How to Celebrate Pride Month While in Recovery
While there are many LGBTQ+ holidays and events throughout the year, the month of June has been designated as Gay Pride Month. Whether it is your first time experiencing Pride Month sober or your tenth, the party atmosphere of Pride Month can be triggering. Keep reading for ways you can safely participate in and celebrate Pride Month while in recovery and stay sober.
How to Celebrate Pride Month While in Recovery: Lean On Your Support System
Even though this year’s Pride Month is a unique one due to COVID-19 Safe At Home restrictions, there are still many instances where you may need to lean on your support system. Addiction can have many different underlying issues – such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety – all of which are treatable, and having a strong support system is essential while in recovery.
Whether it is attending a virtual event, going to a small get-together, or if bars and restaurants are open in your area, it is always a good idea to take the following precautions with your support system:
Designate a sober buddy. Make sure you have a fellow sober companion with you throughout Pride Month and for any events you may be attending. You can work together to make sure the other is doing okay, to talk through triggers, or to simply have a great time with.
Keep attending your meetings. Make sure your regular meetings aren’t falling by the wayside just because it is Pride Month. In fact, you should think about going to a few extra ones just to make sure you’re staying on track.
Check-in with your loved ones. It is important to make sure you check in regularly with your loved ones so that they know you’re doing okay, and so that you can have people to speak with, should the festivities of Pride Month become too overwhelming for you.
If you do end up attending a social distance-friendly Pride Month event this year, it is important that you plan ahead. Some tips for doing this include:
Have an exit strategy ready. Make sure you have a way to excuse yourself from any situation you’re in, such as saying you have another function to attend or that you have an early morning the next day.
Don’t be a designated driver. It might feel safer for your friends to be in a loved one’s car rather than an Uber or taxi due to COVID-19, however, just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you need to be the designated driver. Doing this will force you to stay at the function the entire time and can set you up for a possible relapse.
Bring your own food and drinks. Don’t rely on the host to have sober-friendly food and drinks at the party. If need be, bring a water bottle or a jug of your favorite lemonade.
Host Something You Can Control
If you’re worried about attending events and feeling overwhelmed, host your own! This way, you can be in control of what happens, and you can still participate in all the fun that Pride Month has to offer.
Some ways you can host your own Pride Month event include:
A virtual watch party. There are so many virtual events going on during this year’s Pride Month due to COVID-19. Gather your friends and host a virtual watch party!
Brush up on your cooking skills. Whether it is virtual or a small social distance-friendly in-person gathering, host a cooking party with your friends and make rainbow-inspired treats!
Get your game on. Everyone loves a good game night! Head to the HouseParty app to host an LGBTQ+ inspired virtual game night, or put on your rainbow best and have a Safe At Home-friendly gathering.
LGBTQ+ issues run very deep in the community — they affect many aspects of human life, all the way down to abuse, race, poverty, substance abuse disorder, homicide, suicide, and many more. If you are particularly passionate about any of the issues and are looking for a way to give back, volunteering for Pride Month is the best way to do it.
You can check out some local organizations to volunteer for in Texas by clicking here. https://greatnonprofits.org/state/Texas/category:LGBTQ/sort:review_count/direction:desc
About New Hope
New Hope Ranch is a residential treatment center focusing on prevention, assessment, treatment, and reintegration for people suffering from substance abuse. Services are provided on our beautiful 49-acre ranch just 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas.
New Hope Ranch’s mission has two basic purposes: to improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and growth. The organization has a culture of innovation that thrives on the creation of new services that meet the community’s needs while maintaining effectiveness, excellence, and professionalism. New Hope Ranch values an integrated system of high-quality care focused on best practices, easy access to services, and providing a full range of services in an efficient manner.
Our Treatment Philosophy consists of providing the highest quality services while ensuring that each patient has a personalized treatment plan. New Hope Ranch met the rigorous standards and regulations the Joint Commission requires for a behavioral health provider to achieve accreditation and we strive every day to represent our gold standard joint commission accreditation proudly.
For more information on New Hope Ranch, visit newhoperanch.com
COVID-19 has many people concerned and even panicking over what they believe is an uncertain future. We feel insecure about our place in the world and fearful for the lives of our loved ones. Concern is a natural response to the unknown. Panicking, on the other hand, is more extreme and can demand specialized attention. Our perspectives have shifted and our reaction to our new world can cause intense anxiety. Intense anxiety leads to panic attacks that can immobilize our lives. A shift in perspective is essential to move forward.
