Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

TogetherAZ Blog: My Little Prisons

TogetherAZ Blog: My Little Prisons: Last month I was fortunate to take a real vacation. The kind where you leave work, stress and all busyness behind. My trip to Carmel by the...

The Struggles & Solutions When Your Kid is Addicted

By Mike Speakman, LISAC

There is no other human relationship like that between parent and child. Although parents have the most power and influence over their kids, when addiction enters the picture, the situation mysteriously reverses — and the child is in the driver’s seat. How does this happen and what can be done about it? This is the reason PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones) was created. The following is a common story often heard in our meetings:
Up until a few years ago my husband and I felt we led a charmed life. We have a solid marriage, great jobs, beautiful home, good health and are blessed with two sons. 
Our oldest son, John is 27, Michael is 23. As they grew up, we went through the typical struggles with behavior, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Both boys were involved in youth groups at church. John played music in worship bands and Michael was a leader in his group. Many of their friends seemed like positive influences.
However, unlike his younger brother who always seemed confident and determined, John suffered from low self-esteem. He struggled with sports and was teased by his peers for his weight. Thankfully he was quite gifted in academics. 

After years of trying sports and other hobbies, finding nothing he enjoyed, in 7th grade John picked up an old guitar we had, and immediately found his passion. It did not take long for him to start hanging around other kids who were into music; though some of them appeared to be the wrong crowd. 

John loved music. He joined the marching band in high school and was featured on electric guitar when his school competed in contests. We were so proud of him we hardly noticed the changes in his behavior. He started to withdraw, smoke cigarettes and hang with a rough crowd. His grades were plummeting and we were not sure he would graduate. 

Knee Deep in Denial 

In his senior year, at age 17, we received a phone call from the mom of one his friends that would change the course of our lives. 
She informed us her daughter told her John was using prescription pills and most of his friends were concerned he would overdose. I can’t begin to express the level of astonishment and shock we felt after hearing this. We knew something was happening with John; but we were knee deep in denial. We had careers in law enforcement and often dealt with people on drugs. Between the two of us — wouldn’t we recognize a serious drug problem? 

As we would learn later through our connection to Mike Speakman, founder of Parents of Addicted Loved ones (PAL), our son had become a master manipulator and drug addict. 
After receiving that dreadful phone call, we immediately confronted John demanding he provide a urine sample for a drug screening. Opiates were confirmed in his system. He continued to lie, manipulate, insisting there was something wrong with the test kit and of course, us. For the next several years we were in and out of addiction doctor’s offices, as well as forcing him to be evaluated by a psychologist. 

John then legalized his drug abuse by taking Suboxone and Methadone, but we discovered he was using heroin, meth, spice, and bath salts. Our son was no longer influenced by the “bad crowd,” he was the bad crowd. 

Over the course of the next few years, he lived at home, saw specialists, floated from job to job, and worked diligently to work us against each other in order to stay in his addiction. Like most parents of addicts, we thought we could help him overcome the addiction. We worked tirelessly on his recovery “for” him. 

Living in Despair and Hell

Both mentally and physically exhausted, we struggled to keep our focus and work together as a couple. As parents, we maintained hope our younger son was on the right track — he graduated high school and went on to college. Unfortunately, due to our preoccupation with John, we failed to notice the obvious signs he was headed down the wrong road. Michael dropped out of college, lost his job and what we feared most became a reality....both children were now addicts. 

At this stage all of our efforts to “fix” either one of them had not only failed but John was now an IV heroin user. Michael informed us he thought smoking marijuana was perfectly acceptable and like his brother was using meth and heroin just like his brother. 

We reached the breaking point and finally asked for help — our way was not working. In a moment of complete desperation we had to remove our son from our home after he had destroyed it in a psychotic meltdown. We searched the internet and came across PAL as a resource. It has now been over three years since we found ourselves in that downward out of control spiral.

The Light

We started to see the light when we finally accepted while we could not “fix” our sons. What we could do was work on ourselves and hope to bring healing and hope to our family. Our history of enabling and rescuing had not only delayed their growth but had kept all of us stuck. We learned we were not helping, we were actually be hindering their potential for change.

In the beginning, the suggestions from PAL seemed preposterous. But, we have seen how important these changes were to our sons’ recovery as well as our own
We learned to focus on our marriage and at all costs stay on the same team in order to have a united position. Without it addiction will divide any family. 

We did what was suggested by regularly attending meetings and seeking the help of a counselor with expertise in family and addiction issues. We implemented boundaries and consequences; and cut the strings that were preventing all of us from growing up. Whatever our son’s did, we knew who to call and we were not alone. 

The past few years have had many twists and turns. Both sons have relapsed, been to detox, ER’s, recovery centers, halfway houses, and jail. They have lived in parks, cars and on friend’s couches. Both of them had to lose everything they owned. 

Today, John has close to a year of sobriety. This is the longest time he has had since the journey began 11 years ago. He now works at a recovery center. 
Michael just celebrated 90 days of sobriety and is back in school. He seems to have embraced the changes in his life and appears to be humbled by the experience.

We’ve learned we should not gauge our lives based on our son’s behaviors. As the preamble from PAL states: “...it is our desire that by attending our meetings you will learn proven ways to help your loved one and ultimately learn to find joy in your own lives regardless of the choices of your loved ones.”

Glimmers of Hope

Today we facilitate a PAL meeting and love working with other parents. We would have never chosen what happened or wished it upon anyone, but we are grateful. There is no judgment, no condemnation, just acceptance, surrender, empathy and compassion. Our journey to health has led to our son’s heading down the path of sobriety. One of the promises of PAL is — if we get better, it gives hope to our loved ones and that may in turn help them. 

At weekly meetings many parents show up for the first time looking like the “deer in the headlights.” Lost, desperate and hopeless. Like us, they carry massive guilt, shame, certain they are not only the cause of their loved ones addiction — they are the worst parents on the planet. 
Sadly, their children’s addiction has taken its toll on them, from heart attacks, depression, and a myriad of other health issues. Parents are so devastated some have said they don’t want to go on in life. They feel they cannot handle the pressures and their desire to “help,” their addicted loved one has continually backfired to the point they give up hope. It is not uncommon for a parent to say they would give up their own life for their loved one if they knew it would save them. 

They are willing to die for their children, at which point the question is asked, “are you willing to live for them?” 

PAL brought back hope, sanity and purpose in our lives. We have learned to live again. We are thankful for what we have learned and for all of the parents who have stood with us. 
Today, we’re feel blessed to stand with others as they venture down this road that no one would ask for. 
— Jan and Reed, Phoenix AZ

About Parent of Addicted Loved Ones
The PAL Group was founded by Mike Speakman, a licensed substance abuse counselor working in rehab centers since 1988. Mike started PAL because he saw the need for continuing education and support, through time, for parents trying to save a son or daughter from addiction.
Since the first meeting in July of 2006, PAL has grown to 16 meetings in Arizona and there are PAL meetings now in Indiana and Kentucky. PAL offers realistic hope to parents and spouses struggling with the complex challenges of trying to help a hurting loved one. PAL is blessed with more than 40 volunteer facilitator parents. PAL is looking to expand and formalize as the needs are everywhere and we are constantly receiving requests on how to start a new PAL support group (www.palgroup.org). 

In his private practice, Mike provides focused family coaching sessions. Recently, Mike captured his thoughts on how to help your adult child give up destructive addictions in his book, The Four Seasons of Recovery for Parents of Alcoholics and Addicts.  
For more information, 800-239-9127, email: mike@mikespeakman.com, or visit: www.mikespeakman.com.

Mindfulness for the Holidays

by Steve Price

Running to the window, [Scrooge] opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious! (from the last chapter of “A Christmas Carol”). Why do so many of us view the holidays as if it were a root canal, looking forward to when it’s over? Stress, depression, frustration, disappointment—it all comes down to one thing: Expectations.

What’s an Expectation? 

It is a strong belief that something will happen, or that someone will or should do something. Expectations are based on something learned or experienced in the past, and projected into the future, and they have nothing to do with the present reality.

Through the practice of mindfulness, we can let go of the past and the future to experience the joy and peace available only in this moment. Hey, if Scrooge can do it, anyone can. It’s never too late to renew our relationship to our higher power and the higher power in everyone around us, even our ex spouses, our disowned siblings and the neighbor who calls the cops when we use our fireplace on a no burn day. Here are a few tips:

1. Stay present. It’s easy to get stuck in the past, either attaching to fond memories or dreading repeats of not-so-fond ones. Commit to letting go of old beliefs, starting with the thought the holidays suck. Establish a direct, moment-by-moment interaction with what’s happening right now. Look into the eyes of the Salvation Army volunteer ringing the bell outside the supermarket. Smell your great-uncle’s vintage cologne as he gives you a hug. Taste those green beans. Be aware of everything you’re thinking, doing, saying and feeling, and how you’re breathing. Presence is the best present you can give anyone, including yourself.

2. Let go of judgment. When you’re in the present moment, there is no comparing, analyzing or anticipating. Only in the here-and-now is it possible to accept yourself exactly as you are, and others as they are. Looking through the eyes of your heart, you will see, very clearly, that everyone, including you are doing the best they can. It’s impossible to judge and love at the same time. If you happen to notice yourself judging; don’t judge yourself for being judgmental. Simply notice it, say to yourself, “Hmm, that’s mildly interesting,” and drop back down into your heart.

