Category Archives: Lifestyle Changes

Ending America’s Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Putting politics aside, this is a comprehensive plan that needs bipartisan support. If you agree then contact your representatives on all levels and ask for their help. We can help end America’s quiet opioid addiction epidemic.

Governor Peter Shumlin began his remarks at the New Hampshire Roundtable on Addiction and the Heroin Epidemic by describing a phone call from Hillary Clinton a few months ago. According to Shumlin,“I figure it’s gonna be another politician talkin’ about how great they are.” But Clinton surprised him: “When I go to New Hampshire, when I go to Iowa, something strange has happened…” Clinton was told story after story about the “quiet epidemic” that had not even been on the table when she last ventured out as a candidate. She heard from families who were unable to help their loved ones and law enforcement officials who knew they couldn’t arrest their way out of the problem, so Clinton “resolved to do something about it.” She called the right person: Gov. Shumlin has been working to reframe the public debate around addiction for years. For the past two years he has dedicated his State of the State Message entirely to the topic of the heroin crisis in Vermont. Under his guidance, the state has implemented programs to address the complexity of addiction that have been imitated by states across the nation. Shumlin was struck by Clinton’s humility and patience, “She did what a lot of politicians aren’t very good at–she listened. For a second I thought she’d hung up.”

Clinton placed Shumlin’s advice amongst the advice of many others, and four weeks later “out came a policy” that the Governor believes, “if implemented, will give us the help from the federal government that we need to finally take this battle on and treat it as a disease and not a crime.” The plan would allocate 10 billion dollars to tackling America’s deadly epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, and would address the following five points: Criminal Justice Reform, Treatment and Recovery, First Responders, Prescribers, Prevention.

In a statement about the indiscriminate reach of the epidemic, Clinton wrote: “Substance use disorders are a problem that touches Americans everywhere, from our biggest cities to our smallest towns, and from our richest enclaves to our poorest neighborhoods.”

I. Criminal Justice Reform

Governor Shumlin has visited treatment centers, jails, and detoxes all over Vermont to speak with those who have been impacted by the epidemic: “there are stories that make you want to sit down and cry,” he said. When he asked what kind of response was needed, “they told me that we were doing almost everything wrong.” Like most criminal justice systems across the nation, Vermont’s was slow and ineffective, especially when it came to dealing with drug-related crimes. Vermont has worked to try and turn the moment of arrest from a tragedy into an opportunity: “when your busted, when you’ve bottomed out, when the blue lights are flashing–that’s the most likely chance that we have to move someone from denial into treatment.”

Third party assessors are stationed in every county in the state and when someone is arrested, these experts determine whether the person needs treatment by asking: “is this someone that will hurt you or is this person more likely to hurt themselves?” Today, people who would have been arrested are told that if they participate in the “Hub/Spoke” treatment initiative with the wrap around services: “we’ll stick with you. You’ll never see a judge, you’ll never see a criminal record, you’ll never see a court.” And it’s working on all fronts, “they’ve got hope, they’ve got a job, they’ve got life and they’re getting back with their families.” Vermont has saved 50 million dollars since implementing the prison diversion program.

Clinton intends to “end the era of mass incarceration” by prioritizing treatment over incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses. In order for this to happen, greater collaboration and coordination must be fostered between public health and criminal justice institutions “to ensure continuity of care for those who suffer from substance use disorders.”

II. Treatment & Recovery

Gov. Shumlin introduced the second point of Clinton’s plan by talking about when his father, who is now deceased, was first diagnosed with lung cancer: “Why is it that when my dad is diagnosed with a cancer that’s created from behavior that we all know isn’t very smart—smoking—that we say ‘we will do everything we can to keep you on this earth as long as we can and you will not stand in line,’ but if you’re addicted to opiates, we say ‘get in line, we might serve you sometime—usually sometime later.”

Clinton’s plan involves building out more treatment centers, matching participating states 20/80 in federal funds, abolishing lengthy wait-lists and ultimately treating addiction like any other disease, “stop the discrimination—line up.”

Clinton’s plan makes sure that “everyone who needs support has access to continuing treatment.” This emphasis on continuity is key due to the fact that many treatment methods are too short-lived to be effective.

III. First Responders

Clinton’s plan ensures that states have adequate funding to get and dispense life-saving tools such as naloxone to anyone who wants it and that first responders are trained in proper practices.

IV. Prescribers

Clinton’s plan ensures that licensed prescribers meet training requirements and consult a prescription drug-monitoring program before writing a prescription for controlled medications. “Let’s make sure that we enhance the database so that we stop pill shopping across borders,” said Shumlin, “and doctor abuse, where folks can go in and line up this stuff, FDA approved Oxycodone and the rest, put it in their pockets, and keep getting more of it, with no questions asked.”

V. Prevention

“Let’s change the attitude about the disease. Let’s get rid of the stigma.” Clinton’s plan defines Substance Use Disorders as chronic diseases and insists that they be treated as such. Clinton emphasizes the importance of empowering communities to design their own “evidence-based programs tailored to their communities.” Such programs would focus on engaging adolescents through education and early intervention programs.

Dual Diagnosis and Addiction

Research shows that most people who struggle with addiction are also dealing with a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. The technical term for this is dual diagnosis.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Among the 20.2 million adults in the US who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.”

