Episode 27 – Sponsorship with George Borneman


Hope Mindful Compassion Show – Episode 27 – Sponsorship with George Borneman

Hosts: George Borneman and Paul Garrigan

In this week’s episode, George explains how sponsorship works in the 12 Step program. This type of support can be of great value to people in recovery, and here George offers tips on finding a sponsor, getting the most from a sponsor, and how to avoid the potential dangers of sponsorship.

Here is a link to the ‘Questions and Answers on Sponsorship’ pamphlet that George recommends

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Do You Have a Good Enough Reason to Stay Away from Drugs?


by Paul Garrigan

The motivations that initially drive us towards drugs are not unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with the desire to feel good about ourselves, to be better at socializing, to feel confident, or to find a deeper meaning in life. It is not wanting these things that was the problem, but our way of achieving them which doesn’t work long-term.

The Point of Recovery

For as long as I didn’t have a compelling reason to remain sober, I kept on finding my way back to alcohol. I could stop drinking for days, weeks, and sometimes even months but eventually I would relapse due to a question I felt unable to answer convincingly – what is the point?

Drinking was my way of dealing with life, and for so long as I didn’t have a better strategy, I kept on returning to it. The fact that alcohol was a source of increasing suffering wasn’t enough to keep me away from it for good. I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin, and as far as my mind was concerned, a flawed way of finding comfort was better than no way of finding comfort.

The appealing thing about alcohol was it at least provided a temporary reprieve from the ups and downs of life. It meant I could escape into fantasy and away from my usual negative inner-dialogue telling me how rubbish my life was. It replaced emotions that would sometimes feel like they would overwhelm me with a comfortable numbness.

The relief I got from alcohol lessened noticeably over the years, and the personal cost of using it became higher, but until there was a good enough reason to give it up, I kept on returning.

Fear-Based Reasons to Stay Away from Drugs

It is often-fear based reasons that convince us to go to rehab or take a break from drugs. Some examples of this type of motivation would include;

• Fear of losing our partner
• Fear of irreversibly damaging our health
• Fear of dying
• Fear of losing our job
• Fear of being kicked out of our home
• Fear of damaging our reputation

These fear-based motivations can be highly effective at helping us develop the initial willingness to change, but they don’t tend to work long-term. As the saying goes, ‘time heals all wounds’, and once we start to feel a bit better, we can forget our initial reason for stopping. There then no longer seems to be a point to staying in recovery. We begin to question if things were really that bad, and to wonder if we could handle drugs a bit better now our life has improved.

Another reason why fear-based reasons for recovery don’t tend to work long-term is that even after we quit drugs, we are still going to have to go through tough times. On these days, the urge to escape into chemical oblivion can be intense, and our fear about damaging our relationships, health, and reputation may no longer seem so important.

What is a Good Enough Reason to Stay Away from Drugs?

It was finding a positive motivation rather than fear that finally allowed me to break free of alcohol. I realized the reason I drank was a desperate need to be comfortable in my own skin, so I made this my reason for being sober. I found a much better way of dealing with life so the need for drugs fell away completely.

The motivations that initially drive us towards drugs are not unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with the desire to feel good about ourselves, to be better at socializing, to feel confident, or to find a deeper meaning in life. It is not wanting these things that was the problem, but our way of achieving them which doesn’t work long-term. If we now use these motivations to drive our recovery, it not only gives us a powerful reason to go forward, but it can also mean we end up with a far superior solution than drugs.


What is the point of recovery for you?

Episode 26 – Personal Training at Hope with Bill


Hope Mindful Compassion Show – Episode 26 – Personal Training at Hope with Bill

Hosts: Paul Garrigan & Bill

In this episode, Bill talks about the benefits of personal training at Hope. We addicts can have an ‘all or nothing’ attitude towards exercise. This can mean we either start off overenthusiastically and burn ourselves out, or we struggle to get motivated enough to do even one sit-up. Personal training is helpful because it means we avoid the extremes so we can get the most out of an exercise regime.

