Monday, April 21, 2008

And Who Am I!

Hello everyone,

I'm another member of the team producing this blog. I'm a dietitian and an exercise physiologist. But I also belong to a family where addictions have taken their toll. Even though I have the degrees and the experience and the connections that on paper make me credible...what drives me to do this is that I love someone very much who struggles with behaviors that interfere with our relationship. We haven't spoken in years, but he's in my daily thoughts. This is my way, I guess, of turning all those academic credentials into a labor of love, and hopefully of using my personal experience to benefit others.

A few months ago I'd actually started to contact treatment centers in Los Angeles about coming over to introduce myself and tour facilities. And the first trip I actually had an appointment scheduled was completely disastrous. I ended up having to cancel. I felt horrible about having to call and apologize for the waste of time. But the people were so nice about it. I had this odd sense of not worrying, and that the time would come when I'd be able to pursue that connection.

Fast forward to last month. I reconnected with my co-author, a friend for many years who lives just around the corner, but who I rarely see. It turned out she's had similar goals. So I think the cancelled tours were not so much about my getting out to LA and getting to work as much as creating intentional thought and watching things pull together in a much bigger way that I didn't even envision back then. I was ready for what I thought I wanted, but not for least then.

But I am now, and I'm very excited about what lies ahead! Starting with this blog, I'm really looking forward to seeing how this all weaves together. Lots of what I had to know and do before feeling qualified to take on this venture took years of work and patience. And it finally feels like it's the time to take it on.

I hope to see you back here again, as we pull together our thoughts, information, and best wishes for all of you in your recovery journeys.

Who am I?

I'm Sharon, a registered dietitian with a special interest in recovery. I'm the adult child of two alcoholic parents, the sister of a cocaine addict, and the mother of two daughters in recovery. In other words, I have a lot of close up personal experience with addiction and recovery. My mother was an active alcholic for most of her life. She died at age 67 from complications related to Alzheimer's. Until her death, she was a pretty healthy woman despite her years of heavy drinking. For some reason that defies common sense, my mother always had a hearty appetite and ate well regardless of her alcohol intake. I think, had she not suffered from Alzheimer's, she would have lived to a ripe old age even though longevity is not common in our family. I attribute her healthy constitution to her diet. She ate lots of vegetables, fruits and a hearty serving of chocolate every day. This was before we knew what an antioxidant was so she didn't eat that way for health but because she liked it. One daughter was an active heroin addict for 15 years-now with three years in recovery! I fed my kids well growing up. She would come home every once in a while from her life on the streets for a Mommy Fix. I fed her lots of good healthy food. She slept. She bathed. She relaxed. Then she went out again. I believe her diet has played a role in her healthy recovery as well.

I've always been interested in food-eating it (especially), shopping for it, cooking it and learning about it. I believe in food. I believe in the power of food. I believe that eating well can make a difference in a person's life. I think it made a difference in my family's life. I don't always practice what I preach so if you see me chowing down on a fried chicken wing or a double hot fudge sundae, just smile and wave.

Because of my experiences loving people who have suffered with substance abuse issues, I have wanted to understand as much as possible about the disease. To that end, I recently completed a program in chemical dependency treatment. I have to admit that I didn't learn anything new. I guess my years of family involvement taught me what was in the books.

When my daughters were actively using, I searched for answers on the internet, called doctors, talked to therapists, attended meetings. Since I'm a dietitian, I also searched for nutrition advice but my search came up pretty empty. What I found was general recommendations that would be made to anyone-healthy or not-but very little specifically for chemically dependent people. And what about detox, I wondered? Are there special needs during detox? In recovery? What about three months or six months or two years of sobriety, are there special needs still?

So, here we are. Not sure where this will go but that's what's exciting about it. We will research and learn together. We're going to be visiting rehabs and sober living houses. We want to find out what sober people want to know about nutrition. And then we hope to be able to supply the information-information targeted to the sober community.