Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Monday, May 1, 2017

Recovery and the Power of Connection

A Daily Journey of Support and Love

How Sierra Tucson goes beyond residential treatment to
assure long-term support for a healthy recovery

By Sierra Tucson Staff

Transformation doesn’t happen in a day. But it begins with a day. That very important day is the day when a person decides that it is time to embark on the road to recovery. While the road ahead is long and no one can ever anticipate the curves, hills, forks, and other inevitable obstacles along the way, it is a road that begins with a mindset of hope for change and knowing that there is no better time to begin than now. 

Sierra Tucson believes everyone is capable of transformative change. The Sierra Tucson formula for change is a personalized and highly customized integrative approach that begins with the belief that individuals have the power within themselves to initiate and maintain change. Our individualized residential treatment program, which is built on our signature Sierra Tucson Model®, is where change begins. We believe that while change begins with us, it continues with the individual and his or her support team. 

The Sierra Tucson Model:
A Blueprint for Success

Our approach to recovery begins on a foundational belief that the mind, body, and spirit are connected. That’s why the Sierra Tucson Model® was founded to promote healing and wellness in all areas of life – physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. It is a treatment methodology that leverages the body’s own healing abilities. By combining conventional Western medicine with complementary treatments including acupuncture, neuro and biofeedback, yoga, equine-assisted therapy, and stress-reduction techniques, Sierra Tucson treats the whole person. 
Yet, while the programming at Sierra Tucson is what gets individuals to a place where recovery is firmly established, it is the support that Sierra Tucson provides after treatment that is just as valuable. In fact, several studies show lower readmission rates when individuals participate in a continuing care program. One 2004 study comparing the effects of telephone continuing care versus no continuing care indicated significant improvements in better adjustment outcomes and a readmission rate of 9 percent compared to 38 percent for those who didn’t receive continuing care support. Sierra Tucson’s own statistics concur, indicating that 91 percent of those participating in Sierra Tucson's continuing care program report doing better. Residents who complete treatment at Sierra Tucson receive access to our proprietary continuing care platform and a lifetime of alumni services designed to sustain individuals with resources, tools, and support that they can access for the rest of their lives. This is where change continues.

Connect365: Personal Recovery Coaching and Mobile App

After leaving Sierra Tucson, our continuing care platform, Connect365™, is available for alumni for one full year at no additional cost. Designed to bridge the gap between residential treatment and the real world, Connect365 promotes accountability and the importance of following a continuing care plan. It is not a replacement for counseling, nor is it an emergency crisis hotline. It was created with the idea of providing support, resources, and encouragement through personal outreach and interactive technology that help residents transition from treatment to the outside world. As part of the Connect365 service, every resident is provided with a personal recovery coach and an interactive recovery management system that can be accessed via any mobile device. 

While the service is available for residents as soon as they leave Sierra Tucson, they begin learning about Connect365 at the beginning of treatment. The transition to becoming an active participant using Connect365 starts during the first week of their stay at Sierra Tucson. At that time, residents are scheduled for future Connect365 workshops, as well as one-on-one individual coaching sessions. This immediate immersion helps them build a rapport with their recovery coach. 

Upon leaving Sierra Tucson, participants receive a phone call from their recovery coach within 24 hours and commit to calling their recovery coach each week to check in, stating their feelings/mood and reporting how they are doing with their continuing care plan. Coaches kindly offer support and remind them to keep moving forward by applying the skills they learned at Sierra Tucson to their daily life. 

The Connect365 App Enhances Connection and Accountability 

The Connect365 mobile app was designed to continue recovery by supporting individuals with healthy choices in a holistic manner. It helps former residents, now alumni, stay accountable to themselves and their recovery coach. 

The app also provides resources for:
  • 12-Step meetings
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise

The cognitive restructuring that began at Sierra Tucson continues as important changes like creating daily intentions and expressing gratitude in the evening are reinforced. The app provides a recovery diary that allows participants to track goals (i.e., meeting attendance, recovery-related activities and accomplishments, etc.) and keep appointments. It also asks if the participant is medication-compliant and sober for the day.

Coaches will assign tasks to each participant that coincides with his or her continuing care plan. Each time a task is completed, the participant logs into the system from a mobile device and records it, which then syncs with the recovery coach’s desktop. The task bars change from red to green once a participant has completed an assignment or attends an appointment/meeting on his or her itinerary, allowing the recovery coach to check on compliance.
Sierra Tucson strongly encourages residents to build a healthy support network immediately upon their return home; consequently, Connect365 was created to accommodate the participant’s support team, too. The Connect365 mobile app has secure messaging capabilities and allows members of the participant’s support team to communicate with him or her, as well as the assigned recovery coach. 

