Addiction Is Everywhere-Stop Running From It

By Amber McChesney

Addiction is everywhere Stop running from it!

I saw her right away. She was dirty…had skimpy clothes on. Pale and thin. She was walking around the parking lot aimlessly, searching for someone to help her reach the goal of her next high.

Her veins were covered with bruises. She looked like someone who “normal” or “good” people should be afraid of. I can’t take my eyes off her.

Her eyes…they are empty. Big…bloodshot…black underneath, probably lack of sleep along with the damage from the hell she is caught up in.

The woman who was talking to me stops in mid-sentence and looks at her in disgust. She motions for another employee to call the police, they can’t have such trash around their business.

My mind immediately whispers. What if she knew my past…would she be afraid of me? This broken, empty, shell of a woman who is walking around outside …has never crossed my path before. I have never spoken a word to her…yet I know her so well.

Under the belly shirt she is wearing I see stretch marks across her stomach where she carried a human life……she is someone’s mother.

I don’t know her name, but I know her fears, her pain, and I can feel the emptiness inside of her soul. For a split second, we make eye contact and I swear at that moment chills swept over my body.
I wanted to take her pain…just erase the demon that has overtaken her body. Her mind…her life. I don’t feel afraid of her…I don’t judge her.

I want to run to her and save her. But I know I can’t. I see me in her. I look at the terrified employee, who has talked to me like I am one of the “normal” ones, and I say to her…. I was her. Don’t judge her, pray for her…the shame she feels day after day is worse than anything you can put on her. She just nodded and smiled.

It’s funny, we’ve spent so much time arguing not long ago about a flag. We’ve put so much effort into “fixing” that problem.
Why can’t we all come together and try to conquer a demon that is taking over the world our children are growing up in?

Addiction is everywhere you go. If we stopped running from it, maybe we could make a difference. It takes ONE person to make a change.

Never judge something that you know nothing about. If you can’t step up to the solution, keep your mouth closed about the problem. 😔

TWELFTH STEP MESSAGE

TWELFTH STEP – MESSAGEBUT REMEMBER TO TAKE THE MESSAGE WITH YOU!!!

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.

A hallmark of 12 step recovery programs is the offer of anonymity to participants, but the principle goes deeper than just not revealing last names.

In order to keep the focus on principles and not personalities, personal anonymity should be maintained at all levels of participation in 12 step fellowship — in meetings, in 12th step work, and even in sponsorship. Anonymity is maintained not so much for the protection of the individual as for the protection of the program.

Heroin Overdoses

Heroin Overdoses In Florida

We need rehabilitation, education and support to fight this epidemic. It is killing people of all ages and demographics.

It’s not a city or rural problem, or particular type of people problem; addiction does not discriminate.

Please speak out and become part of the solution.

All Humans Unalienable Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

I have the right to be treated with respect.
I have the right to say no and not feel guilty.
I have the right to feel and express my feelings.
I have the right to change my mind.
I have the right to ask for what I want.
I have the right to express myself openly without concern for my well-being.
I have the right to move freely within my country not causing harm to others.
I have the right toattitudeiseverything make decisions concerning my health and my body.
I have the right to feel good about myself.
I have the right to behave in ways that promote my dignity, self-respect and self esteem as long as others are not violated or impacted negatively.

REEL Recovery Film Festival

REEL Recovery Film FestivalHi hope you are doing well.
InTheRooms.com is producing the Fort Lauderdale Reel Recovery Film Festival this year, Nov. 4-6 at the Classic Gateway Theatre. This is an excellent marketing tool and your support will benefit the work you are doing. This is the perfect venue to showcase to the South Florida Recovery Community. It also includes time to speak to the attendees, included in packages.
Please take a look and let me know how you would like to participate.
http://intherooms.org/reelrecovery/
Be well and call me if you have questions and to finalize your sponsorship..

