Saturday, August 28, 2010


Almost anything to excess can be an addiction, cell phones, texting, internet, eating, television, obsession with money et etc.  Sex can also be an addiction, and at the wrong place, in the wrong situation, with the wrong person, can be devestating even once.  Somethings can be harmful even once no matter the circumstances, such as drugs and alcohol, gambling, and pornography; but their harm increases substantially with repetition.

Consistent messages and example are extreemly important.  Education is extreemely important.  Good self-efficacy is extreemly important. Involvement in positive activities that the child/teen enjoys and feels satisfaction in doing with positive peers and adults is also extreemly important.  Religion can and often plays a positive role in helping kids remain free from addictions...or clean up from an existing addiction.  The right professional help can also help kids and adults clean up from addiction.  This is not a problem to ignore.
Many years ago I saw a sign in a middle school that had a picture of a tween swimming under water.  The caption stated, "studies have shown that it is almost impossible to smoke marijuana while swimming under water." 

"For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction... A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three -- the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn't get you, the others are waiting in the wings.”  Peter McWilliams

“All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation” 
W. H. Auden

"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."  Frank Outlaw

"Habits are first cobwebs, then cables."  Spanish Proverb

"A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in."  C. S. Lewis

"Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones."  Stephen R. Covey

"Not being able to govern events, I govern myself."  Michel de Montaigne

"Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself."  Abraham Joshua Heschel

My family on my mother’s side has a history of weight problems. Adding to the general problem, my maternal grandmother, (who when I was very young lived with us or we with her and for most of my life lived in a home next door to us that my father built for her) was an incredible baker. She made the most fabulous cinnamon roles, pies (especially the most incredible banana cream), sauces, and other incredible foods which we all loved.

I was a very active kid who loved the outdoors (this was aided by having only one station on the television). We had animals to care for, including a pony and then a horse as I grew older. When I was young, my mother and sister still living at home were both over weight. (My mother had lived through both the depression and a Montana flood where they lost everything. She could not stand to waste anything.) If there was any food left over, I can still remember my mother telling my sister to give it to me, because I was still skinny at the time. Well as you can imagine, that didn’t last very long and I have struggled with weight problems for much of my life.

There have been a couple of times when I was able to loose weight and be in very good shape and I am in the process of loosing weight and getting into much better shape now. When I was in college, I made a decision that I would no longer eat candy bars. I used to love frozen Milk Shake candy bars; however, eliminating candy bars is not enough. You can make yourself very fat by eating relatively healthy and even healthy foods. Unfortunately I have an eating addiction and I am predisposed to be fat. You could say it’s in my genes; but it is also in mine, and my family habits.

Currently I am considered pre-diabetic and have been on medication for this and high blood pressure. My liver enzymes have also been high and approaching dangerous. I have always walked a great deal; but weighed as much as 270 lbs at just under 5’7”.

As of today ( 9-10-10 ), I’ve lost 30 lbs and I’m still loosing and plan to loose another 60. My doctor told me today that my long term sugar levels were in the normal range and my liver enzymes were in the normal range. Everything else was also good.

Before I explain what I’ve been doing, let me tell you a little about stress, fatigue, and temptation; but before that even, I want to tell you about the Greer and Whitebird Grades in Idaho.

In Northern Idaho there used to be a number of windy steep grades snaking back and forth up and down canyon walls. Generally people would slow down and stay as far from the edge as possible while still staying in their lane, and in some cases they would move further to hug the safety of the mountain by moving into the oncoming lane if they could easily see there was no oncoming traffic. This move, of course, had its own dangers. Once when my father was still alive and in his youth, he was on the Whitebird Grade where he came across a traveler from a flatter part of the country who was stopped and paralyzed on the grade. He drove this other person’s car the rest of the way to get them to the top of the mountain. The Whitebird Grade is no longer in use; but the Greer Grade is still used by travelers on a constant basis. Both these grades remind me of an old story, which will help punctuate my point.