Participants are encouraged to add as many people as they wish to their support team, including family members, friends, sponsors, mental health professionals, attorneys, health care providers, and any other stakeholder in the person’s recovery. Support members can also access sleep, exercise, and nutritional information from the app just like participants. At their fingertips are links to additional resources for mood disorders, eating disorders, chronic pain, trauma, and addictions. Plus, information about Sierra Tucson Alumni Relations is available as an added bonus. 

By offering an app that is easily accessible, Sierra Tucson support is seamlessly integrated with one’s everyday life without any out-of-the-ordinary effort required. Without a doubt, Sierra Tucson’s Connect365 has helped change many lives since its inception in November 2015. In fact, nearly 90 percent of residents are participating in the service. 

Sierra Tucson encourages regular connection with other alumni. Alumni events provide a safe place where individuals can reconnect, while also promoting healthy boundaries and necessary structure. A large part of this success can be credited to the alliances and networking amongst residents who stay connected and attend alumni groups and events. They witness firsthand the support that Connect365 provides their peers, often providing the impetus and encouragement for them to turn to Connect365 for support.

The Role of the Recovery Coach

Sierra Tucson believes the first year of recovery sets the stage for long-term success. In addition to monitoring activity on the Connect365 portal, the recovery coach communicates with the individual on a weekly basis via phone and/or secure web chat. Detailed information, such as online posts and other confidential information as indicated by the participant, is shared only with the recovery coach. For 365 days post treatment, the recovery coach delivers individualized support and relapse prevention assistance.

A recovery coach may be called on to help with discharge planning if a previously created continuing care plan requires adjustment. To that end, the recovery coach can provide the participant with the name and contact information of the Acadia Healthcare Treatment Placement Specialist (TPS) in his or her local community, in order to gather additional resources and compose an updated plan. This carefully designed safety net between recovery coach, TPS, and participant can prevent unnecessary panic or isolation that often leads to relapse. The participant finds security in knowing that he or she can always turn to the recovery coach in times of distress.

Recovery coaches are able to monitor and report whether or not the participant is following his or her continuing care plan. If non-compliance is identified, the recovery coach can explore the reasons why and provide alternatives when necessary. Currently, Connect365 is tracking if the participant is experiencing an improved quality of life since leaving Sierra Tucson and if he or she is following one or more items from the personalized continuing care plan. The Connect365 team will also be measuring: sobriety, medication compliance and coping skills.

Secure messaging plays a key role in the relationship between participant and recovery coach. If a recovery coach receives a message that reads, “I’m not doing well. Can we talk?” or an SOS such as, “I quit my IOP today,” it is often a red flag that an immediate phone call from the recovery coach is in order. If participants are unable to call, they can check in with their recovery coach by sending a secure message uniquely built into the mobile app. Recovery coaches have the ability to message them back immediately for reassurance. This provides an additional and effective means of communication.

There’s no doubt that residents benefit by staying connected through Connect365. Yet, the benefits abound for all in the person’s recovery circle. Referents benefit by knowing that Sierra Tucson is in constant contact with their clients after discharge and can alert them to any potential difficulties or challenges. Family members also benefit by not having to supervise or monitor their loved one; they can remain focused on their own recovery. Additionally, the Connect365 app helps participants locate alumni resources and events in their area.

Improvements and Advancements

Inherent to all technological innovations, advancements to Connect365 are on the horizon. Gamification and incentive components of the app will be enhanced with the goal of encouraging participation and reinforcing positive and healthy choices. Connect365 outcome data will also be expanded; monthly coping strategy updates for participants will be added; and a comprehensive psychological profile at six months after Connect365 has ended will be implemented. These outcomes will be important in building solid relationships with participants’ health insurance providers, allowing Sierra Tucson to effectively help those in need of hope and healing.

Participating in Connect365 is an empowering decision. In fact, it is the first decision that a person makes outside of residential treatment that supports a new, healthy life. It is affirming to know that Connect365 is moving people in the right direction every day on their recovery journey. The personal stories that recovery coaches continually hear further affirm the success of the service. Many recovery coaches have received calls in which participants find themselves in paralyzing situations that might otherwise lead to relapse. Whatever the triggers are that trouble someone in recovery, the participant is only a phone call away from his or her recovery coach. 

On a more positive note, messages like “Thank you for everything, you help me a lot” or “I want to thank you for all your support; it makes me feel like someone cares” are also received by recovery coaches, further reiterating the significance of this service. One client said, “I feel safer just hearing your voice, and now I know I can get through this because you are with me.” Whether they call once a day or several times in a 24-hour period, the support is unwavering.

