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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Friday, January 3, 2014

Navigating the Way from Despair to Hope How Community Bridges Navigators are Helping Others & Giving Back

By Kristen L. Polin, MAEd, Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI)

When Kelly Denman was just 9 years old, she faced the loss of her father under no ordinary circumstance. After struggling with alcoholism for many years and losing everything, Kelly’s dad was found dead at a bus stop in Phoenix with a bottle in his hand at the age of 37. He was homeless and disconnected from all those who cared about him.

This is a childhood experience forever imprinted to Kelly’s memory and today she finds herself wondering if things could have been different with the right help and the right resources to save her dad. Fast forward to a woman who is now 32 years old and on a personal mission to help change the direction for others who are on a similar path. She is motivated by her past and making sure another 9 year old child never loses a parent the way she did.

Kelly also has her own story, defined not only by her experience with losing a parent but also defined by her own battle with addiction as a young adult. Today, Kelly celebrates more than 5 years in her own recovery and now has the opportunity to help others and give back.

Kelly is a Navigator. She is part of a special team within CBI, also fondly referred to as “blacktop warriors”, defined by a career that takes them to the streets to find and assist the chronically homeless population, find bridge or permanent housing, and build a network of support designed to overcome every barrier that tries to get in the way. Kelly is part of a team that does whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes 

The Navigators are a special crew. They are a diverse group of individuals who share their own experience, strength and hope with others while exercising a skillset to build a full network of support around someone who has to rebuild everything. They rely on teamwork and community collaboration to get the job done. Every Navigator is in recovery and they know this level of intervention is often the last shot at bringing someone back a life with some dignity.
Kelly believes in second and third chances and so does one of her clients, Francisco. At the age of 35, Francisco is fortunate to have a place he can call home in Chandler, AZ with Kelly’s daily assistance to find stability and a fresh start. Following years of abuse in the home and a lifetime struggle with a serious mental illness, Francisco ended up on the streets and lived in fear trying to survive. He had no hope and figured this is where his life would end up. But a Navigator intervention helped him a second time around through a second chance. After reconnecting with Kelly, he was able to make small steps towards finding a place to live and addressing his behavioral health needs that require daily attention. Kelly and Francisco are also a team in assuring he makes it to appointments, practices everyday life skills and learns to become self-sufficient. This takes patience and perseverance…something they have both had to learn through their own life experiences.

Everyone has a Story

People heal through connection and sharing that life experience is how Navigators help those who are often the hardest to reach. We see the homeless but they often feel invisible. We know what they look like but we don’t know their story. We all have one and the Navigators themselves never hold back sharing what they do and why they do it.
Through this connection, we learn that these individuals we connect with are wartime and peacetime veterans and have history defending our country. Some are parents, someone’s child and once a contributing member of society. What led them to the streets may not always be the same but we know all too often its roots are connected to addiction, mental health issues, medical problems or financial ruin.

It Takes Collaboration

Thanks to collaborative efforts throughout the Valley, some of our most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals are now safe in housing and have a real place to call home. Individuals who are making this transition do it with the daily support of a Navigator who relies on behavioral health agencies, other nonprofits, food banks, the faith community, the local business community and city leaders who can open doors and make things happen.  Housing is the first priority and then a full continuum of wraparound supportive services hold the keys to success.
For too long, the idea of managing homelessness seemed to be the solution. Today, ending homelessness is possible when a community can come together and work as a team to tackle the problem since a home is only one step in the long process towards recovery.

The Keys to Success

The keys that unlock a future home that is permanent is only the first step. CBI’s Navigators play a key role in helping clients to establish stability and often that is in assisting with basic life skills we often take for granted. Francisco not only receives assistance from Kelly to get to all of his appointments, she assists him with coordinating meals, how to clean his apartment and do laundry, and manage the day to day appointments for his behavioral health care.
Permanent supportive housing is successful when two things are aligned; housing, daily needs are met and a support system is in place prove a full wraparound layer of supports. CBI’s Navigators assist participants with locating housing, securing furnishings, furniture, appliances, food, and clothing and moving in to their new housing. The Navigator also assists with obtaining other benefits such as AHCCCS, etc., and services such as behavioral health, legal, medical, education, employment, identification and transportation. The Navigator visits 3-4 times/week to monitor progress and helps participants keep medical and other appointments, follows up with appeals processes or other advocacy needs for participants’ care. As clients become stabilized in their housing, the Navigator visits less frequently.

A Collaboration Defined by Success- Project H3 VETS 

No Veteran should be homeless. This was the collective message led by Senator John McCain this past Veterans Day when a community rallied together to become the first in the Nation to end homelessness among our veterans. Project H3 VETS is a nationally recognized effort led by the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) that involves the City of Phoenix, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, Valley of the Sun United Way, Cloudbreak Communities, the Phoenix VA Health Care System, HOM Inc., Arizona Department of Housing, Community Bridges, and the Human Services Campus.
With the support of CBI’s Project H3 VET Navigators, Phoenix became the first city in the nation to end chronic homelessness and every vet was successfully housed in bridge or permanent housing before the holidays. Through the work of all of the partners, there are no longer any chronically homeless veterans living on the streets when the project started with 200 who were homeless.
Success requires teamwork and collaboration. This has been an exciting project and proof that we can end homelessness.
Hundreds of lives have been changed by this hardworking team. So many people are grateful for their determination and big hearts.
Thank You Navigators! 