3. Whenever you find yourself resisting something or someone, do the opposite. If at any point you feel your heart closing, keep it open, and open it even wider. Recent studies show stress isn’t necessarily harmful; it’s our negative perception of it that causes problems. People who report a lot of stress in their lives but don’t view it as detrimental actually live longer than those who report very little stress but judge it to be bad. If you can relax with what is, your blood vessels, instead of contracting, stay open.
The instant you feel resistance, relax your heart, and breathe.

With all the anxiety and emotional intensity that can arise during the holidays, it can be especially challenging for those in recovery. This is the time to go deeper into personal power, courage, and connection to your own divinity. It’s also a perfect time of year to ask for help. There are as many or people out there who would love to give their time, compassion and generosity as there are people who need it. By asking for and accepting someone’s help, you’re giving them a gift. This isn’t co-dependence; this is interdependence, which is how the universe works. Barbra Streisand was right when she sang, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”
According to ancient masters from various traditions, the mind is located in the heart. This holiday season, focus there, and you’ll be surprised how things unfold. Like Scrooge, we all have the ability to throw open the windows, clear our minds, and be jovial.

Steve Price manages and teaches at A Mindfulness Life Center in Scottsdale. The center offers yoga, meditation, book studies, recovery series, community events and other ways to calm the mind and open the heart. To learn more, visit www.amindfulnesslifecenter.com.

New Prescott Treatment Center Focuses on Entitlement

Choosing the most effective treatment for a loved one can be a fearful process full of uncertainty. As you conduct your research, you will likely find some treatment centers claim: luxurious facilities, cutting-edge therapy, maid service, private chefs, and more. In this article, you will not find any promises for a cozy transition. Practical Development is Prescott’s newest treatment center, designed to reverse the privilege, bias, and entitlement issues are so common. 
Practical Development knows addiction is a deadly disease and is anything but luxurious.  After working for several years in drug and alcohol addiction treatment, Practical Development’s Program developer, Clint Richards, couldn’t help but realize the majority of his clients were suffering from severe entitlement issues. As time progressed, he felt these issues were often more harmful to his clients than the addiction itself, and leaving them unresolved would result in chronic relapse or an insufficient quality of life. As he processed hundreds of intakes for three highly accredited treatment centers, he found the request was always the same: “please fix my child.” Clients receive a “one size fits all” treatment style, engage in therapy, take a 6-18 month vacation, and eventually leave with a lot of knowledge about recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. 

While this treatment can be extremely beneficial to many, consider this scenario: what if the client has only experimented with drugs and is more of a case of a “failure to launch” than a case of addiction? If so, these clients have just spent half a year or more exposed to serious drug addicts who give free pro-drug education. The outcome can be fatal.
Practical Development was created as an Early Intervention Program for young men ages 16-26. 

Early intervention is specifically created for young men suffering from the early signs of addiction which include (but are not limited to) entitlement, affluenza, authority defiance, anger problems, excessive video game use, chronic impulsivity, depression, and experimenting with drugs/alcohol. At Practical Development, every client is treated as an individual. The staff is trained, licensed, and fully dedicated to focusing on the unique aspects of each client’s personality and struggles. Practical Development has a maximum capacity of 6 clients and each client receives full one-on-one attention for the entire length of stay. 

Practical Development uses true social justice experiences that simulate many walks of life. The first phase of the program is a true test of humility, gratitude and appreciation for the small things in life. Clients focus on a life of poverty. Many people in today’s economy live with nothing but the clothes on their backs, eating in soup kitchens and pan handling to get their next fix, meal, or (if they’re lucky) a hotel room to keep the rain off their heads. This is a class of society many neglect to empathize with. If we don’t work hard and learn to value the life we have been given, we could all very easily become a part of this subculture. With exposure and slight integration to this population, Practical Development uses this social experience as a prime motivating factor to reach progress points. 

If you woke up tomorrow with nothing but the clothes on your back, no money in your pocket, no education or credentials, and a minimum wage job, what would you do? In the second week, clients begin to build a foundation for their success. With more ambition for a better way of life, it’s time to work their way from the bottom up. At this point, the clients are provided a job and personal assistance to advance forward to a self-sustaining life.

The second phase focuses on several different social aspects of life. First and foremost, Practical Development covers Financial Reality. Many clients have come to treatment saying, “I don’t need to go to college! I can make it on my own!” After a few weeks of “making it on their own,” they often have a change of heart. Today’s economic structure makes it impossible to live a financially secure life on a minimum wage salary.

The following weeks and social focuses revolve around responsibility: paying your own bills, buying your own groceries, maintaining your own home, etc. 

This is followed by a period called “1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back.” Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything just goes wrong? We all have. Every journey endured at Practical Development facility is 100% proportionate to reality.
The next phase is “White Collar Week,” where the focus is on professionalism, ethics, appearance, and representation. To wrap up the second phase, clients focus on their accomplishments and begin to set their personal goals.

For the final week, clients have graduated from the work program and spend one week focusing on the next step of their lives. During this time, they fully engage with their therapists and support groups to finalize all individualized goals that were set prior to entering the program. Clients work diligently with a Certified Life Coach to build a 6-month, 1-year and two separate 5-year plans. This is an exit plan designed by the client and his financial sponsors to truly “prepare to launch.” Clients do not graduate from Practical Development until all of phase three criteria are complete and approved by their financial sponsors and all clinical staff.

Knowing first-hand the personal challenges of finding appropriate treatment placement, Practical Development is committed to helping all families and loved ones to find the best option for themselves. If you discover that Practical Development is not the right center for you or your loved one, they will assist you in finding the appropriate facility to meet your needs.  
For more information visit www.practicaldevelopment.net or call 1-928-899-6766

The iPhone, the iPad, and the iAM

By Coach Cary Bayer www.carybayer.com

You’ll know that our world is headed in the right evolutionary direction from a spiritual standpoint when people are willing to line up as early and as long to get the iAM as they do for the newest versions of the iPhone and the iPad. The iAM, you ask? 
Yes, the iAM; it’s been here since mankind first set foot on this planet. As a result, there are no new versions of the iAM. In truth, even the expression “since time immemorial” doesn’t quite do justice to the reality of the iAM because iAM exists outside of time, in every moment in time.
When you want to know a fact fast google it on your iPhone. When you want to know something on a computer file go to your iPad. When you want to know who you are, go to your iAM.

What is the I AM?

The I AM is your true nature. It’s found at the transcendental part of your mind — beyond all perception, like the hearing of music from your iPad, the thinking of your mind while googling on your iPhone, and even beyond the feelings you get listening to the most beautiful songs you’ve recorded on your iPod. It’s that place where you know who and what you truly are, and it’s available in the silent depths of your being through meditation. I know because I’ve been teaching meditation since the age of 20, and training dozens of teachers of meditation some years after that.

When Moses encountered the Higher Power of the Universe in a burning bush and was told to tell Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go, he asked, quite reasonably, who should he say sent him. The answer he received was obtuse: “I AM sent me to you.” 
Not as regal but quite poetic is Popeye the Sailor Man’s mantra-like motto: “I am that I am and that’s all that I am, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.” 

You can get directions from your iPhone and IPad. You are directed from your iAM. 

The Beatles knew that money can’t buy you love. They also knew that money can’t buy you peace of mind. That’s why they learned the mediation that I’d practice for most of my life. And that’s why they went to meditate at Maharishi’s ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas. 
Most people don’t realize that what they’re truly looking for — peace and happiness of the deepest magnitude — isn’t available in the world of things. The t-shirt that says, “He who has the most toys wins” isn’t true. It should read, “He who is the most things, wins.” 

In other words, when you live from your I AM, at the transcendental level of Being beyond time, you’re connected to that which is infinite. You can’t get more than infinite. Even Bill Gates’ money can’t buy an infinite number of things. Another wealthy person — Oprah Winfrey—learned to meditate in the same style as the Beatles — and made it available for free to her staff.
Jesus, trying to teach Jewish people of his time the deepest spiritual truths, said it eloquently: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.”

Physical things like iPhones rust and break, metaphysical realities do not. iPhones can be stolen, but nobody can steal your iAM.

The iPad comes in a mini design; the iAM comes in both mini and maxi. That’s because it’s smaller than the smallest things in the world and bigger than the biggest. It has no physical size but it has metaphysical depth.

Benefits of Knowing the iAM

The iPhone lets you make calls, hear music, see videos, take pictures and videos, and so on. The iPad lets you read books or use computer files. The iAm gives you infinite freedom, deep peace, great joy, awakening and enlightenment. So why aren’t you waiting in line to get your iAM?


The Many Positive Aspects to Recovery

By Celia Vimont

There are many positive aspects to being in recovery, suggests a new survey of people who are experiencing recovery from alcohol or drug problems. The findings of the national survey of more than 9,000 people will help both people in recovery, and those who treat them, according to the researchers.

Currently there is no agreement about the definition of recovery, says lead researcher Lee Ann Kaskutas, DrPH, of the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, CA. Many people believe it requires total abstinence from drugs and alcohol, while others do not. “Most of what we know about the definition of recovery has come from scientists and expert panels, not from people in recovery,” she says.

