The Relapse is not worth it - 3min Read

There I was five months into a very intense treatment program. I was young, twenty-one, and naive, but in my mind that had been warped by addiction, I was certain I had it all figured out.

The program I had begrudgingly entered was called Odyssey House and was located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The typical length of stay was 9-12 months and they decided when you were finished.

Five months into the community/dormitory style treatment living I was actually doing rather well. Around 40-50 men packed into a large house had amplified the intense nature of early recovery, but in five months time, I had reached the third level of a four-level program.

Then my insides started on a slow boil. This new psychobabble and long drawn conversations about feelings and childhood issues were stirring an unbearable discomfort that bothered the very core of me.

The nature of change and growth was too new and too fast. I was accustomed to a dark cloud that constantly hovered over me as if it was attached with hooks to my very soul.

This new feeling of glimpses of freedom was to foreign, to peculiar, and to unknown to jump in with both feet.

I had done a pretty good job of following rules and sidestepping the deep needed processing of the internal turmoil thus far, but as the levels progressed so did the intensity of therapy. I felt exposed and vulnerable.

It was like looking through a peephole out of my self imposed cage of addiction. Through the minute vision was a land that seemed better, but unfamiliar. I felt I didn’t deserve free, and if by some chance I did, it felt irresponsible.

My internal dialogue went as such, “What if these people find out everything I’ve done? Why am I trusting these people? I’m a fake, I can’t live free from my addiction and the mess I’ve already created.”

The temperature on the slow interval boil was jumping up a few degrees by that moment. My inner world couldn’t handle the heat, and I needed a numbing agent to cope with the wildly uncomfortable circus within.

Then it happened. I walked right out the front door. I didn’t get my stuff, and I didn’t talk to anyone. I had to go. Where I was going I didn’t know, but I had to leave the environment that was inching closer and closer to breaking down my defenses and making real progress in my healing process.

This decision to run, instead of face my fears and recovery, sent me into five more years of destruction. I was high that same night and in less then a month I totaled my car while blackout drunk.

I was a few more uncomfortable conversations and moments away from a little more freedom and a little more healing, but the friction of early recovery was too much to bear. I wasn’t ready at that time.

It would be five more years of destruction, five more years of chaos, five more years of extreme spiritual darkness, and five more years of guilt and shame before I would taste of the purity that life truly has to offer.

The tension is real in early recovery, but the freedom on the other side is more real. Face it now, whatever you’re facing, just face it and get it over with.

You may not make it back to get another attempt. Life is to good to let it pass by without ever truly living.

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Erik Frederickson has been helping people live free from addiction for years. He is a certified Life Coach and Recovery Coach and is passionate about Coaching dedicated people into a healthier and more purposeful life.

Listen to the Recovering Reality Podcast here

Contact Erik here

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5 Tips for Raising Kids in Recovery

My wife and I have two boys under the age of three. They have never seen me arrested, intoxicated, or high, as was usual for 13 yrs of my life. I am forever grateful for this.

These days I know what it is like to be changing one diaper, while I hear a crash in the other room, while the dog is chewing on the table, and my son is squirming around in anti-diaper defiance. It’s called parenting and it’s not always sunshine and smiles, as any parent knows.

Your kids may be older and or may have seen you in some not so pretty moments of addiction, but the fact remains that parenting is hard work every day all day.

Coming up on 10 years of recovery I still haven’t reached a point where everything goes perfectly all day every day. I have a feeling none of us have.

Life happens and we don’t get to control everything. I can say that my life is 1,000% better, and I can say that the problems I used to have are all gone. But I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, that my personal growth and emotional well being are completely up to me. No one else is responsible for my happiness, or sadness.

Here are 5 tips for maintaining healthy recovery in parenting.

1- Your Recovery is priority number 1.

If you are high or drunk you are not only setting yourself up for failure, but you are also setting your kids up for failure. If this means you need to take turns babysitting with another friend in recovery so you can each make meetings, do it. If this means you need to wake up earlier and pray and read, do it. If this means you need to find a friend in recovery to go to the park with so your kids can run around and you can be with someone that understands, do it.