Proper treatment for mental illness involves professional therapy, not just coping skills. At the end of the day, the question is, Do you want to cope with your issues or heal them?

Combining Coping Skills for Addiction and Therapy

Dual diagnosis treatment isn’t about choosing between coping skills and therapy. Rather, it’s about combining the strengths of addiction coping skills and therapy to promote recovery. It’s about using a holistic model of healing, one that integrates all four levels of self:

  • The physical level (what we do)
  • The mental level (what we think and believe)
  • The emotional level (what we feel)
  • The spiritual level (who we really are)

In true dual diagnosis addiction treatment, trained clinicians use evidence-based tools and approaches to empower people to both encounter and heal their emotional wounds.

Emotional wounds are like physical ones in that if you open up a wound, it is important to know how to close it back up properly! Trained therapists can help individuals to close those inner wounds with love, compassion, and expertise.

In the process, people tap into the power within them and redirect it for good.

They learn to stop abusing themselves and begin to make self-honoring choices.

They start to counsel themselves and work through the issues that arise when they return to their normal lives.

The aftercare from treatment to normal living requires structure and discipline.

The Rest Of Your Life offers complete lifestyle changes for relapse prevention.

Addiction Recovery and Therapy

The following is an excerpt from The Clearing.

Why do I keep feeling this way? Why can’t I get over it already? Why can’t I make the changes stick? I’m worried that I’ll start using … again.

If you’ve ever had these thoughts flash across your mind, then you’re familiar with the struggle to sustain positive behavioral change through addiction recovery. You may believe that you need more willpower or personal strength  to stay clean and sober.
But what if the problem isn’t your personal determination at all? What if your prior efforts to heal didn’t work because you only learned a handful of coping skills for addiction when what you really needed was therapy to discuss the underlying issues driving your behavior?
This article will clarify the difference between therapy and coping skills, discuss their roles in traditional addiction recovery programs, and explore how a more integrative approach can promote lasting recovery.

What are Coping Skills for Addiction?
Coping skills for addiction are the techniques we use to handle life’s challenges and navigate difficult situations.
Though the term tends to have a negative connotation, the reality is that coping skills – or broadly speaking, behavior change skills – are a necessary part of life.
For example, if you’re trying to stop drinking, it makes sense to avoid your favorite pub by taking a different route home from work!
This is a positive coping strategy.
There are many good mental health and behavioral change strategies, including:
• Meditation
• Exercise
• Relaxation, and
• Self-care
That said, problems arise when people have a disability addiction take a solely coping-skills-based approach to more complex problems. In colloquial terms, they put a Band-Aid on a bullet hole and say, “All fixed!”
For example, people often use negative coping skills in times of extreme stress. They may use drugs and alcohol, or self-harm, or work to exhaustion.
These negative coping skills represent attempts to manage pain without addressing the real cause of the suffering.

What is Addiction Therapy?
Addiction therapy involves sessions with a trained therapist who treats mental and emotional health issues. There are many treatment modalities, (approaches) and no one modality resolves every addiction issue.
Different modalities work best for different issues, be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. There’s no one magic bullet approach that fixes everything; on the contrary, the most effective treatment integrates several approaches in a holistic, personalized way.

12-Step Programs and Approach to Recovery
At present, most addiction rehab programs use a 12 Steps approach. However, since therapy is not part of the 12 Steps tradition, many people don’t receive the individualized treatment they need for addiction recovery.
To be sure, Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step groups have created a culture of steps, rituals, slogans, meetings, and sponsorship that do help some people to replace their dysfunctional habits with positive ones. Many people have attained sobriety and sanity this way. Those who can make it work have become beacons of light for their peers.
However, many other people struggle with this approach. They go to 12 Step programs because they are accessible, familiar, and popular.
Yet many report that they don’t feel heard and that the moralizing lectures and repetitive meetings aren’t helpful.

Addiction Therapy: The Missing Piece in Residential Rehab
The 12 Steps were developed as a grassroots program, and in this capacity they’ve helped millions of people find community and sobriety. However, 12 Step programs were never intended to be an alternative to addiction therapy.
As such, the amount of counseling that participants receive in 12 Step-based residential rehab varies tremendously. While some 12 Step-based rehab centers do give significant time in therapy, many others do not. Instead, they rely on daily 12 Step meetings led by laypeople.
For some, this is enough to effect change. Yet others are left feeling as though they’ve failed because they weren’t able to “work the program.” But what if the real problem was that the program didn’t provide support for their mental health issues?
Even the 12 Step programs that do offer a professional addiction counseling tend to rely on behavior change and coping skills alone. However, this is an incomplete approach because it doesn’t address the core mental and emotional issues present.

12 Step Programs and Professional Therapy, as well as private work with an Addiction Recovery Coach (not the same as a sponsor) are all beneficial solutions to staying in recovery. Explore a multi-faceted  approach for your life.

Introduction to Alcoholism

The disease of alcoholism is a gradual deteriorating affliction that devastates entire families and will continue to do so unless the alcoholic member takes action to live a life of sobriety, physically and mentally. In this introduction to alcoholism it is a given that alcoholism affects the person who addicted to alcohol, that person’s family and everyone who interacts with that person.