Marc J Dunn, RC, TOT
CCAR Certified
mjdunn@bellsouth.net
954-665-3770

InTheRooms.com is producing the Fort Lauderdale Reel Recovery Film Festival this year, Nov. 4-6 at the Classic Gateway Theatre. This is an excellent marketing tool and your support will benefit the work you are doing. This is the perfect venue to showcase to the South Florida Recovery Community. It also includes time to speak to the attendees, included in packages.

InTheRooms.com is producing the Fort Lauderdale Reel Recovery Film Festival this year, Nov. 4-6 at the Classic Gateway Theatre. This is an excellent marketing tool and your support will benefit the work you are doing. This is the perfect venue to showcase to the South Florida Recovery Community. It also includes time to speak to the attendees, included in packages.

Recovery Coach Recovery Coach Recovery Coach Recovery Coach Recovery Coach

To Prevent Addiction In Adults, Help Teens Learn How To Cope


by Eliane Korry
Addiction is a pediatric disease,” says Dr. John Knight, founder and director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children’s Hospital. “When adults entering addiction treatment are asked when they first began drinking or using drugs, the answer is almost always the same: They started when they were young — teenagers,” said Knight.

Smoking, drinking and some forms of drug use among teens have declined in the U.S. in recent years, but an estimated 2.2 million adolescents — 8.8 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 years old — are currently using an illicit drug, according to a 2014 Behavioral Health Barometer prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Drug use changes brain development, and when substances are used during adolescence, young people are much more likely to become addicted, Knight said. “When people start using at younger ages, the changes in brain structure and function are very, very pronounced,” he explained. “If we could only get kids to postpone their first drink or their first use of drugs, we could greatly diminish the prevalence of addiction in the U.S.”

And in some places, teenagers may be using more, sooner. “In the last several years, it seems like the kids that we see in services are far sicker than in the past,” said Sara Ellsworth, clinical supervisor at True North Student Assistance and Treatment Services in Olympia, Wash.

Last year, True North served nearly 700 students in 44 mostly rural school districts. Increasingly, she said, kids who come for help have a history of victimization or significant trauma, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, parental incarceration or substance abuse, rape or homicide. More than half also had at least one mental health disorder.

Despite some improvements in the national youth substance abuse numbers, Ellsworth has witnessed a disturbing new pattern: kids who start using alcohol or marijuana at ever younger ages as a form of self-medication, who quickly escalate to more dangerous drugs, and who wind up using multiple substances in extreme amounts. “Maybe the average kid is using less and doing better, but the kids who are falling through the cracks are spiraling down, really fast,” she said.

About 10 percent of Americans will develop a substance-use disorder at some point in their lives and need therapeutic services, according to Rob Vincent, a SAMHSA public health analyst. But those services are hard to come by, especially for youth.

“Once a child 12 to 17 years old is identified as needing treatment, only 1 in 20 of those adolescents is actually getting treatment. That is not a good number,” said Vincent.

So public health officials and researchers are making the case for prevention instead. Dealing with drug and alcohol abuse after the fact is a costly, impractical approach, so public health officials and researchers are making the case for early detection and intervention instead.

The leading prevention strategy, dubbed SBIRT — Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment — is deployed in schools, afterschool programs and most widely, in primary and public health care.

Most pediatricians routinely screen patients for substance problems during annual visits. That’s a big change from just 20 years ago, when the American Academy of Pediatrics found that fewer than half of pediatricians reported they were screening adolescents for substance use. By 2013, that percentage had risen to more than 80 percent, according to Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the adolescent substance abuse program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“I interpret that as a real shift in culture, from one in which there was controversy over whether drug use was a legitimate topic for pediatricians to address to one in which it’s now part of the standard of care,” Levy said. She sees the pediatrician’s office as an ideal place to discuss substance abuse. “It’s a unique setting in which an adolescent gets to have a confidential conversation” with an adult who is not their parent.

Doctors use one of a variety of screening tools, including one, called CRAFFT, that was developed by Knight. It asks six questions, including: “Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who was “high” or had been using alcohol or drugs?”

