One of the things that sometimes puts people off about 12-step programs is the idea of accepting a higher power into your life. What if you don’t believe in any particular religion? Why is it necessary to believe in something greater than yourself?
Sobriety is all about knowing and accepting yourself, including all the parts you don’t like–your insecurities, fears, guilt, and doubt. That doesn’t mean you just accept your flaws and say, “Oh well, I’ll live with this”; you must also believe that you can transform yourself. But how can you both accept your flaws and work on transforming them?
To accept your imperfections and also trust that you can change, you must be willing to turn these imperfections over to something greater than yourself. That something is your higher power. You might call it Yahweh or Jesus or Buddha or Allah or Shiva. Or you might step outside of organized religion and call it the universe or spirituality or positive energy.
To transform your life, you must seek to transform yourself through spiritual growth. Spiritual growth might mean embracing God as you understand that idea. It might also mean embracing what is positive in your life with the belief that the more you embrace the good, the more good the universe will send you.
Embracing the good means turning away from the negative. You must be willing to release all the toxic energy your negative thoughts create and replace them with positive thoughts that reflect who you are striving to become. The Law of Sobriety says that your destiny is determined by how you consciously expend your energy. Right actions and positive thoughts will bring you more of the same. And this, of course, means your destiny is in your own hands.
When you believe in your higher power, you also believe you can transform yourself–even if everyone around you says you can’t. So when you get right down to it, your higher power is what enables you to believe in yourself. And when you believe in yourself, the possibilities are endless. You can walk through your fears and doubts and become who you were always meant to be.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in addicitons in Agoura Hills. She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab.
I finally have had a moment to breathe after a week and a half working on Celebrity Rehab 4 to blog. I always find each year on Celebrity Rehab uniquely different. This year what has struck me most is realizing how painful it is for celebrities to be under the microscope for the media to exploit. I suppose my even writing this blog is some sort of exploitation, but my intention is to point out the difficulties it is for celebrities, especially addicts and alcoholics, to be under the constant glare of the media. Yes, some have charmed and manipulated the media to meet their own needs, but for those suffering with the disease of addiction, it is a matter of life and death for most of them.
What celebrities need when they go to rehab is to be treated like anyone else. The disease of alcoholism touches every socio-economic, age, ethnicity, religion, occupation, and gender. It is an equal-opportunity problem. It doesn’t matter if you are a celebrity or not. One difference, however, between celebrities and the public getting sober is celebrities have numerous “yes” people around them that are afraid they might lose their access to the celebrity if they don’t do what they are asked. Isn’t Michael Jackson a perfect example of this? Or how about Brittany Spears? And most recently Lindsay Lohan? It may sound like heaven to be surrounded by a bunch of yes people, but in the end, all it adds up to is a free availability of drugs and a host of people enabling the addict. Often their staff does not deal with the celebrity in a way that is conducive to him/her getting sober
It is very difficult for anyone, celebrity or not, to be put into treatment without all the luxuries of the outside world. What they don’t need are people from the outside enabling them or paparazzi hounding them by putting out media blurbs that are false. This undermines the recovery process and can be actually very harmful and hurtful for celebrity addicts trying to get clean and sober. The public is fascinated when celebrities are down and out. Isn’t the last month of listening to Mel Gibson’s tirade an example of that? Once in a while we hear how a celebrity has turned their life around. However, those who successfully stay off drugs and alcohol often slip below the radar, while those who continue to use drugs and create dramas stay in the public eye.
Recovering addicts, whether of a celebrity status or not, need the support of their friends, family, and community. They fight the same demons that anyone else does in fighting the disease and its temptations. They are under incredible stresses just like you and me. In fact, a study reported in Current Research in Social Psychology stated celebrities is twice as likely as non-celebrities to have alcohol-related problems. The study reported that certain personality types are linked between star status and addiction. The study noted that celebrities tend to have “strong neurotic and extroverted tendencies”, while although beneficial for their careers, can make them highly co-dependent on what others think of them, resulting in mood swings often triggering compulsive behavior. Also, as they become more famous, they become more self-conscious and less confident which can also lead to substance abuse. In addition, celebrities are expected to be the life of the party having to be “on” all the time around people who really are more invested in their appearances then their well-being.