Consider the following:
• Alcohol dependence and abuse cost the US about $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 14 million US residents battle an alcohol addiction.
• 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.

In the book Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter 2, There Is A Solution, It says:

“But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solu¬tion, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another al¬coholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.”

Furthermore it says,” helping others is the foundation of our recovery.” And in the 12 Steps of recovery it says “… we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics and practice these principles in all of our affairs.”

If our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Then I believe it is incumbent on me to carry the message of hope in writing as well as in meetings. From the depths of my heart there is an intuitiveness that inspires me to share what I have to come to believe as the result of the 12 Steps and our book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

The enormity of the problems alcoholics experience, both physically and mentally, and the quantity of human beings who have this disease has grown significantly 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. Not only, that there is a solution, but also that no one is better suited to help an alcoholic with recovery than another alcoholic. If we are to arrest this disease and prevent it from further debilitation of our families we must take action. We can stop the spread of alcoholism within our own families. It can end with us. What greater gift could we give our children?

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Meditation – Mind, Body, Health And Mindfulness

By Dr. Scott Alpert
Clinical Director at The Clearing Residential Treatment Center

Do you categorize meditation as one of those tasks you really should get around to, but never actually do? Do you see it as something that only “ultra-spiritual” people pursue? If so, you’re not alone.Mindfulness meditation is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from a 2500-year-old Buddhist practice called Vipassana or Insight Meditation. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion.
Many people have heard about the tremendous mind,body, health and wellness benefits of meditation, but they don’t take the plunge and practice. Why? Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation.
For some, it’s simply difficult to slow down. Our hurry-up culture trains us to be more and more “productive,” and thus, some feel that things like rest and meditation are wasting time.
Additionally, many people give up before realizing the benefits of meditation, which build with time and practice. For others, the silence requires getting deep with their thoughts and feelings… and that can feel threatening.
When you give yourself the opportunity to meditate, internal struggles can give way to a profound peace. However, when you first slow down and tune in to yourself, you may experience a lot of chaotic chatter. That’s completely normal; so don’t let it deter you.
With time and practice, you can learn to calm your mind and emotions. In fact, getting into the rhythm of your breathing can bring you back to Source. If you return to meditation and silence often enough, you will learn some profound truths about your own life. Mindfulness
In meditation, you often come face-to-face with yourself, and what happens next is telling. Do you like yourself? Do you know who you really are? Do you have a sense of purpose?
Are you able to simply be and appreciate the life you were given? Do your thoughts wander to projects left undone? Are you focused on the past or future? As thoughts emerge, you receive valuable information about yourself.
If you haven’t worked through your day-to-day issues, partially processed thoughts will bubble up from your subconscious. This is an invitation to clear up your own “unfinished business” and free your mind from clutter.
You may have difficulty making the decision to “do nothing” and meditate in the first place. Cultural conditioning tells you that hard work is the only way to succeed, and as such, you resist the idea of sitting still.
Even devoting 15 minutes or 5 minutes to start} a day to meditation may seem overwhelming for you.
If it helps, you can reframe meditation as a personal development challenge.Mindfulness meditation is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from a 2500-year-old Buddhist practice called Vipassana or Insight Meditation. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion
Silence is a powerful healing tool. When you meditate, material from your past will present itself and give you an opportunity to heal.
Whether the thoughts are based on regrets, people who have harmed you, or people whom you’ve harmed, working through the turmoil take commitment.
Fortunately, in the silence we are safe. Mindfulness

There is no past and no future; it is simply a slice of the present. The past is history, the future a mystery, but now is the gift and that is why it is called ‘the present.’

Try This: Mindfulness 
• For the next few minutes, take an opportunity to sit in silence and focus on everything that brings you joy.
• To start, turn off any electronics, sit in a comfortable seat, and simply focus on your breath.
• Once you have calmed yourself, bring to mind people, experiences, or things that make you happy one by one. You might think about a child, a pet, a flower, or hiking in the woods.
• Surround yourself with feelings of joy and allow them to build within.
• If you continually face turmoil while sitting in the silence, free-form writing can help. Free-form writing is simply putting pen to paper and writing whatever comes to mind.
• When you do this, stay with the flow. Don’t judge what is coming out. Just write whatever you want and purge it out.
• When you’re done, shred and / or burn what you’ve written.
• Do not re-read or evaluate your words.
• Instead, appreciate the way that writing helps you to release that which is just beneath the level of your conscious awareness.
• In silence, time seems to slow down.

With no distractions, you can hear your breath, your heartbeat, and even guidance. When you allow yourself to slow down, you connect with who you are; you return home.
If you have a hectic schedule and juggle the demands of work and family, silence can be a key to sanity and a balm for relationships. After all, how you are with yourself is how you are with others too!
You are at peace, your body is healthier, and you find happiness. And as you share that energy with others, you give them permission to do the same. Mindfulness

Overcoming Addiction

Alcohol Dependency & Detox

Reprinted from:

Alcohol is the drug of choice for most Americans. It can be the beginning of addiction.

Besides being legal, alcohol is relatively inexpensive and considered by most to be socially acceptable. Alcohol has been “sold” to us for thousands of years as a feature of good living. Our society celebrates special moments with champagne and drowns sorrows with drink.

