The Celebrity Therapist

The Celebrity Therapist

Be Ready to Just Say No

posted by sherrygaba

One of the best strategies for staying sober is to avoid old friends who still use and make new friends who don’t. But even sober friends might have a drink or smoke a little marijuana in a social situation. Certainly, you can just be “too busy” for gatherings that take place in a bar or parties where you think there might be pot. But it’s tough to avoid having dinner or a barbecue with friends where there isn’t at least some wine or beer being served.


 How do you just say no? The best strategy is to be ready with a few lines you’ve rehearsed in advance. Imagine yourself in various social situations where alcohol or drugs might be offered and think about how you’re most comfortable saying no. It might just be as simple as “No thanks,” or “No thanks, I don’t drink/smoke.” Practice saying your lines until they feel comfortable and natural.


Then, be prepared to go one step further: Have something else ready to say if you are pressured to take that drink or puff. Do you have to tell everyone you’re in recovery? Not if you don’t want to. You can simply say “No thanks” again and change the subject.  You can say something like, “My doctor told me to cut back,” or “I’m really trying to get healthier and this is one way I’m doing it.” I fyou feel okay with it, you can also say, “I’m in recovery now and I’d really appreciate if you don’t endanger my sobriety.”


How much you do or don’t disclose about your situation is totally up to you. Think about what’s going to be comfortable for you to say, and then practice it until until it feels really natural you don’t have to even think about saying it.


And if your friends are pressuring you to drink or use, stop spending time with them. You don’t need to be around temptation, and you certainly don’t need to be pressured into relapse. But more than that, you need to have friends who respect who you are and how you choose to live your life. If you say, “No thanks, I don’t drink,” that should be it–no explanation needed, no questions to answer. Surround yourself with people who support you on your new path and their positive energy will speed you on your way.


Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”  She is the Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and has been an expert guest on CNN Headline News, Inside Edition, Fox News in San Diego, and KTLA News in Los Angeles.  She has been quoted in the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, E-online, and Elle online. 

Healing Trauma: What your Body Knows, Your Mind Forgets

posted by sherrygaba

 It has become clear to me after years of working in the field of addictions; trauma can play a huge role in determining whether or not a client can heal.  Many clients grow up in dysfunctional families where their parents or caregivers might have been un-available to meet their children’s needs emotionally or physically due to their own addictions or history or trauma.   When they are not present for their children, often these children feel invisible and have difficulty knowing who they are.  They become completely detached from themselves emotionally, physically, and often spiritually.


One way to get in touch with yourself is to become aware of your body signals and to listen to what your body is telling you.    Author Steve Sisgold shared with me that he sees the connection between addictive behaviors, and ways to escape from feeling uncomfortable or painful feelings. Both are repetitive behaviors used to avoid feeling unresolved pain stored in the body. –bottom line, they enable the “user” to avoid feeling difficult feelings. The root addiction underlying all addiction is the compulsive avoidance of feeling–an uncontrollable need to escape the consciousness of fear and pain from something that traumatized your nervous system….and who wants to feel that pain again , after all?


He concurs with me that addictions can sometimes be in response to unresolved trauma and are repetitive attempts to avoid and escape lingering uncomfortable feelings. 


In my book, “The Law of Sobriety” I write that the consequences of having a history of trauma can contribute to participating in behaviors that do not resonate with your true and authentic self. You know these behaviors do not resonate with who your truly are, and yet you fall into the trap of repeating them anyway. Steve says you have the choice to either escape those un-comfortable feelings with something self-destructive or something that actually is healthy and nurturing to your mind, body, or spirit.   Just like addictions and  other self-destructive behaviors are used as numbing agents, why not participate in healthy activities like taking a walk, enjoying nature, meditating, or taking up yoga.  When you participate in these new activities  over and over again in response to whatever your stressor is, it will replace your un-healthy behaviors with healthier ones.  Steve suggests do your best to breathe deeply, feel what you feel, move your body and make a healthier choice.


His book, “What’s Your Body Telling You?” is a great resource for getting in touch with accessing your body’s intelligence and healing the traumas and painful emotions that may be stored in your body. 


Once you begin to release the blocked trauma in your body, energy is released making space for a more peaceful journey through your recovery process.

How Do You Know You Are Addicted?

posted by sherrygaba

This seems like a simple question, doesn’t it? So let’s start with the most simple answer: If you think you have a problem, it’s likely you do. But it’s not so simple after all, because addiction is probably the only disease that manifests by making you think you don’t have a disease. Denial is a hallmark of addiction, and that makes things tricky.


 Because addiction is a disease, it has specific signs and symptoms that doctors recognize. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies addictions based primarily on the severity of the problem. Less severe cases of addiction are called Substance Abuse, while more severe cases are called Substance Dependence.


The DSM defines Substance Abuse as a pattern of use that leads to significant impairment or distress. What they call impairment or distress might be failing to fulfill major obligations at work, at school or at home because you are drinking or using drugs. It might be using while you’re doing something dangerous, such as driving. It might be getting into legal trouble because of your substance abuse. It might be continuing to use even though your substance abuse is causing social or interpersonal problems. The DSM doesn’t say a substance abuser has all of these problems–just one is enough to diagnose the disease.


