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  • Addiction and Connection

    This is a space visited by peer workers who have a lived experience of addiction and recovery and is an opportunity to relate to and draw hope from those who have been through similar things as you.
    ScorpionPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 153
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Addiction and Connection

    Thu Apr 22, 2021 4:52 pm

    Hey everyone!

    I would like to begin a discussion about addiction and connection...

    When I decided to get clean I was in a very lonely place because for many years my entire identity was defined by substance use.

    When I made the decision to get into recovery I learnt quite quickly that I wouldn't be able to stay clean if I kept spending time with the friends I had, so I had to make the difficult decision to cut them off...but what then?

    It felt like life was a blank canvas, I was left with all of the reasons I started to use substances in the first place, plus the wreckage that I left behind during my addiction, all while disconnecting myself from the only friends I had ever known.

    I realised that if I didn't find new connections and things to look forward to in my life, that life in recovery would be a lonely journey and I didn't get clean to be lonely and miserable, that's for sure!

    I was able to draw hope and find purpose through doing peer groups in the community and pursuing my musical passion. As I began to relate to those around me in the peer groups, drawing a positive influence from them and started recording music and playing gigs, I started to build something new - a life worth living.

    There is a TED talk by a journalist & author name Johann Hari which shares an incredibly powerful message about addiction and connection:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY9DcIMGxMs

    I would like to invite everybody to watch this TED talk which goes for just under 15 minutes and begin a discussion on this thread.

    It would be great to know things like:

    What can you bring into your life to look forward to?

    Is there anything that you were passionate about that you stopped pursuing due to your substance use?

    Is there anything new you want to try that you've never been able to before?

    Where are some places you can go or things you can explore to create new, healthy connections?
    1 x
    TheDees
    Moderator
    Posts: 150
    Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:29 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:13 pm

    Hi @ScorpionPW thanks for your post. You have made some great points for discussion, and thanks for sharing link. There is a real correlation with addiction and connection. Often addiction can cause connection as well as disconnection and then recovering from addiction can do the same. There is often grief associated with recovery. Great topic and ideas for others to discuss. Thanks again :-) and good on you for sharing your story and strength.
    2 x
    Katiee
    Member
    Posts: 44
    Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:54 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Sun Apr 25, 2021 3:26 am

    I know when I stopped using that I felt extremely disconnected from the world. I knew I had to remove the friends that where still using and that left me with no one but myself. 2 triggers they say that are huge in AOD is loneliness and boredom. I had no idea what to do, where to go to make friends. Heck I wasn’t even sure I remembered how to make friends. Anyway I had been going to my local community centre weekly to get a food hamper and I had slowly allowed myself to talk to people there. Didn’t make any real connections but at least I was socialising again. The director of the centre kind of took me under her wing and sought me out each week to see how I was travelling and to have a cuppa with her. That helped me more then anything just that first step. I then got asked if I would like to volunteer there, and volunteering is something that I’ve always wanted to do but my drug use got in the way. So I was brave one day and decided to give it ago. Turns out it was exactly what I needed. The customers where fantastic always happy to see me, the workers where just as lovely. I did end up making some friends out of my venture there. Most importantly for me volunteering gave me the courage to apply for employment witch is something I thought I’d never do again. So now I’m working in the AOD sector and absolutely loving my job. And I’ve got friends who aren’t users, and I am even going out for dinners with some girlfriends in a couple of weeks. Feeling much more connected with the world and not so isolated anymore.
    4 x
    ScorpionPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 153
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:17 pm

    Hi @Katiee,

    I love the story you've told of the kind of ripple effect a simple act of kindness can spark. The simple unconditional kindness of the director of that centre you were getting food hampers from and how that was the first step to you finding value and meaning in your life again. That simple message that connection is the most important thing for people suffering from this stuff.

    It's been great reading all of your posts on here and getting snapshots of your story. You're living proof that recovery is possible and I can only speak for myself, but I draw a lot of hope from you.

    I can relate to how good it felt when I was able to go out with people for something as simple as dinner, for one to be able to afford it and also to not feel anxious or unsure of how I was going to be social without a substance in me.