From childhood we learn to hide or lie about liquor when we drink too much, or are underage. But apart from feeble resistance from a few religious groups, and a state’s legal restrictions, there is no barrier. Americans consume over $212 billion worth of alcohol per year.

If alcohol use is so widely accepted then what’s wrong with drinking? For most people alcohol isn’t a dangerous drug. But for the person with the chronic brain disease called Addiction, alcohol is pure poison and can be life-threatening.

Although the medical community acknowledges certain health benefits of moderate alcohol use (1 drink for women and 2 for men), they post a clear WARNING: More than three drinks a day for women, or four for men, puts you at high risk of irreparable brain damage.

An Alcohol Damaged Brain

Chronic alcohol abuse severely compromises your mental ability. In the short-term it can cause you to drink and drive. And, in the long-term it can irreversibly affect memory formation, abstract thinking, problem solving, attention, concentration, and emotions.

Alcoholics who abstain from drinking can recover from some alcohol-induced brain damage. But no one knows how much alcohol it takes to cause irreversible brain damage? Drinking can be like playing Russian roulette.

Alcohol immediately passes through the blood brain barrier, which is why people often say, “The drink went straight to my head”. Alcohol’s rapid absorption, in high concentrations (i.e., multiple drinks ingested quickly), can suppress the centers in the brain that control breathing causing you to pass out or even die.

Additionally, alcohol causes the release of a neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine, labeled by neuroscientists, as the “addiction molecule” is responsible for the rewarding effect that keeps you drinking. For many this reward can be limited to a single cocktail but for an alcoholic this “pleasurable moment” can quickly turn into a life-threatening physical disease.

HOW MUCH CAN ONE DRINK depends on many factors – the rate of consumption, the quantity, how much fat and muscle mass you have, and whether or not you eat while drinking.

The kind of alcohol we drink is called ethanol. Once ethanol hits your bloodstream it travels to every organ in the body, which is why
heavy drinking is so physically, mentally, and spiritually debilitating.

HOW YOU DRINK ALCOHOL ALSO AFFECTS YOUR RISK. “Binge drinking” is particularly dangerous. When young people drink too much, too fast, they risk passing out and dying. Never leave someone who has passed out from alcohol alone. Too much alcohol suppresses normal breathing and is extremely dangerous. If in question, call 911.

Combining alcohol with drugs is a huge NO-NO! All sedatives can become deadly when combined with alcohol. Mixing alcohol with narcotics can result in overdose.

Alcohol should not be mixed with any drug that makes you sleepy – opiates (heroin, oxycodone, and morphine), Valium-like drugs (benzodiazepines, sleep medications (Ambien) and antihistamines found in cold medications.

• Mixing alcohol with antibiotics can cause convulsions (seizures), nausea, and vomiting.

• Mixing alcohol with antihistamines can enhance sedation and excessive dizziness, which is particularly dangerous for older adults.

• Mixing alcohol with Tylenol (acetaminophen) creates a chemical that causes liver damage.

• And, the list goes on.

Alcohol Dependence vs. Alcohol Abuse

In general, alcohol abuse refers to patterns of drinking that cause health problems or social problems, or both.

Alcohol dependence, more commonly known as alcoholism, refers to the brain disease we know as Addiction.

Addiction leads to lack of control over drinking and life. Signs of physical dependence (withdrawal) appear within hours of stopping to drink and may manifest as anxiety, hallucinations, seizures and tremors.

Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is characterized by cravings. A person, who suddenly stops, without the proper medical care, can experience severe and sometimes deadly withdrawal symptoms. If you are an alcoholic do not try detox on your own. Seek medical help immediately! Don’t drink if you are pregnant

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is the full range of neurological, cognitive, behavioral, and learning disabilities associated with prenatal alcohol exposure. Alcohol passes the blood brain barrier and immediately, and negatively, affects an unborn fetus. There is absolutely no safe level of drinking during pregnancy. Children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) suffer learning impairments for life.


Addiction is a primary, chronic brain disease that affects brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Without treatment and engagement in recovery activities, it often results in disability or premature death.

HOW DO I KNOW I AM ADDICTED? Addiction is characterized by your inability to consistently abstain; cravings; a dysfunctional emotional response and a diminished recognition of significant problems with your behavior and interpersonal relationships. Like other chronic diseases, Addiction can involve cycles of relapse and remission and premature death if left untreated.

A widely used screening test is CAGE. If you have two or more positive responses it is likely you have a problem with alcohol.

• Have you ever felt the need to cut down on your drinking?

• Have you ever felt Annoyed by someone criticizing your drinking?

• Have you ever felt Guilty about your drinking?

• Have you ever felt the need for an Eye-opener? (a drink at the beginning of the day)?

NO ONE IN MY FAMILY IS AN ALCOHOLIC. AM I AT RISK? Overexposure to alcohol can lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol changes the brain of everyone! Anyone that chronically abuses alcohol will eventually become dependent. If you drink to self-medicate for co-existing conditions it is likely you will become addicted, if you aren’t already.