The story has been told about an old wagon freight company who was hiring a new driver. The route would require the driver to cross a mountain with a steep, dangerous, grade similar to those I’ve described. There were three people who applied for the job. The owner asked the first how long it would take him to drive the route. He was able to do it in about seven hours, racing to the adjoining town, dropping off and picking up freight and making it back to the original starting point. The second person was able to make the trip the next day in just six hours, this time he traversed the mountain so quickly that at an outside wheel of the wagon would actually leave the road for seconds at a time. On the third day, the third and final applicant took twelve hours to travel the route. While he made good time on the flat and safe parts of the road, he hugged the mountain side as closely and carefully as possible. The third applicant got the job.

Many people with addictions require expert help through established and proven programs in order to overcome their addictions; however, five key elements are almost universal.
1. Establish a specific plan with objectives and goals. (Create link to goals)
2. Avoid triggers, especially at times of fatigue and stress. (In many situations you must avoid them always.)
3. Collect and maintain regular, accurate, and honest, data.
4. Establish regular and concrete accountability with other people who will help to hold you accountable.
5. Acknowledge and celebrate success.

Discussion of the five key elements.
1. You can follow the link to learn more about establishing goals and objectives.
2. If you have an alcohol problem, you will find it easier to overcome your problem if you avoid bars and other people who drink. This may require you to make new friends. A difficult proposition; but also a cost of becoming and maintaining sober. It is the same for all addictions. Eating however, is a little more difficult proposition. You can’t just avoid food. Sure you can avoid some foods; but that’s usually not the biggest problem. In my case it’s sort of like an old joke about the stress diet where the person starts the morning eating healthy and in moderation and by bedtime has emptied the refrigerator, cupboards, and freezer. Part of the reason for this is that we have less self-control and discipline when we are tired and/or stressed. I have good control over what I eat in the morning and pretty good control over lunch; but if I start to eat in the evening, and there are always lots of triggers (things that make me think of food or make me want to eat) in the house, I have a hard time stopping and keeping it in moderation…and it just may be that because of my genetics, metabolism, age, and an almost lifetime of poor choices, I just can’t eat the same as other people. That’s just life and I’ve got to deal with it if I want to be more healthy and avoid many of the problems with advancing age and weight.
The only solution I could come up with for this element of the equation was to do as many of us have heard over the years. Eat breakfast like a King (still good reasonable choices), lunch like a Queen, and dinner like a popper. (In this case it is very poor popper who skips dinner because I don’t eat after 2:P.M. except for a handful of raw vegitables or berries) After I loose more weight I will probably stretch that to either three or four P.M.; but not later, because I have learned I can not stop when I’m tired, stressed, and/or there are lots of triggers around. As mentioned earlier I also walk, about 4 miles every weekday.
3. I weigh myself daily. I know lots of people say not to do that because it may be discouraging; however, I need regular data so I can adjust what and how much I eat for breakfast and lunch.
4. In my case, I have set goals and have set up accountability to family and friends on facebook. Some need something more concrete and possibly more strict, such as a drug court or a therapist who they have to report to (and present data such as test results) on a regular basis.
5. Always acknowledge and celebrate success, with others, and in a way that maintains your abstinence from whatever you are trying to overcome. For example: if you are trying to loose weight and you loose ten pounds, don’t celebrate over a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.

For additionsl information, please use the Google Scholar and/or Google Parenting search engines.  Type in the type of addiction you are concerned with and the word "addiction".

Supplemental Material:

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information

Internet Addiction

Idaho officials take aim at pot substitute 'Spice'

Close to Home - Science: Animations

At CASAA our first priority is to reduce suffering caused by substance use and other addictive behaviors

Research about Alcohol and College Drinking Prevention

Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Brain

Office of National Drug Control Policy

NREPP is a searchable online registry of more than 160 interventions supporting mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.  

Al-Anon (which includes Alateen for younger members) has been offering strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers.

Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.  

President of UCC issues alcohol warning: Irish Examiner

Alcohol: MedlinePlus

CDC - Frequently Asked Questions - Alcohol

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