Recovery Beyond the 12-Step Program

In this powerful interview, Dr. Georgia Fourlas talks about her personal story of addiction and recovery, and why it’s so easy for intelligent people to deceive themselves. Learn about the root causes of addiction, what resources are available to…

In this powerful interview, Dr. Georgia Fourlas talks about her personal story of addiction and recovery, and why it’s so easy for intelligent people to deceive themselves. Learn about the root causes of addiction, what resources are available to you if you’re struggling with staying sober, and why living in consultation is vital to your long-term recovery.

  • Everyone knows someone who has been part of a 12-step program but has been unable to stay sober. Chances are those people are struggling with other issues that they haven’t dealt with.
  • As great as the 12-step program is, some people just need more help.
  • Fourlas tells the story of how she got her Masters degree at the age of 23 while using drugs and alcohol to deal with the challenges of life, and how she fell into a pit of addiction after graduating. It wasn’t until she was exposed to long-term treatment that she finally found a solution.
  • Fourlas knew she had a problem in high school, but she assumed the issue was the people she was friends with. It was always external things that she attributed her issues to and it wasn’t until the long-term treatment and intensive therapy that she saw things differently.
  • For people who walk away from the program, you will keep finding lower and lower bottoms until you either get recovery or you die. Unfortunately, Tim and Dr. Georgia have seen many people die from their addictions over the years.
  • For Dr. Fourlas, long-term use required long-term treatment. She had convinced herself that she was a smart person that could think her way out of her addiction, but she was wrong.
  • All the short term treatment options weren’t enough for Dr. Fourlas. It wasn’t until she was in a therapeutic community for several months that she saw real lasting results.
  • To expect to be cured in 30 to 60 days is unrealistic. When someone is in treatment, they’re in a bubble and protected from the triggers of everyday life. Going back into their old environment and expecting to live a healthy lifestyle is not realistic.
  • Many people in the world use drugs to deal with trauma from their childhood or adult relationships. Not everyone suffers from addiction but for those who do, 30 days is not enough to deal with those deep seated issues.
  • You need a healthy lifestyle, friends, behaviours, and habits to stick with long-term
  • Fourlas’s realization that she needed help came when she was working with her therapist. She realized that she was intelligent enough to deceive herself, and therapy helped her break through those barriers. Just being away from her old life long enough helped her to see more clearly as well.
  • After her long-term treatment, Dr. Fourlas understood that she couldn’t just jump back into her old life, which is why she ended up going into a recovery house.
  • You have to stay in the program until you don’t want to leave. The ones who are the most honest with themselves and understand that they may not be ready yet are closer to being ready than the people who think they’ve got a handle on everything.
  • The key ingredients to a successful recovery are abstinence and connection. You need to be connected with people that are going to be honest with you. Having a healthy purpose and spiritual life is important as well.
  • Introspection is also vital. You need to be able to look inside and see what you’re responsible for. People can be victimized and still take responsibility for addressing the issues and trauma that happened to them. Being a perpetual victim will not lead to healing your pain.
  • Closure from other people is a fantasy. You can’t control others and if you look for healing from people who have victimized you in the past you’re setting yourself up for failure.
  • In the era of Covid-19, anxiety, depression, suicide, and many other issues are on the rise. Distance from family has caused increased suffering and fear as well. The two most profound things though are loss of our normal lives and the overwhelming prevalence of the virus. For some people, the lack of human touch is a major problem that is taking its toll.
  • If you have alcoholic tendencies, being stuck at home makes it much more likely to exacerbate the problem. Without a focus, people are falling into their addiction when they otherwise wouldn’t have.
  • Addiction manifests in a number of forms including drinking, smoking, drugs, pornography, social media, gaming, and more. The problem isn’t the substance, it’s the compulsive behaviours and the underlying issues that cause them.
  • You have to learn how to open up and connect with other people to get closer to recovery. When you repress your emotions and needs, that’s when you get depressed and feel guilty or ashamed, but you also have to be careful not to take hostages regarding your emotional needs.
  • Learning healthy boundaries requires work. You need to be able to deal with your childhood trauma, which can be a challenge, because many people don’t realize what qualifies as trauma.
  • Healthy boundaries are as important as staying in recovery. How else would someone be able to say no to the person pressuring them to have a drink? Without boundaries you will find yourself in relapse and being stepped on.
  • When it comes to social media, it’s hard to know what healthy boundaries look like because they’re different for each person. For Dr. Fourlas that means avoiding politics and religion, and staying out of arguments. Social media is the best example of the world with a lack of boundaries.
  • Fourlas runs several different types of workshops at the Meadows, which are five-day deep dives into one of the areas that are causing people issues in recovery. They usually serve as a foundation for avoiding further addictions or launching you over the obstacles that you might find in recovery. Survivors is a key program that many people have gone through years into their recovery that they’ve found very helpful.
  • One of the best assignments that Dr. Fourlas had ever received from her therapist were two questions: “If you’re so smart, why do you act so stupid? And if you’re so right, why have things gone so wrong for you?” It made her look honestly at her life and her behaviour.
  • We can usually convince ourselves of anything. We need to live in consultation in order to succeed in recovery, with people who know how to guide us through our issues and understand addiction.
  • Dr. Fourlas’s morning routine involves getting up earlier than she needs to to give herself time to get ready, looking at the news through comedy, cuddling her cat, and some light motivational or funny videos. She knows that if she rushes in the morning, the rest of the day is much harder.
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