The goal of the “What Is Recovery?” project was to develop a way of defining recovery based on how it is experienced by those who actually live it. The researchers did a tremendous amount of outreach to find people in recovery, including ads on Craigslist and announcements on radio programs. “People in recovery are a hidden population,” Dr. Kaskutas said. 

“There is a serious stigma attached to addiction. These elements that define recovery demonstrate to those going through it, as well as the general public and policymakers, that it is not something to be ashamed of.”

Survey respondents were most likely to say recovery is:
  • Being honest with myself.
  • Being able to enjoy life without drinking or using drugs like I used to.
  • Living a life that contributes to society, to my family or to my betterment.
  • Being the kind of person that people can count on.
  • Giving back.
  • Striving to be consistent with my beliefs and values in activities that take up the major part of my time and energy.

Dr. Kaskutas says people in recovery can use the findings to explain to family and friends what they are going through. “They can say, ‘When I say I’m in recovery, I mean that it’s an ongoing process, and I’m actually trying to live a life that’s contributing to society,’” she says. “Recovery doesn’t just (or always) mean abstinence—it can also mean you have a positive way of being that you didn’t have before.”

She said it is significant that almost all respondents said recovery is about giving back and helping other people. She noted that some people are reluctant to attend recovery programs because they think the programs will be religious or spiritual. “The survey shows that being spiritual can really just mean you’re giving back and helping others—and it’s not necessarily about religion either.”
Dr. Kaskutas says she hopes to keep in touch with more than 1,000 survey respondents who said they were interested in staying involved in future studies on recovery, to track their progress over time.

Pray to be Wrong

I had a neighbor I saw as a nasty alcoholic. Brenda would regularly sit around the kitchen table with her husband, drink, and complain. I did not find any good in her. Then she and her husband took in a young man to live with them. Mark helped the older couple around the house and stayed with them for years. When Brenda passed away several years later, Mark told me, “Brenda was one of the kindest people I have ever known. She and her husband treated me like a son. I will always remember and love her.” In that moment I realized how skewed was my interpretation of Brenda. I was focusing on one aspect of her that brought me pain to consider. Mark, on the other hand, had focused on an aspect of Brenda that brought him joy. Each of us was reaping the result of our interpretation. From that moment on I began to think of Brenda as a kind person, which has brought me peace.

“If we view the world as a place of kindness, filled with people willing and able to make life easier for each other, that is the world we will experience.”

A Course in Miracles.... 

Tells us that perception is not a fact, but an interpretation. The world we see is determined by the kind of vision we use to observe it. When we view the world as unsafe and threatening, populated by ignorant, evil people, we will find plenty of evidence to prove our assumption. All belief systems are self-validating. If, on the other hand, we view the world as a place of kindness, filled with people willing and able to make life easier for each other, that is the world we will experience. An infinite variety of realities exist simultaneously. The one we live in is the one we focus on.
If the reality you are currently living in is not bringing you joy, abundance, connection, and healing, pray to be wrong about the judgments that form the platform of your beliefs. You cannot simultaneously be right about your limits and your possibilities. For one to proliferate, you must release the other. Jesus said, “A man cannot serve two masters. He will hate one and love the other.” You can live in but one belief system at a time. Jesus also said, “Choose ye this day whom you will serve.” Ultimately there are only two belief systems: love and fear. You are either serving love or serving fear. Nothing in between.

 Last summer a crazed gunman killed the parents and four siblings of fifteen-year-old Cassidy Stay, and, after shooting her, left her for dead. Miraculously she survived. At her family’s funeral service she quoted Harry Potter’s mentor Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” 

This young woman made an extraordinary choice about how she would process such a horrendous ordeal. She chose love. On the day I read the news article about her eulogy I was upset about a credit card bill. Suddenly my upset felt absolutely trivial. I realized that if Cassidy could choose love in the face of such a terrible experience, I could choose love over far lesser challenges. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling heard about Cassidy’s oration and sent her a personal handwritten letter in purple ink from Dumbledore, a wand, and several autographed books. While these gifts could not undo the tragedy the young woman underwent, they demonstrate our power to soften each other’s pain. “What are we here for but to make life easier for one another?” 

This holiday season you will have plenty of opportunities to pray to be wrong about what’s wrong and to be right about what’s working or what could work. You will have many chances to make life easier for yourself and others. You may experience the stress and pressure of shopping for holiday gifts; crowded travel during high season; family upsets, feuds, and dramas; financial fears; and handling end-of-year details. The season of joy, for many people, is not so joyful. This would be a fabulous time to remember that perception is not a fact, but an interpretation. When faced with fear, anger, or guilt in yourself or another, ask yourself, “Is there another way to look at this that would bring me more ease, relief, or peace?” If there is, pray to be wrong about the way you have been looking at the event so you can see it from a new, more healing perspective. 
A Course in Miracles asks us, “Would you rather be right, or happy?” 
The approach of the New Year brings a powerful invitation to let go of the limits that have kept us feeling small during the past year, and replace them with greater possibilities for the new year. Pray to be wrong about everything that hasn’t worked in your life, so you can be right about everything that could work, and will. Bless the old year for leading you to the new one, for both the challenges and blessings have lifted you to higher ground. As you consider what hasn’t made you happy, heed the profound advice of Kahlil Gibran: “Knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
A happy and blessed holiday season and New Year to you and yours. 

Alan Cohen is the author of  I Had it All the Time: When Self-Improvement Gives Way to Ecstasy. Join Alan’s upcoming Life Coach Training Program to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your career or personal life, join. For more information visit www.alancohen.com, email info@alancohen.com.

The Best Holiday Recipe

The best holiday recipe is everything! We are taught that everything in the world, and in life, is this or that— good or bad, right or wrong, here or there. Actually, it’s about both and all. Life and everyone in it is about and meaning — life — a big soup that contains all of it.

We are all good at times and bad at times, right at times and wrong at times. Life can feel great and in that very same moment, some part of it may be uncomfortable or sad because we are missing someone. The trick is in your willingness to embrace all of it without judging your feelings, pushing the feelings into denial or pretending. Stop seeking this and avoiding that. The holidays are a time when we do a lot of that.

We can’t stand Uncle James, but for an afternoon, we act like he is a good guy. We think the turkey is dry but we rave about dinner. We look forward to the holidays but we worry about the money we think have to spend. The problem is when we are into either this or that, we lose the moment. And for that, there are no do-overs. Maybe the best gift we can exchange this holiday season is turning presents into presence.

Are You Truly Present?   by Dr. Dina Evan

When you are truly present, you are able to shift your perception into that of recognizing the gifts of every moment and every person in your life. It could be Uncle James is teaching you acceptance and helping you release your judgments about how people ought to act or who they ought to be. And maybe if that turkey is dry, the Universe is saying you could be more helpful in taking some of the burden off your hostess.

Do you even know what her year or the challenges in it have been like? Once everyone had arrived, in my arrogance, within about ten minutes, I had already decided who I liked and who the putz was, whom I didn’t like. Inevitably, the Universe, the one I had invited to kick my ass, did. The putz became my greatest teacher and the person I just knew would be my best friend was an incarnate of my mother who never was. If someone at your holiday gathering is bothering you — it’s something inside of you getting bothered and it has nothing to do with the other person.

Deep inside you already know we actually do create our own reality and on some level of consciousness, everyone at that table is someone you invited. It might be fun to pause and ask yourself, what am I supposed to learn from this person?
Is it tolerance, gratitude for yourself, who you are and what you know? Is it acceptance, humanity, humility or the skill of allowing someone else to have the floor?

Maybe it’s about you not needing to be right or the most important. Maybe it’s a time for you to actually relax and do nothing! It might even be a time for you to NOT be in charge and just learn to receive. Maybe if you just relax and listen to your thoughts you’ll discover how many are judgmental and how many are loving or conscious.

What ever it is, it’s a good time to remember it’s all about you. What you bring to the table can come from your heart. It can come from your willingness to learn something new about yourself. And if it does, you’ll have a great day.

You may be delighted to find how many gifts have been waiting for you. You may also discover what an incredible human being you are. That’s a gift worth having. Or, you may discover some things you want to change so you can genuinely be the incredible human being you are…and that’s an even bigger gift worth having.

We all have so much to be thankful for during the holidays and the rest of the year. Whatever you do, please remember we are thankful for you. It is a gift to us that you read this paper, and let it touch your heart and mind. We are thankful to be part of this great community that supports and cares deeply for each other. We are grateful for your open minds and giving hearts and we wish you the very best of holiday joy. And, just for the hell of it, try to remember even that big turkey in the room has something to teach you. Enjoy it!

Dr. Evan is a life/soul coach in Arizona working with individuals, couples and corporations.  She  specializes in relationships, personal and professional empowerment, compassion and consciousness. For more information 602-997-1200, email drdbe@attglobal.net or visit www.DrDinaEvan.com.

My Little Prisons

Last month I was fortunate to take a real vacation. The kind where you leave work, stress and all busyness behind. My trip to Carmel by the Sea was something I looked forward to for months. It was time to be with ‘me and God’. And this particular spot is where I found my connection to Him — almost twenty five years ago.