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You can also listen on iTunes


Top 5 Emotional Difficulties of Early Recovery


by Hope Rehab Team

Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do was give up alcohol and drugs so we could then walk off into the sunset to live happily ever after? Unfortunately, life usually doesn’t work this way, and all getting sober/clean does is give us the chance of a better life. There is still more work to do.

One of the biggest obstacles to living happily ever after in recovery is learning to deal with our emotions. Here are five of the main emotional difficulties you are likely to face:

1. Emotional Immaturity

We tend to be emotionally immature when we begin our new life in recovery. This is because rather than developing effective coping strategies for dealing with our feelings, we have relied on escape through alcohol and drugs. The only way we can now develop emotional maturity is through a willingness to face our emotions, but there is usually some initial resistance to this.

2. Emotional Rollercoaster of Early Recovery

Our emotions tend to be all over the place during the first few weeks and months of early recovery. There are several reasons for why this happens such as:

• Addiction withdrawals
• Chemical changes in the body as you adjust to clean living
• The stress of making significant changes to your life
• Unfamiliarity with fully feeling your emotions

The fluctuations in how you feel during this stage in your recovery is likened to an emotional rollercoaster. It can be an uncomfortable ride at times, but it is important to understand that your emotions will settle down eventually, and this gives you a great opportunity to develop effective coping strategies.

3. Stress Due to Avoiding Emotions

Avoiding our emotions may make sense to us when we are caught up in addiction, but what we don’t realize is this becomes major source of stress. This is because there is no real way to escape how we feel – all we are doing is temporarily suppressing these emotions. This turns us into human pressure cookers, and the stress involved in keeping the lid on things has a negative impact on our physical and mental health. If we want to reduce this stress, it is vital that we find a way to deal face our emotions.

4. Lack of Self-Compassion

Self-compassion gives us the strength to deal with uncomfortable feelings and other challenges in life. Those of us who have been caught up in addiction will often be lacking in compassion for ourselves due to low self-esteem and a highly critical inner dialogue. The lack of self-compassion makes it harder to cope with our emotions, so it is vital we develop it during early recovery.

5. Poor Anger Management Skills

The inability to control our anger can get us into all types of trouble. This is because when we are caught up in this emotion, we are no longer able to think rationally. It is a common cause of relapse, and it can mean we continue to cause suffering for ourselves and other people even though we are clean and sober. Therefore, picking up some effective anger management strategies needs to be one of our priorities when we quit drugs.

Episode 25 – How to Deal with Serious Consequences of Addiction in Recovery


Hope Mindful Compassion Show – Episode 25 – How to Deal with Serious Consequences of Addiction in Recovery

: Simon Mott & Paul Garrigan

We usually arrive at rehab with the hope of achieving a full recovery, but what if there are going to be consequences that might not be resolved by simply giving up drugs?

In this episode of the podcast, Simon shares his experience of dealing with hepatitis C, and he explains how such consequences of addiction need not be a barrier to recovery – in fact, there may even be a positive side to having to face them.

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The 6 Most Common Blocks to Recovery


Image Wikimedia Commons (MOtty)

by Hope Rehab Team

The Dangers of Getting Stock in Recovery

Getting stuck in recovery puts us at risk. It can mean we turn to maladaptive behaviors (e.g. comfort eating or shopping addiction) to make ourselves feel a bit better. It can also lead to a deterioration in our behavior such as anger outburst, isolating from others, or acting in a dishonest way. The frustration of being stuck also greatly increases the risk of relapse.

So why is it that we become stuck?

Here are 6 of the most common blocks to recovery:

1. Ambivalence Towards Recovery

To say that you are ambivalent means that you are in ‘two minds’ about something. This would be the case if you want to recover from the pain of addiction, yet you still hold onto a secret hope that you could one day drink or use drugs safely again. Making a major change life change like this requires your full commitment, and any ambivalence can mean your motivation to change is not sufficient to ensure your success.