Alcohol sedates your brain. Your brain works 24/7 to protect you, to do its job the brain offsets the sedative effects of alcohol consumption by producing larger and larger quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical similar to adrenaline. Although you abruptly stop drinking, your brain needs time to respond. It may take a few days to rebalance your brain chemistry, which is why the excess norepinephrine in your bloodstream causes withdrawal symptoms.

Only about 5% of alcoholics experience a dangerous withdrawal, known as delirium tremens, or DTs. Because your brain is unable to adjust to the quickly changing chemistry, you can experience confusion, hallucinations, and you are at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. There is no way of knowing in advance if you are one of the 5%, which is why you should seek medical care to detox your body.

Finding The Right Sober Living House

Author Unknown

Sober living facilities are needed to provide a supporting and pro-active healthy transition, allowing you to leave the safety of rehab and enter a less-restrictive living environment while maintaining a focus on recovery. Residents enjoy a less structured atmosphere while developing the tools and skills to sustain sobriety in the “real world.”

While there are many sober living facilities in Florida, you need to make sure the home you choose offers the highest level of care, qualities, and features that support recovery. You should never commit to living at a sober living home without visiting and talking with the owners and residents.

Here are the top five qualities you’ll want to look for in a sober living house:

#1 FARR Certified Residence

Picking a FARR certified residence guarantees that you are in the best possible environment that is regulated with the highest standards. This is a critical decision that affects your recovery. You are faced with an overwhelming amount of decisions each day; many affect your sobriety. You need to know the sober living has a proven structure to assist and support recovery. That’s why it’s so important to find a sober living home that implements a higher level of care…it should also implement rules and regulations, such as mandated curfews and a zero-tolerance drug-free environment.

#2 Safety

Being in a safe environment is an absolute necessity. Look for things like; 24/7 staff, if the entire staff is trained in CPR, do they have an emergency kit in case of an overdose, and a protocol for emergencies. What steps and measures do they have to absolutely make sure there are no drugs or alcohol on the premises? Is there a zero tolerance for possession and use of alcohol and drugs? Check out and speak to the people currently living in a sober living facility. Ask them about the technology and safety measures used by the facility.

#3 Connecting Atmosphere

The camaraderie, atmosphere, mood, energy, and vibe at the sober living house with its current residents are very important. During your tour ask to speak with the current residents, they will be valuable in your decision to pick the right place for you. What types of activities are there to help you develop new skills; assistance with job search, better eating habits, health and fitness. Make sure you feel a positive vibe; your gut will tell you if it is the right place for you.

#4 Supports and Assists Recovery

A solid support system is crucial for anyone in recovery. 12 step recovery is not for everyone, however the sober living should have other actions on and off the property in place like; relapse prevention, AA, NA, and counseling to assist you in recovery. When evaluating a sober living support team, it’s important to find a staff that truly cares about you and your success…but you also want a staff that’s unafraid to enforce necessary rules and regulations.

Everyone’s recovery path is different and proceeds at different paces, however individualized recovery plans are essential for staying sober. The employees should be professional, and be there to keep you on the road to recovery. They should be encouraging 12 step, AA, NA meetings or a support system that fosters sobriety. There should also be some sort of drug testing policy in effect.

#5 Take Responsibility; Own It

Remember, you must own your sobriety. That means that you may not always like following rules and regulations like a curfew, structured events, meetings, etc. You must be willing to do the difficult things to maintain sobriety. The sober living home should challenge you to be able to make that step to be fully functional on your own.


Living With A Recovery Companion Coach

Anonymous Author

I am not going to share my name because my name is not as important as my experience working with my companion coach. The truth is I was fearful to leave treatment where I received continuous staff support and monitoring 24/7. I needed a recovery companion coach.

My story begins with my addiction and condition before checking into rehab. I will spare you the details of my addiction because we all have a story. But of course, my addiction affected everything and everyone around me. So when I decided to get help and enter a treatment center, my program pulled me outside of my normal environment (home, family, work, and friends). My daily environment where I normally escaped reality and life.

I thought for sure everything was under control when I finished treatment- until it clearly wasn’t.
Ok, I needed help and deep down inside I don’t trust myself to be left alone or continue back home without support in fear of relapse. Sure, like many of you reading this story, I was fine before my addiction started controlling my next move and taking me to places of regret time after time. Now that I had agreed and committed to live a sober life and finished my treatment program, I realized I needed help with an outpatient program from home, office or both.

I needed a recovery companion coach.

How could I get the most from my recovery companion coach while ensuring I did not become codependent?

Well first of all, I looked for a companion coach who was professionally trained and certified with a plan to help me move forward building on my sobriety. I learned successful coaches have a short term process that will gradually release me and reduce the time I spend conversing with my coach.
I was willing to invest in a private companion coach to pick me up on the day my treatment facility released me to go home. My recovery companion coach would support me in making the transition from 24/7 monitored to moving back home. My house needed to be prepared for my newly committed addiction free lifestyle. My coach moved in and lived with me 24/7 to monitor my sobriety and help me get in a routine.