While the participant’s support team usually includes his or her therapist and family and friends, Sierra Tucson also encourages residents to get involved in groups where they live, including 12-Step meetings, continuing care groups and alumni support groups. Often, staff members recommend additional therapy at an intensive outpatient program (IOP). All of these activities are crucial and, when combined with the Connect365 service, participants can stay connected as soon as they leave treatment. 

Once a participant completes a year in Connect365, the recovery coach gently transitions the client to the Sierra Tucson Alumni Relations team, and the individual is received with open arms and a welcoming phone call of acknowledgement. He or she can rest assured knowing that a lifetime of alumni services awaits.

Alumni Support for Life

Alumni. The word holds special meaning at Sierra Tucson. Well-earned for the work they have done in treatment, residents of Sierra Tucson receive this esteemed title upon completion. But most important, they enjoy the benefits that accompany the title. After they leave, many residents – now alumni – refer to Sierra Tucson as a safe place without judgment, where they are free to explore all aspects of who they are as they continue on the path of recovery. 

Being an involved alumnus means knowing one has a lifetime connection to his or her safe place, an important component in knowing that he or she is never alone in recovery. The most enduring and solid connection to a person’s experience at Sierra Tucson is the variety of alumni services facilitated by the dedicated Alumni Relations team. 

With a passion for recovery, the Alumni Relations team traverses the country to host workshops and retreats, organize support groups, and provide an opportunity for alumni to connect. Similar to the Connect365 recovery coaches, they hear powerful stories about the impact that Alumni Relations has had on their recovery. Perhaps it is the call they made to an individual that was exactly what the person needed that day, or maybe it was the simple appearance of the alumni e-newsletter, “Beyond the Miracle,” that showed up in their inbox with the right encouragement at just the right moment. 

The value of alumni outreach builds relationships based on trust, which is crucial for creating and maintaining a loving and supportive alumni community. 

The Alumni Relations team recognizes that connection and outreach are vital pieces to the recovery puzzle. In fact, two years ago, an Alumni Advisory Council was created with the goal of innovating even more ways to connect with alumni who are active participants, as well as those who have not been active in the past. Alumni Relations’ tagline, “Connecting a World of Miracles®,” serves as the foundation upon which the community was built.

Alumni often share words of thanks, poems, artwork, and letters detailing their gratitude for the care they received at Sierra Tucson and afterward, through Connect365 and Alumni Relations. During the holiday season last year, one participant wrote, “Thank you for everything. The gift I got from Sierra Tucson is something that will always be cherished. Sobriety is priceless. Recovery and moving from an unmanageable life to leading a meaningful life is something for which I will always be grateful.”

 For more information about Sierra Tucson’s comprehensive residential treatment, please call (844) 209-3372 or visit SierraTucson.com.

Events and Calendar

Professional Events

May 10, 1:00 p.m. ET—Sierra Tucson Webinar: The Gut, Brain, and Pain Connection, Addiction Professional Webinar. Register: http://addictionpro-2.hs-sites.com/gut-brain-pain-connection. Presenter: Maureen Schwehr, NMD. This presentation will explore the science and research behind the complex gut brain relationship.

May 12—Tucson Behavioral Health Professionals Networking Breakfast— Marijuana and Young Adult Addiction Treatment. Presenters Patrick J. Barrasso, MSW, LCSW and Daniel Barrasso, MSW of  In Balance treatment programs. 8:30 -10:30. Westward Look Resort, 245 E. Ina, Tucson.  www.desertstararc.com.

MAY 16—FREE — Psychological Counseling Services (PCS) 12:15-1:45 p.m. Mark your calendars. If you are new send an email request to pcs@pcsearle.com or call Ellen Hamilton for details 480-947-5739. Specifically targeted to licensed professionals.

May 24— Sierra Tucson presents, Phoenix Be Informed, Arizona Biltmore, Valley Room. Enabling, Rescuing & Codependency: Understanding how the media has impacted our boundaries, behaviors, and attitudes. By Mike Gaziano, MSW, LCSW. $35 per person with pre-registration one week prior to the event (no refund after the due date).  For event questions, contact: Ryan Young at: Ryan.Young@acadiahealthcare.com. 1.5 Education credits.

JUNE 2- Meadows Behavioral Healthcare presents, Tian Dayton, MA, PhD, TEP, Senior Fellow of The Meadows, Relationship Trauma Repair: An Experiential Model for Treating Childhood Trauma. 8:30 AM – 2:00 PM. Talking Stick Resort, Salt River Ballroom, 9800 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale. Contact Shannon Spollen: sspollen@themeadows.com or 928-684-4048

Mondays– Scottsdale – FAMILY  RECOVERY GROUP—The Meadows Outpatient Center. Brough Stewart, LPC. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Designed to help begin/continue family recovery. No charge. The Meadows Outpatient Center, 19120 N. Pima Rd., Ste. 125, Scottsdale. Contact: Jim Corrington LCSW, 602-740-8403.

