Eric Ottinger, Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist and Licensed Professional Counselor provides help to understand addiction, counseling and recovery.
An open letter to the world from Recovery Rebel Founder Eric Ottinger...
Over 60 years ago, the medical community declared addiction to be a chronic, relapsing, potentially fatal disease that significantly reduces quality and duration of life for those affected- if they are not treated. Addiction infects the body, mind, relationships and spirit of the individual affected; and addiction affects the friends, families and communities of those with addiction in profound ways too. While there is no cure or vaccination for addiction, there is a solution. Both healing and growth in all 4 areas of body, mind, relationships and spirit are required for a robust and hardy recovery that can withstand the trials of daily life. Some people have a mature recovery with strong roots that can withstand nearly all the storms of life. You may know someone whose recovery is much like the small plant shown above. It may grow fast when fed under the right conditions, but does not have the mature roots to handle being stepped on without showing the damage or being completely overwhelmed. Try having open conversations about what ways your friend or loved one does and does not want your help and feedback. Addiction is a brain disease, and a family disease, but most of all it is a disease of shame. Shame is what kills the addict and the alcoholic. We fear judgment, condemnation and punishment, and when threatened with these we will isolate and often return to destructive behaviors in an attempt to cope with the horrible emotional pain of perceived inferiority, rejection and abandonment. I know, sometimes we make things up in our heads, but the pain is still real. Please be patient. Please learn what you can about this disease and all its manifestations, which do not disappear just because someone is sober. The best way to help us is to be as healthy as possible yourself, learning and modeling self care and healthy boundaries that we can be attracted to and learn from. Be honest about what you do and do not want and what you will and will not tolerate. Please remember, even though we don't say it enough, we love you and do not do what we do to cause you any pain. We do what we do to try to deal with our own pain, even though it may seem obvious to you that it does not work. We get confused, angry, frustrated and scared too by what is happening in our lives that often feel out of control and hopeless. Recovery can only happen if those people in the recovery community work together with each other, work together with the treatment community, and are able to have successful relationships by living in harmony with everyone else they make contact with in the world. Many are very sick and do not realize it; or it may be too scary to even think or talk about. All are welcome to join the revolution to improve care, reduce stigma, and spread effective education about addiction and recovery. We need all the help we can get, and I am not afraid to ask for help anymore.
Education- as the core for understanding and improving the addiction epidemic
Growth- personal and professional evolution is a lifelong journey
Compassion- for self and others is required for any successful partnership
Partnership- finding others who are passionate and committed to helping others
Community- we are all connected and influence each other with our actions
Hope- of recovery needs to be honestly shared with those who are struggling
Science- serves as the foundation for knowing what effectively creates change
Engagement- being present and engaged with the people I am with here & now
Respect- for the various pathways of recovery and backgrounds of individuals
Service- to those who need treatment and the people and systems that deliver it
Creating access to the benefits of contemporary cognitive behavioral therapies
Living mindfully and providing mindfulness training for interested people
Reducing stigma about substance use and mental health diagnoses
Providing education about addiction, mental health disorders, and recovery
Mentoring committed, passionate and talented behavioral health care workers
Treating people seeking recovery from addiction and mental health disorders
Delivering assistance and support to people in long term recovery
Helping treatment agencies to improve care with evidence based practices
Teaching health care professionals ways tom not burnout
Integrating 12 step recovery with contemporary scientific therapeutic practices
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Change is hard, staying the same is harder