7 Important Truths I Learned in My Recovery

Life lessons in addiction recovery from Lara Frazier.

For me, recovery has been a process of reclamation of my true self. It’s been about growth, evolution, and healing, but it’s also been about unlearning what I once believed as true. There are so many times I bulldozed through life not listening to my own intuition. I didn’t identify the truths that guided me, but instead listened to the truths that guided our society and culture, as well as my own addictive behaviors.

I had to unlearn so many of the toxic habits I had developed and I had to create an unshakable faith in my own abilities to heal and recover. The following is a list of seven truths I learned in my own recovery from love addiction and drug addiction.

1. Being busy is not a badge of honor.

Recovery taught me that it does not matter how slow you go: forward is forward. I used to believe that life was a race. I had to get ahead and so I did everything in my power to stay busy. I even got the word ambition tattooed on my ass at 16, because ambition used to be my guiding word. I didn’t slow down enough to enjoy the present moment. I always had to go, go, go. My thoughts revolved around the future and I never lived in the now. Today, I slow down. I take care of myself. I tell my body and my soul I love her. I show her this not just in words, but in action. And that action, usually revolves around slowing down and taking much needed breaks.

2. Self-love is the greatest middle finger of all time.

If I was in a relationship and someone broke my heart; I didn’t take the time to love myself. Instead, I found another person who could love me. I escaped the idea of self-love, believing that another person could love me enough to take over the responsibility of loving myself. Being a serial monogamist and never being alone didn’t give me the chance to properly grow. It didn’t allow me to feel real loneliness. My pain was deep, but it was also artificial because I never got in touch with my core wounds. When I hurt today, and I allow myself to feel and uncover the core reasons for this pain, I learn to love all of me, even the parts that no one claps for. In loving my light and my dark; I practice self-love in a way I never had before. I accept my entire authentic self, regardless of how you feel about me.

3. You can’t make another human your home.

Remember that line in the movie Jerry Maguire when Jerry mouthed to Dorothy “You complete me?” At the time, I melted into the couch cushion in a puddle of tears waiting for a love like that. I believed that I was two parts of a whole and I had to find my other half to be complete. While the idea of completing another person can be seen as beautifully romantic, it was also a way for me to overplay my power. I used men to feel my own power. I didn’t choose men who were healthy and whole on their own. I found men who were jealous and insecure. I found men who wanted to control me – and whom I could in turn, control. I didn’t understand the idea of picking a healthy romantic partner and I certainly didn’t know anything about boundaries. I didn’t realize that I didn’t need a man by my side to complete me. I used to melt into my partner and now I stand tall on my own.

4. You are allowed to say “No.”

I used to wonder why I was not valued as much as others. I worked hard. I was smart. I stayed late and I would always take on your task if you did not complete it. People loved working with me, but they did not love me. If they asked me to do something, I always said yes. I didn’t understand how to say no. I didn’t know the value in saying no, in having standards, in setting boundaries. I thought I had to be a “yes” woman. I believed I was just a girl, playing in a man’s world. Recovery has taught me how to reclaim my voice. I stopped saying yes to shit I hate and I learned to say no. I learned that I do not have to be everything to everyone.

5. “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” – Rupi Kapur

If I don’t take the time to be quiet and listen to my intuition or my soul-voice, I don’t hear what I need. I hear what others need of me, but I don’t listen to what is right for my own life. If I don’t respect myself, then how would I expect someone else to? Respecting myself involves discovering what is true for me, uncovering the truths that guide me, and following the path of what brings me the most joy. I’ve learned how to take care of my mind, my body, and my spirit. I don’t neglect one for the other – all are equally important. I used to take care of my mind above all else – believing that my intelligence and drive were the priority. In doing this, I neglected my body with lack of sleep, unhealthy eating, and forgetting the importance of moving my body. My spirit was dull – I was disconnected. In recovery, I love myself by attending to all parts of me, and in doing so, I teach others how to love me.

6. Self-care is not selfish.

The importance of service is not taken lightly in recovery. I believe that my service to others is the rent I pay for my place on earth. However, I also remember that if I am not taken care of and filled up with my own love, then I cannot be of service to others. Service becomes a chore and an obligation as opposed to what it should truly be: an honor. As I have moved through my recovery, I’ve had to step away from the idea that I am selfish if I take care of myself. I have learned, over time, that I must take care of me, if I can take care of others.