SIERRA TUCSON— Alumni Groups. Scottsdale, Tues., 6:00- 7:00 p.m.Valley Presbyterian Church. 6947 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley. 480-991-4267. Alumni meet in the Counseling Center (Parlor Room). Contact: Rob L. 602-339-4244 or stscottsdalealumni@gmail.com.

SIERRA TUCSON— Continuing Care Groups in Phoenix. Wed. — for Family Member Alumni (18 and over). (PCS) Psychological Counseling Services, 7530 E. Angus Drive, Scottsdale. 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Thursdays — for Patient Alumni, PCS, 3302 N. Miller Rd., Scottsdale, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Facilitated by the clinical staff of PCS. No charge for Patient and Family Member Alumni.

Open Support Groups & Events
MAY 14 —11th Step Meditation Workshop 5th Step in Meditation: We allow the Sunlight of the Spirit to shine within to begin to heal our spiritual wounds in meditation. FREE. All welcome. 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. A Mindfulness Life Center, 10339 N. Scottsdale Rd. 480-207-6016. Randy Fahrbach, 805-895-2007. www.11thstepmeditation.org.

MAY 24— Mental Health America of Arizona SEEDS Conference. 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. Glendale Community College, Glendale. Join with individuals and family members living with mental illness, health care providers and other mental health partners in public safety, education and faith communities, in discussing the early detection and prevention of mental illness. Former NFL great, Mark McMillian , keynote speaker. Visit Mental Health America of Arizona www.mhaarizona.org/

Celebrate Recovery —Chandler Christian Church. Fridays 7 p.m. Room B-200. For men and women dealing with chemical or sexual addictions, co-dependency and other hurts, Hang-ups and Habits. 1825 S. Alma School Rd. Chandler. 480-963-3997. Pastor Larry Daily, E: larrydaily@chandlercc.org.

Valley Hospital— IOP Group for Chemical Dependency/Co-Occuring. Mon.,Tues., Thurs. 6:00-9:00 p.m. 602-952-3939. 3550 E. Pinchot Avenue, Phoenix. valleyhospital-phoenix.com

Open Hearts Counseling Services — Women’s Therapeutic Group for Partners of Sex Addicts. Comfort, strength and hope while exploring intimacy issues. Cynthia A. Criss, LPC, CSAT 602-677-3557.

Families Anonymous—12 step program for family members of addicts. Phoenix -Mon. 7:00 p.m., First Methodist Church, 5510 N. Central Ave. 602-647-5800. Scottsdale Sun. 4:00 p.m., 10427 N. Scottsdale Rd., N. Scottsdale Fellowship 480-225-1555 or 602-647-5800

NICOTINE ANONYMOUS (NicA) Fellowship for those with a desire to stop using nicotine. Phoenix Sat., 5-6:00 p.m. at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 1212 E. Glendale Ave., Glendale, Sun., 9:15-10:15 a.m. Fellowship Hall, 8910 N. 43rd Ave. 480-990-3860 or www.nicotine-anonymous.org

Chronic Pain Sufferers “Harvesting Support for Chronic Pain,” 3rd Saturday of month, 12-1:00 p.m. Harvest of Tempe, 710 W. Elliot Rd., Suite 103, Tempe. 480-246-7029.

Jewish Alcoholics, Addicts, Families and Friends (JACS) 1st / 3rd Wed., 7:30 p.m. Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 2nd floor. 12701 N. Scottsdale Rd. 602-971-1234 ext. 280 or at JACSarizona@gmail.com
COSA (12-step recovery program for those whose lives have been affected by another person’s compulsive sexual behavior) Thurs. 11:00 a.m.-Noon. 2210 W. Southern Ave. Mesa. 602-793-4120.

Women for Sobriety www.womenforsobriety.org. Sat. 10-11:30 a.m. All Saints of the Desert Episcopal Church-9502 W. Hutton Drive. Sun City. Christy 602-316-5136.

Co-Anon Family Support— Message of hope and personal recovery to family and friends of someone who is addicted to cocaine or other substances. “Off the Roller Coaster” Thurs., 6:30-7:45 p.m., 2121 S. Rural Rd., Tempe. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Donna 602-697-9550 /Maggie 480-567-8002.