Working on Celebrity Rehab this year has brought to me a new found compassion and understanding of how difficult it is to be a celebrity and have an addiction. They continually have to defend what the media has portrayed them to be in sound bites that are often closer to fiction than fact; and at the same time, combat the destructive nature of their disease. Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t feel bad for them, they have everything: money and fame.” Think again, because I am here to tell you, as the 12 step program teaches us “Don’t ever compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” The grass is not always greener on the other side.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.” The success of her private practice and coaching program made her the go-to expert for Dr. Drew Pinsky on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab 2 and 3 and its spinoff, Sober House, and has continued as the Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab 4. Sherry’s expertise has been quoted in Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times Blog, E! Online, Elle Online, The Huffington Post, and she has appeared on Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, Hollywood Confidential, Inside Edition, E! News, Dr. Drew Live, Fox News in San Diego, and KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Sherry is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, and newsletters, is a sought-after speaker, and lives with her family in Southern California where she maintains an active private practice. Visit Sherry at www.sgabatherapy.com.
2 Moms and a Mic ?2 Moms and a Mic
Get Ready as I join 2 MOMS AND A MIC JULY 28 tune in 1400 KKZZ . COM at 8am Pacific Time discussing Celebrity Rehab and my new book “The Law of Sobriety.”
Is it possible to be addicted to healthy food? According to one Physician, the answer is “Yes.” I spoke about this subject on KTLA Channel 5 News Los Angeles, which can be viewed on my web site reel at http://www.sgabatherapy.com/Media.en.html. Dr. Steven Bratman, MD coined the word “orthorexia”. He defines orthorexia as being obsessed with eating healthy foods to improve your health and well- being.
Although I do not have an eating disorder, I do notice myself being careful of what I eat while filming Celebrity Rehab. I have been conscious of my weight because I know the camera makes you look 10 pounds heavier. I do not believe I am in any trouble, but it did remind me to be mindful of not becoming obsessed with my weight or diet. Instead, I try to pay attention to healthy food choices without being fixated with everything I put into my mouth; and besides, I love my Klondike bars too much to develop orthorexia.
The following are some questions you can ask yourself if you or somebody you know might be obsessing about a healthy food lifestyle. If you answer yes to two to three questions, you may have a hint of the disorder. Four or more means you need to be less stressed about food choices, and if you checked all of them, you have become obsessed with the healthy food you do or don’t eat.
· Are you spending more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food?
· Are you planning tomorrow’s menu today?
· Is the virtue you feel about what you eat more important than the pleasure you receive from eating it?
· Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet increased?
· Have you become stricter with yourself?
· Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthy? Do you look down on others who don’t eat this way?
· Do you skip foods you once enjoyed in order to eat the “right” foods?
· Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat anywhere but at home, distancing you from friends and family?
· Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
· When you eat the way you’re supposed to, do you feel in total control?
As Step 1 in the Big Book says “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” Replace alcohol with healthy eating and you have Step 1 of orthorexia.
An individual with orthorexia feels a sense of spirituality, he says. “You’re doing a good, virtuous thing. You also feel that because it’s difficult to do, it must be virtuous. The more extreme you are, the more virtuous you feel,” Bratman says. You spend a large amount of time obsessing about food and when you eat un-healthy food you feel guilt and shame. In fact, you may also be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder which is a medically diagnosable disorder unlike orthorexia. An orthorexia diet is limited in calories and the individual is fixated only on healthy food choices including no fat in their diet.
In my practice I have worked with individuals with all sorts of eating disorders including binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. I have had some cases where parents are obsessed with exercise, eating healthy, being thin, and obsessed with how they look. Most likely they are struggling with their own eating disorder, but instead of focusing on that, they identify their teens as having the problem. Often these adolescents are only modeling after their own parent’s unrealistic eating habits. I don’t know if orthorexia is truly diagnosable or not, but what I do know is beware of your own eating patterns and how realistic it is. Also, be mindful if your children or teens are following in your foot steps to the extreme and developing their own eating disorder. If you believe you or your children might be struggling with an eating disorder, get assessed immediately by a doctor and psychotherapist that specialize in eating disorders.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in Agoura Hills, CA. She does Life Coaching by phone. She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.