If you are loaded, you cannot be the best parent possible, therefore you cannot show your kids the best way possible. Your kids need a healthy you, so you can show them how to live healthy themselves.

If I can do it, you can do it! Together we can show our kids how to live free the wrong lifestyles we lived for far too long. You got this!

2-Respond, don’t react.

Kids will be kids. Kids need discipline, but it’s important to know the difference between reacting, and responding.

If my 2-year-old throws a toy at my head and it hurts, it’s not the same as a 14-year-old throwing a toy at my head. Yes, a toy tractor to the face hurts, I speak from experience, but I don’t want my son seeing me snap back at him in anger.

He needs to know it’s not ok. I will talk to him firmly, I will take the toy away for a period, and I will make sure he understands what I’m communicating. But I won’t instantly snap back in frustration.

My job is to respond and show him what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior. My words obviously communicate, but my body language, countenance, and tone of voice speak volumes as well.


3- You are not responsible for the choices they make, you are responsible for disciplining them and showing them how to make the right choices.

I am responsible for setting my sons up for success. I am responsible for removing dangerous items and obstacles from their paths and playroom, but I am not sitting in the driver seat of their mind. My actions should constantly show them how to speak, talk, and act but ultimately I am not in control of their decision making power.

I am in charge of using all my time and energy available to show them how to use their free will for their own benefit and the benefit of those around them. My job is to show them the way of character, hard work, love, and integrity. Their job is to follow it.


4- Treat your children like the adult you want them to become, not like the adult you don’t want them to become.

My sons are still learning to talk and understand the world around them, but I’m not treating them in accordance with who they currently are. I’m treating them in accordance with who I want them to become in character and integrity.

My focus is not on who I don’t want them to be, my focus is on who I want them to be. I see the person I desire them to be in character and my words and example become the bricks that pave the path to get them there. You are the trail guide that is walking them into a healthy life.


5- Learn from them.

Obviously, your child can’t teach you how to manage your bank account or write a resume, but the innocence and beauty of a child shine through the way they speak, play, and act. Sure they do need correction after lobbing a toy across the room at their sibling, but the imagination, pure perspective, and simple love that emanates from the heart of a child can and should be modeled.

Children have a breathtakingly glorious way of slowing us down and refreshing our gratitude and joy. If we will take the time to listen share their love, we can learn a thing or two about the simplicity and beauty of life.

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Erik Frederickson has been helping people live free from addiction for years. He is a certified Life Coach and Recovery Coach and is passionate about Coaching dedicated people into a healthier and more purposeful life.

Listen to the Recovering Reality Podcast here

Contact Erik here


4 Tips for Managing Your Emotions in Recovery

Anyone in early recovery will tell you that their feelings can at times be intensely overwhelming.

Years of active addiction can have the mind, body, and spirit feeling like it’s been short-circuited. Depletion of natural serotonin, a draining of the needed daily vitamins that keep us running at optimal levels, and a warped perspective are just a few components of the problem. Good news, these can all be restored but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Add to that the dark spiritual reality that people struggling with addiction have subjected themselves to and it can at times feel like hurricane force winds raging within.

But there is hope! Millions of people, and 1 in 10 Americans, are living free and healed from addiction. A good part of healthy recovery is about learning how to be in charge of our feelings rather then our feelings being in charge of us.

Feelings are meant to be simple indicators of how the internal engine is running. Feelings are wonderful slaves, but terrible masters. Feelings, or emotions, are rarely a perfectly painted picture of reality, but they can be a pinpoint GPS of the area within us that is in need of some love and attention.

“...emotions are absolutely core to basic human functionality. We need them to operate and perform in the world, as well as interact with other people,” says Tor Wager, Director of the cognitive and affective neuroscience laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in an article about human emotions.

I remember being 100% clueless to this reality during my 13 years of active addiction. Even in my first year or so of recovery, it took work and intentionality to go from my emotions governing me to me governing my emotions.

Now almost 10yrs into recovery from a deadly drug and alcohol addiction I’m not perfect, but I’ve been able to live in peace and healthiness in regards to my emotional well being.

