Monday, July 11, 2011

Newsday's Top Story..

Today, our heroine (pun intended) reads the article she is featured in for those who can not access the article online....and because she likes the sound of her own voice.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Addiction Vs. Dependency

All too often I'll have someone ask me, "hey Carolyn, what's the difference between being clean and being sober?". A lot, actually. In my dictionary, clean is just abstaining, while sober is a way of life. Let's see, I've been sober in the broad sense since Thursday the 31st of January, 2008, but it's only been in the last two years or so that I have really been sober. All throughout my years of using drugs, I've had my bouts of being clean but I was never sober until I found a new way to live. That way for me is immersing myself in the 12-step program. I live it, breathe it, eat it...WORK it. You know what they say, "It ONLY works if YOU work it". Being sober, for me is always being aware; keeping my side of the street clean and getting ahold of myself when I start to notice that those old personality traits are rearing their heads: lying, manipulating, scheming, not living in the here and now, ad infinitum. It sucks to always be reminded that you are an addict and will be one for the rest of your life. No, there is no cure for this disease. All I have is today. Clean is just going through the motions. Sure, I've been clean lots of times but I never took care of what the real problem was. What it was that I was numbing in the first place. I thought I just liked the feeling of getting high when in fact, it was just a symptom of what was really going on. I was in pain. Emotionally. But, I digress.....

Earlier today while doing some writing I had the television on, and "Dr. Phil" was talking about a young woman named Alexandra who was battling a severe prescription pill problem. Alexandra was me not that long ago: in denial, defensive, "in pain'. She is on a fast track to destructionville as far as my experience can gauge. Alexandra lives in Florida where the notorious "pill mills" are killing people in record numbers. I've watched many a documentary on this very thing: anyone can go in, pay cash and leave with whatever they want. Hell, I've done it many times myself. In Mexico, that is.

Dr. Phil had two professionals look at Alexandra's back injury and both came to the conclusion that the injury she had did not warrant the startling amount of meds she was abusing. She was taking OxyContin, OxyCodone, Soma, and Valium. Anyone remember Heath Ledger? She said she needed them because she was in pain. When she didn't have them, she couldn't function. She said she was dependent, NOT addicted. What's the difference? A lot, actually.

The body can not tell the difference between addiction and dependency. It just wants what it wants. It doesn't care if you get them from the pharmacy or from a guy named "Chico" who lives in a seedy part of town. However, addiction lives in the head while dependence lives in the body. In my experience, addiction led me down avenues I NEVER imagined I'd go down. Took me to places many of you reading this only saw in movies. It was a driving force in my life for many many years. It told me to lie, steal, cheat, manipulate, scam, scheme, etc. just so I could get what I needed to not feel the pain of withdrawal. See, anytime you abuse any type of medication it will turn on you. Even over the counter meds. I know many people who have rebound headaches from taking Ibuprofen on a daily basis. You need to allow your body a chance to let its natural painkilling endorphins to kick in. When we abuse painkillers, opiate or OTC the Central Nervous System becomes suppressed. Hence, Pain KILLER. Take that away and you get the reverse: withdrawal and or pain. Why? Because your CNS is sparking back to life and while the body is waking up, you start to feel the pain in places you didn't know were hurting.

But Alexandra wasn't getting this. Even though she lived in a pay by the week apartment (like I did for awhile), lost all three of her kids, was panhandling for money...she didn't have a problem. Her life wasn't "crappy" because of the pills, she said. Oh, Alexandra..De Nile is not just a river in Egypt, honey. She really touched my heart and I had to say something abut this because I know so many people who are dealing with this very thing.

Here, I can explain in better "in Person"

Thank YOU, ABC!!

As many of you know, I made my second appearance on The ABC Nightly News with Diane Sawyer last Wednesday evening. The topic was about how the president and the newly appointed "drug czar" are now cracking down (pardon the pun) on prescription medication abuse. How did I get caught up in all this? Well, if you'll remember, last September I was contacted by the wonderfully talented Kristina Fiore of MedPage (a blog of sorts that is connected to the ABC family) by way of my involvement with the website: Opiate Detox and Recovery. Kristina wanted to know if anyone would be interested sharing their experience with the press on their success, or lack of with the medication Suboxone. Free press!? I jumped on it!! Well, no one else was actually. See, we addicts (recovering or active) are a secretive lot; trusting of not too many people when it comes to those on the "outside".

