Let’s review some of the support and resources available in the Bryn Athyn/Philadelphia area for those who would like to kick the nicotine habit. Most hospitals have smoking cessation programs. These links will give access to contact information for all hospitals and medical centers in the five county Philadelphia area by county. And, if you waited too long to free yourself from nicotine addiction and now require smoking related medical services, this list will be helpful in locating those.

The Smoke Free Philly website is a good site to find local cessation programs and it has a handy ‘how much you will save’ calculator on its home page. Access it here: http://bit.ly/smokefreephilly

The free Pennsylvania quit line number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW where you can find out information regarding quit smoking programs that are free or low-cost.

Another great option is the 12 Step option. The NicAnon website has a meeting search function you can use to find NicAnon meetings near you. Learn about Nicotine Anonymous here: http://www.nicotine-anonymous.org/

Finally, a six week smoking cessation course “Power to Quit” will begin on Thursday January 6, 2011at 7:00 pm at The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania (formerly known as the “Bucks County Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency”). This course will be conducted at The Council’s Women’s Recovery Community Center, 25 Beulah Road, New Britain, PA 18901 and co-facilitated by yours truly. Topics covered will include Healthy Behaviors, The Truth About Tobacco, Changing Behaviors, Coping With Cravings, Managing Stress, and Planning Ahead. For additional information or to register, please call Kathleen Jones, 215.489.6120, ext 4.

There is a good amount of help available if you are ready to get serious about dealing with this expensive, dirty, and very unhealthy addiction. Quitting your nicotine addiction is a very good way to begin a personal program of health and wellness that will be great for you and a positive influence on those around you.

 

Here’s a list of smoking cessation resources of various types which might prove helpful. It was found on the website of the Children’s Advocacy Project of Philadelphia (http://www.cap4kids.org/philadelphia/resources.html).

 

SMOKING CESSATION RESOURCES

Philadelphia & Surrounding Areas

Smoke-Free Philadelphia www.smokefreephilly.org

English-speaking adults

Location: North and Northeast
Sponsor: Jefferson Health Systems
Phone #: 215-955-0455

Location: Center City, West and Northwest
Sponsor: Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia
Phone #: 215-748-9700

Chinese-speaking adults

Location: South Philadelphia
Sponsor: Chinatown Medical Services
Phone #: (215) 627-8000 (by appt.)

Spanish-speaking adults

Location: City-Wide
Sponsor: Concillio
Phone #: 215-627-3100

Women only & men only classes

Location: City-Wide
Sponsor: Drexel University Community Relations
Phone #: 215-762-8120

Health-center based

Locations: Various locations
Sponsor: Health Federation of Philadelphia
Phone #: (215) 567-8001

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community

Location: Center City/other selected sites
Sponsor: Mazzoni Center
Phone #: 215-563-0652 x 242

People with HIV/AIDS

Location: West/Southwest Philadelphia
Sponsor: Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia
Phone #: 215-748-9700

Telephone Counseling – Pennsylvania Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW

Available in English and Spanish

Freedom from Smoking – American Lung Association www.lungusa.org

Free smoking cessation classes for adults

Can also call 1-800-LUNG-USA

American Respiratory Alliance www.healthylungs.com 1-800-220-1990

Offers adult and teen smoking cessation classes as well as facilitator training

Smoking Cessation Classes – Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Contact: Claire Jones     215-977-8996     cjones@healthfederation.org

Also provides training for providers

Smoking Cessation Classes – Montgomery County www.connect2wellness.com

www.chewfree.com

Tobacco Control Research Branch – National Cancer Institute www.smokefree.org

Tobacco Cessation Guideline http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/default.htm

Delaware Valley Health Resources www.phillyhealthinfo.org

Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania 215-731-6186

TEACH = Tobacco-Free Education & Action Coalition for Health, Youth Tobacco Cessation Program     www.hpcpa.org/tobacco.html

Albert Einstein HealthCare Network 1-800-EINSTEIN or 215-456-6487

Smoking cessation support groups meet every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 4-5 pm

The Foundation for Innovation in Nicotine Dependence www.findhelp.com

Current smoking treatment methods and medications

Surgeon General www.surgeongeneral.gov

Clean Air for Healthy Children 1-800-375-5217

A continuing education program for clinicians who treat/counsel pregnant women, mothers, caregivers of young children and teens who smoke, is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and contractually administered by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Smoking Cessation Program for Expectant Mothers http://expectantmothersguide.com/pregnancy/philadelphia.htm