    Thanks for the gold you've been sprinkling around :)
    1 x
    Bamboo [facilitator]
    Community Manager
    Posts: 223
    Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:46 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:37 pm

    Great topic @ScorpionPW this Ted Talk definitely makes me think about the role of connection and addiction and has some really interesting points about how it can influence our decisions and behaviours.

    Thank you @ScorpionPW and @Katiee for sharing your journey with us. @Katiee that's it's so fantastic to hear about your volunteer work and employment, congratulations! :)

    I'm wondering if anyone else has seen the Ted Talk video? You can find it on the original post above. If so, what are your thoughts on it?
    0 x
    Minnie mouse
    Member
    Posts: 50
    Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:55 am

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Sat May 01, 2021 2:21 pm

    Wow, what a great talk. Makes so much sense to me, I know when I am doing stuff I enjoy, I don't even think about cannabis. I can go a whole day at work without it, but when I'm sitting around home doing nothing getting bored, well that's when I want it.
    1 x
    TheDees
    Moderator
    Posts: 150
    Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:29 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Sat May 01, 2021 2:50 pm

    @Minnie mouse it sounds like the video has helped you recognise boredom as a trigger, are there any things you might be able to start doing to fill that time? Any new hobbies you'd like to try out to help keep those urges at bay?
    0 x
    Minnie mouse
    Member
    Posts: 50
    Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:55 am

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Sat May 01, 2021 3:12 pm

    We have a puppy so I take her for a couple of short walks every day. Reading is also a great way for me to spend time. I did love to paint and draw many years ago, so maybe it's time to do that again.
    3 x
    TheDees
    Moderator
    Posts: 150
    Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:29 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Sat May 01, 2021 5:13 pm

    @Minnie mouse They're all fantastic ways to keep busy! Getting back into an old hobby can always be gratifying, and I imagine a puppy keeps you on your toes :)
    0 x
    Craig PW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 95
    Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:35 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Mon May 03, 2021 8:42 pm

    Connection.........one of my favourite topics!! Without it, any form of recovery is bloody hard to maintain and I've always found that the maintenance is the hardest part.

    I wouldn't say I found stopping easy but when I look back I feel like that it was the easiest part.......what I couldn't do was stay stopped. In the most part I put that down to trying to move in the same circles and do the same things without taking the substances that helped me cope. When I finally wanted lasting change it was sooooo lonely but I knew if I made the same decisions I'd get the same result.

    It was only when I started developing healthier new connections that recovery started to become sustainable. That's how I've maintained recovery...........new connections. Sure I still see a couple of old mates but my boundaries are strict and the connections are healthy. Carving out that life hasn't been easy but I've discovered a hell of a lot about myself along the way.........@Katiee I really resonated with what you shared........having the courage to just get up and go somewhere to socialise is where it starts and like you said, the ripple effect happens. That feels good inside and is something to look forward to. Facing my fear and saying hi first was what I found hardest.......still do....... but the more I do it the more I found the rewards. The more I explore things that interest me but I was too scared to try before the happier I've become.

    Recently I started karate and was standing back and watching everyone else talk and laugh.........then I said hello to someone. Next week I said hello when he was talking to someone else and met them too. Now I feel much more comfortable walking in there and really look forward to going becuase it's not just about the karate. It's about the connection.

    I love that Johann Hari talk and have watched it more times than I can count..............I couldn't do recovery alone...........I needed connection.
    1 x
    Craig PW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 95
    Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:35 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Mon May 03, 2021 8:42 pm

    Connection.........one of my favourite topics @ScorpionPW !! Without it, any form of recovery is bloody hard to maintain and I've always found that the maintenance is the hardest part.

    I wouldn't say I found stopping easy but when I look back I feel like that it was the easiest part.......what I couldn't do was stay stopped. In the most part I put that down to trying to move in the same circles and do the same things without taking the substances that helped me cope. When I finally wanted lasting change it was sooooo lonely but I knew if I made the same decisions I'd get the same result.

