When addiction takes control over someone’s life, the effects are widespread. Drug and alcohol abuse affects the individual physically, causing toxic damage to the body and brain and affecting eating habits and sleeping routines. It also warps a person’s perception of the world around us and alters thought processes, reducing their ability to think logically and rationally about things. Addiction also has devastating effects on an individual spiritually, causing isolation from others and a sort of selfish and self-serving lifestyle. Overcoming addiction is not always easy, but it’s worth the effort.
To be perfectly clear, when we speak of spirituality, we are not talking about religion or any particular religious dogma. We understand that all of our patients come from unique backgrounds, and there are many different belief systems in our world. When we look at spirituality, we view it more as an understanding of the role we fill in the lives of others and our connection to the world around us. We don’t ask our patients to adhere to any form of spirituality that they are not completely comfortable with, and we do not base our treatment strategy in any particular religion.
One of the biggest parts of overcoming addiction is realizing how those personal connections have been damaged, straining friendships and damaging family bonds as the person places themselves and their addiction more and more at the center of the universe. When we realize that, we can begin to work on repairing those bonds wherever possible, and how to form new healthy and functional relationships that are not centered around drug or alcohol abuse. As we progress on the path to recovery from addiction, we begin to realize how important it is to share this message with others who may be struggling with substance abuse, to provide hope and inspiration and maybe even to save a few lives in the process.
That mission took us halfway across the country to Park City, Utah where the 2017 Sundance Film Festival was underway. We teamed up with our good friend Debbie Durkin of Durkin Entertainment, the leading producer of sustainable product placement in television and film, as a sponsor of the EcoLuxe Lounge, a special red-carpet event that she organizes at various awards ceremonies and festivals throughout the year. Showcasing some of the world’s top providers of eco-friendly goods and services, the 2017 Sundance EcoLuxe Lounge was held inside The Blue Iguana in Downtown Park City.
We were joined in the Choices Recovery Media Center by another good friend of ours, Gretchen Rossi of reality TV show “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” She filled the role of special guest host, spending her time speaking with dozens of the entertainment industry professionals and Hollywood insiders that stopped by The EcoLuxe Lounge that day. Among those guests was Cassie Jackson, a rising young actress, and daughter of Shar Jackson, another acting professional who had spoken with Gretchen earlier in the day.
Cassie talked about her experiences with substance abuse and how she was able to maintain friendships without getting caught up in that hectic and dangerous lifestyle. “I see what drugs have done,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to bring that into my life for the sake of the people around me. Everything that you do affects those around you, so I just try to keep that in mind whenever I make my decisions.” Far too many young people have this idea that they are not affecting anyone else when they make the decision to use drugs or alcohol, but they’re only fooling themselves. The consequences of their actions and decisions affect everyone else around them, too.
Cassie also spoke about the importance of setting personal boundaries. “If someone’s influencing someone negatively to do something that they’re uncomfortable with, definitely get away,” she advised. “My friends don’t try to pressure me into anything, but if someone’s trying to make you do something that you don’t want to do, eliminate them from your life.” Cassie’s message and advice is extremely valuable, especially in the modern age of constant influence through television and other media.
In overcoming addiction, finding harmony and balance in life is vital, and this will often require getting rid of our old “friends” that we used to use drugs or get drunk with. Even though we may miss them and the times we used to have with them, we must realize that our sobriety takes priority, because our decisions affect so many more people than just us.