Delaware’s Smoking Quitline 1-866-409-1858

New Jersey’s Quitline 1-866-657-8677

Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS): How to Quit

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/how2quit.htm

 

Copyright @ 2010 Jeremy K. Finkeldey; All rights reserved

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Posted by: jkfinkeldey | December 28, 2010

Conscious recovery: Nicotine cessation

This article will focus on the work of eliminating all forms of nicotine from our diet while using physical exercise as a form of positive habit replacement therapy. To be sure, ending nicotine usage involves much more than just, say, stopping smoking and starting to exercise. The actual quit day comes only after an extensive educational and psychological preparation process. One of the most effective methods for quitting smoking is described in detail in Allen Carr’s book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” (see article photo).

Personal testimony: The easy way…

A little personal testimony is called for here. This author smoked cigarettes from age 12 to age 52 – that’s 40 years. By the time I quit, I was smoking 2 ½ packs (50 cigarettes) or more per day and had been ingesting nicotine at that rate for at least 15 years. I was convinced during my 40 year relationship with this poison that quitting smoking ranged from extremely difficult to impossible. I tried to quit twice without success. When I finished reading Allen Carr’s book at the end of August in 2008, I put down nicotine for the third and last time without the aid of any ‘nicotine replacement therapies’ (NRTs like nicotine gum, the patch, etc.). Although at the same time I did use varenicline (aka “Chantix”) as directed, my personal perception was that it did nothing and that Allen Carr’s book did everything – but perceptions can be misleading – maybe the Chantix made an imperceptible difference.

In any case, I have been a nicotine-free non-smoker for 2 years, 3 months, and 22 days as of this writing. The book is powerful. I strongly recommend Mr. Carr’s book and any information and strategies you may find on the website. Although I simply read and applied the ideas in the book, there are also money back guarantee clinics available worldwide based on this method.

Smoking facts

Let’s look briefly at some of the facts regarding the harm done by tobacco consumption. It will be a brief review since these facts are fairly well-known. The intention is not to generate fear. Fear of the consequences of tobacco ingestion is famous for being almost totally useless (even counter-productive) when it comes to being motivated to quit. Fear does not work but facts can help. Let’s take a page directly from the US Center for Disease Control website.

  • More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
  • Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars increases the risk of dying from cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, and oral cavity.
  • Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of human cancer. In addition, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk for sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias) and, as a result, the heart pumps little or no blood to the body’s organs.
  • Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • Cigarette smoking causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year.
  • Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following:
  • 443,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
  • 49,400 deaths per year from secondhand smoke exposure

According to the CDC, the following diseases are considered to be smoking and/or second hand smoking related. Cancer of the lips, oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, larynx, trachea, lung, bronchus, cervix uteri, kidney and renal pelvis, bladder, and acute myeloid leukemia. Also, smoking is often involved in heart disease, artherosclerosis, aortic aneurism, pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic airway obstruction (Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

So, there are many good health reasons to quit smoking.

Beginning the process

You have to start somewhere and that ‘somewhere’ is always a thought. Unfortunately, in the case of nicotine addicts, the thought of quitting is usually about as far as anyone ever gets. As soon as the thought of quitting arises, the powerful belief system that IS nicotine addiction arises with it and effectively destroys the healthy quitting thought. It is difficult even to form an attitude against your own smoking. This is the first challenge to surmount. Surmounting it is essentially educational and willingness is the key to all education. Become willing to learn everything you can about the benefits of quitting. This will be followed by the development of willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve freedom from your nicotine addiction.

Whatever it takes: A few tricks

Please understand that, although quitting smoking is not as difficult as our addictive belief system would have us believe, it definitely requires determination, focus, and commitment. You may think you are ready to quit and you may be right about that – but ‘the proof is in the pudding’ as they say. When you are truly ready to quit, you actually do quit. Perhaps in the past when you felt ready, your readiness was not complete (since you didn’t actually quit). So don’t actually quit – yet.

Establish a quit day at least 30 days in the future.Then, holding on to the thought of quitting, begin to educate yourself, and, begin to develop the quality of willingness. Become interested in the truth about smoking and commence to learn – as you continue to smoke. Research, read, and learn as much as possible about methods of quitting. You are preparing to quit. Become willing to do whatever it takes – to employ whatever method will actually work for you. Do not attempt to quit smoking until your established quit day. Premature quit attempts are one of the ways your addictive belief system sabotages your quitting process.