In many doctors’ offices, the survey is now computerized or given as a questionnaire before the CRAFFT screening test here; it’s available in 13 languages, including Khmer and Haitian Creole.)

Other screening tools widely in use are called frequency-based screens. Those tools use multiple-choice questions, which ask teenagers how often they have used alcohol or marijuana to predict their risk of developing an addiction.

If screening turns up troubling behavior, the second step is brief intervention. In the doctor’s office, which could be a five-minute conversation with the two elements that Knight says comprise a good brief intervention: science and stories. “What they want from doctors is, ‘tell us what the science is, and don’t tell us what to do; give us the information and trust us to make the right decisions.’ ”

The intervener can also be a therapist, counselor or youth-development worker. They often use what’s called “motivational interviewing.” That’s the approach used by Elizabeth D’Amico, a licensed clinical psychologist and senior behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation, who developed CHOICE, a voluntary afterschool prevention and intervention program in California.

“Motivational interviewing is about guiding someone to make a healthy choice,” D’Amico said, “versus saying, ‘Okay, you have a problem and you need to change.’ ”

Counselors have to acknowledge there are reasons why young people use alcohol or drugs, D’Amico said. “You lose all your credibility if you just say, ‘It’s bad for you, stop.’ ”

Instead, motivational interviewing is more collaborative, said D’Amico. For example, if a teen says he drinks to relax, the counselor can help him to think of other, healthier ways to relieve stress. Studies have found a modest benefit in the program, with some students delaying drinking.

The third step of a prevention strategy, referral to treatment, connects youth who need more care with specialty treatment. Levy said most teenagers with a drug or alcohol problem don’t need a residential program, or even an intensive outpatient program. Instead, they’ll do fine working one-on-one with a counselor, she said.

In Washington, Ellsworth at True North Student Assistance and Treatment Services says that students served by the prevention programming have done better. In the last academic year, students said their use of marijuana and cocaine declined by half after participating in the program, and alcohol use declined by one-third. Participants also had better grades and fewer behavior problems at school.

Even the computerized CRAFFT screening, with a few minutes of counseling by a pediatrician, has been shown to deter substance use, according to a study led by

Knight and published in the journal Pediatrics in 2002. “The intervention resulted in 40 percent less substance use three months after the visit, and 12 months later there was still 25 percent less use, without any reinforcement. That’s pretty powerful,” said Knight.

Prevention is a cost-effective proposition, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), with every dollar invested in keeping kids off drugs saving from $4 in health-care costs to $7 in law enforcement and other criminal justice costs. According to NIDA, research-based prevention programs can significantly reduce early use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Yet according to Knight, “of all the money that is spent by the federal government on the so-called war on drugs, only 5 percent goes to prevention.” That’s a shortsighted approach, he said. “The evidence is compelling that addiction is a pediatric disease, and if we don’t prevent it during the teen years, we’re really missing the boat.”

A Recovery Coach Answers Critical Questions

We see so much about addiction in the media and on TV, but many people have a lot of questions about sobriety, what it means and how it will change their lives. Here some answers anyone ready for a change needs to know.

What Is The Point of Sobriety?

Survival. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. The point of sobriety is ‘life over death’. Addiction is a chronic progressive disease that, if untreated, will end in death.

What Is Sobriety?

Sobriety is described as the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc.

What Is The Difference Between Sobriety And Recovery?

We can achieve sobriety by self-willed abstinence. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. The easier and undisciplined way, which is abstinence only, affords a less stressful lack of commitment. It does not involve much self-awareness or inner change.