Kristina was very professional and sympathetic to all that I went through in order to get to where I am today. The piece, especially the printed article was wonderful. Not a hint of sensationalism and hit the nail on the head. So down to Earth was she, that we remained in contact via Facebook throughout the months.

A week ago Monday, Kristina sent me an email wondering if I would be interested in being interviewed again for ABC in light of all that was going on. OF COURSE!! Unfortunately, nothing came of it that day even after they interrupted Oprah for the president's speech on what he was going to do to stop this problem. Turns out, Vicodin is the number one prescribed medication in the country AND the number one abused medication to boot. Alas, no one was interested until Wednesday morning.

It was around 11:30am when my phone started glowing up with all of these (212) area code numbers (the area code for Manhattan). Kristina called telling me they were interested, but she wouldn't be doing the interview, but someone from Diane Sawyer's people would. WOW!! After explaining that I couldn't call them, they would have to call me (that's how we addicts in the program roll) that shouldn't be a problem. Soon after, Susan Schwartz who turns out to be Diane Sawyer's producer called and asked would it be possible for me to make it into the city for an on air, in studio interview? No, I couldn't. See, months prior I made a commitment for a speaking engagement and THAT comes first. She pulled out the big guns and said she would be willing to, get this, send a car to Huntington to "pick up you and your dog, Elvis" (like I'm sitting at home drunk with power saying I won't go anywhere without HIM!!!)! Knowing full well that I would NOT make it back in time from Lincoln Center I had to tell her no, but she could come here. She said ok and again, soon after I received a call from a gal named Sarah Netter who came to the house with her crew and was nice enough, but seemed more concerned with getting a story. It took the crew 45 minutes to set up the cameras and such all the while, Elvis was locked in the upstairs bathroom pooping on the floor. Well, you know what they say about kids and animals in regards to showbiz...

So, Sarah grilled me for a good 25 minutes asking me some pretty good questions: How did this all come about? What would you say to the 17 year old girl who is experimenting with pills and thinks what happened to you couldn't happen to her? What would you say to your 26 year old self now knowing all that you do? What does the future hold for me? Things of that nature..It all ended up on the cutting room floor. Hey, believe me I understand that's the nature of news media, but after seeing the piece, I was disappointed. Sure, 16 seconds of face time on a MAJOR network news show is awesome, but left a bad taste in my mouth so I decided to take matters into my own hands, and last Saturday evening produced my own piece. I got to say what you didn't get to hear and see.

You can find the original ABC interview online at, I believe or just enter my name: Carolyn Alfieri along with either: Suboxone, drug addiction, pills or ABC. I would post it here, but what's the point. As for the rebuttal video, you can view it on my Facebook page. Remember, the camera does add five pounds!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No, I'm not dead.......yet!

Hey gang, it's me....Carolyn!!
I know it's been awhile and believe me, I've been living this thing called life (you know that stuff that happens in-between sleep and well, sleep, I guess) and reeling in the experiences that I've been bursting at the seems of my Levis to share with you!!! All good stuff....even the not so great stuff is good, and truth be told, I haven't had anything bad happen since last we spoke.
So, do me a solid.....if you're new to my Facebook page and, really even if you're not, reread my blog postings and feed my ego. Tell me that I'm witty and brave and that you CAN'T wait to hear more of what I have to say because I'm just THAT damn amusing!!
Ever since my Carpal Tunnel surgery in 2008, I've been taking full advantage of the fact I can write manually so, I have notebooks and notebooks and pads and scraps of papers with all my experiences that need to be fine tuned and put out for the world to see!
I have NO choice but to get published. See, I want my hands and neck tattooed but I won't do that until I become the female David Sedaris.
So, if Snooki can get a book deal........I can't so, right now all I have is this.