Give yourself the gift of journaling your cigarettes.This can be slightly annoying and yet very helpful. It is a small preparatory restraint you are choosing to place upon your smoking habit. You still get to smoke as much as you desire but now you have to write down a little information every time before you light up. Get a small notebook you can carry in a pocket and a pen to go with it. Sometime between the thought of smoking and the finishing of your cigarette, you will write down the date, the time, something about the situation (e.g. waking up, at work, after eating, after getting fired for smoking on the job too much etc.), and whatever your emotional state was when you had the thought to smoke. This helps you learn the details of your habit, and, to grow tired of them. You will learn what triggers you and gain information to use in developing a strategy to deal with those triggers and the situations in which they manifest. See this journaling as a gift you are giving yourself because it is leading you to a new freedom – freedom from nicotine! Continue to smoke, continue to learn, stick to your journaling, and continue to become willing to quit forever.

Involve your community.Your community is comprised of everyone you know whom you could possibly inform that you are about to quit smoking. For example, your partner, family, friends, acquaintances, and business associates. Tell them you are in the process of quitting smoking, tell them your quit day, and ask them to help by holding you accountable to your quitting goals. Inform them of your quit day well in advance. This is a powerful tool. Your addictive belief system would rather you stay isolated and alone in your process. By using this tool you will make much more ‘quit energy’ available which comes to you through the people in your community who care about you. Tell them, involve them, recruit them, make sure they know you mean business.

Roll your own. Since you are still smoking (in this last month of your nicotine enslavement), you may want to try something that really worked well for me. Get a can of additive-free, organically grown tobacco, a bag of filters, a cigarette rolling machine, and a supply of rolling papers the right size for the machine. Your local tobacco dealer will be more than happy to assist you in your selections. Stop buying packs or cartons at hugely inflated prices and roll your own. By doing this I experienced two immediate benefits. First, it automatically and effortlessly cut my smoking in half. Rolling your own cuts out most of the semi-conscious spontaneous smoking. Rolling supplies also cost less than paying to have them rolled. So, if you cut the cost per cigarette and significantly reduce the actual amount smoked, you are looking at a significant savings right away.

Calculate your financial savings from eliminating nicotine. You don’t need my help with this one – just do it. You may be very pleasantly surprised!

Begin your exercise program. You are getting ready to make a major improvement in your dietary intake – to eliminate nicotine ingestion. Before your quit day, with your doctor’s approval, you can begin a light exercise program. Start small and make it do-able. If you can walk, I highly recommend a daily walk as the seed of your future fitness program. Start with a half mile. Soon you will no longer be too out of shape to exercise! And remember – motion IS exercise. Invest in good walking shoes. Just take an easy walk for starters – smoke while walking if you want to – your quit day is coming!

Many smokers have, as part of their addictive belief system, the idea that if they quit smoking they will gain weight. This is a lie. It is therefore necessary to point out the obvious – quitting smoking does not cause weight gain. Taking in more calories than you expend through exercise causes weight gain. There is no other way to add fat to the body. So exercise – and since we are removing a major toxin from our diet, we might as well consider other aspects of our diet as well. How about going sugar-free and low-fat? My personal experience is that when I quit smoking I lost ten pounds. When I eliminated drinks with sugar and went ‘diet’ I lost another ten pounds. One of the best ways to get rid of a nicotine craving is to drink as much water as you can hold and go for a brisk walk while telling yourself that this craving will pass in 5-10 minutes whether you smoke or not.

NRTs

A little word about ‘nicotine replacement therapies’ or NRTs. These are interventions like nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and nicotine sprays. Let’s face it – these are not ‘replacements’. They are simply different delivery systems for the same addictive, toxic substance. They seem to help you stop smoking but way more often than not (by my own empirical observation) they fail. I know someone who chewed the gum for over two years. Every time she ran out of gum she became as emotionally unstable as if she had run out of cigarettes and had to drop everything to go to the drug store. When she finally went back to smoking she both smoked and used nicotine gum for a while until the cost became prohibitive. As I said, this torture continued at great expense for over two years when the simple fact is that, as one source says,

“Nicotine doesn’t stick around your body for too long. It has a half-life of about 60 minutes, meaning that six hours after a cigarette, only about 0.031 mg of the 1 mg of nicotine you inhaled remains in your body.”

NRTs are a lot like giving an alcoholic alcohol in order to help him quit drinking. What’s wrong with that picture? Quitting nicotine is NOT quitting smoking – it’s quitting nicotine.

Finally, I would like to once again highly recommend Allen Carr’s book, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. It told me the truth about nicotine addiction and liberated me from a horribly debilitating 40 year habit.

