Once upon a time there was a princess. The princess lived in a beautiful castle with her family, but she was bored. She dreamed of adventures, she wanted to explore the world and see its beauty. One day the princess left the castle and went to a journey to a whole new world. She travelled for a long time, but finally she made it to a fairy tale kingdom. She liked it there, because the people were nicer, they were smiling all the time and even though they didn’t know her, they were very kind. One day the princess was taking a walk at the beach. She was admiring the ocean when suddenly she saw a frog. “What a strange frog “she thought. “I used to be a prince, but I was poisoned” the frog said “give me a kiss princes and I will be a man again, I will be your prince and we will fight evil together.” There was something about that frog, so she gave him a kiss. And another one. And another one. And few more. She kissed him so hard that her lips were hurting. But he stayed a frog. He didn’t change. He was a frog for so long that he forgot how to be human again. He actually enjoyed the poison in his veins. The princess didn’t give up, she was desperately looking for ways to help the prince, because she knew that the poison was slowly killing him, but then she realized that he actually enjoyed it. So the heartbroken princess decided to leave: “I can’t be with you any more” she said. But suddenly the frog teard up and asked her to stay: “ Please don’t leave me” he said “ I want to change, I want to do it for you, I want to be human again, you are the only one who can save me, you are the only one I have. I will die if you leave me now.”

So I stayed. Even after finding out that almost everything he ever told me was a lie. Even after seeing him high. Even after finding drugs at the apartment we were living in. Even after bailing him from jail. “Why?” my friends were asking “Why are you putting up with all this?” He said he wanted to change and I believed him. “He is using you, he will never change, once a drug addict, always a drug addict” But they never saw him trying, they never saw him detoxing  on his own, suffering and crying. They never realized how bad it really was. He had nobody. His parents passed away and this was the only life he knew. There was nobody there for him to tell him “Don’t give up, things will be ok.”He needed support. And what was I supposed to do? I had all the reasons to break up with him and enjoy the rest of my summer, but how would I live with my consciousness after that? It was like a man stabbed in the chest was asking me for help and I was saying “ Sorry, I don’t want to get blood on my new dress.” I couldn’t break his heart and hope he will not cut his vanes or take more pills than he can handle, now that he wanted to get clean. No. No matter how bad I was suffering, I just wouldn’t let him die. What if he was not lying this time?

My ex boyfriend is 4 months clean now. He is going to AA meetings every day and he is happy being around people who understand what he went through. He put me through hell while we were together. All addicts do to this to the people who love them. But then he told me that if I gave up on him he wouldn’t be alive. Even though it was a horrible summer I would never regret a single decision that I made. I will never see him again, I will never feel how he has changed and even though my heart is broken from all the painful memories I know -at this very second he is out there, at the other side of the world and he is taking a breath. That’s all that matters.

As this blog is a school project and the end of the semester is coming I was asked to do a brief summary of what I have learned so far. Thanks to this blog I learned the most valuable lessons in my life. If you want something bad enough nothing can stop you from achieving it. I met other people who have gone through the same things, if not worse, and I learned from them. I did interviews with psychologist, smokers, gamers, gamblers, I’ve talked with family members of alcoholics and drug users and all of them thought me one thing: things get better.  No matter how bad you feel, no matter how hopeless your situation seems you have to stay strong and it is all going to be ok. If you are still reading this, you are my mom, my professor, or someone in great pain. Whoever you are, this is my message for you: don’t lose your hope, don’t put on a brave face, put on a smile, because things do really get better!

 

hope_by_licks_ninjas

Quotes and thoughts about addiction:

“There is hope. People can recover. It takes motivation, strong will, time and support from family and friends, but it is not impossible.”

Psychologist Nevena Mikova

“ It’s like getting addicted to say cigarettes , being unable to stop until you get the cigarette, becoming aggressive when you don’t get the cigarette, it’s similar in a way.”