    It was only when I started developing healthier new connections that recovery started to become sustainable. That's how I've maintained recovery...........new connections. Sure I still see a couple of old mates but my boundaries are strict and the connections are healthy. Carving out that life hasn't been easy but I've discovered a hell of a lot about myself along the way.........@Katiee I really resonated with what you shared........having the courage to just get up and go somewhere to socialise is where it starts and like you said, the ripple effect happens. That feels good inside and is something to look forward to. Facing my fear and saying hi first was what I found hardest.......still do....... but the more I do it the more I found the rewards. The more I explore things that interest me but I was too scared to try before the happier I've become.

    Recently I started karate and was standing back and watching everyone else talk and laugh.........then I said hello to someone. Next week I said hello when he was talking to someone else and met them too. Now I feel much more comfortable walking in there and really look forward to going becuase it's not just about the karate. It's about the connection.

    I love that Johann Hari talk and have watched it more times than I can count..............I couldn't do recovery alone...........I needed connection.
    1 x
    ScorpionPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 153
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Fri May 07, 2021 4:03 pm

    @Craig PW I love the karate example (remind me not to mess with you :lol: ), how it gets easier after having the courage to overcome the initial anxiety of talking to somebody new and ending up feeling more comfortable in the space.

    What advice do you have for somebody who may be reading this and feeling like that anxiety is too crippling to overcome and that they just don't have the courage to take that first step towards creating the new connection?
    0 x
    Minnie mouse
    Member
    Posts: 50
    Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:55 am

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Fri May 07, 2021 5:16 pm

    @ScorpionPW I would tell that person about my own experience with opening up and owning up on this forum. The kindness and acceptance I've had has made it a lot easier. I think chatting online is a bit easier to start with as I can give myself time to think about what I want to say, and also the written word is right there in front of you. Face to face counseling is great, but time limits make it hard to get it all out.
    3 x
    Craig PW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 95
    Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:35 pm

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Mon May 10, 2021 9:05 pm

    Yeah for some people the anxiety is crippling @ScorpionPW and that's where I wonder if that could be their starting point...............maybe seeing someone to start working on the anxiety is where they can start. That's what the professionals are for.......the doctors, psychologists, counsellors, etc. Maybe by working on the anxiety that's keeping them trapped they can then start finding what works in recovery.

    This is where it's important to remember that recovery is a process and no two people have the same experience. What keeps people trapped in addiction is different and uncovering what it is that keeps you trapped is where the solutions can start to present. If it's anxiety that keeps dragging you back then start working on the anxiety. Maybe it's chronic pain that keeps you trapped........start working on managing the pain.

    For some it's homelessness, financial problems, legal trouble or any number of things. What I've learnt from talking to people in recovery is that they got there by starting to work on the problems and finding solutions. It's one thing to know you've got a problem. It's another to accept you've got a problem. But it's a whole other thing to strat finding solutions and working on the problem and like I always say......it's bloody hard to try and do alone. That's why we need supports and if that starts with professional supports then start there. Maybe this is where you'll be introduced to groups working on anxiety and toghether you can help each other work through that. It takes time though so be kind to yourself and recognise the wins alomg the way.

    I carry crystals in my pocket to help me and I gotta be honest..........if you'd told me years ago that I'd be carrying crystals to help me deal with anxiety I'd have told you that it's more likely I'd be living on Mars.........but it works for me.

    I'd love to hear from other people who struggle with anxiety.............what works for you?
    1 x
    ScorpionPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 153
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Re: Addiction and Connection

    Fri May 14, 2021 11:57 am

    That's such a good point @Minnie mouse. We're really lucky to have this forum as a way to seek help and connect in a way that is less daunting and easier to face. It would be great to know if there is anything else has helped you with your anxiety over the past couple of weeks?

    It's so great to hear that you've gotten value from coming here and sharing your experiences. It's great to see that you're making progress and you bring a lot of hope into the space, so thanks for being here :)

    I really like the point you make too @Craig PW in that everybodies recovery is different and there is always somewhere you can start. I think focussing on what you can do instead of what feels too hard is an important part of starting to change something.

    I know that for me I just had to ease into things because coming into recovery, everything in my life was brand new. Some strategies I used were to always have somebody I could call if I ever found myself in a situation where I felt overwhelmed or crippled by anxiety. A kind of life line in a way to help bring me out of that state.
    0 x

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