2. Trying to Be a Caterpillar with Wings

For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it needs to completely let go of being a caterpillar. The same applies to addiction recovery. To be a ‘caterpillar with wings’ means that you have stopped drinking or using drugs, but you still hold onto your old drug using life. This is a huge obstacle to recovery, and it puts you at high risk of relapse.

3. Overconfidence

It can be such a relief to discover that life without drugs is not only possible, but also enjoyable, that we feel a surge in confidence. Staying clean and sober becomes so easy that we may develop ‘pink cloud syndrome’. The danger here is we become so confident that we stop doing the things we need to do to maintain our recovery.

4. Inability to Deal with Emotions

It is often our inability to deal with our feelings that makes alcohol and drugs so attractive in the first place. It is therefore vital that we develop some new coping strategies for dealing with emotions or this will be a major obstacle to recovery. Emotions are very much part of the human experience and anything we do to escape them is usually going to end badly.

5. Lack of Support

Support can greatly increase your likelihood of remaining free of addiction. By ‘sticking with the winners’, you become inspired and motivated to continue the process of change that puts a safe distance between you and addiction.

6. Dishonesty

There is a well-known saying in recovery circles, ‘you are only as sick as your secrets’. Engaging in dishonest behavior is an obstacle to progress, and it is a common warning sign of an impending relapse.

5 Techniques from Mindfulness that Promote Sleep


Image by Daisuke Tashiro

by Paul Garrigan

Causes of Insomnia in Early Recovery

Insomnia is something many of us experience in early recovery. This inability to sleep well at night can be due to several causes such as:

Withdrawal symptoms
• Being in a strange environment (e.g. rehab)
• Not having a regular sleeping pattern – we may be used to late nights
• It may be years since we have experienced natural sleep (i.e. sleeping without the help of drugs)
• The ‘emotional rollercoaster’ of early recovery
• Guilt about the past and concerns about the future
• Poor sleep hygiene (e.g. drinking coffee close to bedtime or staring at a computer screen in bed)

Mindfulness Tools for Insomnia

Here are five mindfulness tools that can make it easier to fall asleep at night:

1. Qigong – Bamboo in the Wind

A full qigong routine prior to bed could make you too energized for sleep, but there are certain individual exercises that can help you unwind and relax. Bamboo in the Wind is an easy technique to perform, you only need to do it for a minute or so, and it allows you to release stress from the body.

To practice Bamboo in the Wind, stand up straight with your feet together and your knees slightly bend. Put your hands resting across the stomach. You then close your eyes and allow yourself to gently sway from side to side like a bamboo being moved by the wind. The important word here is ‘allow’ – don’t make yourself sway, just allow it to happen. As your body moves, you will be releasing stress that has built up over the course of the day.

2. Body Scan Focusing on Tiredness in the Body

A body scan can be relaxing by itself, but if you focus your attention on those parts of the body where there is tiredness, you may find that this calms down a restless mind enough that you are easily able to fall asleep. It is like you are being pulled under by the physical tiredness.

To perform a body scan, simply move your attention through the different parts of the body starting at the feet. As soon as you notice some physical tiredness (e.g. tired legs), just keep your focus on this sensation as best you can.

3. Promoting Sleepy Thoughts

You may have noticed that prior to falling asleep, our thinking goes a bit irrational. This movement from normal thinking to nonsensical thinking needs to happen so we can leave the problems of the day behind and fall into sleep. If we are still thinking about our concerns and difficulties, our mind is unlikely to become calm enough for us to slip under.

It is an uphill struggle to get our mind to settle down once it has got its teeth into a juicy worry. So, rather than trying to stop these thoughts, we could try moving our thinking in a different direction. A good way of doing this is to generate random words and random images in your head, this can disengage your mind long enough to pull you down into sleep.

4. Focusing on the Breath in the Stomach

By focusing on the rising and falling of the breath in the lower stomach, we can access a state of comfort and security – it is almost like being held. Moving your attention to this lower part of the body makes it easier to slow down discursive thinking.