Nikola Jivkov, ex gamer

“I have a lot of friends who are actually addicted to it. They reread some of their favorite parts again and again every day. They like to act like the characters, because they have these expectations that their lives could change too.”

Maria Kasheva, former addict to the Twilight saga

To anyone who ever suffered from infidelity. To anyone who has grieved. To anyone affected by the gambling problem. There is hope.

Betrayal

Life is very interesting… in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths.

Drew Barrymore Quote for Overcoming Addiction

“It was the hardest boyfriend I ever had to break up with [referring to crystal methamphetamines]”

Fergie

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Addiction and Hope

Posted: November 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

ALCOHOL

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dear Santa,

My name is Lora and I am 4 years old. I live in a big house with my mommy, daddy and my sister. Ally is 1 years old. I love mommy, daddy and Ally but I don’t like it when daddy has drinks for grown up’s. He gets mad at mommy and he likes to go to bed at different places. Daddy wants to become a police officer because sometimes he plays police officer with mommy. Mommy doesn’t like this game and cries but she says it is ok. Mommy doesn’t like drinks for grown up’s. She cries and I cry too when she cries. One time daddy was mad at mommy again and she wanted me and my sister to play hide and seek. Daddy didn’t know that Ally was hiding behind the door when he opened it. Ally went to sleep and mommy said that we are going for dinner. We went to the restaurant in the hospital, but Ally was very tired and she didn’t want to wake up. Mommy said that she needs to get some more sleep and the doctors will take care of her from now on. I miss Ally and I hope she wakes up soon. Mommy misses her too and cries every evening in her room. Daddy became a police officer, because they came to our house and he went with them in the police car. I miss him and Ally. I was a really good girl this year, I ate my vegetables and I made my bed on my own. For Christmas I want Ali to come home and mommy to stop crying. I made a Christmas card for daddy and mommy said that she will give it to the other police officers and they will give it to him. Ally really likes Teddy bears, could you bring her one? She is still sleeping so she can’t send you a letter, but she was a good girl too. I hope you like the cookies and the milk I left for you!

Love Lora

Xoxo

 

In 2008, one out of every 601.4 children was victim of physical abuse, with parents of victims accounting for almost 80.1% of abusers.   2.34 children out of 100,000 die from injuries relating to their abuse, with 80.8% of deaths occurring in children under four years old.   For every incident of child abuse or neglect that gets reported, it’s estimated that two others go unreported. Of kids who have a parent who uses drugs or alcohol, one in 13 is physically abused regularly.   Abused children are more likely to abuse alcohol and become addicted to drugs, and one third will later abuse their own children. Of all prison inmates, 84% were abused as children.

 

Think before you drink! Your child derives better!

Compulsive gambling

Posted: November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

My friend once told me “come to the casino with me. It’s so much fun!” So I went there with him and it wasn’t fun at all. All I saw around me were people, obsessed with money. I could see it in their eyes.  They were people of different ages, some of them were really young, like my friend and those were their first experiences in the casino, others were seniors led by desperation. All of them had one thing in common- they thought they could cheat the casino, they thought they could actually make money from playing. They looked like a bunch of brainwashed zombies who were pushing the buttons of those beautiful machines of deception. I didn’t like that place. It was too colorful, too bright, like an imaginary dream world where money comes straight into your pocket with almost no effort. I told my friend I didn’t like it there and I thought he shouldn’t be going there anymore. “Relax” he said “I will not get addicted or something, I know what I am doing.” So he started going there more often: every week, than 2 times a week, than every evening. This hobby of his was consuming all of his free time. He started ignoring his friends, he started stealing from them and soon he had no friends anymore. He became one of the victims of the casino.

One year later my dance club offered me a job in the biggest casino in Sofia. We were having performances there every Friday. I was excited because I knew that the casino was really big and I thought “ It going to be amazing, the casino is always full with people, we’ll have such a big audience.” I was right. The casino was always crowded, but the same zombies I saw one year ago in my hometown. We were doing our best on the stage and all we received were few glances if we were lucky. Not even applauds. Consumed in their games people didn’t notice us at all. We were not used to such reactions from the audience. After all, we were 5 good looking girls, we were dancing and nobody cared. This continued for one year until the manager of the casino told us that there is no point any more. “ For some reason people just don’t notice you” she said.

