The Recovery Expert
with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.


Battling Boredom in Early Recovery

When an addict first begins sobriety he finds a sense of ennui set in fairly quickly, which feels overwhelmingly empty.  For many drug addicts and alcoholics in early sobriety everything comes to a standstill.  No longer are they chasing a high, strategizing a hustle, living in chronic chaos and drama, or experiencing the familiar euphoria created by both the behaviors and the drugs themselves.

The boredom that sets in for the addict is actually an...


Maturity: Practical Wisdom on being a Grown-Up

For a PDF version of this file, click here:  maturity

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

So many adults live in an emotionally regressed state of mind or existence.  What, exactly, does it mean to be a mature adult?  Some believe it’s a number, an age; some may believe it requires a rite of passage.  Here is a list of general traits of those men and women who demonstrate maturity on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level:


Coping with Obsessive Thoughts

Obsessive, recurring thoughts usually indicate an anxiety condition.

Realize that just having recurring or obsessive thoughts - or any thoughts for that matter - does not mean that you must act on them.  Nonetheless, they are annoying at best.

Obsessive thoughts are embedded in an intricate system of feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Part of the obsession is attempting to stop the obsession by trying to figure out the thoughts and believing that they have power.  Obsessive thinking is akin to riding a merry-go-round: While other people jump on and off the playground equipment, you remain in a fixed position of inertia, going round and round.


Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can profoundly damage a child’s sense of value, mainly by the perpetrator of the abuse, and secondarily by the non-abusive parent who either doesn’t believe the child, or somehow is oblivious to the abuse happening right in their own household. .  So often child sexual abuse occurs in families, and in social contexts in which the family knows and trusts the perpetrators.  Sometimes children are sexually abused within families in which the non-abusive parent resides mentally in a world of make-believe where no problem exists.

If you have been victimized by emotional incest, physical touch, rape, voyeurism, frotteurism, fondling, inappropriate conversations or non-verbal communication of a sexual nature or in any other way used by a person of more power than you as an object, then these steps will help you overcome the impact of your objectification and emotional hurt.  There is no greater injury than being a small child who is used for the sexual gratification of an adult.  Following is a list of healthy steps to take in order to heal and recover from sexual abuse:


The Stages of Addiction

You don’t have to have every element of an addictive personality or be emotionally disturbed to become trapped by addictive behavior.

All it takes to start an addiction is your brain’s memory, or imprint, of an experience with some activity or substance, which was especially comforting, relief giving, or pleasurable.

Later, when you experience a high level of stress, you will be unconsciously compelled to seek that substance or activity again. Actual biochemical effects on the brain reinforce the dependency.


Emotional Abuse and the Impact of Absence

So often we think of abuse as something that happens to us, but have you ever thought about what it means to a person who suffers from the abuse of omission?  Emotional abuse can be so deceptive, that most of the time, people who are victims have no idea they are being abused.  One way to analyze your situation to determine if you are being emotionally abused is to consider, rather than what the other person is doing, is what the effects are on you.  What may be hurting you may not be overt, but rather covert; you may not suffer from anything you can put your finger on because your abuser may be hurting you by what he’s not doing.

Here are some things to consider:  Do you find yourself being confused within this relationship?  Do you analyze yourself or an argument with this person to determine where you went wrong or what you could have done differently?  Do you find yourself blaming yourself for the things that go wrong in the relationship?  Do you find yourself accepting fewer and fewer “crumbs” from this person as time goes on, being grateful for any small comment or gesture that feels validating?  Do you feel like an emotional wreck?  Do you feel desperate or in despair?  Do you read lots of articles, blogs, and books looking for ways to improve your relationship?  Have you lost trust in your own perceptions?  Other symptoms of emotional or covert abuse include feelings of rage, low self-esteem,  anxiety, preoccupation with the relationship, obsessive need to fix it, feelings of guilt and shame, despair and loss of hope, increased addictions, loss of weight, or somatic symptoms.


Trauma, Differentiation and Integration, and Neuropsychology

I love to study neuropsychological treatments for trauma, and the importance of emotional integration in the therapeutic process.  I am a big fan of the neuropsychologist Dr. Dan Siegel and Brain-Wise therapist, Dr. Bonnie Badenoch, from which I obtained the information I am presenting in this article.

When a person is not properly attuned to as a child, secure attachment and healthy connection do not occur.  This trauma leads to the painful consequence of interrelational disconnection.  The goal in therapy for a person, who has suffered from the effects of trauma, abuse, lack of attunement, neglect, or some other form of emotional disregard, is to help that person find emotional regulation through the process of differentiation, with the ultimate goal of emotional integration.