Cottonwood Tucson  Alumni—First Wednesday of month 6:00-7:30 p.m. 4110 W. Sweetwater Drive. Tucson. 5:00 p.m. dinner. 800-877-4520 x2141. www.cottonwoodtucson.com 

ACOA Thurs., 7:00 p.m., North Scottsdale United Methodist Church, 11735 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale.www.aca.arizona.org

ACA. Tucson. Wed. 5:30-7:00 p.m Streams In the Desert Church 5360 E. Pima Street. West of Craycroft, Tucson. Room A. Michael 520-419-6723. 

OA—12 Step program for addictions to food, food behaviors. 520-733-0880 or www.oasouthernaz.org.

Pills Anonymous—Glendale, Tues. 7-8:00 pm. HealthSouth Rehab 13460 N. 67th Ave. Rosalie 602-540-2540. Mesa Tues. 7-8:00 pm, St. Matthew United Methodist Church. 2540 W. Baseline. B-14. Jim, 480-813-3406. Meggan 480-603-8892. Scottsdale, Wed. 5:30-6:30 pm, N. Scottsdale Fellowship, 10427 N. Scottsdale Rd., Rm 3. Tom N. 602-290-0998. Phoenix, Thurs. 7-8:00 pm. First Mennonite Church 1612 W. Northern. Marc 623-217-9495, Pam 602-944-0834, Janice 602-909-8937.

GA—Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 8801 N. 43rd Ave. Sunday, Spanish 7:00-9:00 p.m. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 3040 N 7th Ave. Sunday, English 6:00-8:00 p.m. 5010 E. Shea Blvd., Ste. D-202, Contact Sue F. 602-349-0372

SAA — www.saa-phoenix.org 602-735-1681 or 520-745-0775.

Valley Hope Alumni Support. Thursdays 6-7:00 p.m., 2115 E. Southern Ave. Phoenix. Tues. 8-9:00 p.m., 3233 W. Peoria Ave. Ste. 203, Open. 

Special Needs — AA Meetings. Cynthia SN/AC Coordinator 480-946-1384, email Mike at mphaes@mac.com

SLAA—Sex and Love Addict Anonymous 602-337-7117. slaa-arizona.org

GAM-ANON: Sun. 7:30 p.m. Desert Cross Lutheran Church, 8600 S. McClintock, Tempe. Mon. 7:30 p.m., Cross in the Desert Church, 12835 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, Tues. 7:00 p.m., First Christian Church, 6750 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, Tues. 7:15 p.m. Desert Cross Lutheran Church, Education Building, 8600 S. McClintock, Tempe, Thurs. 7:30 p.m. 

Debtors Anonymous—Mon., 7-8:00 p.m., St. Phillip’s Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave., Palo Verde Room. Thurs. 6-7:00 p.m., University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell. 520-570-7990, www.arizonada.org.

Eating Disorder Support Groups— PHX— Monday @ 7:00 p.m. (N,D/SP,O).  2927 E. Campbell Dr. Ste. 104, (Mt. View Christian Church). Contact Jen at (602) 316-7799 or edaphoenix@gmail.com for directions/info. Wed. 7:00 p.m.  Liberation Center, 650 N. 6th Ave, Phoenix. (cross street McKinley).  Jennifer at (602) 316-7799.Tempe—Thursday@ 6:30 p.m.  Big Book/Step Study meeting.  Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders, 950 W. Elliot Road, Suite #201, Tempe.  Contact info@eatingdisordersanonymous.com. Tucson— Tues.  5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Steps to the Solution Meeting. Mountain View Retirement Village, 2nd floor, 7900 N. La Canada Drive, Tucson.  Holly (203) 592-7742 or leeverholly@gmail.com. Thurs. 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. EDA Big Book Step Study. Mountain View Retirement Village, 2nd floor, 7900 N. La Canada Drive, Tucson.  Holly, (203) 592-7742 / leeverholly@gmail.com. Wickenburg—Wed. 7:15 p.m. and Sunday 7:45 p.m. (N,D/SP,O,) Capri PHP program. Contact (928) 684-9594 or (800) 845-2211.Yuma—Wed. @ 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. 3970 W. 24th St. Ste. 206 Yuma. Alyssa at (928) 920-0008 or email 2014yumae.d.a@gmail.com.

GODDESSESS & KACHINAS A philosophical, spiritual, religious 12 step, 12 Tradtition, 12 Promises support group. Details call 480-203-6518. Working with Native American and Hindu community worldwide and Southwest. 

