people there would be these varying levels of how much dopamine they need and how much they produce and you know right all those things so there isn’t just this normal level that if we do these things we’re gonna be at this normal level you know yeah and it’s the same with recovery like our emotional development our emotional growth the amount of emotional stability that we have is very different you know the issues that I suffered with my abuse and and the things that drove me to use are completely different than your experience and what drove you to use so why would we think that if we just do the exact same thing we should be in the exact same place with the exact amount of time clean like it just doesn’t work that way right yeah you bring up some interesting stuff I think our program likes to say some are sicker than others and and it’s a growing belief in the mental health field that everything is on some sort of spectrum of you know low to high or greater to lesser or whatever is there’s no two people are still alike I think it used to be shared and I haven’t heard it for quite a while it used to be shared more if you try to work my program it’ll get you high or something like that we used to say that all the time right and basically trying to say that we each need to do what we each need to do differently to ensure that we’re okay i some people right now my life is one meeting a week for me it’s my home group it’s not ideal I don’t particularly find it to be great I like hitting more than one a week but I have a lot of other responsibilities and commitments in my life and I’m not trying to make excuses for that I have five kids I have school I am working a couple nights at a week right now I can only give so much now that doesn’t mean I don’t do anything the other six days of the week for my recovery I do all [ _ ] up for my recovery right probably still not as much as I’d like to do it any given point in time but I do a lot of things but if other people went to meetings one day a week that might not work for their life they might be high already right whereas if I tried to go to meeting seven days a week which is perfect for some people right now I would probably feel the shame of not taking care of my home life and I wouldn’t get elected right so no two programs can be alike I do think the interesting piece that we I think we’re trying to go to a little bit with this is so this guy had 18 years right and he was a slightly strange character right he was I’m not gonna beat around the bush too much with that and that doesn’t mean he was bad at all he was very unique right so what I found in my recovery I I got here I got together with the people who had similar amounts of clean time as me when I first got here and we were like we were buddies we were like a group right we were a clique it you might want to call it a recovery Network right and then slowly but surely people fall off whether that’s people using whether that’s people deciding they can just do Church whether that’s people deciding it they’re all right now and they can drink for the rest of their lives and that works for some people I’m not trying to knock it right I don’t they don’t come back and tell me about it usually but I have seen a couple instances where people seem to be okay with that for whatever reason people start falling off so if I started off with this group of eight when I got here like honestly if I really look at the people that are still around there’s like one in my life and what I found is hard for me is when I had four years clean and realized I had one person in my [ _ ] network how do I make new friends it’s hard to find other people that are in similar life situations and that’s been a struggle for me right so slowly but surely I keep attempting and keep adding people of varying degrees of closeness right like everybody doesn’t become my best friend unfortunately I wish they did but some people okay hey I see you once a month some people I see you once every six months some people I might call you twice a week who the [ _ ] knows but okay this guy who might be a little more unique who had 18 years like maybe his people fell off over time and how do you avoid isolation it’s really hard to make new friends once you’ve been here a while it’s tough yeah that is tough and so the guy that I was close with was my he was my best friend we spent years of time together hanging out together on a regular basis and I’m not a person that typically has you know ten really close friends or this huge network of people for a couple reasons one I don’t like big groups of people I don’t like I don’t say I don’t like a lot of people I don’t mean it that way I like people in general I’m very social and I get along with people but I don’t like big groups and I don’t like to be around a bunch of people at the same time and you know like to me it gets almost socially awkward like if ten people go out to dinner it gets just weird you know just that’s just me there are only small groups two or three people where we sit around we can look at each other interact yeah this is that’s the way that I interact with people so I’ve always really had limited what I would consider close relationships and it has been painful when they’ve ended you know for some times you know most of the times benediction has separated me from those people they’ve decided to use I think the way that we stay connected is by being consistent like I’ve been consistent in my home group that you know I’m there every week I know the people that are there I’ve built relationships with some of them I am lucky enough to say that I have at least two guys in my home group that I have known for over 17 years you know that that’s me there’s at home group yeah and to say that I have those two people plus my wife plus the guy that’s currently my sponsor are four people that I have in my life that have been in my