7. If you have to chase someone, they are not yours to hold.

There’s this saying that goes “everything I left has claw marks in it.” This used to be true for me as well. I could not let go lovingly. I clung to what was comfortable and avoided change. Change was scary. However, in re-building my self-esteem and truly knowing the wonders of me; I know that if I have to chase someone, then they aren’t meant for me. I let go of those who aren’t ready to love me and I make room and space in my life for those who are.

 

Opioid Addiction at Work: ‘My Resume Doesn’t Show My Addiction’

Amidst the opioid crisis, opioids in the workplace are becoming a more prevalent issue. Lara Frazier tells her story of opioid addiction at work.

“Are you okay, Lara?” Katie’s voice came from the other side of the stall; the woman I adored and considered my mentor at one time. I remember the concern in her voice, and all I wanted to say was, “Just leave me alone.”

“Yup. Everything’s fine”

In reality, everything was not fine. Nowhere near fine, in fact. I was wearing a bandage around my wrist because I had torn through my walls the night before. Thinking someone was spying on me. Wires in the walls. A framed picture fell and glass sliced through my skin.

She probably wondered if my boyfriend was physically abusing me, with these bandages around my wrists and scars on my arm. I’ve changed. I am not the same as when she first met me. Friendly. Diligent. Hardworking. Ambitious. That wasn’t me anymore. The drugs have turned on me. Again.

“I am not the same as when she first met me. Friendly. Diligent. Hardworking. Ambitious. That’s not me anymore. The drugs have turned on me. Again.”

She hired me because she knew I was a doer, a go getter.

In my first month, I exceeded my sales goals, just as expected. People clapped for me. Celebrated me. I don’t tell them I am only 4 months sober and living in a sober living home for women who are recovering from substance-use disorder somewhere outside of west LA.

It started innocently enough. I worked hard, staying late most nights. I landed some accounts and thought I could have a drink. I started buying mini-wine bottles after work and hiding the bottles in a brown bag in the back of my car. My boyfriend smelled it. He was sober too. We met in rehab. I lied to him and he pretended to believe me.

It didn’t last long, though. 2 months later, he was bringing me heroin after work. But, heroin wasn’t my drug of choice. I turned to amphetamines. Adderall wasn’t as easy to get ever since my parents threatened my doctor, and told him to never prescribe this drug to me again, ever.

I couldn’t find Adderall. So, my boyfriend and I searched the streets of Hollywood for a synthetic drug known as bath salts. We couldn’t find that either. But, he found crack. And I thought that was good enough, for now.

I smoked crack before work.

I would sleep about 3 hours the night before, and fall asleep during our weekly sales meeting once the crack wore off. People stared at me, as my eyes were rolled back into my head. I excused myself after these meetings, went to the bathroom, and smoked more crack.

“People stared at me, as my eyes were rolled back into my head. I excused myself after these meetings, went to the bathroom, and smoked more crack.”

I didn’t even like crack. It was only the 3rd time I’d smoked it in my life and it didn’t last long enough. But, I had to wake up. I returned to my office, feeling a little bit better. A little bit more awake. I made calls. I did my job. I functioned, but not like I once did.

As days went on, I knew I was becoming more odd, more off-balanced. My colleagues avoided me. I avoided myself. I ended up discovering meth and started to seriously abuse it.

Eventually, I stopped showing up for work. If I did go to work, I brought my drugs with me. Work became more fun after I started carrying meth in my purse. I took breaks every 2 hours to go to the parking garage to smoke it. I couldn’t keep up with this drug. I’d have psychotic episodes from it. Eventually, I got fired and I returned home to collect unemployment and live the way I never thought I would live—in active addiction, dark and merciless. This cycle would continue for a few more years.


My resume doesn’t show my addiction, or that I struggled with substance abuse for the last 3 years.

My resume shows that I have an MBA from a prestigious university and over 4 years of experience at one of the leading cable television networks in the world. My resume doesn’t speak of my addiction, nor do I.

I hide it. Ashamed. I used to be someone. I wanted to be someone again, but I didn’t know how to get there.