Within an hour of arriving, my mood relaxed, my mind cleared almost becoming vacant, which is what a vacation is supposed to do — vacate, clear, heal and renew. Without a set schedule, all I knew was, I’d follow my feet for the next 12 days.
Sitting on the sand, wading in the ocean, inhaling the sea breeze, walking, reading, meeting new people, wandering through the art gallerys — this was what I needed to restore my spirit.

During one of my strolls through the quaint neighborhoods, it occurred to me I sometimes live in a jail cell… not literally, but one I create. Living in the moment is difficult. Like most people, I think about the future or relive the past. The hours spent in the “What if’s, the should-a’s, the could-a’s, the if only’s,” hit me like a wave. I need to work on being here… now. Not just in Carmel, but every day of my life.

I visualized a cell with lots of bars; in the white space between them were words that often keep me a prisoner. Fear, projection, resentment, anger, grief, pity, loneliness, could-a been; should-a been; they popped out like billboard signs. I couldn’t help but smile as I realized I don’t have to live that way. Wasn’t I given the key to freedom long ago? Doesn’t it reside within me?

Now that I’m back, the practice of what I’ve learned has begun. As a human being, I understand my focus will never be 100% in the ‘right this minute’, but if I stay conscious when I am trailing off, all I need to do is ask to be brought to the present, even for a minute. One of my good friends often says, “it depends on how free you really want to be.” So I’ve decided my end of year and new year commitment is keeping “A get out of jail free card” in my pocket at all times!

Thank you to all who support Together AZ and the Art of Recovery Expo. I look forward to continuing to provide our community with hope and inspiring others on the road to recovery. We are on one heck of a journey together and I would not have it any other way.  Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just Say “Know”

By Stephanie Siete, Director of Community Education, Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI)

Let’s check in on the latest trends…Rx, E-cigs, Powdered Alcohol, Vapes, Dabs, BHO…What?

A teen engaging in risky behavior is not a new phenomenon. We tend to chalk it up to a rite of passage and something that might be expected. But are these unwritten rules something we should accept in today’s day and age? The drug world and has changed and we want you to know the latest. 
As a community, we ask parents and loved ones to challenge the typical norms and help to protect our youth. We believe awareness is the key to challenging norms that may favor drug and alcohol use and we also know that knowledge will provide you with the tools to empower you. Teens are at a critical stage in their life and they need our guidance. Adolescents are making adult decisions based on limited years of life experience and that ever famous teen brain, which is not fully developed until the age of 25. Early onset of drug use and risky behaviors often put youth at serious risk very early in life. Some of these choices will lead them down a path of addiction and some may never bounce back. We have an opportunity to turn that around. 

So what’s the good news? 

We can make a difference. Drug and alcohol abuse will always be a threat, so awareness is your tool. Emerging drug trends that we have never seen in our time, have posed a serious risk for our youth and so much is still unknown. Synthetic drugs like spice, bath salts (cathinones), kratom and 25i-nbome are a new breed of drugs in recent years. Prescription medication has existed as a form of treatment for decades, but abuse, addiction and death have been on a massive incline in the new millennium. Even our gateway or “kiddie” drugs have changed in terms of device and potency. Cigarettes are now battery powered, marijuana looks like honey and a concept of powdered alcohol has arrived. 
Feel out of the loop? A little lost? The world of drugs is constantly changing. We are here to help. 

The Revised Gateway Drugs

How many of us remember learning about drugs and to “just say no” from a program? Effective or not, this was some of the first exposure to the world of drugs in elementary or middle school. We learned about the popular drugs of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. These drugs still reign as the top leading gateway for teens and Rx medication is a close fourth. Misperception about their dangers is our leading concern along with their dangerous potency and powerful addictive properties. 
We have become a prescription (Rx) drug crazed society. According to the National Safety Council, the United States makes up 4.6% of the world’s population and has been consuming 80% of the global opioid supply and 99% of the hydrocodone. To put that into perspective, in 2010, enough prescription painkillers were provided to medicate every American around the clock for an entire month. (National Safety Council, 3/13/2014, Seven Startling Facts about Prescription Painkillers, www.nsc.org/Pages/Seven-startling-facts-about-prescription-painkillers-.aspx

In Arizona, we saw 575 million pills prescribed in 2013 (Arizona Criminal Justice Commission Statistical Analysis Center). We don’t lack availability or accessibility for that matter. More than 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers report getting them from friends or relatives. Only about 5 percent got the painkillers from a drug dealer or from the Internet. (National Safety Council, 3/13/2014, Seven Startling Facts about Prescription Painkillers, www.nsc.org/Pages/Seven-startling-facts-about-prescription-painkillers-.aspx) 

Problem 1: The Rx drugs are here. Problem 2: Most don’t know the dangers. 

Teens are curious about doctor prescribed medication and everyday people are being offered Rx meds as the best way to manage their pain. Our television commercials tell us “there is a pill for every ill.” The messaging gets confusing, yet let’s be clear…legal doesn’t mean safe. It never has. 
The temptation to use prescription painkillers can be just as addictive and deadly as heroin. In 2012, the number one cause of death in 17 US states was prescription drug abuse (American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, 10/11/11, The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP)

Fact Sheet, www.asipp.org/documents/ASIPPFactSheet101111.pdf). This may sound like a startling statement, but more concerning is the lack of education with the general public. More people need to be “in the know” about the risks, even when medication is legitimately prescribed. Opioids are deadly and too many people continue to die. 

Heroin: The Deadly Opioid Cousin

Heroin is not a gateway drug; although it continues to grow in popularity. Heroin does have a proven link to prescription painkillers because of its similar effects sold at a fraction of the price. It’s generally more affordable and no one can explain an opiate withdrawal if you have not experienced the pain yourself. Sometimes the only option is the street option. Recent statistics conclude that heroin use continues to rise in the US. In a 2012 report released by the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, from 2007 to 2012, the number of Americans using heroin nearly doubled, from 373,000 to 669,000 individuals. 

E-cigs, Vapes, Dabs, BHO, What?

Prescription pills may be the newest to the list of gateway drugs, but the older ones are looking and smelling a lot different lately. Remember when cigarettes were pieces of paper you lit and smoked? Now they are electronic cigarettes consisting of battery operated devices that turn nicotine or other chemicals into a vapor. Some of these products look like an ordinary cigarette but when touched, one can feel they are metal and can be easily filled with liquid nicotine. E-cigs were designed to wean one off of smoking cigarettes by replacing the fumes with vapors; however one should ask…are vapors safer than smoke? 
The jury (and the Surgeon General) is still out on this one. We just don’t know the long term effects. Not only should we be concerned about the vapor itself, but we should know the potential poisoning associated with liquid nicotine. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a 219% increase in poisoning exposures in the US (American Association of Poison Control Centers, E-Cigarette Devices and Liquid Nicotine, www.aapcc.org/alerts/e-cigarettes/) 

Vaporizers or Vaping pens are also being used to smoke flavored tobacco but also cleverly being used to conceal marijuana. Individuals can use marijuana concentrates or hash oils in these products. The well-known plants can contain up to 20% of the hallucinogenic THC but the concentrates may be as potent as 90%, causing one to pass out or experience intense hallucinations (Miles Bryan, April, 18, 2014, Pot Smoke And Mirrors: Vaporizer Pens Hide Marijuana Use, National Public Radio (NPR)). Previously, pot had a pretty recognizable smell but with the newer smokable devices hitting the scene; it has made detection much harder.

More about Hash Oils and BHO

Wax, honey, budder, dabs and shatter are all the most recent slang associated with the newest and most potent form of marijuana, butane honey oil (BHO). The names of honey, wax and budder (butter) effectively describe the look of the product. No longer are police, parents and probation officers only searching for a bag of weed, but they are looking in lip balm containers for this gooey form of marijuana. With the success of online video sites, it doesn’t take one long to search for “BHO” on the internet and watch how to create the product. 

What’s Trending with Alcohol?

Underage drinking is still the number one problem affecting American youth and young adults. It still remains the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. And on average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January, 16, 2014, Fact Sheet — Underage Drinking, www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm) 
Clearly, we have our work cut out for us in preventing, intervening and treating the abuse of alcohol. 

Mixed drinks, beer, wine, shots and even the pre-mixed alcohol energy drinks all well-known and commonly used but what about a powdered form of alcohol? If you have or currently work with a juvenile, then a product like this grabs your attention and probably creates a sense of fear or worry knowing a powered form in a small packet will easily be overlooked in a pant or purse pocket. Palcohol is a new concept in 2014. 

Good News: It is NOT officially available and hasn’t been approved by the FDA (yet). Bad news: It has been approved by the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. 

It is exactly as it sounds, a small tear away packet of powdered alcohol; coming in versions of rum, vodka and kamikaze. All you have to do is add water. Not much is known about the potency as use has not been reported; however it pays to take note of a new format and a potential new trend.