life fairly close my entire recovery right which is rare which two you know I went to the anniversary one of those people the other day and he shared about that he said it’s incredibly rare that I have these relationships with these people and it made me look at that and think wow that is crazy because I have sponsored a couple guys that I’ve gotten really close with you know in a couple years and then like you say they use or move on or you know one case you know a death two cases of death you know and then those relationships are gone and you know it’s it’s tough sometimes to rebuild I think I have been through times where I haven’t had those relationships where it’s really just been me and my wife and I’ve suffered as a result so self honesty is critical in just and getting outside of my comfort zone you know what I mean no and what’s uncomfortable getting out being social trying to hit some more meetings you know yeah it’s it’s just it becomes a necessity it’s like going to meetings like oh I don’t necessarily want to go out and build these relationships but it is critical to my spiritual and mental health absolutely looking at it that way treating it like that right right so I had a I had a guy that came in with we were really close and for whatever reason for like five years him and I just didn’t talk there was some kind of animosity between us and and it kept us from being close to each other and those five years were a struggle for me to realize hey you have like pretty much zero [ _ ] clothes Network right and how do you go about getting a network and while you go out and you put yourself in awkward ass situations that seem like dates right and try to date other dudes and recovery and and get to know them and get vulnerable with them and tell them your deepest [ _ ] darkest secrets and try to relate to them and it was hard and beyond the fact that it was just hard even walking through it and doing it I still am not sure that I really forged any really close behind store in that time and I was trying so hard and I just struggling to feel that connection with people right there was a couple here and there like okay you we talked for a few months it ended up not really being a close relationship but we tried and it kept me going but it’s like damn what the [ _ ] do you do when you’re just struggling to relate to people right and so thankfully that that one individual did come back into my life we’re still close friends today and that is a longtime friendship that I I depend on and count on as part of my network there’s a couple other people uh not super super closer there is one guy sponsored me and him have gotten pretty close in a short amount of time and over the past few years we’ve really just gotten to like each other I can’t tell you why me and him click so well I have no [ _ ] clue what makes me and him click and then me and you know maybe other guys that I sponsor we have a different relationship than him and I do which is there’s nothing wrong with it like each guy I sponsor is a little different in my relationship but I don’t know the the right ingredients to make relationships work or feel natural or normal and and okay so I moved up here away from my home of you know my whole life and especially my whole recovery and trying to form new friendships up here has been a strange endeavor and I’m thankful to call you one of them right like we met in for whatever reason we both put in the effort to go to some meetings together and hang out and and it’s it’s blossomed it’s worked well I love it and I’m but I can’t say why this did and all the other times I’ve tried haven’t I don’t have that reason hmm yeah I don’t know either I mean that’s interesting I I think you know it’s like flavors ice cream you just have once you like and you just have one you don’t we bar those conversations with people where you start to have a conversation I think while we are very different we really don’t think a lot alike at all and there are other people that you talk to you know that you just hit it off I mean I sponsored one of the guys that passed away that was I was really close to and he died clean but it was a guy that I sponsored and for years I didn’t sponsor him but I cuz like why didn’t he [ _ ] ask me to sponsor him like we got along so well we were really good friends and we just we we thought a lot alike and we viewed the world a lot alike and on things that we didn’t we just you know I don’t know it was just it was a natural chemistry I guess just like it would be with a woman the same kind of thing him and I just really got along well and you know it was he’s one of the few people that when he passed like that hurt a lot you know we were really really Clegg I disliked we connected in a really deep and meaningful way and I still think about him a lot you know more so than a lot of other people that I’ve known in recovery that have passed and I don’t know why that is none of it matters he is just interesting like we just be grateful for the opportunities but one thing’s for sure if we close ourselves up at home and don’t get out and try to meet people we won’t find people that we connect with you know there’s definitely ways we can set ourselves you know back and not not put ourselves in position for those people to be in our lives right now and I and I do the same thing I was still trying like I go to my home group and I I haven’t found was I haven’t found any good relationships that’s definitely not true like I’ve definitely formed some relationships with some of the guys in my home group and just some people that attend that meeting in general and they’re cool I just don’t get that deeper like hey let’s go do something on Wednesday kind of feeling from them or me right like it’s not like they’re reaching out or I’m reaching out for to do more and I I don’t know why that is I mean I just keep showing up and hoping a part of me