Using drugs at work started very innocently and it was never obvious to those around me. I would take my prescription opiates here and there. It was a way to unwind, to get things done or to accomplish more. I could take them or leave them and I very rarely used them at work. It was just a weekend thing.

When my addiction started, I still had my apartment by the beach, the Mercedes, the lawyer fiancé. I had 2 dogs, a group of close friends and family, and a full life. I didn’t look the part of an addict. I never imagined that substance use disorder would become part of my DNA, and that a few years after my car accident, after I am prescribed as many painkillers as I wanted, I would turn to crack, and meth, and live in and out of psych wards and sober living homes. I never, ever pictured my life like this.

The unfortunate truth is that more and more people are becoming addicted to prescription pills.

More and more people are using these drugs for non-medical reasons. They’re turning into active users who get caught in a merciless addiction that they consider could happen to them. It doesn’t always start with a needle in the arm at a party, like most people might think.

“More and more people are using these drugs for non-medical reasons. They’re turning into active users who get caught in a merciless addiction that they never would have thought could happen to them.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 76% of people with drug or alcohol problems are employed, and about 19.2 million U.S. workers (15%) reported using or being impaired by alcohol at work at least once in the past year. Also, more than 20% of alcoholics are high functioning and well educated. The likelihood for substance abuse in the C-level suite of executives is incredibly high. Most executives are driven very, very hard to succeed and that same level of drive is often applied to their addiction as well.

High-achievers are able to still perform at work and thus, their substance abuse can go unnoticed for quite a bit of time. This was my story, until it wasn’t. Addiction usually gets worse, not better. And over time, I found myself abusing more medications and always crossing a line that I said I would not cross.

I didn’t see myself using crack, meth, pills, and booze at work, but that was my reality. I hope more people wake up to the fact that opioid addiction doesn’t just affect the less fortunate, it affects all of us. Some just hide it better than others.

5 Totally Awesome Reasons Why Sobriety is the Best Gift

Sobriety is rad AF.

Did I just say that? Yes, I did. And 3 years ago, when I was new to recovery, I never would have imagined thinking that sobriety was cool. But, it is. Sobriety is the greatest gift I have ever received. I didn’t ask for this gift; it asked for me. I never would have believed that I could live a sober, spiritual, and connected life. Pre-sobriety, I believed that I would live a successful, wealthy, and perfect life. My goal wasn’t to find inner peace or to be helpful to others – my goal was to climb the ladder of success, so I could appear and/or feel powerful. My life, pre-sobriety, was about accomplishments and praise from others and power.

Today, my life is about gratitude, connection, vulnerability, and authenticity. I am the unapologetically me. This is what sobriety gave me – it blessed me with the ability to be my real self.

Here are the top 5 reasons why I love being sober:

1. I no longer have to put on a mask or pretend to be what you want me to be.

I get to be me, in all my imperfection and glory, I show up every day, as myself. Nothing more, and nothing less. Pre-sobriety, I had expectations about how my life should or would turn out. None of those expectations came true, no matter how hard I tried to make them come true. I believe that your life is your life and it will end up exactly as it was meant to. When you show up as your authentic self, with the mask removed, you lose expectations about what should or shouldn’t be and you come to understand that the true gift is being able to be present in the now and show up just as you are.

2. I found my tribe. 

When you choose to live an examined life, some friendships will fall away. Other friendships will grow stronger. I’ve always had a number of friends in my life, and many of them have stayed with me throughout my addiction and into my sobriety. I have had to apologize to some of my friends and make amends, because I’ve hurt them. However, there were some friendships that were built on falsehoods and partying, and those friendships fell away. In sobriety, I discovered what was important to me: vulnerability, honesty, empathy, and compassion. I started building friendships with women who understood me. They were deeper than the happy hour friendships that I had made previously. The friends in my life today have showed up for me in ways unimaginable. I am so grateful for the tribe I have built. I have learned how to be a true friend and how to make friendships in realness, truth, and authenticity.

3. I live for something greater than myself. 

I grew up in church, yet I never felt I had a purpose greater than me. There were times when I was an active member of my church and there were other times when I failed to believe in God. Religion was something I had always struggled with. I tend to shy away from dogma. There’s a saying that goes: “Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell, and spirituality is for people who have already been there.” I never thought that I would be grateful for my addiction, but I am. I am able to help other people who are struggling because I’ve been through hell and I know there is a way out. I have a purpose and it involves being of service and saving lives. It is so much greater than me.