Cathinones, Spice, Kratom, 25i-nbome, Molly…the Never-ending List of Synthetic Drugs
Synthetic cannabinoids laced on plant material were first reported in the U.S. in December 2008, when a shipment of “Spice” was seized and analyzed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Dayton, Ohio (Office of National Drug Control Policy, Fact Sheets – Synthetic Drugs http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/ondcp-fact-sheets/synthetic-drugs-k2-spice-bath-salts). Ever since then, the US has seen an increase in unknown designer substances sold as “research chemicals” imported from places like Southeast Asia showing up in communities across America. Names like Kratom, 25i-nbome, K2 make these psychosis causing, suicidal feeling chemicals sound like foreign languages. Not commonly known or regularly reported, doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Synthetic drugs are popular because they are NOT sold as drugs; rather sold as code words in gas stations and convenient marts as potpourri, incense, fertilizer, glass cleaner, bath salts, etc. They still state “not for human consumption”. These constantly changing chemicals are not all federally regulated. There are many different county ordinances and state bans around the US, making the sales hard to prosecute. However, DEA at a national level continues to investigate and take down the large production and distribution efforts.

Quick Facts and Concerns about the “Others.” The list goes on…

The word “crystal” has stuck with us when we are referring to methamphetamine. “Bath salts” fit right into this category of dangerous substances, as well. “Bath salts” are cathinones, a psychoactive substance with stimulant properties occurring naturally in a khat plant. This plant mixed with chemicals is being abused worldwide causing instant psychosis and long-term brain damage. The DEA has also deemed this drug an “imminent threat to public safety.”
Acid seems to be making a comeback under the name 25i or nbome. Sadly, more and more deaths around the US are being reported. These new forms of synthetic LSD are used with a blotter or drops that may be put in the nose or on the tongue. It has a rapid onset and can cause intense hallucinations but little beyond that is well known. 
The name, “Molly” is not a friend; not in the drug world. She is sung about, talked about and commonly abused on the party scene. She has been referred to as ecstasy in pop music, but the reality is that when Molly pills are tested with forensic science, they can be anything. Molly can be forms of heroin, meth, cathinones, MDMA, or even baking soda. It’s a term that has been used since the 60’s. That’s all it is; a term. 
Kratom is legal in the US and commonly used in Southeast Asia. It is an opioid that is put into teas or may be chewed; consumed in small doses it can produce a stimulant effect. However, larger doses provide that respiratory weakness all opioids are known for. This is a cheap and readily available substance that looks like spice and can cause nausea, hallucinations, tremors and aggression. 
The consensus of synthetics is that little is truly known with their chemistry as the combinations of chemicals vary with each drug; the short and long term effects are unknown as testing is in the early stages and a treatment plan is hard with minimal information.

Taking Action

Here we are coming full circle. We know that drug use is risky; more so today than ever in history. We have so many new drugs that have not been tested and have no known long term effects. We, as a community, need to do our part. We need to share our knowledge with today’s risk takers. We need to emphasize that legal does NOT mean safe. Access resources that will help you find the tools to spark up meaningful conversation, detect possible warning signs and know how to find help if it is needed for a family member or friend. 

Here are some of CBI’s top resources:

Let’s help others “Be in the Know.” You are now. 

“Parents In the Know” workshops are available at no cost to the community thanks to a grant made possible by the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families- Parents Commission. We also offer Rx360 classes, specifically educating parents about how to prevent misuse and abuse of prescription drugs with youth and teens. Join us or be a host of a future workshop! Please contact Stephanie Siete at ssiete@cbridges.com to schedule.

Stephanie Siete is the Director of Community Education for Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI). 
 Ms. Siete is an expert prevention trainer on drug trends and community resources spending the majority of her time educating the public about the realities of drug abuse. http://communitybridgesaz.org/

Veterans Healing With Horsepower

by Shannon K. Spellman, M.S.W., LCSW, LMFT, LISAC

Why would veterans benefit from hanging out in an arena with a bunch of horses and engaging in this therapeutic modality referred to here as equine assisted healing? Well, it’s actually a very effective, non-threatening, non-stigmatizing method for coping with stress, grief and loss, relationship problems, addictions, PTSD, deployment separation issues, and adjustment problems to returning home. We hear firsthand from veterans how powerful being around horses has been for them.

Paul Knutson served in the United States Army as an Infantryman from 28 January 2003 to 20 April 2011. He deployed with 1st Battalion 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from January 2004 to April 2005, and October 2006 to January 2008. Paul was wounded in 2004 in an ambush and was awarded the Purple Heart. During his tours, Paul and his teams were subjected to several Improvised Explosive Devices. As a result, Paul has been diagnosed with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. After his second tour, Paul broke his back in training and was subsequently medically retired from the Army. Paul is now pursuing a college education in the field of radiography.

Reintegrating into the herd

Paul offers his experiences, strength, and hope about how horses have helped him. “In 2011, I was medically discharged from the Army because I had broken my back and could no longer perform my duties as a soldier. I was lost and had no direction because I had planned on spending my life in the military. Transitioning into the civilian workforce was a daunting task as there wasn’t any structure anymore that I could rely on. Even after gaining employment, I wasn’t happy because I didn’t understand my role in this new chapter of my life and I certainly didn’t appreciate working with people who didn’t share the same vision of work ethic as I had learned in the military.

My mom found a horse for me that needed training, as he hadn’t been handled for the first several years of his life. Horses aren’t judgmental; they are herd animals that are just trying to survive day to day. Learning this about my horse, and working with him, taught me that people tend to live life the same way. In working with him, I have learned a lot about my own social tendencies and have overcome a lot of my anxieties of reintegrating into the herd that is civil society. I am now in school, am able to socialize with non-military people, and have a lot to look forward to every morning when I wake up. I don’t think I would have been able to bounce back as quickly as I have without my horse.”
Paul continues, “I recently attended a Healing with Horsepower event for veterans and was able to see other veterans be able to connect with the horses. It was powerful to see them distinguish the different personalities within the herd and then be able to identify with them. I believe that horses are an invaluable resource for veterans. I want to be able to share this experience with all of my friends that I served with and with other fellow veterans that I have met along the way.” We are honored to have Paul Knutson volunteering in our equine assisted program for veterans.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Across the nation, veterans are receiving help in programs that offer horse therapy. The term, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy was first introduced by Greg Kersten, a veteran and horseman, and founder of EAGALA. Training horses helped him improve his own mental well-being, and his exercises are used in many programs worldwide. Greg developed some equine assisted exercises specific to working with veterans. Greg teaches about many things including how horses respond to pressure and pain versus how people react to pressure and pain. Veterans’ responses are often influenced by military training.

For some veterans, exposure to traumatic events experienced or witnessed during military service can result in difficulties that come creeping back up months or years later into one’s memories in a very intrusive fashion, and they may find themselves without adequate coping tools to process these experiences. We’ve come to know this problem as shell shock from WWII, later as combat stress, and more commonly today as PTSD. Many veterans have experienced some symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress even when they don’t meet the full criterion for a formal diagnosis of PTSD.

Vernon K. Rogers, a veteran and avid horseman shared his experience with me about how horses help him with stress relief and overall health. “I was in the Navy from 64 to 68, doing two tours of duty in Nam on a tin can (destroyer). My duties, among others, included an air controller. Upon my discharge I headed back home. I had bad nightmares off and on and when I had one I couldn’t go back to sleep as I was so uptight and tense. Then one night knowing I couldn’t go back to sleep, I got up and went out to my horse. After 30 minutes of talking and brushing him, I was really relaxed and went back to the house and fell to sleep. I found this worked really well and eventually they came less and less as I also learned what triggered them.

To this day I cannot watch war movies. Later in life I worked for the Dept. of Energy as a Power System Controller, working shift work. When I had a really stressful shift once I got home I would go out to the horses, pet and talk to them or sometimes get on and go for a ride. They have never failed to be there for me. In my retirement horses are helping me stay active.”

According to data from the VA, in 2011 alone, there were over 475,000 veterans who were treated for PTSD. This does not begin to reflect the actual numbers of veterans struggling with PTSD since there are an increasing number of veterans who are resistant to seeking help, and the number of veterans who have sought help and not received it due to the extreme service delivery problems recently discovered within the VA system. The consequences to veterans of not getting help, or receiving help that results in worsening symptoms are reflected in the rates of suicide and substance abuse for veterans.

Every 65 Minutes

Every 65 minutes, a veteran commits suicide. That’s 22 suicides per day with numbers actually higher due to some states not reporting and some veterans not being counted. In a 2007 SAMHSA survey of all veterans, 1.8 million met the criteria for a substance abuse disorder. Veterans are also becoming addicted to prescription opiate pain killers at an alarming rate due to injuries sustained during their service. In this year alone, over half a million veterans have been prescribed addictive opiate medications. Some veterans may develop gambling addictions or other adrenaline seeking compulsive behaviors in an attempt to cope with the adjustment to returning home.

When veterans seek help for PTSD at the VA or through Tri-Care, they typically receive group therapy with a Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) modality, and often psychotropic medication including antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills. Unfortunately, the potential adverse effects of anti-anxiety medications are developing an addiction to the medication where tolerance results in never having enough, and withdrawals result in a return or worsening of PTSD symptoms. The adverse effects of antidepressants can include increased risks of hostility, violent behavior, and suicide.

