Marty Lythgoe’s Journal

By Marty Lythgoe LAADC-CA, NCAC II, SAP

Overcoming Addiction: Seeking Permanent Behavioral Change

Overcoming Addiction: Seeking Permanent Behavioral Change

Seeking Permanent Behavioral ChangeAnyone seeking to overcome an addiction of any kind has probably experienced brief periods of positive change, followed by setbacks or what are often called “relapses.”  The challenge in addiction recovery is the identification and development of new behaviors that meet the needs once filled by alcohol or other drug use.  It is important to acknowledge that at least at one time substance use met certain important needs – the need to feel loved and accepted,...

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How to Survive Stress (Without Drugs and Alcohol)

How to Survive Stress (Without Drugs and Alcohol)

How to Survive Stress The use of alcohol and other drugs is frequently justified by and motivated by the need to de-stress. Most people’s lives have become increasingly stressful as we are bombarded with information, struggle to keep up with inflation, or are asked to do increasingly more in the workplace. While drinking or using other drugs may provide short-term relief, it is not effective in the long run and you would not want it to be the only tool in your toolbox. Here are some stress...

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Salvation and Recovery: What does it mean for Substance Abuse

Salvation and Recovery: What does it mean for Substance Abuse

What is Salvation?The dictionary defines “salvation” as the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, loss, or destruction. Synonyms include deliverance, emancipation, liberation, redemption, restoration, and pardon. Notice how all these words suggest some kind of outside force or power and not our own self-will. I suggest that an addict saved from their addiction should exhibit victory over all the following symptoms of addiction: The continued use of drugs. Mental preoccupation and...

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Unmasking the Truth: How Addiction Fosters Lies

Unmasking the Truth: How Addiction Fosters Lies

Just Tell the TruthIn my early recovery, a gentleman in an AA meeting shared, “This program is very simple – stop drinking and stop lying. That’s it!” Over the years, I have found so much wisdom in that simple explanation of what constitutes a program of recovery because to sustain any type of addiction, we must lie – to our family and friends, to our employer, and to ourselves. In time, we actually come to believe the lies and lose the ability to recognize the truth. This loss of ability to...

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Is Your Loved One Ready for Addiction Treatment?

Is Your Loved One Ready for Addiction Treatment?

Are You Really Ready?There is a school of thought that says that drug and alcohol treatment will not work unless you are ready. Even counselors use this as an excuse for a treatment failure – “He just wasn’t ready.” Or maybe you’ve heard people say that treatment won’t work if you are doing it for someone else and not for yourself. Or perhaps you subscribe to the belief that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” To all of these, I say “Hogwash!”How Long do we Wait to...

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Challenges of Modern Addiction Treatment: Does it Work?

Challenges of Modern Addiction Treatment: Does it Work?

Today's Addiction TreatmentThe value of addiction treatment is determined by data collected in outcome studies designed to answer the question, “Does it work?” It is the same question one might ask when considering a surgical procedure, a home appliance purchase, or an automobile repair – “Does it work?”How is Addiction Treatment Measured?Countless hours are spent by treatment program staffs collecting data to demonstrate that their model of treatment is successful. Programs attempt to...

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How is Your Addiction Recovery Capital?

How is Your Addiction Recovery Capital?

What is Addiction Recovery Capital?Addiction recovery capital refers to the personal assets (things of value) that an individual possesses – the internal strengths that help people build and sustain their recovery. We each have different types and quantities of recovery capital, but we all have some. As a counselor, it is my job to help my clients identify their recovery capital, increase it, and protect it. Three parts of recovery capital might be labeled personal, social, and community.The...

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The Jig-saw Puzzle of Life

The Jig-saw Puzzle of Life

The Analogy Let me start by saying that I am no puzzle expert. In my limited experience, I have learned that there is a process to successfully completing a jig-saw puzzle. First, identify all the border pieces – the ones with straight edges – and construct the border of the puzzle. This creates the boundaries within which the other pieces must fit.Next, add in the remaining pieces – working from the outside-in. Often, because we have a picture of the finished puzzle on the box it came in, we...

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Meaning of Dis-Ease. A Word Study

Meaning of Dis-Ease. A Word Study

ease: the state of being comfortable (freedom from pain, discomfort, cares, difficulty, embarrassment or obligation) When we are at ease: We are free from both physical and emotional pain. This might include pain caused from withdrawal or craving; the pain caused from illness related to our addiction; the pain caused by feelings of guilt, shame, worry, stress, embarrassment, fear, etc. We are comfortable in our own skin. We are not overly self-conscious or self-obsessed. We are not constantly...