It is completely normal to feel anxious about the coronavirus. This isn’t the worst pandemic we’ve experienced, by far, but with the twenty-four-hour news cycle focusing on the worst cases, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed. Those of us who already suffer from anxiety and depression can start to spiral and get lost. We must have a plan to get through that time.
How Can You Tell If You Are Moving From Concern Into Panic-Mode?
The Washington Post describes the response to the coronavirus as a “line dividing a cautious and responsible reaction from a panicked, entirely self-protective and competitive response can be thin and not entirely rational”. Concern involves careful handwashing, social distancing, and sneezing into your elbow. Someone who is panicking may be hoarding, having anxiety attacks, and isolating themselves even from the telephone.
If you, or someone you know, are teetering towards the more severe side of the line, help may be warranted. Panic behaviors are symptoms of an underlying anxiety disorder and you, or your loved one, deserve relief from some of the most immobilizing indicators of the disease:
- restlessness and inability to relax
- excessive worry
- feelings of impending doom
- irrational fears
- avoidance of triggering situations
- panic attacks
Every single person is experiencing this virus in their way, through their own eyes, experiences, and expectations. When we hear that stopping the spread of this disease is up to us and “flattening the curve,” our worries become all-consuming. Our paranoia increases as our routines fluctuate unexpectedly and our depression rises. We find ourselves restless with all of this extra time that we would usually spend doing other things. Concern yourself with what you can control and not what you can’t.
The Circle Of Concern And Of Influence
A circle of concern and influence is a diagram the looks a little like a bullseye. A smaller circle lays inside a larger circle. The smaller circle is called the circle of influence and the larger circle is called the circle of concern. The larger circle includes issues that you may be concerned about but that you cannot control, such as the actions of other people, what’s on the news, and the coronavirus. The smaller circle of influence contains issues that you do have control over, such as your attitude, your actions, and your reactions to the issues in the circle of concern.
The entire premise is that you shouldn’t panic about what you don’t have control over. Save your worries for the things that you can control. The circles can shrink or get bigger based on where our attentions are. If we are too focused on the existential properties of the virus then we don’t have time to think about our behaviors. Some parts of our lives can then be neglected. The goal is to increase the size of the inner circle, the sphere of what we can control, to make our lives and the lives of our loved ones more positive. In turn, we feel more positive and in control of our lives and our futures.
How Can I Stay Calm During A Crisis?
Remember what you can control and what you can’t. There are many ways to alleviate your stress, anxiety, and feelings of panic during the pandemic. Schools are closing, businesses are shut down, and more and more people are being sent home to work. It is hard to deal with the stress that this virus has given us and we need to take measures to lessen the tension. Applied relaxation, meditation, and yoga can all be done at home and there are many videos online that can lead you through the exercises.
- limit your intake of the news and even reevaluate your media sources if you need
- take all necessary precautions but don’t overdo it and don’t make up your own
- try to maintain a steady routine and do your best to stick with it
- don’t isolate yourself completely
- limit your time on computers, cell phones, and social media
- always tell someone when you are feeling anxious and scared
You should be getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining your perspective. Talking to someone helps but becomes more complex while social distancing. Calling someone every day, just to chat and check in with them can make a world of difference. There are professionals ready to help you as well, and they can do so over the phone, from your own home.
I woke alone in a dimly lit bathroom surprised to be alive. As I stood and gazed into the mirror I saw a shadow of myself. Who was this stranger looking back? A criminal. An addict. An addiction. A Junkie. I had even failed to kill myself the night before in this very room – I couldn’t do anything right.
In many ways I do not fit the stereotype of a heroin addict – maybe few do in the beginning. Maybe we become the stereotype as we follow that dark, dead end path. Afterall, I was raised in a upper middle class family. My father is a successful lawyer and my mother a school teacher. My home was not broken, and my parents have been married for over 35 years. I went to the best private schools. I had been a great student with many friends. My childhood was in a lot of ways a fairytale compared to others.
Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.
My parents sent me to rehab each time hoping that this time it would stick and I would stay clean. That I would be “fixed.” But I wasn’t ready. I did not yet truly want to be sober. I could not fathom a fulfilled and sober life. Afterall, I was young and partying was not only expected, but a rite of passage. Maybe it went too far a time or two, but I wasn’t that person. I wasn’t the junkie you see on TV. I was still a good person – I still had friends. I was even a college graduate.
Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.
I still had a roof over my head. I had a job. My parents bailed me out when I really needed them to. Sometimes with some money to keep me afloat. Sometimes they literally bailed me out of jail. I may have continued to occupy this gray mist somewhere between life and death if not having been forced into a reckoning with my life and my choices. Mine took the form of a really bad car accident. I injured an innocent family while driving high on heroin. The pain my actions caused that day went from being an emotional toll to a physical one. I hurt people. Except:
Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.
I was using again the next day. And now I was confronted with the reality that I could not stop even given the dire consequences of my addiction. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that, but I knew that I needed the heroin and that I could not face the day without it. My family decided they had had enough. They were instructed by a counselor to severe ties, and with the help of their support group mustered up the courage to cut me out of their lives and no longer be my enablers. Gone was the financial help. Gone was the roof over my head. If I wanted to be a part of the family – my family – I had to seek out help on my own, and I had to stay clean on my own. However:
Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.
I was angry. I felt abandoned. Through some tortured mental gymnastics I decided that I was the victim. Who were they to abandon their son? So I told them I didn’t need them. I told them to get lost – and in the process convinced myself that this was my decision, not theirs. But as time went on and the gravity and despair of the loneliness of the life I had chosen for myself came into stark focus, I decided that I did not want to use any more. Unfortunately:
Addiction doesn’t care about any of that.
My family was important to me – it was how I was raised. But despite that, I could not stop. I felt like discarded trash and I believed that’s what I was. At some point, little by little, balloon by balloon, day by day, I had compromised and discarded everything about myself until I became that stereotype. I didn’t want this. I tried to quit. I went to rehab and tried to stay sober. Sadly:
Addiction just doesn’t care.
I couldn’t manage it. I couldn’t control this thing that I had unleashed. I couldn’t control my life or my actions, and in the process I no longer was able to recognize myself. More than anything a desire to end this cycle I had fallen into began to take hold. I was committed to ending my life as an addict. I was committed to ending my life.
I decided to intentionally overdose and so I loaded up a giant shot, a grand finale. The final act in a tragic and pathetic play. And so then I stepped off the ledge and into oblivion. Suprisingly:
The next day I woke up.
Back now to that dimly lit bathroom. There I found myself alive against all odds. As I stood there staring into my reflection I hoped to find there some spark of a soul – maybe even just a flicker. I could hardly stand to look at myself. I felt confused that I was not dead. I should have been dead. I felt disappointment, I felt relief. I thought about making another attempt and within that thought something else occurred to me, I thought to myself:
Do I really want to die?
I found the answer in that mirror. I knew that I wanted to live. I dimly understood that the attempt at suicide was evidence that I cared enough not allow myself to become any more of the thing that I had become. Suicide was the only path I believed I had enough control left within myself to carry through. Only somehow I didn’t die. It was an act of desperation but it was not a solution to my problem. I wanted to live, not only to exist in limbo. I wanted my family back. I wanted to be a complete person again. I wanted to be successful. And in that moment of failure, shame and helplessness – I surrendered any illusion that I was in control of anything. I was not in control of my life and not even in control of my death. In that low, dark, sad place I finally hit my rock bottom.
I asked my family for help, and this time with no motive beyond my own recovery. I made the decision I was going to do whatever was asked of me, whatever my family asked, whatever the counselors asked. For now, the decision that I wanted to be somebody was the only one that was important and so I let that be my compass.
There is no stereotype for addiction. Addiction doesn’t care about stereotypes. Death is an equal opportunity destroyer. Despair knows no social class and is blind to wealth and privilege. Whether you come from a good family and had advantages others did not, or whether you come from nothing, and nothing is all you’ve ever known: In that moment at the bottom we are all equal and there is no such thing as advantage. In that moment at the bottom when we choose life we are all broken and alone. Helpless and hopeless.
The way out:
I had believed back then that my family had given me the gift of desperation. Desperation saved my life. It allowed me to make that decision to help myself. However, the desperation was inside me all along. In the end it was I who made the choice. All I had to do was reach out and ask for help. I was ready. I was willing then to do anything, and no matter how difficult the path it couldn’t possibly be more difficult than the one I was on.
The acceptance of our utter lack of control over our addiction is the first real step forward we all take as an addict.
Take back your life:
The next step is to ask for help. We will be that help.
(512) 534 – 9440
Please reach out. It’s never too late, it’s never too hard.