What about the more severe Substance Dependence? The DSM also defines it as a pattern of use that leads to significant impairment or distress, but the consequences are more serious and include physical problems as well as social and emotional ones. The physical consequences are tolerance (the need to use more and more just to get the same effect), and withdrawal symptoms if you cut down or stop using your substance of choice. As a result, you might take the substance in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than you had originally intended. The social consequences are that you spend a huge amount of your time getting drugs or alcohol, using them, and dealing with the hangovers. You give up social, work and recreational activities that you used to enjoy, because your habit is taking up so much of your time and energy. One emotional consequence is that you know your using is making things worse–making you more depressed, more unhealthy–but you still keep using. Another is that you sometimes wish you could cut down or even stop using, but the wishing just doesn’t make it so.


Again, the DSM doesn’t say you must be having all these problems to be diagnosed with Substance Dependence–any three is enough.


That’s how the doctors define it. But there are some other things to think about as well. If you have trouble living your everyday life sober, you have a problem. If you try to cut down on how much you drink or use drugs and you find that you’re obsessing about using or can’t cut down, you have a problem. If your habit of choice is causing trouble in your life–relationships, physical, financial–but you still can’t stop, you have a problem. If you do or say things under the influence that you would never do while sober, perhaps even hurting people you care about, you have a problem. If you find yourself lying about the substances you use, how often you use them and how you get them, you have a problem. If you rearrange your life to avoid things that might stop you from using or drinking, you have a problem.


Even if you don’t want to see it, even if you feel like screaming that it isn’t so, remember that a big part of addiction is denial. If what I’ve described here sounds like your life–even a part of your life–it might be time to stop denying your addiction.


Remeber, the disease of addiction is the only disease that tries to convince you that you don’t have one.


The Power of Transforming Fear into Faith

posted by sherrygaba

This morning when I woke up I noticed an associate of mine had recently landed a part in a reality television show that was focused on health and well-being. Her role is to help her clients look at what the issues are underneath their inability to take care of themselves.   I realized I had gone out on the same show, but had not been chosen for it.  I suddenly felt that sinking feeling that I am sure you are all familiar with.  Suddenly I noticed my heart beating faster and I was feeling warm all over.  I know that feeling very well and usually behind it is fear and impending doom.   

I was feeling simply afraid.   You know, that feeling when you believe everyone is getting theirs and “why am I not getting mine” or thinking I am about to lose something.   It is that victim mentality that is behind the character defect of simply being in FEAR.  You may be familiar with the acronym for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.  I simply let my thoughts run the show this morning and allowed my fear to take over.  The truth is I am powerless over the outcome of whether or not I am chosen for a television show or for that matter, most things that are contingent upon outside forces.  However, I do have control over my thinking about it.  Yes, I am allowed to acknowledge my disappointment, but when I start telling myself things like “It will never happen for me” or “Why not me” or “Why her” this is a problem. 

When I put myself in the position like I did this morning, I am worrying about problems that don’t even exist.  There is no truth in the fact I will never do television.  In fact, I am beginning filming of Celebrity Rehab 4 in two weeks.  In my book, “The Law of Sobriety”, it asserts that “there is no possibility of living a purposeful life if you are not living in the present, where you can take action, achieve your goals, and fulfill your dreams.”  If I am caught up in a vortex of fear, than how can I possibly help others and do what I am here to do?  

When I have these types of mornings, the first thing I do is breathe.  I take a few deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth, and that centers me.  Then I look at the truth of the situation and see where I have created “false evidence appearing real.”  After that, I look at how I can transform the fear into something positive that can enhance my life and the life of others.  Hopefully, as I write this blog, I am helping someone see that they are not alone and that we all have these transient thoughts.  I then go into the opposite of fear, which is faith.  I look at the faulty beliefs I have about a particular situation and replace them with the truth.  In this case, the truth is I am grateful my work has become more spiritual, which aligns with who I truly am and who I am becoming.  Although television is fun and exciting, it is external.  My spiritual work with myself and others is internal, and there is nothing in the world that is more fulfilling than that to me.

Overcoming fear is a process, and the best way to transform fear into something productive, is to recognize that if it is separating you from your spiritual essence, then it may be detrimental to your serenity.  Take a moment and breathe in the following questions and breathe out the answers.  Once you do that, hopefully your fear will subside as mine does when I follow these steps:

Am I reacting out of fear or faith?

Is what I am afraid of moving me away from my spiritual path?

Is what I am afraid of resonating with my truth or from a faulty belief system that no longer serves me?

Is my fear causing me to feel irritable and discontent?

How can I transform my fear into something more positive?

How can I use my fear to help heal myself and serve others?

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in addictions and other mental health issues, as well as life coaching and helping her clients find their purpose.  Life Coaching can be done by phone or in person.  Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and the Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.  She has been on Inside Edition, CNN Headline News, Fox New in San Diego, as well as KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.  Sherry’s expertise has been quoted in Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, E-Online, and Elle Online.

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