During the first couple of days:
We purged the house of any unclean or unwanted triggers.
We picked up the mail, payed bills and set up a budget plan.
We created a weekly meal plan and went to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients.
We put the groceries away and started my weekly food preparation for easy homemade ready to eat meals- Heat-N-Eat style.
We talked every day about my life in the moment right now and moving forward highlighting things I can do to fill the void.
We carefully navigated my patterns, interests and strengths to draw out my solutions.
We applied the information I learned in rehab / treatment center into my daily routines.
We visited a couple support groups in my area until I found a group that I liked.
We walked and talked every day as I learned how to filter and process and decompress from the daily stress while getting exercise.

During the second week:
I had to go back to work, yes my coach went with me to make the transition smoother.
We were together 24/7, so I introduced my coach as a friend from out of town observing my business and work ethics.
We discussed market penetration, production, sales, and managing staff everything related to my job description and stress to identify hidden triggers.
Fortunately, my position with the company allow me to have an out of town friend join me at work without any confusion or additional questions.
After work we continued to repeat a lot of what I learned during the first week and tracking my progress.

By the third week:
I was feeling more confident with my own ability to function alone. I know how all the moving pieces work together at home and work without my addiction driving me to relapse.
I am so grateful to have my coach bridge the gap during the transition. My coach helped me stay focused and repeat what I learned during treatment in my real life setting. I am ready to release my coach to another client in need.

Drunken Sluts R Us

New article published today. Some wreckage of my past.

Drunken Sluts R Us – by Marc J Dunn

The 75-year-old woman at the speaker’s table was introduced to the group as having 30+ years of addiction recovery and as a “tells it like it is” kind of storyteller. Her opening was, “I knew I was a drunken slut, but I had no idea I was an alcoholic. That was so much worse.”

The group listening burst into laughter shooting each other knowing glances as only others in recovery could. It wasn’t shameful what our friend had said, it was something we could all relate to or identify with. We have a bond of commonality in recovery, although we have different specific circumstances, we share recklessness and selfishness, and stealing the serenity of others we claim to love.

A quick search of my memory brought forward dozens if not hundreds of episodes that could be classified as “slut like” behavior.

Let me draw a line here, because I don’t want to imply that I am judging anyone’s sexual choices. My preferences and opinions about sex are not important, other than the firm belief that it is a natural biological happening and is to be enjoyed not judged. What I prefer is not anyone’s business, just as others’ preferences are not my business. My use of the term “slut” refers to a person who is harmful or reckless to self or others physically and/or mentally.

The term “drunken slut” is used disparagingly to describe women who are sexually active. Rarely is it used to describe men. Society has a tendency to judge women negatively if they are sexually active. Men are not held to the same standard. Men are encouraged to have as much sex as possible. It is a badge of honor. Women are scorned or ostracized if their behavior is judged to be “too loose”. One of the points of addiction recovery is, for both women and men, to seek to fill a hole in our soul with something other than sex or whatever our addiction is. The addict who becomes aware of this shortcoming and seeks to find a better way of life will fill it with a spirit of love and giving.

We use sex as a crutch to mask our feelings. Drugs, alcohol and sex, as well as other addictions, are only symptoms of the mental health issue all addicts must confront. It is our thinking, fear, anger and guilt; we must come to terms with. These emotions are normal for human beings. Once we embrace them, rather than ignore or mask them, our entire life improves. We are no longer ashamed of our sexual activities.

Many times my sexual affairs were purely driven by my need for approval or power. It was not uncommon for me to view sex as a conquest or triumph in which winning meant having sex. The encounter and sexual interplay was without feeling for the other person; I lacked tenderness and giving I was totally absorbed with what I was getting. It was strictly about my sexual pleasure – LUST!

Under most circumstances the more under the influence I was the less it mattered who I was having sex with or what the other person’s needs were. Selfishness reigned supreme. On one occasion, my roommate and I deliberately set out to see who could drink the most shots of Tequila at our neighborhood bar. Somewhere around shot 4 or 6, a young woman joined us as an observer and occasional participant. I started flirting with her, within a short period of time abandoned the drinking contest to take her back to the apartment and have sex. About an hour later, she is lying on top of me and my roommate quietly opens the door not knowing what he might encounter. He stumbled into his bed and I continued having intercourse. I never got her name. She left before morning. Later the conversation with my roommate was about “who won?” I maintained I did because I got laid, and wasn’t that the real contest whenever you go drinking in bars.

Another time I invited my girlfriend to accompany me to see the Ali Foreman Championship Boxing Match, and to bring her roommate. Both women were gorgeous. I suggested they dress in the sexiest attire they had, cling all over me, and flirt with guys in the crowd and just to make sure they were not inhibited. I offered them both Quaaludes which they liked because it was a drug that loosened their sexual inhibitions. It also relaxed my jealous instincts making it easy for me to enjoy them working the crowd, knowing they were both going home with me. My objective was power over everyone; it was more manipulation to make me look good using sex as a status symbol. The night’s event went perfectly; the other guys wanted to be me, I was grandiose and delusional; the attention was stolen from the main event and put onto me. It was my self-centered selfishness without regard for others that culminated in anger by my friends, and sexual conduct that was more lust than love.

Needless to say, such activities are self-centered. They are disrespectful to your partner, selfish in motive, purely self-seeking lust. “We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed,” (Alcoholics Anonymous). Sex is harmful if it is used to mask feelings not express them. My lustful activities displayed a total lack of awareness of others’ feelings; it was proof positive that I cared primarily for my needs lacking empathy for others.