Crystal Meth Anonymous www.cmaaz.org or 602-235-0955. Tues. and Thurs.Stepping Stone Place, 1311 N 14th St. Phoenix

Political Change Starts with INNER CHANGE

By Cary Bayer

Spend a few minutes on Facebook these days, or listen to cable TV news shows, and you’ll likely hear the profound discouragement of so many people.  In these politically polarized times, millions of people in these Divided States of America voted for the person who won the popular vote, but feel disenfranchised and alienated by the new President and his Administration. This is evidenced in massive demonstrations, overflowing town hall meetings held by Congressmen and Senators, and flooded phone banks at their offices, as well.  

This ennui inspired me to create a workshop, inspired by the spiritually-sourced political movements of Mahatma Gandhi in India and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on our shores. These two visionary giants created enormous political breakthroughs: the removal of England as colonial masters from India and the establishment of civil rights and equality for African Americans in our land.

For those on the Left left out of the current political process, I say turn your outrage into constructive action. That’s what Gandhi did for his Indian countrymen and Rev. King did for his brothers and sisters.

Gandhi and King both knew that you can, as the proverb goes, catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. So I tell people in my workshop, “Love Trumps Hate: Tools for Spiritual & Political Empowerment,” that it’s highly valuable to awaken a higher consciousness to maintain inner peace while creating political change.  Mother Theresa refused to participate in anti-war demonstrations, when invited to do so by activists and organizers, but said she’d be more than happy to lend her efforts to events that were pro-peace. The distinction is an important one, one that is wise for those in the Democratic Party to heed today.

People are surprised that I created this spiritual/political class when, a life coach who teaches breakthroughs in purpose and personal power, prosperity, and relationships and communication, and a meditation teacher who presents a meditation technique to develop inner peace, I’ve never taught anything political before. I reply that I’ve never seen such division in our country before, and I’ve never seen such discouragement since the ‘60s when a whole generation was opposing an unjust war in Vietnam. The level of discourse in our country has sunk so low that people have “unfriended” friends on Facebook and from their personal lives because of differences in political philosophy, so we have to cool down our rhetoric and realize that we are united as Americans, even if we are divided by beliefs. As Gandhi said, “I believe that it is impossible to end hatred with hatred.”

I tell folks that my class is twofold in purpose: to empower the disenfranchised spiritually so that they stay inspired and resist falling into despair, and to arm them politically with constructive actions that they can take so that their representatives truly and persistently hear their messages. To do so with peace in your heart makes a big difference. As Dr. King put it, “Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force, which makes for social transformation.” He added, “The method of nonviolence seeks not to humiliate and not to defeat the oppressor, but it seeks to win his friendship and his understanding.”

The class, I tell them, concludes with the learning of a technique to help attendees come to peace with the President, even while resisting his agenda. Forgiveness, after all, is essential when you want to change something: first accept it, then you can change it more effectively. This goes for political change as much as it does for weight loss, and any other habit of yours that you’d like to let go of. As Gandhi said of forgiveness, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who taught me how to teach meditation, said that a democratic country gets the political leader they deserve based on their level of consciousness.

So, if you don’t like the leader you have, raise your consciousness, forgive the leader, and work to create change in this beautiful system of democracy that we so cherish.

When Seekers become Finders

By Alan Cohen

Every morning after we walk our dogs, two of them chase each other around the living room coffee table. It’s entertaining to watch these exuberant spirits tease each other, bark, and run around in circles. The little one eggs the larger one on and keeps slightly ahead of him in the chase. Then she stops short and he catches up to her. The two stand there for a moment with a look on their faces like, “Now what do we do?” Then the little dog runs in the opposite direction and the other guy takes off in hot pursuit.

The Chase is On
Watching them, it occurred to me that their fun is in the chase. Once the chase if over, the play is lost. To keep the action alive, they must start the chase again. If this sounds familiar, it is. We humans are in many ways like those frisky canines. We thrive on striving, searching, seeking, and yearning. When we do get what we want, we are satisfied for a moment— but then we are on to the next chase.

And the game goes on.

Some of us have been chasing for so long and hard we have developed identities as seekers. We look for things more than we find them. You may even be proud to proclaim yourself a spiritual seeker. But have you ever thought about proclaiming yourself a spiritual finder? How would your world change if you started finding more than seeking?

In the clever and entertaining film Princess Bride, we meet Inigo Montoya, who is on a lifelong mission to avenge the death of his father, who was killed by an assassin many years ago. Inigo is constantly swirling his sword, practicing his revenge statement: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Finally Inigo catches up with the assassin and does him in.

Afterward his friend asks him, “Inigo, now that you have avenged your father’s death, what will you be doing?” Inigo stops in his tracks, a blank look overtakes his face, and he replies, “I have been in the revenge business for so long that I don’t know what I would do without it.”

