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cocheese , 28 Jan 2011

Building a Fellowship-- Dermatillomania Anonymous& 12 steps

I am in a 12 step program and been in recovery from alcohol and drugs for 15 months now. I have recovered from my substance addictions by completing steps 1-9 with a sponsor and living steps 10-12 on a daily basis. I have used the spiritual tools given to me in the program to address my picking problem as well. They are extremely useful and when applied I find the compulsion to pick my face leaves me for sometime, however I have not yet been able to indefinitely abstain from the behavior. This is not surprising to me since one of the biggest aspects of the 12 steps is sharing experiences about the problem with others who have the same issues and can understand, to the very core of their being, one another’s struggles-- This forum is a God-send as it is providing the missing piece to the puzzle for me. Today I found this website. It is the first time I have ever been able to put an exact name to this issue which have plagued me so- DERMATILLOMANIA It sounds extreme to say I got tears in my eyes as I was reading, but this website has confirmed for me, that which I had known for so long-- That my deepest desperate desire to end this behavior is not adequate enough alone to make it stop. Above, I mention this forum as a 'God-send' which may also be perceived as strong language. I use the term "God" to describe a spiritual entity (higher power) and do not impose any religious beliefs on my fellows. It is up to oneself to find and define a "God" of their own choosing when working a 12-step program. I absolutely know with all my heart that the twelve steps can change even the most seemingly helpless conditions. We can build a fellowship (even if its only two people but more must always be welcome) to take this journey together. -W.C.
10 Answers
January 31, 2011
Hello, I've also been looking for some sort of 12-step group for dermatillomania. I have had this problem for years, and therapy and medication haven't been effective. Add to that that I now no longer have health insurance, and I need a new way of trying to live with this and overcome it. I know that for me anxiety and OCD are the underlying causes of the dermatillomania, but I think it could be helpful to focus on the action itself as an addiction. I would welcome the opportunity join with others in an online 12-step group.
February 03, 2011

In reply to by sct123

Hi! Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you, I was started to doubt whether or not anyone was going to respond to my topic. I noticed your post on the other thread asking about what the 12 steps are. As best I can, I will summarize my understanding of them which has been passed onto me by my sponsor and the fellowship I am apart of which is A.A. The 12 steps come from the Big Book of alcoholics anonymous and are used to treat a variety of "ailments." I know people who have used them to recover from drug addiction, alcoholism, over eating and others who have gone through them for personal growth. Basically, they are a design for living, a spiritual program, and a way to turn the problems I am powerless over (when self-control has failed me again and again) and put them into the hands of a higher power. When I started doing them I realized that 1. I couldn’t fix myself, that I had tried and failed and 2. That doctor, medications and my family had tried to fix me and failed. I was left with just one question: I am willing to be open to the idea that something greater then myself can fix me. When my sponsor asked me that last question, whether I was willing to believe that a higher power 0f my understanding could fix me, I was desperate and ready to try anything that could help me. As I went through the steps they illuminated the things that blocked me from my higher power (fear and resentments) and cleared them away so that now I am living in constant contact with my higher power so that when I get urges to behave in ways that I know are harmful I can invite a more powerful energy as a defense against them. It can really freak some people out hearing that it is a spiritual program that involves a “higher power” but ask yourself ‘do you need help?’ and ‘could it hurt giving it a try?’ If you are willing to get help and ready to give this a try we can start with the 1st step. I will be joining you on this journey myself. If you are interested please let me know and I will post my step 1 exploration for you to look at and guide you through yours as well. W.p.
February 25, 2011