Ross Libonati, a veteran and President of Horse Lovers Management Corp., knows about some of these problems all too well, and for years has found his own comfort in riding and working with horses. Ross explained, “I joined the Air Force in 1963 and discharged in 1967. I was security for the 320th bomb wing, the first B-52 bomb wing to bomb Vietnam. I did two tours. I know what horses can do for the heart, mind, and spirit. I know that if horses were not in my life I would have been dead by now because of self-medicating (alcohol, drugs etc.). It was my idea to start this program because I know the healing that horses can bring to your life. We are not affiliated with any government agency. We’re just veterans helping veterans with guidance from horses and qualified professionals. Come and join us. See how it works.” Ross and his wife, Kathy, volunteer in the veteran’s groups and Horse Lovers Park donates the arena. The program is run solely on donations with the seed money coming from veterans helping veterans.

Both the licensed therapist (myself), and the equine professional, Faith Knutson, M.A., are horsewomen and family members of veterans, and both of us are certified to offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. As a therapist with specialties that include PTSD and addictions, I have watched many clients make rapid progress with the addition of equine assisted work.

While it’s not a cure all, it definitely has advantages in working with veterans and their families as they are able to accomplish healing that otherwise wouldn’t likely occur in traditional therapy sessions. It’s something you have to experience in order to understand. If you’re a veteran or a family member of a veteran, you are invited to join us in the arena and experience firsthand the healing power of horses.

For more information about our Veterans Healing With Horsepower program, find us on the web at www.HealingWithHorsepower.com/veterans_eap.html Feel free to contact us with any questions. Our dedicated phone number for the veteran’s program is (719) 497-9734. You can also reach me at my office at Veritas Counseling Center, LLC at (602) 863-3939.

Veterans can download a flyer at http://www.healingwithhorsepower.com/veterans_flyer.pdf with the workshop address and signup instructions. The groups are provided at no cost and currently meet monthly on the first Tuesdays from 6-9 PM at Horse Lovers Park in Phoenix.

There are no eligibility restrictions and no required proof of service forms. Groups are open to all veterans and their family members both in and out of recovery rooms.

To make a tax deductible donation to this program to help veterans and families, you may do so online at http://www.azhorseloverspark.org   Please specify in the instructions that you want your donation to go toward the Veteran’s program. Checks may be mailed to the Event Coordinator, Horse Lovers Management Corporation, 515 E. Carefree Highway #849, Phoenix, AZ 85085. Please write Veteran’s program in the memo on your check.

[1] Kersten, G.. 2008-2013. OK Corral Series Seminars.
[1] Veterans Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, VA, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, accessed online 10-18-14. http://www.va.gov/opa/issues/ptsd.asp
[1] Military With PTSD. November11, 2013. “Why are Veterans Afraid to Get Help for PTSD?” accessed 10-18-14. https://www.facebook.com/notes/military-with-ptsd/why-are-veterans-afraid-to-get-help-for-ptsd/658696730828524
[1] Moore, W.. “Facts & Figures about Veterans and Soldiers,” Coming Back with Wes Moore, a featured program of PBS, accessed online 10-18-14. http://www.pbs.org/coming-back-with-wes-moore/about/facts/
[1] Basu, M. November 14, 2013. “Why suicide rates among veterans may be more than 22 a day,” CNN, accessed online 10-17-14. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/21/us/22-veteran-suicides-a-day/
[1] American Psychological Association, “The Critical Need for Mental Health Professionals Trained to Treat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury,” accessed online 10-20-14. http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/military/critical-need.aspx
[1]  Lawrence, Q. July 10, 2014. “A Growing Number of Veterans Struggle to Quit Powerful Painkillers,” Shots Health News from NPR, accessed online 10-17-14. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/10/329904066/veterans-face-another-battle-fighting-prescription-drug-addiction
[1] “Cognitive Processing Therapy”, PTSD: National Center for PTSD, US Department of Veterans Affairs, accessed online 10-18-14. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/cognitive_processing_therapy.asp
[1] Billings, PhD., B., Retired Col. and former military psychologist, “Psychiatric Drugs Cause Suicide,” Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, accessed online 10-18-14. http://www.cchr.org/documentaries/the-hidden-enemy/psychiatric-drugs-cause-suicide.html

Want To Be Mentally Tough?

doing these 5 things!


There are a lot of ways to get stronger. Adding more resistance, adversity, or stress is one way, and learning how to adapt to the challenge is another. Yet for all of these ways to get stronger, without removing the obstacles in our own approach to adversity, we will see little gain. So if you want to get stronger mentally, here are five things to stop doing right now.

Stop Off Loading Responsibility. Mentally strong people know what is their responsibility and what is not. What they take responsibility for is their behavior, thoughts and feelings. They have long since let go of the idea that anyone is going to make things better for them. While they know that sometimes things happen that are out of their control, they know that they — and only they — are solely responsible for how they respond to these things. You will never see them pointing a finger, blaming anyone else for “messing up their day,” “making them feel bad” or “making them angry.” Instead they simply take responsibility and accept their responses as their own, aware that these are choices they are making — and if they don’t like them it’s no one’s fault but theirs.

Stop Taking Things Personally. Those who get through setbacks and come out stronger know that these things are not personal. Whatever those around them do, they recognize is a reflection of that person’s character, and only that. Mentally tough people do not believe that anyone “has it out for them,” or “that the world is against them.” Instead, they recognize that what happens to them is the result of other people’s actions, thoughts, and feelings — which they are not responsible for. So they spend no time wondering why others do the things they do, and a lot of time thinking about what they will do about it.

Stop Forecasting. Mentally strong people — as tough as they are — know that there is one thing they cannot do. They cannot predict the future. And they don’t waste any time thinking about, anticipating, or foretelling the future. Because they know the action is right here, right now, and the future is not now. But they also know that when their mind is in the future, it’s not in the now, and they are likely to miss critical details and make mistakes — simply because they were distracted by what could happen as instead of focusing on what is happening.

Let Go of Illusions. While we all love to dream, mentally tough people know dreams are not reality. The chances are, it will not “all just work out.” More then likely, tough people will tell you, there will be good and bad. Thinking life is “all good”, they know, is just a fantasy that promotes denial. And denying what might not be going so well is a sure way to keep it going that way.

Stop Holding On to the Past. For many of us, holding on the past would allow us to avoid loss. Yet mentally tough people know that wishing things “could just go back to the ways they were,” is a wish, and not reality. They know the past — as great as it might have been — is gone. They you can’t go through life, looking through a rearview mirror. So they accept the losses, and instead of wishing they could go back in time, think about what they need to do in the present. Because focusing on the wonderful things happening yesterday is a sure way to miss the opportunities that might be right in front of you.

Becoming mentally tough is a hard earned battle — and one that is not won overnight. And while sometimes we have to learn how to fine tune our approach and leverage the adversity, sometimes we also have to learn how to get out of our own way.

Get Real

by Alan Cohen

Sitting backstage at a network television studio in a large metropolitan city, I waited to go on the air for an interview. My segment was scheduled right after the noon news broadcast, which began with a gory account of a murder, then a rape, then war footage, followed by bad economic news and a political scandal. I began to feel depressed, but consoled myself that the broadcast would get to more positive reports. It didn’t. The entire fifteen minutes was filled with gloom and doom, nothing anyone in his right mind would want to get up in the morning and face. Eventually I just had to laugh. The news was beyond depressing. It was ridiculous. It was unbelievable. Finally, after the closing sortie of auto accidents and snarled traffic, the broadcaster announced, “. . .and now for a great new book by an author who is going to tell you how to live a happy life.”
The camera turned to me.

Suddenly I became Neo in the movie The Matrix, in which wizard Morpheus extends two open hands, a red pill in one palm and a blue pill in the other. If Neo ingests the red pill, he will awaken to his true self and the real world. If he takes the blue pill, he will remain in a familiar but oppressive world of illusions.

I sat up straight and reached for the red pill. I told the audience that love is our birthright and fear the imposter. I took a stand for living authentically in a world consumed by illusions. I told the viewers that they deserved better than the world showed them, and they held power over their lives regardless of the insanity around them. It was the only news I knew how to broadcast.
After the program, the anchor, a highly-respected lifetime journalist, took me aside and told me, “I agree with you completely. I get depressed coming to this job. There has to be more to life than the world we are telling people there is.”

The reality we have been shown by the media and other seemingly authoritative institutions has been twisted into the polar opposite of truth, championed by people more committed to bondage than freedom. You have likely told someone about a valued vision of yours, to which he or she responded, “Get real!”

Suddenly your excitement was reduced to ashes and you either gave up your quest or you had to once again build up the courage and momentum to forge ahead.

Take care to share your sacred visions with people who will empower you, not attempt to gobble your hopes in the shredder of doubt.

If you have even one or two good friends who understand you and believe in you, that is sufficient. And if it seems that no one understands or supports you, Higher Power has your back. Even when you do not have faith in yourself, God has faith in you.

When most people say, “Get real,” they mean, “Get small. Get limited. Get stuck. 

I am trapped in my little fear-bound world, and your expansive vision is threatening to me. So I demand that you grovel in the mud with me. How dare you rock my tiny world with greater possibilities!” The premise is that success and happiness are unattainable illusions, while struggle and suffering are realities we must adjust to and live with.
Most planetary game-changers were told, “Get real.” They were branded insane, shamed, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. The Catholic Church sentenced Galileo to house arrest for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun. Soon afterward Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno proposed that the sun was a star and that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. Giordano was convicted of heresy and burned at the stake. When the judges issued his death decree he told them, “Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.” Jonathan Swift later noted, “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” Einstein echoed, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Every person is potentially great. Are you willing to step into your greatness, claim it, and live it?