Navigators- In their Own Words 
“We will go to great lengths for our clients and do whatever it takes!” 
— Roberta Rodriguez

“We do whatever we can to help others and guide them through life hurdles”. — Deanna Danner

 “When all of the doors for our clients are closed…we go through the back window to get things done.” — Kelly Denman

“Every step our clients take towards their own independence, no matter how big or small is a success in my eyes.” - Bryan Reilly
The most rewarding part of my job is having the opportunity to help others and hopefully make a difference in someone’s life. –Alvin Holtz


Kristen Polin is the Vice President of Community Relations and Development for CBI. She has been with the company for 17 years and enjoys writing for Together AZ to promote awareness about successful projects that are changing lives in the community. Kristen can be reached at kpolin@cbridges.com.

About CBI — Community Bridges, Inc., one of the largest agencies of its kind in Arizona, is a private, nonprofit organization serving Maricopa, Pinal, Gila, and Yuma counties by providing a continuum of care that begins with prevention and continues for individuals and families through treatment and recovery. CBI’s mission is to maintain the dignity of human life and be an agent of positive change in our communities. CBI’s clinical treatment, family preservation, prevention, and education services help to reduce the impact of alcoholism and drug addiction as a predominant factor in homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse, child neglect, assault, homicide, and suicide. 
www.communitybridgesaz.org









A New Year & A First Step

From your first breath as a newborn, to your first step as a toddler, to your first teacher in kindergarten, to your big step to that diploma, to your first position in your career, to that first kiss, perhaps that first child, to the first grey hair…in every minute of life we are at the beginning of a new first. Even when we step across the divide from this life to the next, it’s a new first step.

As the New Year begins

It’s important to remember the truth about beginnings. Nothing you have done, or not done, in the past can keep you from your joy and purpose unless you believe it can. Spiritual masters know that every event is neutral. It is neither good nor bad. It just is — until we assign a value to it and allow it to control us. Every event and circumstance in our life is simply a teachable moment. Each event is an “Ah so, what shall I do with this experience I have created?” Every event and every year we have a chance to fill our hearts and minds with what is truly important.

When I leave this place, I will take with me every cherished friendship, every stunning moment of blinding awareness and every intimate instant of connected love. I will take the truths that have reached in and tugged at my soul. I will take the laughter that fills the air when my children and grandchildren are near. I will take the essence of those whose presence was genuine, authentic and unconcerned with stock portfolios; “A” lists and trust funds. I will take with me every profound truth offered from the lips of the teachers who blessed my life. I will take the warmth of my Gracie, the precious toy poodle who curls up next to the small of my back to snore softly.

When we are young, we can miss the truth that “Oh Holy Night” could be tonight, tomorrow night or any night. It is in the eyes of your beloved, in the sound of your child’s laughter, in every act of compassion, in every leap of faith, in every finished mission, in every fulfilled purpose, in every second of sobriety, in every grace filled moment and in every act of love. 
It’s in every new beginning including this one.

If you listen very carefully, you will hear the mantra, “Let’s go deeper,” in the silence between your words. It is the invitation life is forever offering us to dive deeper than the surface. It’s that opportunity to ask the poignant, uncommon question that takes us a bit closer to our true self. It’s an opportunity to speak the truth, ask for what we need, or stand in our integrity.      

“Let’s go deeper,” is the chant of the courageous, the mantra of those who are awake and growing toward enlightenment. It’s the motivation and meaning for our soul journey and each year at this time we get to take the next first step toward the real reason why we came here.
   

This is a time for gratitude 

It’s a time for noticing all those little things that often pass by unnoticed, and yet, are the most important of all. If you stop for a moment, really stop, you will see the light in the world beyond the darkness. You’ll see the hope beyond despair. You’ll see that in this time of great change that you have chosen, are chosen to create more light and greater understanding.

Take a moment to write down all the limiting beliefs you have collected in 2013, all the doubts and fears and all the smallness that tethers you to the past. Take it out side or to your fireplace and burn it. Then write a list of your blessings and a description of what you will create in 2014. Be careful not to limit yourself or drag those old limiting beliefs into this new creation. Then sit a moment with you new list between your palms and infuse it with the energy of hope and the reality that you live exactly what you believe in every moment of your life. Choose to believe in all that is good and in your ability to create it. When we are stuck in the mire of the past it is always because that is what we have been feeding with our energy of doubt and fear.

Take a moment to write down all the limiting beliefs you have collected in 2013, all the doubts and fears and all the smallness that tethers you to the past. Take it out side or to your fireplace and burn it. 

This is a new beginning. 

The two most powerful times in your year are the date and time of your birth and the beginning of the New Year. We wish you every blessing and encourage you to believe in yourself and give energy only to that which you desire and deserve. You deserve it all, go for it.