Here are 4 simple tips to build your emotional skill set and IQ

1- Get a mentor, sponsor, Coach, therapist, etc...

You need help. If you haven’t been able to fix the problem on your own, chances are you need some feedback and correction from someone that possesses the skill set to get you out of that unhealthy cycle.

It is smart to get connected to someone that lives in a place of healthy recovery and humble yourself and take direction. “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

2- Truthful Journaling

A Harvard study showed that writing lowers stress and anxiety, and even eases the effects of trauma. It’s like popping the top on a can of soda that has been shaken.

Honesty is a BIG key to this. I recall writing for hours sometimes, and still to this day, about how I’m feeling, my part in the situation, and what I can do to bring positive change. This action step is a very healthy tool that when put to use can be as a weapon against stress, anxiety, depression, and the like.

3- Prayer

God is not the author of worry and confusion. Emotions are normal and you will always feel them. We were created to experience emotions. But we were also created to be the boss of our emotions, not our emotions being the boss of us.

Ask for help! Many studies have been done and it is proven that prayer lowers blood pressure, stress, and can bring healing in various ways.

Just like we need a mentor, we need spiritual help even more. General prayer will get general answers, specific prayer will get specific answers. Ask for help and be specific. I’ve always been able to tell the people that spend time praying, it goes hand and hand with being able to be in charge or your feelings.

4- Play the tape all the way through.

When I learned to pause and catch a glimpse of the bigger picture of where that feeling was trying to take me (which came through applying the first three tips) I was able to decide whether I wanted to take that ride or not.

A feeling starts with a thought, how you respond to that thought will determine if that feeling is taking you somewhere productive or unproductive. You are in charge of you, and you have the power to decide whether you will be in charge of you...or if your emotions will be in charge of you.

A balanced and healthy emotional life starts with us and ends with us.

———————

Erik Frederickson has been helping people live free from addiction for years. He is a certified Life Coach and Recovery Coach and is passionate about Coaching dedicated people into a healthier and more purposeful life.

Listen to the Recovering Reality Podcast here

Contact Erik


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The Power of Understanding - 3min Read

The sight of wipers flinging rain off my windshield was a forgotten experience. Rain was so rare in San Diego that it brought a sense of escape from reality with it as I made my way through the gloomy morning prior to sunrise.

As was my routine in the first year of my personal transformation from drugs and alcohol I was on my way to a 7 AM meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. My alarm and the anticipated excitement of the day pulled me out of bed every morning around 5 AM. I would pray and read and get out the door fully expecting to experience and share the goodness that life possessed.

Like clockwork I had made my morning pit stop to pick up coffee and I pulled back on the Pacific Coast Highway business as usual. An upcoming red light started the chain reaction of my foot easing onto the breaks. This approaching pause was about to deposit a life altering substance with it, but if asked to guess what was about to happen to me a million different responses would not have produced an accurate answer.

The steady rain came with a comfortable mood as I came to a stop next to a school bus. I glanced over and my eyes began to scan down the windows of the bus. Instantly my eyes locked on a boy of roughly 10 yrs old.

This boy carried a look of deep pain. It wasn’t a look of, “I’m still trying to wake up.” It was a look of pain that had settled in the core of his being.

It was clear that he was carrying a measure of pain beyond his ability to shoulder. It was then that a life changing spiritual experience opened up to me like a movie scene.

My mind instantly vacated my rain covered car and went through a series of thoughts and images. What if he is terminally sick, what if he hasn’t eaten in 2 days, what if he watches his parents drinking and doing drugs in front of him, what if his sister recently died, and the list went on.

In the middle of this encounter I heard an internal audible voice, “Stop pretending like you know what people are going through and try to understand and love them.” God had clearly granted me a snap shot of an eternal reality and perspective.

This encounter seemed like it was 5 mins while simultaneously seeming like it was 5 seconds. Just as quickly as this supernatural encounter with God began I was back in my car holding my coffee and the light turned green.

Surprisingly this grace full new insight came with the power to carry it out. In the days following I found myself wanting to know the detail of peoples lives more then ever. I would ask questions and listen like I never had before. I wanted to help.