The scariest part was that for this one year that I was dancing, I saw the exact same people every Friday and Saturday. There was that old man, who was drinking a lot. Every time he won he spend his money on another drink. There was that lady who was wearing the same clothes every time and stayed on the exact same machine. Sometimes I was thinking about those people’s lives. If they had families, if they had children. I have heard so many stories about people, abandoning their families because of their gambling problem, but now I actually saw these people. They were there even on Christmas and on New Year’s Eve. The casino was their family now.

I talked to two of my friends about this. Ivan Popov is a poker fan and actually took part in few poker tournaments. Anastas Pushkarov on the other side enjoyed the casino more.

You definitely get a rush of adrenaline while playing” said Ivan Popov “It’s a highly competitive game. It’s fun also, sometimes it could be psychologically and mentally tough to handle.”

“We couldn’t explain to ourselves why we are there, why we are doing this, but we continued.” said Anastas Puskarov when I asked him why was he going to the casino so often.

I have never personally experienced what it is like to live and love a gambler. I have only heard stories. Although I feel the pain of those people, I have never actually been there. However I know a person who saw the light at the end of the tunnel after living through this hell. I highly recommend a personal blog called “Betrayal” ( http://wp.me/1qs9Z ). It is the story of a woman who survived:

To anyone who ever suffered from infidelity. To anyone who has grieved. To anyone affected by the gambling problem. There is hope.

Betrayal

My journey so far

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Working on this blog is one of the most interesting experiences I have had in the American University in Bulgaria. I chose this topic for personal reasons that I explain in my first post, but back then I was a little concerned about the interviews I would be making. I was thinking “Where will I find people who want to speak about addiction, people who would like to talk about their own problem?” It turned out that there are many people who were happy to share their stories and experience.

I am really happy that I had the chance to meet so many interesting people while I was working on my blog. I talked to the psychologist Nevena Mikova few weeks ago. It was extremely educational and I learned a lot from her. Addiction from psychological point of view was not very clear to me. I never knew that addiction is a serious mental problem, as well as physical:

“The common thing for all types of addiction is that using the substance, or practicing the certain activity brings pleasure and satisfaction to the person. Usually this comes as a result of the urge of the person to find a way to escape from everyday life and the problems he or she has. The feeling of happiness that is created makes the person do it again and again in order to recreate that feeling once more. Those people are trapped in a vicious circle. That’s what addiction is.”

Ivan Hristov, a sophomore in AUBG shared with me his story. He quit smoking successfully after realizing what a bad habit it is. His words actually inspired me so much that I tried quitting myself. I still smoke from time to time, but from a pack of cigarettes for a day I went to half a cigarette per day. Yes, I really smoke just half of it. My classmate Tedy shared with me that she couldn’t live without facebook. This topic automatically led to discussions on technology and how dependant we are on it. One specific person was especially interesting for me. His name is Nikola Zhivkov and he used to be on a professional online gaming team. It turned out that online gaming is not only a passion for some people, but also an actual job. It was only a hobby for Nikola, but for millions out there is a lifestyle, an obsession and an addiction:

“The problem is not in the game, it’s in the person.”

My last post was about obsession to the Twilight saga. I was inspired to write about that by my sister Maria, who is also starring in the video. She has read the books more than 20 times and she still likes to reread them from time to time. She admits her problem and she expressed her opinion about it:

“I have a lot of friends who are actually addicted to it. They reread some of their favorite parts again and again every day. They like to act like the characters, because they have these expectations that their lives could change too.”

