The Huffington Post talks iamafighter!

iamafighter kickstarter

 

“In my opinion, a compassionate environment is paramount. Where there is compassion for others, there can be no judgment.” Founder & CEO, Trisha Wiles

(an excerpt from the article “Finding Purpose in Your Past,” by: Julie Barnes at The Huffington Post)

JB: When working through issues like addiction, depression, and anxiety, how important is it be a part of a community free of judgment? iamafighter HUffington Post

TW: In my opinion, a compassionate environment is paramount. Where there is compassion for others, there can be no judgment. iamafighter’s culture is the right blend of compassion and pragmatism.

Stigma, judgment and “enabling” often hold people back from seeking help and achieving progress in recovery. We believe that our culture of compassion, pragmatism and anonymity answers all these needs and provides a healthy, well-balanced environment within which people connect in truly meaningful ways.

TW: Trauma’s reverberating effects in life are irrefutable. I, at times, still struggle with moments of social anxiety.

Regarding your question, connecting with another person can heal us so much more than anything else, I believe.

When a teenager who is being bullied opens the iamafighter app, they have instant access to other fighters being bullied, in addition to fighters like myself who have been there and made it through that experience. By connecting with other teens being bullied, they feel less alone, and connecting with others who have made it through that experience provides a tremendous amount of perspective, advice and, above all, hope.

We are so grateful for this opportunity to get the word out about iamafighter even more! Thank you to everyone involved! To read the full interview between Julie Barnes & Trisha Wiles, click here

Our Kickstarter Launches Monday!

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How exciting!

iamafighter’s official Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign will be launching this Monday, September 15th! Click the image above or here to sign up for our Kickstarter alert list, and we’ll send you an email the moment that our campaign goes live!

iamafighter kickstarter

Home to over two dozen free & anonymous virtual support communities!

Professional Advice for Family Members w/ Loved Ones Suffering from Addiction

The following is an interview with Thomas Foley, CADC, Clinical Director of BioCare Recovery, which is a drug rehabilitation treatment center in Pennsylvania. This interview reflects the personal and professional opinions and advice of Thomas Foley only and not those of iamafighter. Please read with individual discretion, and always consult a licensed healthcare professional before implementing anything that you read on the internet.

What is addiction? How is it defined?

support group for family member of addict
iamafighter’s anonymous support group for family members and friends of addicts has over 300 members!

Each individual will have an understanding of addiction based on their own life experiences and observations.  This personal understanding can be useful in navigating through the addiction and recovery process with a loved one.  It is important to balance that subjective experience with the objective, fact-based, scientifically-supported, boiled-down-to-brass-tax, straightforward definition of the pathology of addiction.  Here is a basic definition: Substance addiction is a chronically relapsing brain disorder that has been characterized by (1) compulsion to seek and take the substance, (2) loss of control in limiting intake, and (3) emergence of a negative emotional state (eg, dysphoria, anxiety, irritability) reflecting a motivational withdrawal syndrome when access to the drug is prevented. Drug addiction has been conceptualized as a disorder that involves elements of both impulsivity and compulsivity that yield a composite addiction cycle composed of three stages: ‘binge/intoxication’, ‘withdrawal/negative affect’, and ‘preoccupation/anticipation’ (craving) (Koob & Volkow 2010).

How does a person develop addiction?

A majority of people will at some time in their life experiment with and/or casually use some substance.  The main factors that determine whether a person will try a drug are 1. Perceived risk associated with using versus expected benefit and 2. Availability.  This is why most individuals’ first experience will be with Alcohol, Marijuana and Tobacco.  When we are teenagers, which is when most people begin to experiment, these are the substances that are perceived as less risky and also have greater availability for that age group.  The main risk factors that determine heightened probability of addiction include:  1. Genetics- your family history, 2. Age- when you start taking drugs (the earlier experimentation begins, the higher the possibility of addiction developing) 3. Family (including abuse, neglect and traumatic experiences in childhood), as well as Social Environment (including access to drugs) and 4. Types of drugs used. Risk factors for becoming addicted, like other conditions and diseases, vary from person to person (NCADD 2014).
family member of addict support group
iamafighter is a 24/7, anonymous resource available for free at iamafighter.com and in the app stores!

How do I know if someone is addicted?

The complexity of addiction combined with some cultural stigma that has been attached to substance use disorders can make it difficult to recognize & accept that a loved one in addicted.  The most basic qualitative measurement to determine if someone has become addicted is “CONTINUED SUBSTANCE USE DESPITE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES.”  The severity of these consequences will vary from person to person.  Oftentimes the phrase “functional addict” will be mistakenly attached to a person.  This is a fallacy. By its definition, addiction creates disruption on functioning in several areas of a person’s life.  Families/friends and treatment providers can fall into a method of thinking that minimizes obvious damage that is incurred by overestimating levels of functioning in other areas of a person’s life.  The progressive nature of addiction dictates that eventually symptoms will progress without appropriate interventions.  Additionally, addiction isn’t defined by the frequency or the amount of substance used, it is measured by the impact on a person’s life when they take a substance.
“…eventually symptoms will progress without appropriate interventions.  Additionally, addiction isn’t defined by the frequency or the amount of substance used, it is measured by the impact on a person’s life when they take a substance.”