REFERENCES:

Carr, A. (2004). The easy way to stop smoking. Revised and updated. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8 [cited onthe CDC website].

Copyright @ 2010 Jeremy K. Finkeldey; All rights reserved.

Posted by: jkfinkeldey | December 28, 2010

Reducing financial stress

~ This article was originally published as “How men can reduce financial stress” by Jeremy K. Finkeldey© in PhillyFit Magazine, January-February 2009 http://www.phillyfit.com/index.htmla ~

Fitness equals a sound mind in a sound body. When we are in good physical condition, the well-being of our mental, emotional, and spiritual life tend to fall into place; however there can be challenges. These challenges, if not responded to effectively, can cause stress.

Stress is an integral part of physical and mental fitness and is not all bad. We get into trouble when our ability to deal with stress becomes less effective. One common form of destructive stress in our modern world is financial stress.

The roots of our financial stress go all the way back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Being the ‘bigger’ and ‘stronger’ of the two genders, the burden of the ‘big kill’ has traditionally fallen to the male. In the primitive world we men were the glorious hunters and our female counterparts were the under-appreciated gatherers. Yet, when our spear missed its mark, it was the female gatherer who came to our rescue. The ladies had gathered a basket of proverbial apples, ground the wild grain for the flour dough, and it was apple dumpling time! A romantic tale, but the males were also quite capable of gathering their own apples.

Of course our ancestors were not acquainted with mortgage payments, education costs fossil fuel and food costs, health-care costs, credit card debt, insurance premiums, child-support payments, legal fees, and taxes. Although it appears that we have risen above the basics of “fight or flight” and “eat or be eaten”, have we really? The basic survival needs are still the same as is the threat of not meeting those basic needs.

A recent poll found that since 2004, 16% more Americans worry that they will not be able to maintain their standard of living. The top three items on the worry list are the increasing costs for

  • energy,
  • food, and
  • healthcare.

An older study shows that worrying about money causes many of us to not perform our jobs as well. Fortunately, 75% of those in that study reported that financial education decreased money worries.

What if you could reduce your financial stress and not let it affect your job simply by changing some habits, perceptions, and basic personal accounting practices? If you could, your job performance might increase along with your income!

Dealing with destructive stress comes from within, but external situations do have an effect. You still have to get up off the couch and go ‘make the kill’. The more effective a man is in dealing with his inner stress-related processes, the more effective he will be in producing positive external financial outcomes. Negative emotions that exceed their intended purpose and become destructive habits get in the way.

Fear lies at the core of all negative emotions. Like we’ve added stock portfolios and legal fees to eat-or-be-eaten, we’ve also added thought processes and emotional responses. According to Eckhart Tolle, “An instinctive response is the body’s direct response to some external situation. An emotion, on the other hand, is the body’s response to a thought.”

We have the most control and influence over our thoughts, not our emotions. We can choose to think a certain way more than we can choose to feel a certain way. If we can restructure our thinking, we can influence the way we feel.

So what can we do when those big, scary financial stressors come along threatening to devour us? On the African plains, I am told, lions hunt gazelles strategically. The gazelles start out nervous because they can smell the lions but they can’t quite find them. The old toothless lions have a role in the hunt. They can no longer chase and kill gazelles, but man can they roar! It’s the trim and fit young lionesses that do most of the killing. And so, you guessed it, the old lions roar loudly on one side of the herd driving the gazelles directly into the jaws of the waiting and deadly hidden lionesses. The moral of the story is “run to the roar”! In other words, turn and face your fears – and live to ‘graze’ another day.

That is not to say that there no actual dangers or financial consequences that crop up in life. For those we will need additional courage. As a great military General (U.S. Grant I believe it was) once said, “Courage is an accurate assessment of the danger and a willingness to go through it.” What we are talking about is a positive mental attitude (PMA) which is essential in all survival situations from wilderness to work-life. To develop PMA we need to face our fears, accurately assess the situation, and develop a willingness to change our behaviors to fit the situation as we have assessed it. One of the prerequisites for PMA is ownership and responsibility. I once heard a man admit that he caused 99% of all his problems and from that admission, he realized that he could be 99% problem-free! He took ownership of his problems and responsibility for dealing with them effectively and never looked back. Today he has everything he needs and nothing that he doesn’t want. He is a rich man on an average income.

To summarize, freedom from financial stress is possible through:

  • Facing your fear,
  • Taking ownership and responsibility for the problem,
  • Accurately assessing your financial situation,
  • Being willing to change your behaviors,
  • Developing a positive mental attitude (PMA), and finally,
  • Trusting the process.