wonders maybe there’s not maybe I don’t have room for 20 good friends maybe if I met 18 other people that you know are in the same I feel the same about as I do you or the guy I sponsor or my buddy in Baltimore like maybe if I met 18 others I would just have this life that was way too [ _ ] cool and I stressed about right maybe I only have space for so much of that I don’t know it’s a really mmm interesting idea to think about I don’t have the answers about it I do just keep putting myself out there and try and write and to keep trying to be vulnerable I keep trying to be I think that’s where I relate to people most I used to say I hate surfacy conversations it’s not so much that I hate the surfacey conversations I just like to be able to take it to somewhere where it’s like I feel more authentic and real about it you mentioned you don’t dislike a lot of people I don’t just like a lot of people but I do dislike a lot of people’s opinions about [ _ ] I do notice that about myself I’m pretty and I love hearing like that for me is I could sit in a room and just watch people talk and inner just the way people do things and the differences of people fascinate me but you said something you know I was thinking of the thing with relationships is that they take work to maintain you and like I think now like my so my sponsor is someone that I’ve known for a really long time actually we were locked up in jail together when we were both still using em I knew him from some mutual friends then we were in jail together and you know whatever and so when I came into recovery he was here had a couple months clean he wasn’t my sponsor for a long time but any case um throughout this process of recovery we’ve been a lot closer at times than we are right now for different reasons mm um one he kind of moved he’s a little further away now some things in his life have changed you know he’s not as available I don’t see him as much so our relationship isn’t what it was two or three or five years ago you know it’s just different and I don’t know that he’s changed a whole lot or I’ve changed a whole lot but our between the two of us our commitment to that relationship has waned mm-hmm for whatever like say so and I look at it as start and make judgments on him or myself it was just it’s a consequence of life he has things going on he has you know a relationship and kids and a house and a business and I have a relationship and kids and work and things I’m doing and that’s just part of life you know and and adjusting to that relationship you know accepting it for what it is because we’re not willing to put the work into it it’s just the honest you know the honest thing there and I’ve had same with guys I’ve sponsored you know I’ve sponsored guys where at times they’ve been all into the work and we’ve been really close and we I felt really close with them and then you know whatever they get busy with life and things happen in that relationship drifts apart and I try to not place judgments on that like that’s just life you know I remember growing up as a kid you know when we moved from the city out here to Cecil County girl in Baltimore City moved out here to Cecil County when I was like 12 my whole world changed you know changing in relationships is part of life I think it’s rare that people maintain relationships over 15 20 30 years I don’t think that’s all that normal maybe I’m wrong but your parents have relationships with friends that they’ve known for 30 years other than family members so I yeah actually I think my I do have a weirdo mom who still kind of has some friends so it was more when my father was alive they had a group of couples friends that they’ve known since they were younger and I think that was their big thing was to get together listen to older music reminisce about when they were younger since he’s passed I don’t know that my mother is still as close to them kind of in a similar manner to what you’re talking about relationships do take work right and you brought up a lot of points to me I have some other individuals we had kind of a pretty tight little men’s group in my old sponsorship family my sponsor my grand sponsor a couple other guys that weren’t really in that network but we used to go out once a week every Saturday we would travel to a meeting right somewhere within half an hour to an hour and 50 minutes away from us we’d all meet up we’d get a coffee and we’d hit the road we’d hit a meeting we’d get something to eat and during that time period where I saw those guys once a week we were really close right and I wouldn’t say we’re we’re necessarily not close now like if I saw them I these are guys I could still tell anything about my life no matter how shameful or awkward it felt right so we still have that level of comfortability and and closeness in that aspect we just don’t talk on as much of a regular basis right when you see somebody face-to-face for like four hours five hours once a week you have a slight more familiarity than you do when you text a couple times a week right and then have the occasional phone call and that’s kind of where I’m at with that group of guys I love them right and I know they love me it’s just not we don’t have the exposure to each other and they kind of when you were talking about that I thought about those guys and how how weird relationships are like that do they take work yes is it a judgment that we’re not all putting that work in every week like could we make two phone calls a week with each other with any of those dudes sure we could none of us do right and it brings me back to this concept I heard early on in recovery that like people are part of our lives for a reason a season or a lifetime right and we don’t really always know why or get to choose which one of those it is there’s people who come into your life just for a simple purpose to teach you one lesson in life say or maybe you teach that