That is precisely the predicament in which many of us find ourselves. We have been in the seeking business for so long that we would not know what to do if we ‘found’. We’ve entertained thoughts of lack so consistently when abundance shows up we don’t know how to accept it. We have felt stuck so often, we are uneasy with freedom when it is offered. We have been searching for a partner so ardently, we don’t really believe one is out there, and if he or she showed up, we would doubt that person is real.

Such a position calls us to reexamine, challenge, and grow beyond the old beliefs that have kept us small. Lack, pain, and loneliness are arrows pointing us to discover untrue thoughts about ourselves and life that keep us from having what we want. Rather than simply continuing behaviors that don’t work, we must be willing to see ourselves differently and receive what we have kept at a distance. Put simply, we are being called to let life love us.

The quickest and easiest way to get your needs met right now is to shift your vision. Cultivate your ability to find love, beauty, health, success, peace, and abundance right where you stand. Don’t wait for conditions to change for you to have enough. Claim enough right here, and enough will expand unto surplus.

Many years ago I was having dinner with Dr. Wayne Dyer when the subject came around to money. Wayne nonchalantly said, “I have enough money. I don’t need any more.” Hearing that, I jealously thought, “Sure you do. You make twenty thousand dollars for a lecture.” Then I realized a deeper teaching was being offered. Wayne had enough money because he decided that what he had was enough. You and I know people who have a lot more money than Wayne Dyer, and they never have enough. They are always worrying about protecting their assets and getting more. We also know other people who have very little, and they are soaring in contentment and joy. So it turns out that finding is less about getting and more about knowing.
A friend told me, “I used to think I was a perfectionist because I would find the tiniest flaws in everything I saw. Now I realize I am really an imperfectionist because I focus on imperfection. If I were a perfectionist I would find perfection everywhere I look, not imperfection.”

What to Look For
I invite you to become a true perfectionist by finding perfection. Look for the beauty rather than the ugliness; love rather than alienation; the whole instead of the broken. You may be amazed to find what you have been looking for has been here all along. Perhaps James Allen said it best: “Two men looked out through prison bars. One saw mud; the other, stars.”

Alan Cohen is the author the inspirational book, Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment. Join Alan in Hawaii June 19-23 for a life-transforming retreat, Power, Passion, and Purpose: a Training to Live Your Vision. For more information about this program, Alan’s books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com.

Talk,They’ll Listen

Answering a Child’s Tough Questions about Alcohol

As your child becomes curious about alcohol, he or she may turn to you for answers and advice.
Use this opportunity to start an open, honest conversation about drinking. Because some questions can be difficult to answer, it is important to be prepared. The following are some common questions and answers about underage drinking.

“I got invited to a party. Can I go?”
Ask your child if an adult will be present at the party or if he or she thinks children will be drinking. Remind them that even being at a party where there is underage drinking can get him or h into trouble. Use this time to establish or reinforce your rules about alcohol and outline the behavior you expect.

“Did you drink when you were a kid?”
Don’t let your past stop you from talking to your child about underage drinking. If you drank as a teenager, be honest. Acknowledge it was risky. Make sure to emphasize we now know even more about the risks to children who drink underage. You could even give your child an example of a painful moment that occurred because of your underage drinking.

“What if my friends ask me to drink?”
Helping your child say “no” to peer pressure is one of the most important things you can do to keep him or her alcohol-free. Work with your child to think of a way to handle this situation, whether it is simply saying, “No, I don’t drink,” or saying, “I promised my mom (or dad) that I wouldn’t drink.”

“Why is alcohol bad for me?”
Don’t try to scare your child about drinking or tell him or her, “You can’t handle it.” Instead, tell your child that alcohol can be bad for his or her growing brain, interferes with judgment, and can make him or her sick. Once children hear the facts and your opinions about them, it is easier for you to make rules and enforce them.

5 Conversation Goals

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking.
More than 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.
Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol.
You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks.
You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.
Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them.
Keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.

What You Need to Know about Fentanyl and Synthetic Opioids:

 By Partnership Parent Coach

Deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids (not including methadone), rose a staggering 72 percent from 2014 to 2015. Government agencies and officials are rightly concerned by what some are describing as the third wave of our ongoing opioid epidemic.

As a concerned parent, whose top priority is keeping your child safe — and alive — the following are the most important things to understand about fentanyl.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin or morphine.

It is a schedule II prescription drug typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic® and Sublimaze®.

It is relatively cheap to produce, increasing its presence in illicit street drugs.
Dealers use it to improve their bottom line. According to a report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, evidence suggests fentanyl is being pressed into pills resembling OxyContin, Xanax, hydrocodone and other sought-after drugs, and being cut into heroin and other street drugs. Someone buying illicit drugs may think they know what they’re getting, but there’s a real risk of it containing fentanyl, which can prove deadly.