What follows are some solid tips and suggestions to use in reconstructing your financial situation and making it more abundant.

1. Don’t try to wish money problems away.

Deal with your finances, don’t ignore them. Admit to yourself and maybe others that you’re having a tough time. Talking openly about it will help relieve the stress and provide you with the opportunity to exchange ideas with friends, families or co-workers about how you can improve your situation.

2. Create a spending plan.

Make a habit of documenting your spending in a way that’s convenient and easy. This could be keeping a piece of paper or index card in your wallet and writing down every dollar you spend or collecting receipts and writing it down into a notebook or computer file every day. If you think you’re not spending a lot, you may be surprised to see how all of the little things add up. Know where you’re spending your money and decide if it’s where you want your hard earned money to go. If it’s not, create a plan for where you want your money to go and keep tracking expenses to make sure you’re meeting your goals.

3. Make managing your money fun.

Create an Excel spreadsheet where you track your expenses or purchase a money management software program like Quicken. You can use Quicken as your checking/debit account register and even download and categorize credit card expenses. After a few months, you’ll be able to easily track exactly where your money is going and create reports and graphs of how your spending changes over time. Balancing your checking account in Quicken is easy because it does all of the math for you.

4. Don’t buy what you can’t afford.

Although the temptation is great to buy on credit, credit can give you a false sense of having more than you really do. If you don’t have the money right now to buy something, don’t buy it. Save up the money.

5. Buy gifts that you can afford.

If money is tight, don’t buy extravagant gifts. Make a list of who you absolutely need to buy gifts for and set a reasonable amount to spend. Then stick to it. Better yet, give the gift of time. Offer a service, like painting a room, hanging blinds, or cooking a nice meal.

6. Don’t give your money away.

Paying unnecessary fees and interest in your bank or credit card account is giving your money away. Don’t overdraw your checking/debit account. Pay down your credit cards and make it your goal to always pay the balance in full each month. (If you can’t do that, consider eliminating all credit cards or keeping one only for emergencies—real emergencies.) Look carefully at your phone, cell phone, cable and Internet bills. Call to see if there’s a different plan that gives you the same service or more for less money. They won’t offer it to you; you have to ask.

7. Call your creditors.

If you owe more money than you have, don’t be afraid to call your mortgage or credit card companies, tell them you’re having difficulties paying your bills and work out a payment schedule. Most will work with you to set up regular payments that you can afford to help pay down your debt.

8. Get help when you need it.

If managing your money is too overwhelming for you, reach out for help. Find a personal finance advisor or consider talking to a professional counselor for support.

 

Online Resources

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors: www.napfa.org

University of Pennsylvania’s Program for Stress Management: www.pennhealth.com/stress/course/index.html

Pennsylvania Office of Financial Education: www.moneysbestfriend.com

Cell Phone Plan Comparison: www.myrateplan.com

Posted by: jkfinkeldey | December 16, 2010

Conscious recovery: Diet and exercise – it’s a system

According to Webster, an organism is:

“1. any individual animal, plant, bacterium, etc. having various parts or systems that function together as a whole to maintain life and its activities” and “2. anything resembling a living thing in its complexity of structure or functions”. (Neufeldt, 1988)

As members of the animal kingdom, we humans fit this definition. We are systems that function together as a whole to maintain life and its activities. We are holistic organisms. And although we may not always feel very alive or lively (especially as addicts), we nevertheless at least resemble “a living thing in its complexity of structure or functions.”

Systemic correspondence

Our bodies are comprised of twelve systems. Memory of 8th grade anatomy class says these have the names ‘circulatory’, ‘digestive’, ‘endocrine’, ‘immune’, ‘muscular’, ‘respiratory’, ‘skeletal’, ‘nervous’, ‘reproductive’, ‘lymphatic’, ‘urinary/excretory’, and… oh yes, ‘integumentary’. It’s an honest program – I did have to look a couple up (but I am still impressed with myself!). Each system can be fed, starved, poisoned, injured, repaired, and in some cases, partly bypassed by means of our choices or the choices of others. We distinguish ourselves from other holistic organisms by means of our minds and the (admittedly theoretical) existence of our spirits. We all have different theories about our minds and spirits. The theory being propounded here is that, for each physical system, there exists in the human organism a corresponding mental system and a corresponding spiritual system. These systems correspond in detail, that is, in the smallest particulars. Further, the human community as a whole can be seen as a body of systems to which each of its individual members corresponds in detail.