The holiday season offers you many opportunities to get real in the presence of people who fear to get real themselves, and call you to play small with them. Regard their resistance as a call for love and an invitation for you to be authentic. When you stand for truth in the presence of illusion, you break the illusion for yourself and for everyone who subscribes to it. Your mission is to remain alive in a world preoccupied with death; to walk tall when others are compromising their integrity; to be who you are while others have forgotten who they are.
Reality is not for sissies. To live authentically in a world steeped in illusion is the gift of lifetime, spreading light in ripples from your own life to the lives of everyone you touch.

Alan Cohen is the author of many inspirational books, including I Had it All the Time: When Self-Improvement Gives Way to Ecstasy. Join Alan’s upcoming Life Coach Training Program to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your career or personal life, join. For more information about this program, Hawaii retreats, Alan’s books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com, email info@alancohen.com.

My Falling Leaves

By Dina Evan

My leaves are falling. This month I moved about a third of 72 plus years of personal life, mementos and beloved belongings in to a new home half the size of the old one. It’s beautiful and I love it and it is still filled with empty and packed boxes even after weeks of purging. I also moved my professional and creative life into a separate office away from my home. This new space now requires a long and arduous hourly walk to the restroom, located down the hall near the elevator. My broken femur doesn’t understand and lets me know the long walks are not appreciated. And my leaves are falling.

The leaves that are gently disappearing are the ones that believed my life is in the books I have written, the special cards of love I have received, the emotionally priceless pieces and statues I picked up years ago that spoke to my soul. The leaves that are falling are in my sense of voracious independence. When you grow up in an empty room you learn not to expect anyone to have your back — because no one did. My kids have my back now and the experience of having to rely on others is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. As natural as it is as a part of life’s progression, I fight feeling guilty or needy. Moms are always supposed to be the ones caring for their children. So, I try to do that in different ways now, emotionally, spiritually and energetically to maintain my sense of balance.

I had a large courtyard at my old house and in the center of it is a Chinese Plum tree. Each season it brings itself alive with vibrant crimson colored leaves in what seems an overnight transformational statement of I EXIST. For weeks in each season, it stands, bare-branched, looking as if it is lifeless. It has barren dead appearing sticks protruding from what once was a full blessing of shade. She creates that shade from the tiniest of white blossoms and then a sudden explosion of crimson leaves with the surprise of fire like color on every branch.

I love that tree. It seems to me she has great dignity. She stands bare naked for weeks at a time knowing that inside her she had the ability to burst forth in elegance in each new season in a whole new way. She finds the reserve inside. Pulls it up from her roots and that energy bursts out the top of her like mount Vesuvius She finds the energy, juice and electricity to make it happen and…so shall I.
Inside each of us is deeply hidden, the juice and electricity of precious connected moments with those we love. The times of silent understanding and awareness’ that need no explanation are waiting to sustain us and help us bloom again. It’s in the unexpected miracles and unexpected kindnesses that create the meaning and reason for blooming. I have let go of the being the books I have written. I have let go of so many artifacts and mementos from special spiritual trips and gatherings. I have let go of the seminars, handouts, exercises and trainings I have presented.

Their meaning is already in the ethers, in the hearts of those who attended each workshop or read each book. I am standing alone on my own and with bare branches and already in that freed-up space, I am starting to bloom.

We often go through life with the emphasis on getting, buying and collecting all the externals, because we have been taught these are the things that will make us safe and happy. How many times have we heard people, like me, expressing their astonishment at how much we have collected over the years and often not even seen or used for much of that time! We worry more about what is in our bank account than what is in our heart. It’s trite but true that in the end, none of it matters. We will not have a wit of concern over what we didn’t buy or how much remains in the bank when all is said and done. We will, however, wonder whether we loved enough, cared enough and did what we spiritually came here to do. In this season when branches go from bare to blossom, it’s time to give thanks…for all the things that truly matter…like you and me and this precious connection we share each month.

Thank you Barbara, and every reader who reads this column. You are not just supporting us with your readership. You are helping us fulfill our purpose and express what’s in our heart, hopefully in a way that fills yours with what really matters.

That’s a great gift exchange and we are grateful for you. Happy turkey month and don’t save the wishbone. Your wishes are already fulfilled.

Dr. Evan is a life/soul coach in Arizona working with individuals, couples and corporations.  She  specializes in relationships, personal and professional empowerment, compassion and consciousness. For more information 602-997-1200, email drdbe@attglobal.net or visit www.DrDinaEvan.com

Stay Teachable

In sobriety I have learned to become teachable. Having just returned from a 12 step meeting, a gentleman with over 44 years sober spoke about how important it still is for him to be open for the lessons. Along with teachable, another word comes to mind: humility.

Being teachable has nothing to do with school grades or degrees.

It means I’m willing to pay attention to what others are saying; by listening to their experiences,  joys and pitfalls, awakenings, and the roadblocks they have had overcome on this journey. 

The first time I read through the first 164 pages of the ‘big book’ I thought Okay now I got it! Not really. Early on my goal was to get through everything quick and fast — and it took months for my ego to get right sized.  Then and only then, did I begin to understand what being teachable meant.
I learn what to do and what NOT to do when I listen. By staying connected and showing up, I understand my disease just a little bit more, and it’s way stronger than I am. What I have in my corner though, is a powerful, loving God. When I connect — I have great chance for an amazing day.

We see men and women coming back in through the doors all the time —and they all say nothing has changed “out there.” It isn’t what we romanticize it to be.

The most painful times are watching someone leave — never making it back. So I need to be vigilant about my recovery, and practice what I was taught every day. I don’t know anyone with any amount of clean time from 2 weeks sober to 44 years who hasn’t struggled. When they share their struggles with us, we know we are not alone; nor are we unique.  Ask for help .... be open to receiving it. Stay humble.      Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Journey through Addiction and Depression to Hope and Recovery

By Joyce M. Willis, LPC

On August 12, 2014, the day after Robin Williams committed suicide, I was talking to my neighbor about this tragic death. My neighbor stated, “What a fool, he had everything and any resource money could afford.” My reply: “We never know what is going on in someone else’s life and it is not up to us to judge his last moments. He must have been feeling despair, loneliness and hopeless at the moment.” 

My neighbor, knowing that I am a mental health therapist, politely conceded, knowing this was not a topic I would change my opinion on. The truth is that in that last moment before someone takes his own life, he is in the darkest moment of his life and thinks this is the answer. In this article, we will explore depression, addiction and how they tie together. Most importantly, we will explore hope and recovery.

The one glaring truth that comes to light after Robin Williams’ suicide is that depression, addiction and suicide do not discriminate. Depression and addiction are not diseases that are more likely to occur in the poor or the rich. The truth is that depression and addiction are human diseases; no matter whether you are rich, poor or middle class. Robin Williams’ death does bring up the connection between creativity and mental illness. A study completed earlier this year by the British Journal of Psychiatry found a connection between creativity, comedic ability (whether it be writing or performing) and depression. Often, comedy is a way to escape the pain and depression. Yet, we cannot escape; we need to work through to get to the other side. Robin Williams was not the only comedian or artistic, creative person to suffer from depression and substance abuse. He is one of many entertainers who took his life, either intentionally or incidentally. As Alice Walton points out in the Forbes.com website, Robin Williams spoke about this himself. Williams spoke about how it is important to be funny when you’re speaking about painful subjects. He spoke about how humor was a tool to obliterate the pain. In the history of entertainment, we have seen many comedians and entertainers die from addiction via accidental overdose and from suicide often caused by both addictions and depression… Kurt Cobain, Ray Combs, Richard Jeni, Dana Plato, Freddie Prinze…the list goes on. Comedians often make us laugh, so we cannot see how much they hurt. Those of us who have suffered from depression or addictions often do the same. We put on masks of humor or smiling so others cannot see the pain beneath. It is when we are able and willing to open up and make connections that we can begin to enter a life of recovery and of hope. 
As I stated, addiction and depression do not discriminate; these diseases enter many lives for many reasons. There is a close relationship between addiction and substance abuse. 

How did either or both start? 

As per Pia Mellody, Senior Clinical Advisor for The Meadows, less than nurturing and abusive family systems in childhood lead to adulthood behaviors of codependency. The codependency patterns translate into addictions and mood disorders. According to Pia, there are five primary symptoms of codependency, which lead to addictions, depression and other mood disorders. The five primary symptoms are:

  • We have trouble esteeming ourselves from the idea of inherent worth.
  • We have trouble protecting and nurturing ourselves.
  • We have trouble being real.
  • We have trouble attending to our needs and wants.
  • We have trouble living life with an attitude of moderation in all things.

When we have trouble with these five primary symptoms, we are more than likely to abuse substances and become depressed.

Substance abuse and depression occur together in a high percentage of individuals. The connection is so strong that we cannot say for certain which “caused” the other. There are many drugs that people use which do directly affect the brain and can lead to depression. Marijuana slows down the brain functioning and diminishes cognitive ability, which can lead to depression. Alcohol affects people in the same way as marijuana. Cocaine can elevate moods, yet when people stop using cocaine, they can experience a crash that turns into depression. There is a long list of drugs that can be a factor in depression either during the time the person is actively using or when the person is withdrawing from use. 