In reply to by cocheese

Hello, I have been plauged with dermatillomania since childhood, and cannot redily identify why I do it! It is like an obsession with having smooth skin and I cannot stand the feel of a scab on my body, so I pick it! I had alcohol problems in my past, not so much that I seeked help, but I can honestly say I was a binge drinker in my early 20's to the point I would black out. If that answers the above question, I did deal with dermatillomania before my drinking became a problem. Now as a mother I find myself doing this even more because of the stress that comes with parenting and marriage! I sometimes won't even notice I am doing it until substancial damage has already been done! I really do need help! I tell myself that this is disgusting and that I would have smooth skin if I could just stop! I put bandaid's on certain areas of my skin and let them heal while I pick the rest of my body. I fear misquitoes in the summer because I know if I get bit, I will scratch, and scratch, and scratch! I have had misquito bites that don't heal until well past November. I finally confided in my husband about my problem. He couldn't tell because he has a vision problem, but I am sure everyone else notices. I just want to be better, I cannot do it myself! I don't feel depressed, just occasionally stressed! I would be VERY open to trying the 12 step approach! And what a releif that I am not alone in my suffering. How great to get this off of my chest and not feel like an outsider! I think that we could help each other more than anyone else could understand!
February 22, 2011
I am also a recovering alcoholic /addict. I have been in recovery for 11 yrs.For the past week I have been researching info on picking and pulling. As I was emailing a supposed specialist in my area (wanting help-as usual-the fee is way beyond my means) and sort of laid out a short bio-I was wondering if other recovering addicts found when the drugs and alcohol were put down if the derm/trich picked up. Even before reading the information I knew stress,anxiety, feelings of inadequacy,etc..were the fuel. read many postings about how people would "zone" out or NOT feel during these picking sessions. I don't so much as "zone "out-but -yes-I can see how this is the same concept as cutting. For a bit-it's like letting the pain drain out. Well-maybe I do zone -I'm always surprised that 2 or 3 hrs have gone by. (I pick while reading. And at night after washing makeup off) I know I'm skipping around here-I now have so much swirling in my head it all wants to come out. So-back to after putting the alcohol/drugs down--I wonder how many others may have similar experience. (How i found this post) And was thinking on the same lines-that God and the 12 steps got me sober and keep me sober, could they work for this too? In a lot of ways-all this falls into the same pot. Fear,insecurities,shame,guilt..resentments.The more u do the worse these get the more u do. the vicious "hamster wheel" theory. I have prayed on this a lot. Asking him to relieve me of this urge to keep hurting myself. To not let me make myself bleed or pick until the bald spot gets so big I won't leave the house.So-yea in a lot of ways all the same but so different. I just can't stop. Even playing out the consequences. ( as we like to say in AA-play the movie all the way thru) I've read many stories-most have been suffering for a very long time. A lot have tried the therapies. Medications. Behavioral therapies. And most are still suffering. There's so much more to my story. I just wanted to sort of kick it off and see if maybe there are other recovering people out there who may have been afflicted with these disorders (dermo. /tricho.) before ever picking up the first drink/drug. And it bears repeating--talking of a higher power, a God as we understand Him,-is NOT based on any religion. Spirituality and religion are 2 totally different concepts. Thanks for listening. R.S.
February 26, 2011
i'm open to learning more about 12 steps as well. i've never had too big of a problem with substance abuse...but alcoholism runs in my family and i definitely binge drank in my early 20's. luckily i've "grown out" of wanting to do that...but i definitely have to be careful with alcohol. anyways, until joining this forum, i don't think i really gave the problem the full respect and credit it deserved. i thought this was something i was dealing with on my own (honestly, my bf came home a while back and said he was reading online about a guy who was trying to cope with his girlfriend's obsessive picking - i was so pissed that he would make up a story like that to try and get me to stop picking. i truly couldn't believe anyone would write anything about this!) thank you for making the connection btwn dermatillomania and substance recovery. i never would have thought of that. anyways, i'm open to reading/learning more.
February 27, 2011
Hello W.C I am also a member of a couple of 12 step fellowships (AA & CA) I am a gratefully recovering from the compulsion to drink and get high, I've been sober for 6 months and have been through the big book. My new ism causing me a shit storm of problems is my face picking :( I am so disturbed and sick about it. Presently i am suffering from a second outbreak of impetigo as a direct result of my obsessive picking and makeup application. I still go to my meetings but am so self conscious sometimes i would like to crawl into a hole, I am a pretty 26 year old woman who is destroying her skin:(. I also considered applying 12 steps to skin picking and I had some success, I also prayed my ass off! You know if I can be restored to sanity from terrifying addictions by my higher power whom I choose to call God there is no reason He cannot remove the obsession to pick. I identify so much with you and I really hope to hear back. I think you are on the right track, what we cannot do alone we seem to be able to do together. Sincerely Andrea
February 28, 2011
So what is step one of the 12? Let's get started and work on this together! I am ready!!!
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March 15, 2013
I am also in a 12-step program and been relieved of my compulsion for drugs and alcohol for 8 years, but I CANNOT stop picking. I am finally in therapy and really working on it there, and working on it thru the steps with a sponsor. At this point I am feeling quite hopeless like all this work is futile. I can feel like it is getting better for some time and be really happy about my progress, but then it comes back and feels worse then ever. I know I use it to avoid feeling and it gives a feeling of bliss. I know that I am completely powerless over this, part of me does not want to let it go. I cannot do this alone.
March 15, 2013
I am also in a 12-step program and been relieved of my compulsion for drugs and alcohol for 8 years, but I CANNOT stop picking. I am finally in therapy and really working on it there, and working on it thru the steps with a sponsor. At this point I am feeling quite hopeless like all this work is futile. I can feel like it is getting better for some time and be really happy about my progress, but then it comes back and feels worse then ever. I know I use it to avoid feeling and it gives a feeling of bliss. I know that I am completely powerless over this, part of me does not want to let it go. I cannot do this alone.

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