Swedenborg’s ‘correspondence’

This idea of systemic correspondence is not a new one. In fact, it was thoroughly developed in the theological writings of an 18th century Swedish scientist and mystic by the name of Emanuel Swedenborg (for more information on Swedenborg please see Examiner Tima Vlasto’s fine article). For example, Swedenborg wrote:

“…the operations of the organic substances of the body are natural, while those of the mind are spiritual, and … both act together as one by correspondences.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Providence 279:7, emphasis added)

And further,

“…nothing at all comes into being in the natural creation that does not have a correspondence with the spiritual world; it has no cause from which it may be brought into being and from which it may be kept in being. Things existing in the natural world are nothing else than effects; their causes exist in the spiritual world, while the causes behind those causes, which are the ends, exist more internally in heaven. No effect can remain in being unless its cause is present within it constantly; for the instant a cause ceases to exist, so does its effect.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Heavenly Secrets 5711, emphasis added)

So in Swedenborg’s paradigm, not only do all things have a correspondential relationship of some kind, but their causes are all spiritual. Everything we sense with our natural sense organs and comprehend with the natural degree of our mind is an effect – its cause being spiritual. Swedenborg even went so far as to refer to the spiritual world as the ‘Grand Man’ (or in less chauvinistic translations the ‘Grand Human’) because of the correspondences between it and the human form or body.

Call it the ‘holistic oneness’ theory of existence. Any theory is as valid as it is useful. For the purposes of this article, the utility of this theory is derived in part from the fact that the practice of proper diet and exercise can be conducted at whatever level of the human organism you acknowledge exists. Obviously, more could be said, but it will do to simply point out here that the proper diet and exercise of all these systems at all of their levels leads to optimal system function. Poor diet and ineffective exercise leads to system dysfunction and degradation.

Choices often become habitual

Addiction of any kind can be seen as a set of choices that has become habitual. These are always choices related to diet and exercise; either at the physical, mental, or spiritual levels of the human organism. We take nutrients (or poisons) in from our physical, mental, spiritual, and social environments. We do so in either healthy or excessively unhealthy quantities. Using these nutrients as fuel, we then exercise our organisms in healthy ways which strengthen function or in unhealthy ways which create organic dysfunction. Whatever the quality of our choices in this area, if chosen enough, they become habitual.

There are some scientifically unsupported empirical opinions available on how long it takes to form or break a habit. These run anywhere from 9 to 30 days. It is probably closer to the truth to say that everyone is different and it takes however long it takes on a case by case basis (Layton, 2009). What does seem clear is that a habit is much more than just an external behavior. It involves thoughts, feelings, and sometimes entire belief systems (there’s that word again!). The external behavior can be stopped or altered (as needed) but staying stopped involves serious personal change at a deeper level – changes in thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and belief systems. This is where conscious recovery through spiritual practice can be very helpful and often indispensable.

Spiritual practice basics

In a study reportedly to be “published in the March 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research” it was found that the spiritual practice encouraged by the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is an important aid in the maintenance of personal sobriety (Kelly, 2010). The generic basics of this spiritual practice are introspection (self-examination, personal inventory), contemplation (prayer, meditation), and altruistic service (unselfish concern for the welfare of others, helping other alcoholics achieve sobriety). This practice results in a holistic, organic change that activates the Higher Self allowing the individual to grow in connection to a Higher Power and to other people. Personal consciousness is enhanced through these connections. This results in a net spiritual energy gain provided that the practitioner continues in the practice. More self-awareness and more organic change become possible with the acquisition of more spiritual energy and the person can go beyond simply stopping the original addictive behavior pattern.

The individual can begin, and progress in, the practice of exercising choice in the area of diet and exercise. Choices can be made about what is physically consumed and in what quantity, what type of physical exercise is most appropriate, about what kind of media is consumed (books, movies, television, conversation) and how that information can best be put to use. Similarly, choices can be made in regard to spiritual/theological dietary intake, and, in regard to what spiritual practices best fit the particular genius of the individual practitioner.

In short, Higher Self activation through the generic spiritual practice of the 12 Steps allows the consciously recovering person to become physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially fit.

REFERENCES

Kelly, J. F. (2010).  ” The effects of spirituality in Alcoholics Anonymous on alcohol dependence”  Press release 14 December 2010.  eurekalert.org. <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-12/ace-teo120710.php >  14 December 2010.