5. Allowing

Probably one of the worst things you can do when trying to sleep is to go to war with your mind. This only increases the agitation in the mind. If you have tried a few techniques, and you are still no closer to sleep, the best option may be to just allow your body/mind to do what it wants to do. Even if you don’t fall asleep, at least you can get some physical rest by lying still and allowing the mind to be calm (i.e. not worrying about your failure to go to sleep). This state of acceptance often opens the door for sleepiness to arise.

Episode 24 – How an Understanding of Subpersonalities Can Help People in Recovery


Hope Mindful Compassion Show – Episode 24 – How an Understanding of Subpersonalities Can Help People in Recovery

Hosts: Samina Khan and Paul Garrigan


In this episode of the Hope Mindful Compassion Show, Samina tells us about subpersonalities. This way of looking at the structure of personality comes from transpersonal psychology, and it can be very useful for people in recovery.


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Pink Cloud Syndrome – When Feeling Good Becomes Dangerous



by Hope Rehab Thailand

What Pink Cloud Isn’t

One of the risks with discussing pink cloud syndrome is it could give the impression that enjoying your recovery is somehow a bad thing. This is simply not the case. It is not the actual feeling good that is the problem here, but the way we interpret this improvement in our life.

Those of us who have struggled with an addiction will often have suffered for years (possibly decades), and we deserve to fully enjoy the freedom we discover in early recovery. In fact, enjoying ourselves is vital because this gives us the motivation to remain committed so we can continue making the necessary changes to create our new life.

What is Pink Cloud Syndrome?

Pink cloud syndrome is a subjective description rather than a precise diagnosis. It is a pattern of behavior that is sometimes observed in people prior to relapse. The term ‘pink cloud’ is meant to conjure up an image of someone who doesn’t have their feet fully on the ground – i.e. they have started to lose touch with reality.

For most of us, the symptoms of pink cloud syndrome can be relatively harmless but it could include:
• Euphoria
• Arrogance
• Overconfidence
• Recklessness
• Committing to overambitious plans
Delusions of grandeur
• Impulsive behavior

The Three Main Dangers of Pink Cloud Syndrome

The most common risk with pink cloud syndrome is that we stop doing the things we need to do to remain sober. This happens because we assume that the fact that we feel so good means we don’t need to do any more work (e.g. we leave rehab on a high believing all our problems are behind us). The reality is that breaking free of an addiction is a huge undertaking, and there is a high risk of relapse unless we continue to work on our recovery.

There is also a risk with pink cloud syndrome that we interpret the fact that we feel so good to mean we are cured. It can seem logical that our improved mindset means that we would now be in a much better position to use alcohol or other drugs ‘occasionally’. This is a dangerous way of thinking as it leads it right back into the hands of addiction.

The other potential problem with being in a pink cloud is that it will almost certainly end at some point. The subsequent fall back to a less intense experience can be tough, and we may feel so disappointed with the loss of our high that we use it as an excuse to relapse.

How to Avoid the Dangers of the Pink Cloud

We suggest you fully enjoy your new life in recovery – don’t be afraid to be happy because you deserve it. Just be aware of the potential pitfalls of losing touch with reality. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the dangers of the pink cloud:

• Be open to feedback from friends in recovery
• Don’t use feeling good as an excuse to do less
• Don’t indulge those thoughts telling you it would be safe to drink or use
• Understand that life involves ups and downs, and ‘this too shall pass’ (the secret to lasting happiness is for us to be able to handle both)
Stay honest

Episode 23 – Finding Refuge in Bodily Sensations


Hope Mindful Compassion Show – Episode 23 – Finding Refuge in Bodily Sensations


Hosts: Paul Garrigan and Simon Mott


In this episode of the show, Paul describes a way for us to find peace in daily life by moving our attention to bodily sensations. This practice is at the core of the Hope Mindfulness program. Resting in the body is something we intuitively know how to do, so the intention here is for us to use this natural technique more effectively.

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