Recovery is a planned change of lifestyle designed not only to prolong life, but also make it more joyous and free. If the point of sobriety is recovery; then we can have a quality of life with more enjoyment, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance

Questions To Answer When Making A Recovery Plan

We need to know some basic facts before working with a client as a Recovery Coach, the same facts suggested by The Bridge, a publication of the Addiction Treatment Technology Centers. These facts should be used to learn a plan, which the client will write him/herself based on what they have revealed about themselves and other facts of their lifestyle the RC must learn from them:

  1. Full substance abuse history as well as current use
  2. Age, gender, marital status, partner status (sexual activity) and educational status
  3. Occupation & Financial Status
  4. Culture & Ethnicity
  5. Medical, Psychiatric, Psychology and treatment history
  6. Self knowledge of substance abuse
  7. Readiness and Motivation
  8. Spiritual or Religious beliefs and activity
  9. Personal-finances, job, housing, family, support

Are There Alternatives to 12-Step Programs?

Yes. Some people are not comfortable in the beginning of their recovery journey with the 12-step approach, but may come to it later in recovery. Those who dislike the AA approach are especially vulnerable to relapse, as there may be no other place to go for ongoing support. But alternatives do exist and include the following:

• Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART)
• A women’s group called WFS
• SOS a self-help program that does not include spirituality
• Life Ring
• Moderation Management

There are many ways to change your life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need someone like a Recovery Coach, especially if they don’t go to AA meetings, to get them back on track.
See Spotlight on Marc Dunn and find him at www.marcjdunn.com

Recovery and Sobriety

by Marc Dunn

Much is being written about addiction and recovery, many doctors and scientists are weighing in with their researched studies, and addiction counselors are adding their experiences to the onslaught of information. Occasionally an ex-addict or person in recovery will rush to the defense of whatever program it was that did or did not work for them.

As a recovering alcoholic/addict I am disturbed by the lack of perspective and first hand knowledge leading the discussions.

A new dynamic that has been introduced with more zeal lately is the elimination of addiction through medication. Not new in the sense it has never been tried but that it is the new cure. The opinion among those seeking a non-12 Step cure is that religion plays to big a role in 12 Step Programs and that scientists have developed medications that if taken as prescribed can cure addiction. One of the offshoots of this approach is that some are better off with a life of moderation rather than total abstinence.

The disease of addiction is a gradual deteriorative affliction that devastates entire families and will continue to do so unless the addict member takes action to live a life of sobriety: physically and mentally. It affects the person who is addicted, that person’s family and everyone who interacts with that person.

Consider the following just about alcohol addiction (similar facts exists about all addictions):
• Alcohol dependence and abuse cost the US approximately $220 billion in 2005. For the sake of comparison, this was greater than the amount of money spent to combat cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).
• An estimated 43% of US adults have had someone related to them who is presently, or was, an alcoholic.
• 6.6 million Minors in the US live with an alcoholic mother or father.
• About 24 million US residents battle an alcohol addiction in a recovery program
• Greater than 50% of grownups in the US have had knowledge of someone in their immediate family with an alcohol problem.
• Around a quarter of all children experience some form of alcoholism in their families before they turn 18
• 40% of alcoholism is passed down through the gene pool, while the other 60% stems from unknown circumstances.
• 500,000 US Children ages 9-12 are addicted to alcohol.
• Studies show that the offspring of alcoholics have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics themselves than those whose parents are clean.

It is generally conceded by medical people who even patients seeking a strictly medication cure need a therapy, and only a select few can moderate their drinking for a lengthy period without relapsing into addiction. Another reason that gives rise to this discussion is the small number of people who recover in any treatment programs.

Medication as a cure for addiction is not new; it dates back to ancient times including our own 19th & 20th century flirtations with morphine, Valium, steroids and LSD. Even within the last 50 years doctors prescribed barbiturates and benzodiazepines for withdrawal symptoms. This often led to a new addiction or multi-addictions.

There are now three new drugs being used to break down alcohol and make it less effective, physically repugnant, cut hangovers and to block the receptors in the brain that create the pleasure from drinking/drugging. The data suggest that these medications do reduce the amount of drinking /drugging done by those taking them.

For those of us who are addicts there are two different ways of life: sobriety and/or recovery. All of us with the disease/mental health condition of addiction know this to be fact. We have lived it and can tell the differences.

What is the difference between sobriety and recovery?