Naloxone (Narcan) will work in case of overdose, but extra doses may be needed.

Because fentanyl is far more powerful than other opioids, the standard 1-2 doses of naloxone may not be enough. Calling 911 is the first step in responding to any overdose, but in the case of a fentanyl-related overdose the help of emergency responders, who will have more naloxone, is critical.
Even if someone could tell a product had been laced with fentanyl, it may not prevent their use.
Some individuals claim they can tell the difference between product that has been laced with fentanyl and that which hasn’t, but overdose statistics would say otherwise. Some harm reduction programs are offering test strips to determine whether heroin has been cut with fentanyl, but that knowledge may not be much of a deterrent to a loved one who just spent their last dollar to get high.
Getting a loved one into treatment is more critical than ever.

If you need help in determining a course of action, reach out to one of our parent counselors by calling 1-855-DRUGFREE. Learn more at http://drugfree.org.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

By Dr. Dina Evan

Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green, and today, it’s not easy staying positive and happy. There is an atmosphere of uncertainty which has a core of deception and dishonesty that fills your lungs with toxic fear — unless you are in denial. I don’t know if you have noticed but even going the speed limit on the freeway is dangerous to your health. Maybe, everyone is rushing to get out of this era. It’s heavy with pessimism and fear and both play havoc on your health.

I know there are times when life brings genuine sorrow and loss. During those times the loss and sorrow must be honored. It needs to be witnessed and confirmed by another. It needs to be heard and understood so it can be given it’s due and leave when healed and resolved. (That is a different type of depression for another article.)

The depression I am speaking of is the kind that comes from life happening. Here are some ideas to help. Some might seem basic and simple, but the truth is, they can be profound because they literally change the typography and chemicals in your brain. They teach your brain to default to what is positive instead of empowering the negative.

1. Invite your fear in and see if it’s real. Very often fears are just feelings, not facts. Once you determine whether your fear is a feeling or fact, you can determine how to respond to it. If it’s a fact, decide what action you can take, and take it. If it’s a fear, remind yourself that feelings won’t kill you. They just feel like they might. Ask the feeling what it needs to go away and try to give that to yourself.

2. Decide whether what you are experiencing is a catastrophe or a hassle. Sometimes when we are already exhausted, one more thing can feel like a catastrophe, when it’s a minor issue that can be easily taken care of. If you are on over-load see what you can do to delegate some of the responsibility or load elsewhere, temporarily.

3. Count your blessings. Think of the last few positive things that have happened to you. Go look at the pictures of the family members you love. Make something positive happen. For instance, pay for the Starbucks order for the guy in the car behind you, or go into a big box store and find someone who could use a $5.00-$10.00 gift to help pay for their groceries. Find someone you can help in some way. Call that friend who can’t get out and see if they want company for a while. In other words, remind yourself there is still love and compassion in the world and you have it to share.

4. Write, “I appreciate and love you notes” to people you have been remiss in contacting. Lifting someone else’s spirt always lifts our own.

5. Learn something new. There is nothing more exciting than giving your brain a kickstart and doing it with people who are interested in the same topics. Spiraling intellectually or spiritually can leave you feel exuberant about life again.

6. Play some beautiful music and be still enjoying it for a while. Let it touch your soul and fill you up. If it has a great beat, dance, get up, move and don’t give a hoot about how you look. Stop thinking for a bit and feel. Be abandoned for a moment from all self-judgment and critical messages. Love yourself and let go.

7. Don’t get attached to any outcome or any thing. Remind yourself you have and are everything you need to be happy.

8. Stay present to yourself and others. If you have friends around who are also negative, avoid that energy for a while but choose to be deliberately present to those you love. Negativity can cause checking out and closing down or off to everything which leaves you with a sense of feeling dead inside. Don’t let it happen. Staying in a depressed place for too long can cause your brain to produce less serotonin and dopamine. If your brain stays at a low output for a long period of time it may need some support in kicking the production of these chemicals back up to normal levels. There are great holistic herbs that can help.
The bottom line is we are in tense and tenuous times. There are real reasons why you feel the way you do. Take care of your mind and spirit as well as you take care of your body. We have lived through times such as these before and we will come out the other side having learned what ever lesson this era brings. Trust yourself, those you love, and trust your higher power, whatever you perceive that to be, and we’ll get there together.

Dr. Evan specializes in relationships, personal and professional empowerment, compassion and consciousness. 602-997-1200, 602 571-8228, DrDinaEvan@cox.net and www.DrDinaEvan.com