4. I stay with myself and I grow stronger. 

Rumi says: “The cure for the pain is in the pain.” Avoiding pain is a learned behavior. When I was younger, I remember my outlet for pain was in poetry. I was able to put my feelings into words and when I read them on paper, the pain was released. Overtime, I learned to hide my pain. And when I couldn’t hide my pain any longer, I started drinking and using to cover it up. I always tried to escape feeling human emotions like sadness, disappointment, grief or loss. I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I was struggling. I wanted to appear like everything was “fine.” I put on a happy face even when I was hurting and I escaped my pain in unhealthy ways. Today, when I am hurting, I realize that pain is a normal human emotion. I stay with my pain, because I have learned, that when I don’t escape my pain or run from it, I grow stronger. I became a woman, who as the poet Oriah Mountain Dreamer so eloquently describes, is able to “sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.”

5. I don’t have to drink to have fun. 

YOLO. When I was young, I remember how much fun I had just being with friends, exploring, playing games, asking questions, being curious, dancing and laughing. It didn’t involve drinking and forgetting what I did the next day. It involved making connections with people that mattered and living in the moment. Glennon Doyle Melton says: “Dancing sober is just honest, passionate, living.” My greatest moments of joy are in the tiny experiences of life when I am totally present and aware. I never would have recognized these moments before, because I would have been in an altered or intoxicated state. I would have missed out on the true connections that exist when I am vulnerable, present, passionate and aware.

I Was Addicted to Love, Sex, and Pills – How I Fight Every Day for My Sobriety

A Love Addict’s Recovery through Loving Herself

I deserve love. I write it out on my mirror, as my therapist suggests, and I repeat it to myself multiple times a day. I think it’s bullshit. Why do I have to keep telling myself this? She keeps assigning me tasks that I don’t want to do and I’m tired of all this talk about self-love and vulnerability. I don’t want to focus on my “abandonment issues” for one more minute. She tells me I won’t heal if I won’t do the work. She says that maybe I am unwilling to do the work, because I don’t want to change. She believes I’ve grown accustomed to a cycle of abuse and that abuse is my new norm. Maybe she’s right.

I’ve done a trauma egg, a relationship chart, an in-depth examination of my entire childhood and I’ve answered every single question in this 300-page booklet they gave me at treatment. I’m just so tired. I’m tired of looking this deeply and intimately at my history. I’ve got all these feelings and now I really have nowhere to escape. For the first time in my sobriety, I’m addressing not only my issue with drugs, but my issues with love and men, and possibly, even sex.

“I’m just so tired. I’m tired of looking this deeply and intimately at my history. I’ve got all these feelings and now I really have nowhere to escape.”

I didn’t realize I was addicted to love, until I tried to stop abusing drugs. I discovered that if I’m unable to change my reality with drugs, then I’ll do so with men, specifically relationships. I had a compulsive desire to be high and to escape my own feelings and emotions. I found myself involved in a game of addiction-transference and it was glaringly apparent to everyone, but me. I had been kicked out of rehab three times for getting in relationships with men.

“I found myself involved in a game of addiction-transference and it was glaringly apparent to everyone, but me.”

There are a number of names for this phenomenon: cross-addiction, addiction-transference, addiction-replacement, etc. Cross-addiction is defined as the instance when one compulsive behavior is exchanged for another compulsive behavior. It’s the tendency to substitute one addiction for another. Apparently, and neurologically speaking, it’s the desire to cope with a perceived lack of dopamine in the brain. And guess what? I needed my dopamine.

Every time I’ve tried to treat my drug addiction; I found myself falling mercilessly “in love” with another human. I don’t know how I picked my partner – all I know is that I become fixated on one person and I had to have them. The person became the big red center of a bullseye and I targeted them. My behavior was predatory, but that’s how one behaves when they need to survive. Dopamine was my survival mechanism.