I enjoyed every minute I spend working on my blog. I enjoyed meeting people, editing interviews, filming videos and writing posts. Unlike most of the students I am really excited that the end of the semester is coming, because now I can start writing about some serious addictions and show what it really means to live with an addict as I experienced it. If you think my blog was interesting so far, you will definitely like what’s coming next.

If you think young people don’t read any more, you are mistaking. They are actually reading so much that some of them are becoming addicted to it. See for yourself, go to google and type “How to be”. The first google suggestion that appears is “How to become a vampire”.  “What does that mean?” you are asking yourself. Google suggestion works this way – As you type, Google’s algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google. Simply said, people were googleing it.

“But why would people want to know how to become vampires?” will be your next question. Have you heard of The Twilight Saga? I will be surprised if you have not. It is a book about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire. It is not a brand new idea, yet it captures the attention of thousands of teenagers all around the world. Yes, it gets them to read, but not only. Girls of different ages, different countries and different religions become obsessed with the book up to a point in which they want to turn their boyfriends into vampires. You can google this one too!

In 2006, a year after the book came out I decided to read it, because all my friends were talking about it. It was a nice romantic story which I really liked, but I could not picture myself rereading it again and again as some of my friends did. My sister admitted she was obsessed with it:

“Teenagers all over the world are obsessed with it, including me. I have a lot of friends who are actually addicted to Twilight. They reread their favorite parts every day.”

The romance in the book is attractive to the girls and through reading they relive one different reality and secretly imagine that it is happening to them. Books have always been a way to escape from reality, but as every other habit if consumed in big doses they might have a reflection on the life of the person. Obsession to books is not something unfamiliar. De Cervantes knew about it 400 years ago. Remember Don Quixote? We see something similar today. Don Quixote in the famous novel was fighting the windmills and trying to find justice. Well, nowadays readers don’t set such big goals in front of them. Their only wish is to be vampires.

A 21- year -old man killed himself over EverQuest game. A 17 -year -old boy murdered his mother and shot his father over Halo 3. A 13-year-old boy in Vietnam killed an 81 –year-old woman after robbing her with $6.20. Later he explained he needed the money to buy a new game. Men stabbed another player. Baby twins drown in the bathtub as their father went to the other room to play an online game. A tree-month old baby in Korea died after her parents left her starving in the house. The parents of the girl met online and spent 12 hours a day in an internet café and dropped by the house occasionally to feed the baby a bottle of milk. A 13-year old killed himself, because he wanted to join the heroes of the World of Warcraft. The boy jumped out of a tall building after playing the game for 36 hours straight. A 17-year-old teen in Beijing burned his classmate as revenge after losing an online battle in the World of Warcraft. He covered his classmate with gasoline and lit him on fire. He said that he had transformed into a Fire Mage, a character in the World of Warcraft, upon committing the crime.

The victims of computer and video game addiction are mainly children and teenagers. Playing too many video or computer games leads to losing the sense of reality. 20 years ago children would play on the streets. Nowadays mothers feel better when their children are at home. “The sreets are dangerous” they are thinking. But are their own homes safer? The above mentioned are only a few examples of what online games might lead to. The so called massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG.) are highly addictive and lead to mental disorders like depression and schizoid personality disorder. Nikola Zhivkov, a sophomore in the American University in Bulgaria used to be a great fan of computer games. In fact, he was on a team and was taking part in international World of Warcraft competitions. However, Nikola realized that this was not the lifestyle he wanted. When I asked him if it’s possible to get addicted to computer games his answer was positive.

 “ It’s like getting addicted to say cigarettes , being unable to stop until you get the cigarette, becoming aggressive when you don’t get the cigarette, it’s similar in a way.”

Here are some common symptoms of computer games addiction:

1 Neglecting personal relationships.

2 Difficulty keeping up with personal or professional responsibilities.

3 Lying to others about computer or video game use.

4. Becoming aggressive.

Video and computer game addiction is a fact! It’s out there and it’s dangerous. It has taken it’s victims and its still affecting people of different ages, nationalities and religions. It is destroying families, ruining relationships, taking lives.  So next time you play or let your child play a computer game keep that in mind. Entertain yourself wisely!