Roughly 9 yrs later I have heard hundreds of stories of how people reached “rock bottom”. Now, the idea of assuming I know why people are the way they are sickens me.

I’ve listened to stories of how horrific upbringings ushered some confused children into 10 yr heroin addictions. I have heard the torment and abuse that some teenagers couldn’t escape and the pain of keeping it a secret. I have been trusted enough by many of those pain filled souls to hear them elaborate on how they concluded that enough drinking and drugs would numb the excruciating emotional and internal pain.

That rainy San Diego morning in my car on the Pacific Coast Highway opened an eternal door and pulled me into a journey of understanding. This God given invitation opened my heart and eyes into seeking to understand while simultaneously hoping to eradicate my limited perspective from the poison of judgement.

I have seen first hand the effectiveness that love and understanding possess. I have watched countless times as love and understanding have destroyed the walls of defense that pain riddled hearts have fortified themselves behind.

Today, I still seek to understand. Love and understanding bring healing while judgement creates separation and isolation.

understanding > judgement - The Gift of Understanding Podcast - 16mins

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Rehabs and Recovery - Then and Now - 4min Read

In 1935 the Federal Government erected the first Drug Treatment Center in Lexington, Kentucky. The Narcotic Farm was purposed to treat and find a cure for addicts, primarily heroin addicts. Many patients came from prison and soon more followed that willingly checked themselves in. “For years the Farm was the world’s foremost center of addiction research,” stated Sam Quinones in his must-read book titled Dreamland.

Sadly the success rate never climbed over 10%. Even today with decades of research most treatment centers don’t rise above a single digit success rate, although their bank accounts soar far higher than single digits. Tens of thousands of dollars for a 30-day stay is the norm. The world of drug and alcohol treatment centers rake in tens of billions on a yearly basis.

Strangely, 1935 also produced a powerful movement of recovery, and right up the road from Lexington, Kentucky. 1935 was the inception of a now international movement called Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob, an Akron Surgeon, started an effective movement under the spiritual guidance of Episcopal Minister Dr. Samuel Shoemaker.

Based upon 12 biblical principles and alcoholics helping alcoholics the early years of AA produced a proven track record of well over 50% of people that took the program serious achieving long-term or even permanent sobriety. Although hard to document, it is safe to say that AA is now producing more of a single digit percentage of success rate in the present days.

I find it no small coincidence that in the same year, and most likely oblivious of each others’ birthing, The Narcotic Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and Alcoholics Anonymous, in Akron, Ohio, (a morning drive from each other) set out to bring a solution to the deadly addiction issues that plagued the land nearly a century ago.

Approaching a century later this same region of our beautiful nation boasts the worst statistics for drug overdose rates in our country’s short history. When it comes to addiction it seems the Midwest has had quicksand-like underworld of the darkness of addiction partnered with hope for freedom from addiction simultaneously growing alongside each other. Sadly the efforts for recovery have yet to turn a corner on a real solution.

But I can tell you another movement is rising. Many drug and alcohol treatment centers are helping, but they are not proven results. AA’s approach of acoholics helping other alcoholics still caught in the “grip of the grape” is helping, but is not bringing the results it once boasted of.

This rising new movement is about YOU and I. Whether you are personally fighting the beast of addiction or not, this movement hinges on the average citizen claiming some responsibility and engaging in the fight. You can help your neighbor. You can pray, with faith, not fear. You can reach out and let the addict and alcoholic know they are loved and we haven’t written them off to suffer in isolation and dreaded darkness.

It’s you and I that hold the power to help our nation turn the corner on this issue. It’s the love and power of God working through all of us as we intentionally involve ourselves in the mess that rests around us. It’s our helping hand and believing heart that is stirring a generation of people into action.

One day at a time. One person at a time. WE can shift the course of history and walk with the addicted soul into freedom, wholeness, and purpose. I can promise you that God wants this more then you and I combined, and we don’t need to ask for His help. We need to get into action knowing that He is waiting for our participation.

Cross the Bridge - 6min video

The Bridge of Life - 3min video

To contact Erik and hear encouraging stories of those struggling with addiction getting free to follow Erik HERE



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