Since treatment didn’t work the first time (or second, third, fourth, or fifth), what’s the point in trying again?

For some, long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs may start after their first mutual aid/self-help meeting or with the first time they go to treatment.  But, like other chronic illnesses, recovery from addiction requires a life-long commitment to a program of change.  For some, relapse back to active use of alcohol or drugs may play a critical role in their rededication to their recovery.
“For some, relapse back to active use of alcohol or drugs may play a critical role in their rededication to their recovery.”
So, relapse can be a signal to get back on track, either by going back to meetings, treatment or adjusting the treatment approach  (NCADD 2014).  A chronic illness requires consistent intervention.  The frequency and intensity of intervention is determined by the person’s desire to engage in making changes and the current severity of their disease.  One of the most difficult aspects of treatment, recovery and relapse for families is remaining an emotionally supportive presence in the person’s life.  It can be challenging to maintain balance between being an emotional support, not enabling addictive behaviors and staying involved in a loved one’s recovery due to the pain/hurt addiction has (and may be continuing) to cause.  It is important to remember, a person actively using drugs may do/say anything to facilitate their continued access to their drug of choice.  Being supportive means recognizing that and providing consistent support without stigmatizing their loved one’s suffering or enabling their disease to progress.  All of the emotions felt by family members are valid and deserve to be recognized because they are real consequences of the disease process.  Furthermore, the family deserves the chance to have their loved one healthy and functioning.  It is advisable to seek support from professionals and from grassroots organizations compiled of other friends, family members, spouses etc who have been down the same road.
iamafighter family member of addict support
iamafighter offers over two dozen color-coded support groups. The “Family/Friend of Addict” group is our magenta group and currently has over 300 members.

LETTER TO MY PAST: one fighter reflects on rock-bottom and what they wish they had known

The iamafighter blog is back from summer break and to celebrate, we are publishing a hard-hitting Letter to my Past from an anonymous fighter.

Trigger Warning: mention of suicide, rape, bullying, addiction, anxiety and depression

Disclaimer: iamafighter does not provide suicide prevention services of any kind, at any time, to any person. If you or someone you know is thinking about harming themselves, please contact medical professionals or call 911 immediately.

Dear Past Self,

Suicide’s looking like a pretty good idea to you right now.

I know you’ve been eyeing that ceiling fan more times than you’d ever admit.

Don’t give up.

You know that feeling, deep-down at the core of you– the place you’ve only scratched in those moments of your absolute darkest despair?

That part of you whispering “You cannot be going through this for nothing” is telling the truth.

There is a purpose. And I don’t even think I know what it is fully yet.

But I think I’m getting close…

We search for meaning our entire lives, but more than search for meaning, we try to avoid pain.

But our pain can reveal to us our meaning. And it will with you.

“But our pain can reveal to us our meaning. And it will with you.”

Honey, that lecture your sister gave you in the car that day will save your life. When she looked at you and asked “You would really put our family through another suicide?”

The guilt from that lecture and all the spite you have for your bullies, in that you desperately don’t want them to know how much they’ve truly gotten to you, will keep you alive, dear one.

And thus, you will eventually learn: There is a purpose for everything… even things that appear quite ugly.

Your rape, dear one.

Your pain, dear one.

Your bullying, your unease, your general feeling of isolation in every form at all times… It will all present itself back to you in the form of a beautiful lesson if you just do what you don’t want to do but know that you need to do: and stick around.

You will. After all, dear one, you’re a fighter. But it won’t be easy.

You come face-to-face with all the pain from the gates of Hell that a 21 year-old girl can handle without utterly collapsing.

And one day- like today as I write this- you are grateful for every bit of it.

It’s not that I sit here writing you, claiming to want more struggle. But the purpose of struggle has been revealed to me. To us. Eventually. And finally.

And, to test your characteristic lack of patience, I will not tell you what it is. You just need to have faith. The purpose is worth it. Just remember that.

And you will. Because you didn’t even need me to write this to tell you that.

Today I’m the strongest we’ve ever been, but I look back on you and am impressed. My God, your ability to tolerate pain is remarkable…

I know I went through it once, back when I was You. But sometimes I wonder if I could handle going through it all over again…

Only at our weakest do we realize the source and the magnitude of our strength.

“Only at our weakest do we realize the source and the magnitude of our strength.”

So although, dear one, life seems to be gripping you around the neck and squeezing… This won’t last forever. And there’s a point to it.

I hope that you remember that in all painful events in the years to come- break-ups, lay-offs, addiction, anxiety, crushing fear… In any negativity, remember this: This won’t last forever. And there’s a point to it.

I didn’t need to write you to tell you this. Because you already knew. Somehow.

Somehow you already knew because the voice telling you that existed back then, perhaps so that I may write you this now. You live. And you wake up most days happy. (I promise. And I swear.)

You are going to change lives, girl. The first and foremost being your own.

Good or bad: It won’t last forever. And there is a point to it. But, you already knew that.

I’m writing to tell you that I’m here for you… and that I will never give up on you. It’s you and me until the end, no matter who or what else may fall to the side.

And you didn’t know that. Even until recently, we didn’t know that.

So allow me to inform you, Past Self: I’m not going anywhere… even when others do. You will always have Me. It will always be us. And we’re stronger than we think we are.

We’re fighters, after all.

Love,

Your Future Self

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