Sex is beautiful when it is consensual and approached with giving pleasure as well as receiving. It then becomes a wonderful experience with results that are enjoyed. Sex isn’t always about being in love, but it can be about giving as well as receiving. “Drunken sluts” know nothing of giving; we are only about receiving, usually to cover our emotions. If a “slut” is covering emotions, why does the label rarely apply to men? I was as much a “drunken slut” as any woman I knew. But I almost never hear men discuss this in recovery. It’s almost always women. Why?

The discovery of giving in a sexual relationship opened me to exceptional love experiences. The change occurred when I began living in recovery, becoming a productive, caring individual. Practicing spiritual principles in my affairs, learning to be gentle, giving, loving instead of stealing peace of mind.

Being an alcoholic turned out to be a blessing, because now my deepest best love is a friendship that has caught on fire. Most importantly, I want it to be quiet understanding, sharing and forgiving. For me, it is loyalty through good times and bad. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

The stories we share in recovery are meant to help others identify with us, and find a path to a new way of living. Taking inventory of our sexual harms is a keystone of this path for women and men. It is not discussed as much as it should be considering the impact it has had on our behavior. In the realm of fear, anger and guilt, sex was a driving force; we sought approval fearing others would not like us, we were angry because of perceived rejection and we felt remorse of not being good enough. Now we jokingly refer to ourselves as “drunken sluts” to ease the pain. There isn’t shame in our past sexual behavior, we just need not forget the path that led us to those encounters. Regret leads to relapse, honestly sharing about our new found sexual journey keeps us in recovery.

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Unholy Trinity – Fear, Anger & Guilt

By Marc Dunn
Fear, anger and guilt, the unholy trinity of emotions, are feelings that every addict seeks to alter. They dominated my life from the time of my earliest memories. It was those feelings that lead me on a path of reckless, selfish and dishonest seeking of substances to mask myself. It was the thoughts that I wasn’t good enough and needed to be better that blocked me from being.

Young boys grow up with a father or role model they seek approval from or they seek to emulate in order to become a “man” with all the characteristics that are deemed admirable and manly by society. The lack of this approval, the feeling of being less than, set me on a course that lead to addiction before I picked up my first drink.

Christianity and Judaism introduced the concept of God to me at an early age. It was natural for me to identify the first father figure in my life as being God like because of the teachings in our places of worship; all powerful, all knowing, supreme judge and benevolent or punishing. My first hand experience was that of an abusive stepfather. Consequently I felt early on in my life that there must be something wrong with me. How could the God-like figure in my life be wrong? It had to be that something was wrong with me.

The lack of self-esteem for me was enhanced by changing school districts every year and constantly being the new kid having to prove himself on the schoolyard and not equipped with the tools to succeed. I wanted to escape but didn’t find a route until my early teens when I was introduced to alcohol. In the interim my stepfather and boys my age constantly picked on me, beat me up and tortured me.

Years later when my stepfather was on his deathbed I confronted him about why he treated me this way. His answer was, “you were a willful child and somebody had to beat it out of you.” My answer was, “Really? That’s the way to correct a child? Fuck you!” That was the last interaction I had with him. It also gave me a good reason to get drunk.

The fear lead to anger with God because I would constantly pray for relief from the treatment I received and my prayers did not lessen the pain, Naturally the last of the emotions, guilt, grew because of my low self esteem and conviction that something was wrong with me.

My alcoholism progressed, as I grew older and resulted in suspension from the university, failed relationships with women, marriage and divorce, arrest, theft, near death escapes, many automobile accidents and escapades from reckless behavior.

My constant companion was fear of not having your approval or being found out, mainly that I wasn’t who I was pretending to be. As a young man it was important to me to appear to be fearless and full of bravado. I accumulated things that made me look good; attractive women, nice cars, expensive home and cash. It was all a grand delusion fueled by alcohol and drugs.

Drugs and alcohol were now my master and I found nothing wrong with the person I had become, totally unaware of the destruction I was causing along the way.

In the 70’s I had my own business in a small college town. Although I stayed way from the selling of substances, it was common for me to be close to those who did and insure my accessibility by brokering deals for others. It wasn’t only substances, my addictions crossed over to gambling and sex.

I owned a small business that catered to college students and the resident hippie population. One afternoon three guys came into the store who I had never seen before. It was strange that they were all very tall and after a few minutes of conversation the explanation was easy. They played basketball and were in town for a game that night. Basketball was big in the town, although our team was pretty average. A big turnout was expected for the game because the opponent was a rival and was favored to beat our home.

We were joking about the game, and then it happened. They asked if I could get them high. “Of course! No problem, “ I said. “Come back in an hour and we’ll go outside behind the store and smoke a joint”.

Friends of mine had connections with a bookmaker and we placed bets regularly on all sporting events. My addiction to gambling enhanced my “macho man” image.

As soon as the players left, I rolled a joint and went to one of my betting buddies to share the good news. We had a sure thing. One of the players was a starter. Once I got high with them, there was no way they could play a decent game that night. We bet 5 times our normal wager.