Strictly speaking sobriety is the absence of mood altering substances: alcohol, narcotic drugs, pot, non-prescribed pain killers, etc. Sobriety with recovery is much more; it includes lifestyle not just abstinence.

The point of sobriety is life over death. We can make it by self-willed abstinence, the easier and undisciplined way, affording a less stressful lack of commitment, or by the action of recovery, a planned change of lifestyle designed to prolong life and make it more joyous and free. It is a medical fact that long-term alcoholism will result in a shorter more painful life, not just for the abuser but also for those closest to him/her. In abstinence we may be successful for short periods of time or indefinitely. But if the point of sobriety is recovery; then we are searching for a quality of life that includes peaceful happiness, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance, freedom and peace.

The first time I tried to stop drinking for more than a few days or weeks, it was by attending AA meetings and being stubbornly abstinent. I did it to get everyone off my back. My wife had threatened to divorce me and I thought this was the way to lessen the incessant feeling of being scrutinized every time I picked up a drink, which was often. It lasted about 3 years and I got nothing. My life did not get any better. It was a conniving attempt on my part to seem to be better. I would listen to old timers speaking of recovery and burglarize their conversations, repeating what I had heard as if they were my thoughts, pretending to have found some spirituality. It didn’t work.

I was out to dinner after about 30 months and without any premeditation said, “ It’s been 2 ½ years since I had a drink, I can probably have one with dinner.” The naïve responses were, “That’s great.” I was off and running for 6 months. The end came when I totaled my car in a blackout on the interstate, in the middle of the afternoon. Miraculously, I walked away without hurting myself or anyone else. My next step was to try recovery not abstinence. I found that they were compatible and my life could be better.

Addiction is a disease if left untreated has a predictable end, premature death. Addiction was defined as a disease by Dr. William Silkworth in the 1930’s and continues to be recognized as a disease of the mind or mental illness by the AMA and SAMSHA. This is commonly called the disease model, and is 100% part of all 12 Step programs and most treatment centers.

These reports and opinions lead to the conclusion that there may be medication to cut the effects of alcohol/drugs and even repulse the user from using them but they do nothing to change the mental health issues an addict faces. Those issues will drive him/her out again once they either stop taking the medication or just impulsively decide to use.

Addiction is more than a physical obsession and the alcohol/drug is only a symptom. Treating the symptom does not cure the disease.

There is a need for diversity of approaches to recovery; knowledge of cultural differences, mental health issues, fitness and nutrition well-being are all instrumental to being successful. The point is to open the door to a discussion of supplemental types of recovery help that may be available. If it is, as it seems to be, that medication, religious programs, addiction treatment centers and 12 Step Programs alone don’t work for everyone, what are the alternative solutions? What solutions are there for those who repetitively relapse because of their drug and/or alcohol addiction?

It is clear more than ever that no one program is for everyone. One avenue that needs to be explored is including alternative combinations of medication, therapy and spirituality. If we believe that the recovery solution must include a healing of the mind and spirit, then therapy and spiritual seeking is a must.

If 12 Step programs alone are not for everyone and people do get sober without them, what are the alternatives? It is also important to note that forcing a 12 Step program on someone from the onset may trigger a rebelliousness that precludes him or her from ever trying (which they may want to do after some time sober, as the fog begins to clear). One of the things we haven’t done very well in working with those seeking help is updating our approaches from the way they were done 50-75 years ago. It may sound like heresy, but the world has changed drastically; medical approaches are different and better. Much more is known about mental health and addiction as well as the treatment of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. They have certainly changed with improved results. Why would you go see a doctor today that was still examining and diagnosing you based on information he learned in the 1950’s? You wouldn’t.

The point is that there are other ways to change an addict’s life, but certain basic skills and patterns of behavior need to be learned for any of them to be successful. Most addicts don’t have those skills, or have not used them in so long that they need a change of lifestyle.

Recovery from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs is not easy. Most people do not succeed and the concept that one way works for everyone is outdated. The approach and implementation need to be multifaceted, there is not a one size fits all that works universally. Abstinence methods, and various forms of it, have been applied to recovery for more than 100 years in this country and our success rates are only moderately improved.