Layton, J. (2009). “Is it true that if you do anything for three weeks it will become a habit?” 29 July 2009. HowStuffWorks.com. http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/behavior/form-a-habit.htm 14 December 2010.

Neufeldt, V. E. (Ed.). (1988). Webster’s new world dictionary of American English (3rd College ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster.

Swedenborg, E. (1851). Divine providence. W. F. Wunsch (Trans.). Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/dpr/index.htm (Original work published 1764).

Swedenborg, E. (2007). Arcana coelestia. J. F. Potts (Trans.). Etext prepared by T. D. Webber 2007. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/ac/index.htm (Original work published 1749-56).

Posted by: jkfinkeldey | December 16, 2010

12 Step program proliferation: How many are there?

Just for fun, let’s take a quick look at the proliferation of 12 Step-based recovery programs. One internet site lists no less than 54 separate fellowships under 8 general category headings. It all started when Bill Wilson met Dr. Bob Smith on June 10, 1935 and AA was born.

The 8 categories and 54 fellowships are as follows.

Under the ‘alcoholism’ category we see three programs. These are AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), and Al-Anon/Alateen (for friends and family members of alcoholics).

In the ‘addiction’ category we have nine fellowships – NA (Narcotics Anonymous), AAA (All Addictions Anonymous), CA (Cocaine Anonymous), CDA (Chemically Dependent Anonymous), CMA (Crystal Meth Anonymous), MA (Marijuana Anonymous), Co-Anon (for friends and family of addicts), Nar-Anon (for friends and family members of addicts),and NicA (Nicotine Anonymous).

This is followed by the three in the ‘gambling addiction’ category containing GA (Gamblers Anonymous), Gam-Anon/Gam-A-Teen (for friends and families of problem gamblers), and OLGA (On-Line Gamers Anonymous).

Then there are the nine ‘sex and sex addiction’ fellowships comprised of SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous), COSA (Codependents of Sex Addicts), SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous), COSLAA (CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous), SA (Sexaholics Anonymous), S-Anon (spouses and family members of sexaholics), SCA (Sexual Compulsives Anonymous), SWA (Sex Workers Anonymous), and SIS (Sex Industry Survivors).

Another category contains thirteen 12 Step programs that are tailored for ‘psychiatric disorders and behaviors’. These are Dep-Anon (Depressed Anonymous), DDA (Dual Diagnosis Anonymous), DRA (Dual Recovery Anonymous), NAIL (Neurotics Anonymous), OCA (Obsessive Compulsive Anonymous), SA (Schizophrenics Anonymous), SMA (Self-Mutilators Anonymous), SPA (Social Phobics Anonymous), WA (Workaholics Anonymous), CLA (Clutterers Anonymous), DA (Debtors Anonymous), and SA (Spenders Anonymous).

In the ‘eating’ related group there are eight. They are ABA (Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous), CEA (Compulsive Eaters Anonymous), EAA (Eating Addictions Anonymous), EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous), FA (Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous), FAA (Food Addicts Anonymous), GSA (GreySheeters Anonymous), and OA (Overeaters Anonymous).

Then there is the ‘emotional issues’ category which includes seven fellowships. These are Chapter 9 (Couples in Recovery), CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous), EA (Emotions Anonymous), EHA (Emotional Health Anonymous), FA (Families Anonymous), RCA (Recovering Couples Anonymous), and SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous).

Finally, our ‘miscellaneous’ category holds two that can’t fit in anywhere else – A.R.T.S. Anonymous (not sure what this is) and RA (Recoveries Anonymous; the Solution Focused Twelve Step Fellowship).

Well, that was tedious – but it had to be done. Why? – To illustrate the power of the 12 Steps and their versatility in application to a large variety of problems. I wonder if any dysfunctions were omitted? Is there a TAA (Television Addicts Anonymous)? Or a CAR-Anon (Car Addicts Anonymous)? How about a DiabetAnon (Diabetics Anonymous) or a CPA (Couch Potatoes Anonymous)? There ought to be!

Can you think of a few more? Want to start a new one?

Reflection and the purpose of pain

In a previous article, introspection (or the power of the human mind to reflect) was identified as essential in the process of recovering from any addiction. Of course, being completely stuck in the illusion and denial of an addiction greatly hinders the ability of the mind to introspect. As Shakespeare pointed out in his great soliloquy on being or not being – there is ‘the rub’. If we are to ‘take arms’ against ‘this sea of troubles’ we call addiction, we must free the power of reflection in our minds. Sometimes denial is so strong that only a great deal of loss and suffering can break the power of its bonds. We must ‘suffer the slings and arrows’ of our addictive denial before our old way of being can die permitting a new way to be born. We must, as A.A. is famous for saying, hit ‘rock bottom’.