in one lesson and then there’s people that come in for a certain time period whether that be literally like three months seasons or maybe a few years of your life and then there’s people that you will have for the rest of your life that are always going to be there and I think that’s an interesting concept just I think it helps to if I can accept that into the not judging part you were getting at right it’s not that I love these guys in Baltimore any less it’s not that they feel any less care for me it’s just that maybe it’s not our season right now maybe we’ll have another season maybe we won’t maybe we’ll just remain you know people who really affecting care for each other from a slight distance maybe I moved back to Baltimore who the [ _ ] knows right but it just to not judge it as oh I’m not putting in the work they’re not putting in the work none of us care enough it’s not really that it’s just there’s only so much space and we gotta accept almost in a third step way like what’s sent our way right I need to be the the leaf that I drop in the stream and just kind of go where I’m taken instead of fighting against it yeah and that’s part of you know I like the leaf analogy because life is ever-changing you know people come in and out of our lives for all kinds of reasons you know some good some bad you know some our own choices some not our choices and you know just being open to receive love and build relationships when they become available you know when when the opportunity comes up I mean the case where we met each other I had just we had just come back from being off the road traveling for a long time during that period I had been really absent of relationships in my life and I had struggled in essence I had room for a friend I had a friendship void you know but I had energy and and time and stuff to dedicate to that at the time because I didn’t have any other relationships with people that I was hanging out with or going to meetings with or whatever and you know just being open and receptive to that and what happens happens and that’s one of the things I appreciate it because I do find that sometimes I can and I don’t even know if it’s true or not but I will just get the feeling that I’m putting more into something than other people are and that turns me off right I want to feel cared and concerned for and like people are interested in spending time with me and when I did reach out to you it was weird you were just moving back here I was just kind of moving up here from a different area and really didn’t have a whole lot of you know contacts or relationships and what I felt like when I reached out you showed interest right it was like hey you wanna you know go to a meeting this Thursday you really yeah yeah let’s do that right now it was like that’s cool why I really felt that so it the more I learn about you that’s the kind of stuff I like that you are often present and aware of what’s going on in that kind of sense right like you were just open to the fact that hey this is coming towards me it’s what life is presenting to me right it’s like it’s like if somebody put a hamburger in front of me and I you know smacked it off the [ _ ] table and said where’s my spaghetti right like hey I’m hungry uh why don’t I take the cheeseburger not if I don’t eat meat but I’m just saying like why don’t I take what’s given to me and see what happens with that maybe there’s a purpose for it and I I like that when I can I like when I can live that way so seeing it in you like inspires me to try to be more in tune with that okay part of that was the empathy so when we were traveling around the country I was we would go to different areas and I would pop into meetings and you know it’s it’s weird being someone that has you know a lot of years clean and then going into new meetings and introducing yourself as new but then kind of that ego thing of wanting to be like but I’m not the [ _ ] new new guy right it’s me here worked all the steps and I sponsor them all this you know and how do you do that without coming off you know like a douchebag and you know this is just so weird and I’m socially awkward with new situations where I know no one anyway and similar like I felt like there were times and opportunities where I would kind of reach out to people which in those moments seemed like monumental efforts for me to try to reach out whether it was to hang out outside of the meeting where I [ _ ] knew nobody and really smoke you know and still just standing out there like hey how’s it going right and then nobody talks to you any you know after that and you stay in there for 10 minutes and then turn around and get back in your car to have those moments and to recognize how awkward and difficult that was and you know then to recognize that in others and be like yes I know what that feels like and it’s not good and so I wouldn’t do what I can so that other people don’t have to feel that way like that’s that principle of empathy that I learned in recovery that I can now take into deeper areas of my life you know I can empathize with the addict who’s out there on the street making bad decisions you know so I can empathize in these other areas of my life as well it’s so funny to me I’m sitting here and I’m listening to you but while you’re talking I’m also thinking that like I think we think so much alike right I just have this belief for whatever reason that we think so much like and I was thinking of how we actually met I happen to look on the local recovery app and your home group is not far from where I live it’s pretty close right even though it’s a weird late kind of time on a Thursday I was I got a [ _ ] I’ll check it out one week and I think I actually didn’t do that for a couple weeks anyway even after I said I was going to and then I finally did but just to me the way it all lined up perfectly here you are coming back from being away Here I am