The Journal of the American Medical Association stated in its 2000 edition, “40-60 percent of people treated for alcohol or drug dependence relapse within a year after discharge.” And, if the anecdotal stories, are true,”80-90% of the people who show up at 12 Step fellowship meetings disappear after 6-12 months.”

Sadly the research about drug and alcohol addiction and our youth is even more disheartening. Research shows that anti-drug campaigns and school programs that focus on the dangers of drug use have not worked, and may even trigger experimentation. For parents and the nation, the facts are terrifying. 30% of teens regularly use marijuana, alcohol, and pills. 15% are addicted in high school. That means 15 out of every 100 high school students are at risk for death before their 20th birthday. And the numbers rise when students enter college.

The enormity of the problems addicts experience, both physically and mentally, and the quantity of human beings who have this disease has grown much over the last decade. As we understand more about it and learn the devastating long-term effect on the family as well, it is more urgent to get the message to as many as possible. If we are to arrest this disease and prevent it from further debilitating of our families we must take action. We can stop the spread of addiction within our own families. It can end with us. What greater gift could we give our children?

My daughter wrote the following about kids her age discussing their ”thing” because everyone has a “thing”, She would ask, “What’s wrong with you, tell me in three words what’s your deal”. She heard them say, “my parents are divorced”, “and my childhood sweetheart died “or” I was raped in college”. My daughter responded to her own question, “Alcoholic, addict father.”

Adult Children of Addicts have had their peace of mind stolen from them. If we are to approach addiction as a health issue and look for solutions to end the cycle of destruction it has caused for centuries then we need to look beyond abstinence, we need to look at the persons and their families that are suffering and seek multi-faceted solutions. Everyone will be better served if they are better educated about the benefits of recovery not just abstinence. The health and the health of loved ones, mental, physical and spiritual, will improve long-term and there will be less of loss of lives and more peace of mind.

We are on the precipice of a revolution of the mind, body and spirit and by becoming the faces and voices of people in recovery we can share a quality of life that includes peaceful happiness, better relationships, less expectations, more acceptance and tolerance, freedom and peace.

Substance Abuse Rampage: Report & NIH Update

NIH Report

A sobering report from the National Institute of Health offers an even more in-depth look at the potentially tragic effects of alcohol consumption, including cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and a higher risk for mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, excessive drinking kills about 88,000 Americans per year—making it the third-leading cause of lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S.
But it’s not just getting wasted that’s dangerous. Just this week the British Journal of Medicine released a study showing that even one small alcoholic beverage per day can raise your risk of heart disease—findings which call into question the concept that drinking reduces one’s risk of heart disease.

The results are the first of their kind to show how young adults’ drinking on a single occasion can affect their social status—and run in direct conflict to a plethora of studies on the negative impacts for the Americans who took part in 1.5 billion episodes of binge drinking from 1993 to 2001, according to a study from JAMA.

So while men and women who drink the heaviest may have benefitted short term—they’re likely to pay for it in the long run. In a recent American Journal of Pediatrics study, researchers found underage binge drinking is a direct contribution to the three leading causes of death—unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide. Those who binge-drank were more likely to report poor school performance, sexual assault, attempted suicide, and the use of illicit drugs

SUBSTANCE ABUSE STATISTICS

Like physical illnesses, mental and substance use disorders cost money and lives if they are not prevented, are left untreated, or are poorly managed. Their presence exacerbates the cost of treating co-morbid physical diseases (1) and results in some of the highest disability burdens in the world for people, families, businesses, and governments.( 2)

The impact on America’s children, adults, and communities is enormous:
The annual total estimated societal cost of substance abuse in the United States is $510.8 billion. (3)

By 2020, behavioral health disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide. (4)

In 2008, an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 and older in the United States had a serious mental illness. Two million youth aged 12 to 17 had a major depressive episode during the past year. (5)

In 2009, an estimated 23.5 million Americans aged 12 and older needed treatment for substance use. (6)

Half of all lifetime cases of mental and substance use disorders begin by age 14 and three-fourths by age 24. (7)

References:

1 Stein, M. B., Cox, B. J., Afefi, T. O., et al. (2006). Does co-morbid depressive illness magnify the impact of chronic physical illness? A population based perspective. Psychological Medicine, 36, 587–596.