The guys returned about an hour later and I let them smoke most of the joint. They went back to join the team, completely stoned. They were carrying on about how good the shit was and they’d never been so high. I was on the phone as soon as the Bookmaker’s Office opened, made my bet and went to the game. It was insane; they couldn’t make a shot, missed passes and looked awful. We won.

Several factors were at play in my behavior: drug and gambling addiction as well the thrill of living on the edge and attention seeking. Self-centered attention seeking only rivaled my dishonesty. This was more than the youthful arrogance of immortality, there was an attitude of, “I don’t care about anyone but me and I’ll do whatever to get what I want.” It wasn’t really evil, but it was reckless and harmful to others and it made me feel like a real man. More delusional grandiosity.

Incidences such as this continued during my young adult life: arrests by the FBI (later dismissed by the courts), a divorce because of my infidelity and gambling, running a night club frequented by drug dealers and bookmakers, drunken misdeeds such as out running the police in a car chase and being thrown out of numerous bars for being too drunk. These were not accomplishments; they were the result of a total lack of self-awareness, and disregard for the safety or feelings of others.

Finally in my mid 30’s I felt the need to make a change, a combination of events: custody of my son, meeting a woman I wanted to spend my life with but probably more than anything I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It wasn’t an epiphany or revelation as much as was my fear driving me. I married, bought a home and started a family. Only I hadn’t changed my behavior, I only masked it behind what looked like the ideal family. I began a horrendous chapter of stealing from those who loved me the most, my family. I stole their peace of mind.

The selfish, careless & dishonest behavior continued, sometimes sneakily in alleys or outside bars, other times under the guise of legitimacy in the driveway of my home. It wasn’t like I was always absent or didn’t properly interact with family and friends, but it was always on my terms with an eye toward the exit.

For the next twenty years alcohol became more important and lead to many misdeeds that jeopardized the family’s financial security and our physical safety as well. My need to be in charge and the man of the house was far more important than the needs of anyone else.

There was the verbal abuse I used to prove my superior manliness, and dangerous actions as displays of bravado. One episode involved me taking the family on a boating trip into the gulf that required us traversing a channel I had never done before with a lack of the required skills. The result was having to be rescued in the middle of a lightning storm after I luckily spotted a marina I managed to steer the boat to. My wife and kids were frightened, while I maintained everything was under control. More delusional grandiosity.

Finally I stopped drinking about 15 years ago, not because I wanted to, but the pressure from my wife and others was getting more intense. I had a couple of car accidents that were not exactly the direct result of being under the influence, but my decision making was based on appearances more than sound judgment. Looking good still dominated my thoughts.

I went to AA meetings for about 30 months. Most of the time I would burglarize the conversations of old-timers, repeating what I had hears them say as if it was what I had learned in recovery. Chairing and speaking at meetings like I was a big shot, never getting a sponsor, never reading the Big Book or doing the steps. I drank again, and went on a 6 months bender that finally brought me to my knees.

It was crashing my car in a blackout on the interstate in the middle of the afternoon that did it. The car was totaled, no one was hurt, no other cars were involved and somehow I walked away without being arrested for DUI. It was the last time I had a drink and it was the last time I stole peace of mind from my wife and children.

The next day I started my recovery from alcoholism searching for a healing of the mind, body and spirit; although I didn’t know it I was about to begin an internal search of my heart and spirit.

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Some handle it by resolving their issues and allowing their feelings to pass. I had trouble moving past those feelings and seemed to linger there, where the danger of addiction came into play. The temporary and seemingly soothing nature of drugs and alcohol provided me some with the quick relief but they we never the answer to stress, depression, or anxiety.

I knew that I had never felt at home. I had never felt at home in my home. I had never felt at home in my religion. And for many months, I did not feel at home even in Alcoholics Anonymous. I had to learn that home is where the heart finds rest and renewal. That’s where coming home is.

I am far enough along in the journey now to be able to see that there is only one ultimate coming home, and that is the final, total, complete, surrender of self to a Power greater than myself. I’m also brave enough today to believe that there will come a day, there will be a place sometime, somewhere, someday, that I will probably in all likelihood completely be able to open my heart and express my feelings without fear. It comes now at times when I share at meetings, even when I engage with people outside the rooms, because I am comfortable and I don’t feel the fear of being found out. I have nothing to hide.
I am reminded of this exchange between two friends on a cattle drive from the book Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty;
“You’re so sure you’re right it doesn’t matter to you whether people talk to you at all. I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice.”
“Why would you want to keep in practice being wrong?”
Call asked. “I’d think it would be something you’d try to avoid.”
“You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it,” Augustus said. “If you come face to face with your own mis¬takes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day-that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”

The shortcomings and defects of character I confronted in my 4th and 5th Step allowed me an awareness of what is in my heart and in doing so helped me to understand that I am a human being, with feelings the same as all human beings and its okay. I had to let myself feel fear, anger and guilt, but not act out in such a way that would hurt others or myself. I learned to trust and love the Sunlight of the Spirit and make better choices and most importantly I didn’t have to be perfect. That perfection was not the measure of a man; honest admiration, love and respect of others and self are what make us men. We are all loved by our families and friends we just have to let them love us and love them in return.

My recovery is a narrow bridge, I am not afraid because I am not alone.