moving up here thinking I need you know some friends up here oh I’m gonna go to this meeting that just happens to be close to my house oh that happens to be where your home groups been for like 18 years like I couldn’t have orchestrated this better if I was God right and I just I look at that I’m like man [ _ ] God works in mysterious ways right he just planned all this [ _ ] out to line up so perfectly in order for us to be where we’re at today and I know that your belief is that that’s probably not the case so much that God really doesn’t orchestrate things in that manner and it just it makes me laugh and kind of I don’t know I think it’s hilarious and it’s funny because I was thinking about that was something else we were talking about earlier so it’s similar but from a different perspective so my perspective on that God’s will thing is that by me practicing that principle of empathy I am carrying out God’s will in my life like that is me serving God’s will being that humble servant I’m practicing the principle of commitment by show but you’re hungry when you just moved back to the air and so by practicing those principles I am if you choose to call it God’s will if you like to use those words right you know that is that the application of those principles is living out God’s will for me so when people talk to me about you know God’s will not mind be done you know what that means isn’t these things happen and it’s not what I wanted to happen in my life explaining that well but so many times people say oh I got fired from this job oh it must be God’s will like I don’t think that’s how that works totally do ya and I’m like that’s that’s not how God’s if you’re using the words God’s will that’s not how what God’s will is that me showing up and living spiritual principles to the best of my ability in spite of any situation like that’s it’s a different application of the same idea that’s not allergic so the book I’m actually listening to right now conversations with God which has been recommended to me for [ _ ] ever I like it love Nordy recommended it to me well I will tell you that listening to it this conversation this guy has with God God’s answers are much more in tune with what you’re saying so you might want to read it it will if I agree with you right it doesn’t personally agree with me in that sense but I still find it really intriguing and interesting I think anything I do to try to seek spiritual growth recovery whatever you want to call it the more of that I [ _ ] do man the better of a place I’m in in my head and just this last week noticed in the depression I’ve really put a lot of effort into doing some positive things listening to you know positive audio books more prayer more meditation things that are good for me I’m trying to you know I’ve listened to another audio book radical compassion where they’re talking about this process of rain where I just recognize my feelings and allow them to be and then eventually investigate them and nurture them and things like that and I’m just like full force in the [ _ ] I need help right but in that in that space I really think that I’ve been a much more aware and nicer parent this whole week not perfectly right not perfectly whatsoever still some grumpiness but at least at moments the ability to say hey I’m uh I’m grumpy right now and maybe this isn’t the time for us to have this conversation right and it’s just it’s kind of blowing my mind it’s like [ __ ] man I like me better this way for sure so maybe I need to put this effort in all the damn time yeah why don’t I and it’s interesting so I remember hearing a conversation principle that I’ve learned in recovery is you know that thing where if I don’t feel like I’m getting enough love like let’s say in my marriage relationship I don’t need to do things that try to seek more love I need to give more mom I need to be more loving and more nurturing and more compassionate in my relationship and by doing it I recognize it and then receive it because a lot of times those things are there it’s just not in the way that I want it or not in the way that I’m open to it in that moment right my thing is what if you loved me you would again whatever cook dinner when I get home from work or make sure you know my clothes are all put away you know whatever dumb thing that I think love means in that I’m sorry back when I text you right immediately you know it immediately replied to my least answer my should at some point where is you know a lot of times that love is coming in other ways and as I you know as I begin to become more loving I open myself up to that principle of love and I can receive it better that’s hilarious cuz I definitely miss out on on some of the love that sent my way for my family because I’m like if you love me you would think about me and your decision-making process like no I don’t think about people with my decisions a lot of times I don’t know guy any more to talk about today I think we’ve covered yeah awesome well in that case we will be back again next week don’t forget that if you enjoy the podcast and you think it’s useful and helpful for your life and maybe you know other people that listen to podcast turn them on too and see if they’ll be useful and helpful and uh hopefully we can have a great conversation about this and all you know keep doing this recovery thing together yeah and we hope to have the podcast open if not just people in recovery but maybe family members or other people that struggle with spiritual living mental health so we want to keep our conversations open to those topics as well all right talk to you soon that wraps up this episode please subscribe rate and review this podcast on your preferred platform if you have ideas for topics you’d like us to talk about or just want to add an opinion contact us through Anker email us at recovery sort of at gmail.com or find us on Twitter at recovery sort of