However, as the force of recovery in the greater community develops, ‘rock bottom’ is being re-defined. Bottoms are being raised via knowledge and community-based interventions. As a culture, we are learning to more skillfully apply the ‘pain’ which A.A. literature has identified as the ‘touchstone of all spiritual progress’ (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 93-94). This is especially true in the chemical dependency field of addiction intervention. Other more hidden or subtle forms in the system of human dysfunction can be harder to address than those which produce a greater dose of drama or legal system involvement. For example, it may be much easier to help an alcoholic get sober who was just arrested for driving under the influence than to help, say, an undiagnosed type 2 diabetic with obvious symptoms kick the couch-potato habit.

The importance of community

Once the denial is broken, the conscious recovery process can come into play and the awakened addict can commence a daily program of healthy physical, mental, spiritual, and social exercise. Initially, the focus is on exercising the mental power of reflection in order to stay out of the denial syndrome. This tends to alter the unhealthy aspects of ego-function and activate the Higher Self. As the addict is undergoing this ego-deflation and Higher Self activation, a knowledgeable and caring community is critically important and helpful. The community, which is often a recovery organization meeting or gathering of some kind, models a healthy mental diet and exercise program for the newcomer to emulate. The more experienced members of the community help keep the newcomer on task and in touch with the reality of recovery. Regular participation in such a community is strongly encouraged!

The activated Higher Self is a key component in the process of conscious recovery. If the Higher Self goes back to sleep, the conscious recovery process stalls and addictive relapse could, and often does, occur.

References:

Shakespeare, W. (1603). Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, retrieved Dec 12, 2010 from: http://www.enotes.com/shakespeare-quotes/not-that-question/print

Wilson, Bill. (1986). Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (Original work published 1952)

Posted by: jkfinkeldey | December 16, 2010

Conscious addiction recovery: More than just stopping

The concept

What is meant by “conscious recovery”? Simply defined, conscious recovery is a healthy diet and effective exercise at all levels of human function. It is far more than just stopping an isolated dysfunctional habit pattern. It acknowledges the connection and inter-relatedness of all forms of human dysfunction, and, seeks to undo that dysfunctional system. What we take in from our environment (diet) and how we put it to use (exercise) plays an integral role. Conscious recovery is a holistic approach which advocates physical, mental, spiritual, and social fitness.

In conscious recovery we work to eliminate unnecessary and/or toxic elements from our physical, mental, spiritual, and social dietary intake. We only want to take in healthy “calories” (so to speak) in all these areas. We also work to develop a vigorous physical, mental, spiritual, and social exercise program. Conscious recovery proposes an old but tested formula – a healthy mind in a healthy body – put to use for the betterment of the whole of humanity.

Mental reflection and spiritual practice

The power of the human mind to reflect is essential in the process of consciously recovering from any addiction. This amounts to the ability to mentally rise above our lower (or ‘ego’) nature and to observe that lower self from a higher perspective. We can call this higher perspective our ‘Higher Self’. From it we can observe things which need to be changed to achieve a fully effective human functionality.

This mental power, also known as ‘introspection’ and ‘self-examination’ is a prerequisite in any kind of personal change including addiction recovery. Usually, if we are honest with ourselves, the first thing we observe is the addictive behavior pattern itself in isolation. This is the first step in any recovery process. First we observe it and then we stop it. But there is more – much more. The stopping is easy. The difficult part is staying stopped. Stopping is shallow and superficial but staying stopped requires deep and ongoing personal work and practice.

The core of conscious recovery is spiritual practice. There are three general forms of spiritual practice. These three are:

1) Introspection,

2) Contemplation,

3) Altruistic Service.

A little history

A thorough study of the psychology and philosophy of spirituality will reveal that, historically, these three take many forms. Perhaps the most efficient and effective description of the application of these three spiritual practices to recovery from addiction (specifically alcohol addiction) is contained in the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous. The two seminal works of Alcoholics Anonymous are the titles Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Originally published around the middle of the last century these two works have been enormously influential in the field of addiction treatment and recovery. Their influence is derived from their effectiveness, and, their effectiveness is directly attributable to their utilization of the three spiritual practices identified above.

Future blogposts will delve more deeply into the process of conscious recovery from addiction using the spiritual practices of introspection, contemplation, and altruistic service.

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