The holidays are stressful enough for anyone, but especially for a college student trying to knock out those last finals and preparation for the spring semester. The flood of Holiday parties is upon us. There are celebrations going on around our cities and for those of us in recovery this is a great time, and also a time to be vigilant! This remark is not only for the holidays but all year round, “READ THE LABEL!”
A few years ago I went to a department store and was shopping for some clothes. I was presented with a gift at the register for spending an amount which gave me the opportunity to receive this gift. The gift was a box of chocolates! How exciting! I am a huge chocolate lover so this was an added bonus for my shopping adventure. I go home and begin to get settled. I open this perfectly wrapped box of chocolate goodness and looked at the grid on the inside lid that indicated chocolate covered peanuts and other delectable treats. I picked out my first treat, then my second… it had an odd taste I turned the box over and read the actual ingredients and began to panic! There were three out of the five chocolates that had champagne in them. I spit out the remaining morsel and telephoned friends. I remember thinking I cannot believe they did not tell me these chocolates had alcohol in them! Nor did they ask me for an ID, I was barely over the legal age to purchase alcohol at that time. After settling down I realized that it was not their responsibility to tell ME that the chocolates had champagne in them. I should have read the label. How were they to know the potential impact these chocolates could have had on me. They did not know that I do not drink or that I’m a person in recovery. I began to think about all the times that I never read the labels of different things that I didn’t think to check before. This situation doesn’t just end here.
Another example of this is energy drinks. There is an energy drink named Viva Zen which contains a habit forming ingredient street named, Kratom. Its scientific name on the ingredient list is Mitragyna speciosa. As noted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on a Drug and Chemical evaluation in 2013, “Kratom has been described as producing both stimulant and sedative effects. At low doses, it produces stimulant effects, with users reporting increased alertness, physical energy, talkativeness and sociable behavior. At high doses, opiate effects are produced, in addition to sedative and euphoric effects… Kratom consumption can lead to addiction.” These drinks can be found at your average drug store or gas station. It is unfortunate that some ingredients such as this one is not as highlighted to let the purchaser know exactly what is in the drinks they are buying. This is why it is important to know what ingredients are in a product that you are purchasing. Currently, there is not a guideline for products that contain Kratom to be noted with a warning on the packaging.
This precipitates us into another discussion. The holiday season is also a time for family, friends, and coworkers to have holiday parties. These parties usually are where everyone brings a dish and shares treats with one another. This is also a situation where you want to ask, “What’s in this?” I personally had an experience where I was getting a piece of cake at a work party, and asked what was in it and learned it had tequila in the ingredients. Asking questions is very important especially in the work place. Sometimes we work at places where we choose not to disclose that we are in recovery to coworkers. This can lead to us mistakenly grabbing a treat that has alcohol in it because no one knows to tell us that it was made with alcohol. This means we need to be vigilant and pay attention to our surroundings in order to prevent mishaps.
I am sure you can guess why it is important to ask questions and read labels of items you have not tried before. As a person who is in long term recovery from a substance use disorder, I can personally tell you that mistakes happen and situations can be out of our control and that is ok. Our journey is about learning from mistakes and working on ourselves to be better than we were the day before. That is why it is important to be vigilant in our own life. We learn and have experiences in our life that enable us to make better decisions, and we share those experiences to help others know that mistakes happen. Our recovery is our responsibility, and so are the questions that we ask to prevent making small mistakes that could lead to somewhere we don’t want to go!
Life of Purpose Treatment
3848 FAU Boulevard, Suite 100
Boca Raton, FL 33431