How does depression leads to substance abuse?

Many people with depression are looking for a way to “cure” the depression, so they look for ways to medicate themselves. They may have difficulty accepting they are depressed or think they can handle the depression without professional help, thus they turn to alcohol or other drugs to change how they feel. They are able to change how they feel temporarily, yet they have just created more of a dilemma for themselves; they have now become addicted to alcohol or other drugs…and the drug abuse worsens the depression. It is a vicious cycle.
Let’s explore this connection between depression and substance abuse a bit more. Depression is debilitating; it is a disorder that can destroy relationships and lives. It is one of the most common disorders in our society. Depression leads to people feeling sad, empty, lonely, discouraged and hopeless. Many people with depression are irritable and have difficulty concentrating. They stop doing things that interest them and stop taking pleasure in activities they previously enjoyed. Trouble sleeping, becoming easily fatigued and weight fluctuations are signs of depression. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt can lead to suicidal ideation…and suicide.

People with depression have a high rate of substance abuse. It is important to consider that often addiction is a mask for depression. With depression, we feel less than others; with substance abuse, this takes us to a feeling of more than others. However, as stated before, this is a vicious cycle and we, ultimately, go to a place of “less than others.” Depression can be seen as the acting in behavior, while addiction can be thought of as the acting out behavior. 

It is possible that someone may be depressed and not abuse substances, yet the two usually go together. We will look at some statistics further in this article. Depression does have the potential to predispose people to abuse substances. 
Many substances have a close connection with depression. We will explore a few specific connections; the first of these being marijuana. Depression is common in people who use marijuana. It has been found that higher quantities of marijuana use predict severe depressive symptoms. Alcohol, most certainly, has a high correlation with depression. Alcohol is a mood depressant, even though many people use alcohol to feel happy. Alcohol has the opposite effect of those looking for “happy.” 

Alcohol in large quantities worsens depressed moods. Depression and alcohol use are closely associated with an increased risk of suicide. Depression is common among stimulant users. Stimulant use includes methamphetamines. Stimulants affect sleep cycles and thus, add to depression during sleep-wake cycles. In the days following stimulant use, users experience depression. Depression is present during the withdrawal stages from stimulants and present for a significant time following abstinence. 

The connection between depression and substance abuse is severe and can affect many people. Stats from The National Alliance on Mental Illness tell us:
One in four adults experience mental illness in a given year. Mental illness can be major depression, schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.

Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults live with major depression. That may seem like a small number, yet that computes to about 14.8 million people.

About 9.2 million adults have both mental health (depression, anxiety…) and addiction disorders occurring at the same time.

Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in America for youth and adults between the ages of 18 to 44.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide is more common than homicide and is the third leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15-24. More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders. This includes those with depression and substance abuse disorders.

These are alarming statistics. Yet, there is hope. The fact is that most people with depression do not kill themselves. However, untreated depression can lead to suicide. Suicide is a possible risk when combined with substance abuse when professional help and support are not sought out. Further statistics on suicide show us that:
Up to 15% of those who are clinically depressed commit suicide.

More than four times as many men as women die by suicide. However, women report attempting suicide more often than men.

The majority of suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress that need to be addressed, and not just a harmless bid for attention. A suicidal person should not be left alone and needs immediate intervention and mental health treatment.

Suicidal behavior is complex 

Risk factors for suicide occur in combination; not in a vacuum. Ninety percent of people who commit suicide have depression in combination with another mental disorder or in combination with substance abuse. It is important to stress that suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to the stresses experienced by most people. Many people who experience one or more risk factors are not at risk for suicide. Statistics show that the strongest risk factors for attempted suicide or actual suicide are depression, substance abuse and separation or divorce.
Statistics, however, do not need to determine our lives. There is hope! Things can get better. The path out of depression and substance abuse has more than two paths. Many see the only two paths as spiraling back into substance abuse and depression or death. There are so many other possibilities that lead to a life in recovery and a life full of hope and fulfillment. 

Hope begins with getting help for yourself or for a loved one who is struggling with depression and substance abuse. This is where connection comes in. Connection is so important in prevention and intervention. The most positive action a person can take is to begin to connect with others. When we build connections, we also build hope. Talking to a mental health professional is of utmost importance, yet, often a depressed person is reluctant to do so. How do you help a person who is in despair and experiencing one of his darkest days? 

The first way is to be there for them and to let them know that you love and support them. 
The second is to provide resources for help…and, often to go with them. At the very least, suggest 12 Step Meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Depression Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous and Emotions Anonymous. Often, people will begin to feel more comfortable opening up when they realize there are people who have experienced the same things they are experiencing. 
At that first meeting, it is important to select a sponsor, even if this is just a temporary sponsor at first. The connection with just one person who has your back and is concerned with your well-being can often spur you on to even further recovery. 

Therapy is of utmost importance. Both the addiction and the depression need to be addressed in treatment. Treating one is no guarantee that this will eliminate the other. Sometimes, therapy will require medications under a doctor’s supervision. Accept this help. One of the most useful treatment modalities is Family of Origin work. When we can get to the root of the depression and substance abuse, we can release the pain and shame of our past and move toward recovery and hope. 
Other professional resources include attending workshops, seminars and lectures. Look at your community resources and the Resource list in this publication of Together AZ. There are many free resources that are there for you and for your loved ones.
In addition to therapy and professional resources, there are other resources we can incorporate to maintain recovery. 

The Importance of Self-care 

How do you take care of your needs and wants? Do you honor your need for connection with others by making phone calls, attending meetings or meeting a friend for lunch? Do you honor your simple wants by treating yourself to a simple pleasure: a walk after work, listening to music that you like or playing with your dog or cat? These are all ways to nurture yourself. 
Other ways to nurture yourself and honor yourself as a human are stating daily affirmations and keeping a gratitude journal to write in at the end of every day. Establishing boundaries with other people so that you protect yourself and contain yourself helps keep you balanced and in recovery. Meditation and exercise are great tools to add to your recovery basket.
I want you to realize that all addictions and mood disorders can be overcome with work. It is about placing yourself in the position to succeed and having the honest desire to seek help. When you have the honest desire to seek help, positive things start happening in your life! This leads to an onset of new hope and an appreciation of possibilities for a new way of life. You begin being more in control of your emotions and building confidence in yourself. All these lead to an enlightened way of life opening up on this road that we all travel; the road of hope, of recovery and of life.
Pia Mellody’s five primary symptoms which lead to addictions, depression and mood disorders were mentioned earlier in this article. 

We can all recover from these five primary symptoms and change the outlook to five ways to maintain balance and recovery in our lives:

We are precious and valuable just as we are.

We are vulnerable and can expect protection.

We are human and make mistakes. We are perfectly imperfect.

We are dependent on others for our needs and wants, when making a reasonable request. We can live interdependently with others.

We are spontaneous and open.

I want to end this article with reminding you that there are so many resources available to everyone — not just the rich or the privileged, as some viewed Robin Williams. Recovery is about taking that risk to say, “I am important enough to deserve a life of hope…a life of fulfillment… and I am going to take the steps to do this.” All the resources mentioned require connection…connection to yourself and connection to others. Another connection to incorporate is the spiritual connection. A spiritual connection to your higher power is another tool to keep you balanced and on the continuing on the road of recovery…for the rest of your life. When we build healthy connections, we build healthy relationships and recovery.

Connection requires that we open up and talk about our addiction and depression; that we share with those who can help us. Connection requires that we continue opening up and talking, even when we are confident in recovery and our lives are going well. As Buddha stated, “Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Share the tough times and share the happiness. The tough times will decrease and the happiness will increase.

 I would like to provide you with a number that can be a life –saver. The number is for the National Suicide Prevention Life: 1-800-274 TALK (8255). This is a free confidential call that will be answered by a trained counselor at a local crisis center. Keep this number, share this number and make a difference.

Lastly, I would like to leave you with an acronym: CARE for yourself. Connect with Anonymous groups and Resources Every day.

Joyce Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is currently a Lead Counselor and Training Specialist at The Meadows. Joyce earned a Bachelors of Education from the University of Akron.  After teaching for several years, Joyce pursued and earned a Masters in Counseling from the University of Phoenix.  Joyce has been in the Counseling Field since 1996.

Joyce has worked extensively in the addictions field. Joyce’s specialties include treatment for addictions, bereavement, trauma, depression and anxiety. Joyce has a special interest in mindfulness and helping people connect their emotional, spiritual, mindful and physiological selves with compassion and respect. 

Mellody P. (1989). Facing Codependence. 
New York: Harper Collins.
National Institute of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d) Statistics; Any Disorder Among Adults. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics
www.allaboutdepression.com, www.forbes.com/sites/, alicegwalton/2014/08/12

The Meadows is a multi-disorder facility specializing in the treatment of trauma and addictions. The Meadows’ clinical experts reach beyond single-level treatment of addictions, behavioral disorders and psychological conditions to diagnose and treat the underlying problems. www.themeadows.com  (888) 289-6177.