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The Relationship Between Attachment, Detachment, Grace, and Addiction

The Relationship Between Attachment, Detachment, Grace, and Addiction

The Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text says this about addiction: “The physical aspect of our disease is the compulsive use of drugs; the inability to stop using once we have started.  The mental aspect of our disease is the obsession, or overpowering desire to use, even when we are destroying our lives.  The spiritual part of our disease is our total self-centeredness.” (NA Basic Text, p. 20). Addiction is Progressive Addiction is a progressive condition whose symptoms include tolerance,...

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Addiction Recovery is not Humanly Possible

Addiction Recovery is not Humanly Possible

In over 35 years of working in addiction treatment and counseling I have come to the conclusion that recovery from addiction is not humanly possible.  You may ask why, then, have I been able to remain employed or why has addiction treatment become a giant industry if recovery is impossible.Why is Addiction Recovery Not Possible?Notice that I did not say recovery is impossible. I said that it is humanly impossible. Our limited human resources – our will power, determination, and knowledge – can...

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Cognitive Restructuring: Are you ready for change?

Cognitive Restructuring: Are you ready for change?

There is a commonly used model for the process of change that incorporates several stages:   Pre-Contemplation Contemplation Determination Action Maintenance Relapse Below is a diagram that illustrates the transtheoretical model of change.Do I Need to Change?Many people come to counseling unsure of what needs changing, unsure of how to go about making changes, and often focused on the need for others to change.  Any of these beliefs can be good starting points for discussion because...

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Just What is Addiction Recovery?

Just What is Addiction Recovery?

Too often, people mistake abstinence from substance use (or other destructive behavior) as “recovery.”  While abstinence is the ticket that gets you into the theater, it is not the movie.  Many of the clients I see come to me with an alcohol or other drug problem and I tell them that I do not see their substance use as the problem but rather their solution.  They have discovered that using gives them temporary escape from feelings they are unable to cope with and that the real focus of...

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Lessons from the Trash Barrel (a recycle from July 9, 2018)

Lessons from the Trash Barrel (a recycle from July 9, 2018)

In the city in which I live we are blessed to have a strong ecology focus in our local government.  We have separate large barrels for trash, for yard waste, and for recyclable materials.  The trash barrel is picked up every week. while the yard waste and recyclable barrels are picked up on alternate weeks. Taking Out The TrashLast week was the week for the recyclables.  When I came home from work and began to put the barrels away, I noticed that the recyclable barrel had not been completely...

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Trauma & Addiction: How It Can Be Treated

Trauma & Addiction: How It Can Be Treated

It is estimated that over 70% of those experiencing mental health and substance abuse problems have had a background of trauma. Experiencing trauma, whether as a victim or as a witness, has a profound impact on the brain and the body. Just what is trauma? Trauma is a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury. The symptoms of trauma include: Re-experiencing the traumatic event through memories, dreams, or flashbacks. Avoidance or...

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Drug & Alcohol Addiction: Reflections On Mother’s Day

Drug & Alcohol Addiction: Reflections On Mother’s Day

Sounds like a good and worthwhile idea, a holiday set aside to honor our mothers.  And yet for those in early recovery, it can be a deadly trap.Early Recovery & Persisting IssuesWe would like to think that stopping drinking and/or drug abuse solves the problems that accompany any addiction – family problems, job problems, legal problems, financial problems – and there is some truth in that.  But because addiction is more than the abuse of a substance and recovery is more than abstinence,...

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Truths of the 12-Step Program

Truths of the 12-Step Program

When I first began my recovery, I was fortunate to choose a sponsor in NA who was part of a “sponsorship line” that passed on some basic truths that have been key to my recovery and have stood the test of time over nearly 38 years. They are still just as true today as they were when I was a newcomer. I pass them on to you in hopes they will enhance your recovery.

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3 Step Guide: Addiction Relapse Prevention

3 Step Guide: Addiction Relapse Prevention

Like other chronic conditions, addiction relapse is a common occurence. It is one thing to stop the addictive behavior; it is another thing to stay stopped. It is still another thing to stay stopped and at the same time enjoy full physical, psychological, social and spiritual health.Step 1: Abstinence Is The Stopping Of Addictive Behavior.It is the first requirement toward recovery. It is the beginning. It is the ticket to get into the theater, not the movie we are going to see. Recovery is...

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