2 World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Prevention of mental disorders: Effective interventions and policy options. Summary report. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO.

3 Miller, T., & Hendrie, D. (2009). Substance abuse prevention dollars and cents: A cost-benefit analysis (DHHS Pub. No. SMA 07-4298). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.

4 World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Summary report. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. Retrieved March 25, 2011, from http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/promoting_mhh.pdf

5 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2009). Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National findings. (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-36, DHHS Publication No. SMA 09-4434). Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.

6 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2010). Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Vol. I. Summary of national findings. (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-38A, DHHS Publication No. SMA 10-4856Findings). Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.

7 Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 593–602.

8 World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Summary report. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. Retrieved March 25, 2011, from http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/promoting_mhh.pdf

Wish I Had Another Chance

A young man in recovery named Charlie came to my house earlier this year with his parents. His entry into addiction came as the result of a head-on car accident caused by an old man who was driving on the wrong side of Highway 17 near Santa Cruz on Jan. 1, 2010. That was the day that changed the course of Charlie’s life. Opiates!
Charlie had been to many rehabs, but nothing had stuck. Yet, his heart shined through the epic pain and suffering his addiction had wreaked upon his life. He was sweet and had a true sense of compassion and kindness.

When we met he had been out of treatment and sober for a month or two. We chatted together and I took him to a 12-Step meeting. All at once, I felt a slight distance between us and a tremendous love for him, like someone I knew much better. I can’t explain this feeling. I think it has to do with something beyond my limited perspective, but the point is, he made an impact on me.

He was adamant about moving down to the LA area, I think to Long Beach, from his home in Northern, CA. He had no real program or connections to speak of, but his plan was to work that out when he got down. He did not ask me to sponsor him and I did not offer that. I had gotten very busy between work and my existing sponsees and it would have been difficult to take on another one.

A few months passed and I decided to email his mom to see how things were proceeding before reaching out to him. I received her email back a day later telling me that Charlie had died from his addiction just two weeks after I had met him months ago. She had wanted to email me, but just couldn’t do it. The news crushed me. It makes no sense to grieve for someone you never knew, but that’s how I felt. It was real grief.

And if you want to know the truth, I felt guilty. Had I missed an opportunity to help this person? Could I have made a difference in his life? What if I had volunteered to sponsor him?

I’m perfectly aware that I cannot control another person. I’m clear that people die all the time from the dis-ease of addiction, especially opiates these days. I know we can only help a few people, but God Dammit, I’m so sorry that Charlie died. I’m so sorry about it that I have to write about it and tell you, I wish I had another shot at this. I wish I had a chance to go back and push myself upon this kid as his sponsor. Would things have turned out differently? I have no idea, but I would like to have the shot at it.

This is part of what drives me to do the work I’m doing. Addiction is a disease. It has a treatment. If you apply the treatment you get better. If you then apply the elements of yoga, meditation, healthy diet and continue to strengthen your mind, body and connection to spirit, things turn out amazingly well. BUT all this takes an amazing amount of willingness and day-to-day vigilance. Most people just cannot understand that this is what it takes to survive and ultimately thrive in recovery.

I will not ever forget Charlie. In the face of a disease that kills amazing people like him, all we can do is to carry the message that Recovery = Life.

This is yet another wake-up call. Young people are dropping like flies around Heroin addiction. It’s an epidemic. We must get out in front of this thing and help our kids to understand just how devastating this thing is and help those afflicted to access holistic treatment to heal them into the wholeness of their being.

In Loving Memory of Charlie Thomas,

—Tommy Rosen