As the late, great Jim Morrison crooned, strange days have found us.  As millions adjust to social life filtered almost exclusively through the cold, unforgiving pixilation of digital screens, the need for genuine connection is more intense than ever.  Below are five ways of coping with isolation that do not involve more screens and may be helpful amidst these strange days that have tracked us down.

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Here’s the good news: I am kinder and gentler after two-plus years of recovery. The bad news? I was pretty awful in the early days of my sobriety: angry at the world and resentful of the pickle I had gotten myself into. On top of that, I’ve written it all down in a daily blog (posted on the worldwide web), so I can’t even pretend I was the ideal sober newbie.

For a host of reasons I got fed up with the whole mess and stopped drinking July 28, 2013. But I was bored, I resented my situation and I developed more than a little anger for those who could sip a cocktail without polishing off everyone else’s drink leavings and the dregs in the bottle.

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When people ask how to get a drug addict into treatment, typically they are really asking one of two questions. The first is: “What is the process for getting someone into drug addiction treatment?” The second (and the hardest one to answer) is: “How do I get someone addicted to drugs to want to go to and stick with treatment?”

Since it is relatively easy to answer, let’s tackle the first question now.

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I was on Facebook the other day and I realized something – certain people on my friend list had mysteriously gone MIA. Now, granted, my Facebook is a little different than most, as I have many friends from my time in prison. But my missing friends all had one common denominator: a higher-than-normal level of anger.

While behind bars, these friends were always involved in altercations and violent outbursts. I looked into their whereabouts and sure enough, there was a reason I hadn’t heard from them: They had all relapsed, were back in prison or both.

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I entered into recovery feeling completely broken – like I was shattered into a million little pieces. But recovery taught me I didn’t need to fix myself. In fact, I learned how to weave those pieces into a beautiful mosaic and love every inch of it.

The lessons in recovery are endless and sometimes they come all at once. There are times when I struggle to catch my breath. I feel like I can’t cope…yet, I do. Over the course of the last five years, I’ve grown up, developed my identity, accepted who I am, learned how to integrate in this world, and gained new coping strategies.

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Recovery presents us with the opportunity to mend the relationships that experienced a disconnect during our active addiction, but one relationship we don’t often think about during this chapter of rebuilding, is the relationship we have with ourselves. Drugs and alcohol can act as a band-aid that we use to conceal our shame and self-deprecating thoughts, but in recovery, we can no longer run from these feelings. The image we have of ourselves is at the forefront of every decision we make, so for us to honestly embrace recovery, we must also embrace ourselves.

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In the online Family & Friends meetings that I facilitate, one of the more difficult issues that sometimes arises is the decision whether to end a relationship with a family member struggling with addictive behavior. Faced with the frustration, exhaustion, and negative emotions that have developed, many people reach a place of hopelessness before coming to a meeting.

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Getting sober is a decision for health and wellness; it’s a move that frees you to pursue the life you’ve always wanted. You’ve pushed through the worst of the worst and survived. There’s an outdated idea that getting sober means giving something up — saying goodbye to partying, excitement, fun and impulsivity. But really, nothing could be further from the truth. When you give up drugs and alcohol, you’re opening yourself up to a better life, with the freedom to do what you really want.

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Listen to Scripture, listen to people. This is how we grow in our care and counsel. And grow we must if we want to help someone who has stories beneath stories. Most addicts do.

Flea is the bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He is a sensitive soul whose father left when he was six. The men who entered that void surrounded him with violence and alcoholism that turned him to drugs and the streets by eleven. Now sober and in his late 50’s, he reflects on those early years.

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We know now through research, experience, and common sense that all so-called “addicts” are not the same, and that addiction is not an intractable, lifelong condition that cannot be overcome.  At the heart of addictive problems a compromised capacity for self-regulation is often found. Self-regulation is not a genetic trait that some inherit and some do not – it is a skill developed and nurtured largely by the environment. 

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