Posted: October 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

I know this video has nothing to do with my blog, but today I learned in class how to edit videos ! Awesome !

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Cell phones, computers, laptops, tablets, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Blackberries, GPS navigators, flat screens… We are surrounded by technology! In fact we can barely survive without it. Just picture what will happen if all the computers in the world break down tomorrow. People will not be able to work, millions of dollars will be lost, people will lose their jobs due to this loss, banks won’t be able to work properly and the risk of getting robbed will increase dramatically. The consequences of a day with no computers might be fatal.

If you think about any institution: the police, the court, the hospital- all of them depend on their computer systems. They will not work properly and to their full capacity if they lack the specialized technology they have. But let’s think more specifically. Let’s think about a day of our lives. The alarm of my cell phone wakes me up every morning. I go to classes; I take notes on my iPad, I go home, I sit in front of my laptop and do my assignments. When I get tired I go online. I might go out with friends, or I might stay at home and watch a movie. Sometimes, I feel like my laptop is my best friend. I know, it’s wrong, but do you know what’s even worse? That’s not something unusual for people of my age!

My other best friend is my cell phone. I use it every day, all day long. I call friends and family, I text a lot, I go online. In the extremely unlikely event of me forgetting my phone at home when I go out, I feel like a part of me is missing. I start freaking out and become paranoid. What’s more, my mom starts freaking out, because I don’t pick up the phone. One time my parents called the police, because they did not know where I was and my battery was dead.

The conclusion is that I am a technology addict. I cannot spend a single day without my cell or my laptop. I feel like crying when I don’t have internet connection. And most of my friends feel the same way, in fact, most of the people I know feel the same way. The society has reached a point up to which existing without technology seems impossible. It is everywhere around you, just take a look. Right now I have 5 different chargers in my room: cell phone, laptop, ipad, mp3 and camera charger. I keep stumbling over cables in my own home. If you tell me you have never experienced that, I am pretty sure it would be a lie.

Addicted to Facebook

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

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How many times do you check your Facebook account every day? I don’t know about you, but it is the first thing I do when I see a computer. I don’t even check my e-mail so often. Is it normal? Am I the only one? It turns out I am not alone.  There are thousands of people all around the world that are addicted to Facebook. Ask yourself a simple question to find out if you are one of them: Can you go for a week without checking your profile? How about a day?

Facebook is a social networking service that was launched in 2004. Today Facebook has over 955 million active users. Most of us have all our friends and family on Facebook and that creates the feeling that we are somehow connected to them, no matter where they are. This is one of the greatest benefits of Facebook- you can easily get in touch with someone. Alright, but many people never log out of their profiles. They stay online all day long; they even have Facebook on their mobile phones, as if they will miss something if they are not online all the time. As every other type of addiction, this one presents a fantasy escape life, which has little to do with reality.

There are several main types of people on Facebook.

1 The Lurker- This is that one friend, who never posts, likes or comments anything.  You know they are there, but they leave no trace evidence.

2 The attention seeker-  They leave posts all the time, upload all kinds of pictures and the only reason they do it is to look for attention.

3 The Stalker- The stalker is not very different from the lurker- they look at all your posts, they check out all your pictures, but you will never see a single post from them.

4. The drunk- Those are people who love to leave posts on Facebook while intoxicates. Often you will need to read the message more than once to understand what the person meant, if it even makes sense.

5. The whiner- All they do is whine. Every post is about how horrible their life is, how hard it is for them. They are not much different from the attention seekers; they are sharing personal information in order to find sympathy.

The fact that there are users categories means that Facebook has become a great part of our life. But think about it, is it worth it checking your profile every 20 minutes or being online all the time? Isn’t it much better to live in the reality than in a social network? You probably will say, “No, that’s not me, I am not like that.” But remember, the first sign of an addiction is denying the problem.