When people talk about love addiction – it’s not love that we become addicted to: it’s the euphoria, obsessive highs, security, and power. It’s the way the relationship makes us feel. Just as a drug addict has an obsessive desire to be high; a love addict feels the exact same way about her partner or conquest of choice. My thoughts became obsessive – I couldn’t focus or think about anything else but my “love.” I would do whatever I had to do to maintain the relationship, because it fed my need for dopamine, just as the drugs did. If you think trying to quit one addiction is hard, try having to quit two simultaneously.

“When people talk about love addiction – it’s not love that we become addicted to: it’s the euphoria, obsessive highs, security, and power.”

The best thing I ever realized is that I would never be able to stay sober, if I didn’t face my love addiction head on. The poet Yung Pueblo says: “I was never addicted to one thing. I was addicted to filling a void, with something other than my own love.” I work hard every single day to overcome my addiction to love and drugs; it does get easier. Every day, I wake up, ready to face my addiction, and I see that phrase on my mirror: I deserve love. Finally, I discover that I truly do deserve love. My own.

I Looked Perfect On the Outside, But I Was Secretly Addicted to Prescription Pills

For years, I hid my addiction to prescription pills.

In fact, I didn’t even want to call it an addiction. If I called it an addiction, then that meant I had to quit and I wasn’t ready to do that. There’s a part of me that wishes I would have asked for help earlier than I did. But, there is also a part of me that knows every experience I went through was part of a perfect, divine plan that led me to become the woman I am today.

Today, I am three years sober.

February 9th, 2014 is the last day I snorted Adderall and Xanax off a cracked pink mirror that I took everywhere with me. I wasn’t supposed to become addicted to prescription pills. Addiction was never supposed to be part of my story. I knew the dangers of illicit drugs and I even knew that I had to be careful with alcohol, as my family had a history of alcoholism. I did not prepare myself for the consequences and the subtle way misuse can turn into abuse, which can then turn into a full blown addiction.

“I wasn’t supposed to become addicted to prescription pills. Addiction was never going supposed to be part of my story.”

On the outside, I looked perfect.

I had an MBA, a high level job in entertainment, a corner office, a Mercedes, an apartment by the beach, and a fiancé that was graduating from law school shortly. I was the picture perfect image of success. And I defined my happiness by how successful I was. I was overly concerned with my title, my status, the amount of money I made, and how I looked in the eyes of my family and friends. I didn’t realize or know that happiness was built internally. I didn’t know that happiness truly was, an inside job.

My happiness was built around my identity and tied to things that could eventually fail, to circumstances that could change, and to positions I could lose. I could lose my job. My relationship could end. I wouldn’t be able to afford my Mercedes or the expensive apartment by the beach. And eventually, my circumstances did change, as change is the only constant in life. When this happened, when I lost my relationship and my job, I lost my identity. I lost myself.

“My happiness was built around my identity and tied to things that could eventually fail, to circumstances that could change, and to positions I could lose.”

In February of 2010, I called my psychiatrist after an important job opportunity fell through. The call was short and went something like this:

Me: “Hi. I want to die. I don’t know what to do.” Him: “I have the answer. I’ll make a call to the pharmacy and you can pick it up tomorrow.”

When I arrived at the pharmacy the next day, I discovered I had been prescribed Adderall. I didn’t know much about this drug at the time. I knew it was an amphetamine and I knew that it was used to treat ADHD, a disorder I did not have. I felt I had been prescribed Adderall because of situational depression and suicidal ideation.

However, my psychiatrist was right.

The Adderall did relieve my feelings of depression. It also led me into a four-year addiction in which I lost most every important relationship in my life, and nearly died. I didn’t start off misusing the Adderall. In fact, I took less than prescribed because my body was not used to holding such a high degree of amphetamine salts. However, over time, I built a tolerance to Adderall and I had to take more to achieve the same result.

There are many doctors who do not warn us about the dangers of prescription pill misuse and abuse. They don’t warn us that the drugs they are prescribing can be highly addictive. They do not tell us that the number of people using prescription pills for non-medical reasons is growing at an alarming rate.

I am one of the many people who would never have suspected that the drug my doctor was prescribing to me would one day cause me to be become addicted. However, I am also, one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have overcome my addiction. Today, I tell my story, without shame.

Brene Brown says: “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” In owning my story, my worthiness, and the experiences in my life, bad or good – I have become the woman I am today. And today, I am proud to be me.