Thank everyone and if you're reading this, I love and appreciate you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Do You Know Me? I Am SO Famous!!!!!

Well, Andy was right, I'm in the midst of my 15 seconds of fame. What was to be 15 minutes was whittled down to a sound bite in the middle of a report on something that had nothing to do with what I was interviewed about...but that's ok! I'll take it.

It started with a text at around 6:40pm from a friend that read, "did I just see you on tv playing with your dog?". Turns out, yours truly made the 6:30pm slot on ABC Nightly News with none other than Diane Sawyer!! Who'da thunk it!? An audience of 9 million people have seen my face and it was for something good!!

All day, my phone rang, I received numerous text messages and emails from well wishers, and I actually had to leave a meeting earlier than I'd like to because I was a bit of a distraction.

It's funny, when you get a little bit of attention on a national level your mind goes to "funny" places: what if people see me on the street and think, "there's that junkie from the news the other day". What if they try to kidnap Elvis?

When I was a child, my dream was to be an actress. Then that transformed into wanting to get into obstetrics (don't ask). Then the world caught up with me and I had to "get real" so...I studied the arts of China. Why? I couldn't tell you....

I know this post is extremely fragmented and doesn't flow like my others but that's where my mind is. Right now I don't have any charming anectdotes to tell you. I just want to

I've made a name for myself in the recovery circuit in my area and that's the kind of fame I like. I'm not cut out to be Cher; I prefer to be behind the scenes with a pad and a pencil, or in this case...a finger and an iPad, and write. That's what I do. all the 8 to 9 million people who saw me on the idiot box last night..........BUY MY BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!! (when it comes out),

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Know What They Say...

I'm on a roll so I apologize for my late night ramblings and rantings, but I have a lot on my mind lately. Something in particular is really getting my goat tonight. I went to post it on Facebook, but I was cut off mid sentence so, aren't you lucky!!

Here's the deal:

Those of us from the Valley of the Sun are all too familiar with a highly revered publicly appointed gasbag named Joe Arpiao. Joe was elected, back in 1992 as the sheriff of Maricopa County. It's county seat being of course, Phoenix. Right from the start Joe was Hell bent on "kicking ass and taking names". One of his biggest claims is that he was bold enough to give Elvis Presley a speeding ticket back in 1957. His belief, and mine too until I was actually there was that jail is not a resort, so he took away coffee and porn and cut back on frivolous spending for silly things like food. Green balogna sandwiches were on the menu and pink underwear and handcuffs were all the rage. Oh, and let's not forget the world famous tent city. Yes, all of this helped Joe earn the moniker "World's Toughest Sheriff". Perhaps you've seen him on shows? I have. You know, those jail shows that they show late at night. Joe is tough on crime and anyone who looks like they weren't born here in the good ol' U S of A.

I subscribe to, the Phoenix area newspaper, the Arizona Republic online. Over the weekend, I noticed that there was a new section that posts the days' mugshots from his 4th Avenue jail. Now, I know that if you go to MCSO's website you can see the past three days mugshots and what they are for, but this is right there on the front page.
Here's my beef: if we are all presumed innocent before trial (as is the American way), why do this? It ruins lives. As someone who has had her share of photo sessions at the various precincts in the metro Phoenix area, I know that some of these people will eventually clean up and get their shit together. You know, start rebuilding their lives and put the wreckage of the past behind them. This will follow FOREVER.

I posted a comment that was not unlike this tirade here under the pictures and was told to stop whining. That if they didn't break the law, this wouldn't be an issue. Oh, sure..I thought that, too. Then I had run-ins with the law. I didn't start my wayward years until I was in my 30s. Prior to that, all I had was parking tickets. No one is exempt from tragedy or unforsee circumstances that lead them down a path of crime.. It can happen to you. Mine happened to be a foray into the world of drug addiction. I became addicted to the ritual of abuse and the short lived feeling thereafter; I couldn't get enough. I look at these people, and a large portion of them are in ther for drug offenses and I see me.

But, you what they say about go on vacation, you leave on probation.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Its the Big Things In Life.

