The High Cost of Low Living

I first heard this “descriptive phrase” spoken to me by a recovering addict and the statement captured my attention because of its’ unerring accuracy. You see, I have been part of a remarkable team for the Heritage Treatment Foundation, a private Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation center located here in our beautiful valley since the fall of 2005. I am honored to be part of this team of dedicated and compassionate healers.

This article focuses, however, on the courage of our residents, who come from all over the world to try and kick the habits that are ruining their lives. There is no predictable pattern for they are both men and women, from the ages of early twenties up to the fifties, and now and then, even older. Some come from privileged backgrounds, others don’t. Many have had stable and loving families, and others are victims of terrible childhood abuse. Professionally, they range from corporate executives to housewives.

These facts seem to prove that there is no common denominator that causes addiction to drugs (heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana), prescribed medications (OxyContin, Percocet, Dilaudid, and Percodan) alcohol or gambling, yet there is a theme that consistently plays out in their lives. Each person speaks of searching for something to make them feel good, or at the very least, to numb their emotional self, and to try to ease their voyage through the life they have created around themselves.

The high cost of low living comes out in the stories of their journeys. The amount of resources needed to feed any drug or alcohol addiction increases as the addiction grows and at the same time these resources are rapidly dwindling away. Something has to give and it’s usually lifestyle, honesty and self-respect. All of these go out the window in the endless craving for the next drug or alcohol fix.

These people come to heal and each one’s journey back could be a chapter in anyone’s book of life. Not all of them make it, at least not at first, but many do. The ones that succeed find a new meaning to their life and as hope, joy, self respect and tools to succeed are learned – the light of life enters their eyes.

When people with addiction problems learn the high cost of low living – much pain is saved.  At Heritage Treatment Foundation all staff members work with these courageous souls in preparing them to go back out into the world and repair the damage the drugs and alcohol addiction have made in their life.

What astounds Heritage Treatment Foundation clients soon into their program is the healing power of the simple pleasures of life – things that most of us take for granted. A good night sleep, healthy food at regular hours, yoga, meditation, fitness and reconnecting with nature, all the sweetness of everyday living which most of us do not appreciate enough. For our clients, this return to so-called “normal living” had become a distant memory as their lives had only been built around the addictions that controlled their every waking thought. Much of their time is spent planning to use the substances, the actual hours spent under the influence, and then the rest of their time is spent recovering from the effects of the abuse.  There was not much time left over for just living – and living a happy and healthy life free from the harmful affects of drug and alcohol addiction is rendered virtually impossible.

The most beneficial part of Heritage Treatment Foundation’s treatment process is the therapy. Between workshops, group sessions, intensive counseling, alternative treatments and therapeutic recreation, everyone is given the chance to explore unresolved issues that could have led to their addictions. I believe each and every one of us could benefit from this 30-day plan to take time out from the world and our hectic lives and dedicate these days to soothing and healing our shattered nerves.

Body, mind and spirit are nurtured and nourished as these broken humans slowly knit and fix the results of wrong choices. We can now begin to turn the phrase around to “The low cost of high living” and teach that “high” doesn’t mean what it used to for them.  Meditation – the ultimate and natural high – becomes an exciting experience as they learn that everything they need to feel good is already present in their being. Many Heritage Treatment Foundation clients have spoken of feeling disconnected from their spirituality; however, it usually doesn’t take them long to embrace the return to love they feel.

“Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased; pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow; raze out the written troubles of the brain; and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon the heart?” (Macbeth)

Macbeth asked this question of the doctor treating Lady Macbeth. The doctor’s answer was no. There is no known substance that can induce a permanent sense of the sweetness of self.

If you or someone you care about seems to be in the throes of a growing problem with drug or alcohol addiction, please take the time to seek help by reviewing the Heritage Treatment Foundation website and then call Catherine Cosgrove to obtain support and information about our program and services.

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Meditation Instead of Medication

Why are so many – so stressed?  Our societies seem to be running on empty even though our days are filled to the brim.  As night falls, we drop onto our sofas with a thud, exhausted and yet unable to really relax because of the thoughts whirling in our tired mind of things undone or what we still have to do tomorrow.

Overtired, yet unable to put our mind on pause, we pop tranquillizers and sleep aids like M & M’s, often using the addiction to drugs and/or alcohol to cope, and then wonder why we seem to live in a fog, with stress nibbling constantly at the edges of consciousness.

Whew – I feel stressed just writing about stress.  Do you remember the Pepsi jingle that was out a number of years ago when a large choir sang “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony?”  My song would be “I’d like to teach the world to meditate and then there would be less need to medicate.”

This solution to stress is too easy – too simple – and too often, ignored.  Some say to me that they feel like they are wasting their time when they sit quiet for 10 or 15 minutes and this frankly puzzles me.  These same people then spend tons of money and time trying to relax through pills, alcohol or endless expensive distractions that might work for a short time but not in the long run.

The gentle art of meditation invites your life to run smoother, your emotions to remain calmer, and gives us the blessed ability to have wonderful sleep and dream time.  Imagine a world where everyone starts their day balanced, joyful and peaceful.  Every person they meet is treated with gentleness and respect because we feel good!  The ripple effect would be a great soothing wave of peace reverberating around the world.  Such is the power of meditation.

Remember back to a time, perhaps you were lazing near a beach, listening to the water caress the sand.  Feeling loose, limp and lazy, your mind was wonderfully empty of any pressing thoughts and life at that moment was very, very good.  THIS is the feeling of MEDITATION.  Mother Nature intends for us to have a calm and peaceful mind and surrounds us with the wind in the trees, the buzz of bees, the songs of our feathered friends and the soothing sound of water.

In an ideal world, we would go to our Doctor and complain that we are exhausted, short tempered, and unable to sleep and so on.  The Doctor would pull out the prescription pad and write the prescription – “Learn to Meditate, 1x daily, repeat; for Life.  There would be the inscription:  Warning – Side effects include relief from stress, good nights sleep, lowered blood pressure, cheerful countenance, joie de vivre.

I realize that we cannot always run to the beach, lie under the trees or listen to the birds and the bees.  We do however always have the choices of taking every golden opportunity that life presents us when it comes to our well-being.  To meditate does take a decision and a small commitment of time and effort.  You decide to make a difference, you know you need to change, and you know that this is something you have always wanted to do.  Meditating is about you and the way you think and feel, that’s all.  You do not have to sit cross legged and hum, or do anything that is out of the ordinary.

All you do is learn how to find the golden peace and silence that already exists within.  So simple, so fun, and so rewarding, and yet it will change your life.  I am passionate about meditation as I’m sure you have noticed.  I truly believe that this gentle art can change our world, one person at a time!

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