I wouldn't consider myself someone who scares easily. Given what I've experienced in my 40 short years walking the Earth: the many deaths of loved ones, being arrested, overdoses, ghosts, Long Island....I have a pretty strong reserve. Part of being in recovery is the true introspection of oneself; finding the root of our fears and then basically rendering them inert. Fear of financial insecurity, being misunderstood, relapse, a turn for the worse in regards to my health..these are things that should frighten me, but they don't. Maybe it was all the years of "living on the edge" while I was active in my addiction and "winging it" or being raised by the royal family of "Disfunction Junction" that I have this sense of "everything will come together eventually; I can make it happen with little effort". Hell, when I was using, I couldn't come up with enough money to pay the APS (Arizona Public Service) bill, but if I needed $300.00 to cop some "smack" within the hour...DONE. I believe it was Ozzy Osbourne who said in his biography, I Am Ozzy: " addicts are a resourceful lot. Tell a junkie the only way he will be able to score his next fix is to find the cure for Cancer, it would be eradicated in minutes.". Sad yes, but true. So no, it's not the mundane "normal" fears like everyone else worries about that plague me. That would be too easy. Nope, my fears are what you'd call irrational. Nonsensical. Completely unfounded given the circumstances of my upbringing, or rather, the location of my upbringing.

For the better part of my life, I've known many a person afraid of the following (in no particular order): clowns, midgets (excuse me, little people), the dark, public speaking, flying, bugs, death, dogs, UFOs, dolls, wooden utensils, and the list goes on and on. Clowns never bothered me and that's one I don't get. Little people, I can see that, but I've met a few and well, they were okay in my book. The dark? Okay, when I was younger I was TERRORFIED of the dark. Now, I love it. Now that I know what's in it. Public speaking? LOVE it; I do it every week; I love an audience. (did you know more people would rather die than speak in public? It's the number one fear). Flying? Mom was a pilot. Judy Garland was born in a trunk? I was born in a Cessna. Bugs? Eh..spiders creep me out. Death? The dying part worries me, but death itself? HELL NO!!!! Dogs? Elvis!!?? UFOs? Never seen one. I want to because I have a hard time believing. (which leads me to believe I'm being abducted and programmed to not remember. 1981 is a blur to me). You get the gist.....

None of that stuff scares me. I've been in homes and places where I'm almost willing to bet I was in the presence of true evil, if not the devil himself. I've been in aeroplanes that dipped and shook harder than Charo. Didn't even bat an eye.
Wanna know what scares me? What shakes me to my inner core? What just sitting here writing about it causes me great anxiety?

Giant Squid.

Well, any sea creature to be honest. You know, out there in the ocean they have the ability to grow unlike their brethren in tanks. I saw on NatGeo a documentary on the octopus and there was one in the Indian Ocean who's head was the size of a house. In fact, on the SciFi channel they are running commercials for a new series on mythical beasts; there is one in particular that gives me nightmares: the one with the giant squid who's tentacles come up through the water and engulf a huge wooden ship. Carolyn's version of Hell, ladies and gentlemen. I think what may have sparked this fear was Walt Disney. See, growing up we had this thick book on the art of Disney and there was a pull out picture of the giant squid attacking the Nautalis in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. All I can see is that huge eye. Egad...
I have no desire to go whale watching (lest they capsize the boat). Don't want to swim with the dolphins (remind me too much of sharks...another fear worthy of it's own blog). No, see, I believe that we have no business traipsing around the ocean. Too many big things with teeth and tentacles. I grew up in a desert where there were no giant squid in my neck of the woods so I grasp that this fear is what you'd call irrational, and I'm sure that baring any unforeseen nautical excursions (sans the Connecticut ferry) that way go array, I'll never have to face my fear. But knowing is half the battle.

So, I suppose I'll read my book on the ins and outs of the funeral business and embalming (with pictures), then mosey on up to my haunted bedroom to get some well deserved rest after tonights speaking obligation. Either that or watch a few on demand episodes of, "Little People, Big World". You know, so I can relax...