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

Project Purple

Chris Herren’s high profile fall from the pinnacle of his professional basketball career was a well-documented media story that focused on drug use while in uniform, multiple arrests and a near-death overdose.
Interviewers still focus on how he threw away his basketball career with drug abuse. Herren asks them why they don’t mention his kids, his wife, and how he nearly threw them away? “Basketball should be last on the list,” he says.

In his 2011 book, Basketball Junkie: A Memoir and the ESPN movie, Unguarded, we learn about his descent and eventual overdose due to drug and alcohol use and then his journey to recovery and how he released the secrets and shame of drug addiction.
Even though people still call him “junkie” Herren says, “It’s not about how society perceives me; it’s about how I perceive myself. As long as I’m good with myself, I could care less what everybody else says.”
That message is one Herren delivers to sports teams, school assemblies and parents all over the country.

He’s a true recovery carrier for what he calls “this disease of adolescence.” And, he’s letting people know that it’s the country’s number one public health problem.
“I think we should be ashamed of how we deal with this health issue,” Herren explains. “Every cause is worthy of social backing and financial backing, like breast cancer, like the Heart Association, like diabetes and autism, but why not addiction and recovery?”

For Herren, the issue always goes back to kids. That’s why he created the Project Purple initiative,an anti-substance abuse campaign of his non-profit foundation, The Herren Project. Project Purple focuses on the stigma of addiction by bringing awareness to the dangers of substance use and showing that there is hope in recovery.
“The dream is that it’s not the most underfunded health issue in this country. The dream is that we’re worth more than five-day detoxes.”

Herren can often be found speaking to students and young people. “I want kids to walk away and say, ‘You know what? He’s kind of cool. It’s kind of cool to be sober.’”
“It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign of regret and shame, you know? It’s not a scarlet letter. It’s not any of that.”

Get involved. Stay involved. Be the voice. The recovery movement needs you.

Visit http://goprojectpurple.org/

Elements Behavioral Health Acquires Journey Healing Centers’ Network of Addiction Treatment Centers in Arizona and Utah

Elements Behavioral Health, a leading nationwide provider of addiction and mental health treatment programs, announced on December 18, 2013 that it has acquired Journey Healing Centers’ network of drug and alcohol treatment centers in Arizona and Utah.

Journey Healing Centers provides personalized dual diagnosis treatment for substance use and mental health disorders in Scottsdale, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah. Founded in 2002 by Joshua and Lisa Lannon with one center and a staff of four, Journey Healing Centers has since expanded to six locations with more than 100 team members.

Journey Healing Centers provides the full continuum of addiction treatment services, from residential treatment and sober living to day treatment and intensive outpatient care. Its network of treatment centers is accredited by the Joint Commission and includes a wide range of program offerings:

  • The Retreat, Scottsdale, AZ – an exclusive residential substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment center in an idyllic setting in the high desert that offers world-class amenities including a gourmet chef, a private pool and Jacuzzi, and an onsite gym.
  • The Sundance Center, Scottsdale, AZ – a residential addiction and dual diagnosis treatment center located in a private residential neighborhood in Scottsdale.
  • Journey Utah, Salt Lake City, UT – a client centered, exclusive addiction treatment center located near the base of the Wasatch Mountain Range.
  • Creekside, Salt Lake City, UT – a residential long-term care treatment center in a private, luxurious home.
  • Sober Living, Salt Lake City, UT – a safe, structured and secure community that helps men and women transition from residential treatment back into the community.

Journey Healing Centers has been featured in USA Today, Psychology Today, Discovery Channel, People Magazine, NPR, Fox News and other media outlets.
“We are confident that Elements Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s leaders in addiction treatment, is the right partner for Journey,” said Joshua Lannon, CEO and co-founder of Journey Healing Centers. 

“Elements recognizes the unique culture we have created over the past decade and is dedicated to preserving it so we can best serve our guests, their families and our employees.”
“We proudly welcome Journey Healing Centers into the Elements family of programs,” said Dr. David Sack, CEO of Elements Behavioral Health. “In addition to its high-quality treatment programs, beautiful facilities and strong clinical capabilities, Journey Healing Centers employs a team of professionals with an unmistakable passion for treating addiction and mental health disorders.”


About Elements Behavioral Health
Elements Behavioral Health is a family of behavioral health care programs that includes Promises Treatment Centers, The Ranch, The Sexual Recovery Institute, Right Step and The Recovery Place. Elements offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders and other mental health disorders. We are committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the patient but for the entire family system. For more information about Elements Behavioral Health, visit www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com.
When Christopher Columbus and his crew were sailing their long and arduous voyage to a world they had heard about but never seen, the sailors grew discouraged. Eventually the faith-tested entourage began to wonder if they would ever find land. Then one day the scout in the crow’s nest excitedly shouted, “Twigs!” The crew ran to the rail and observed scattered debris of small twigs and leaves floating past the bow. An impassioned howl rose from the deck—land was not far away.
As you and I enter the new year, we, too, find ourselves on a journey over a vast uncharted sea. Will we ever reach the prosperity, rewarding relationships, health, clarity, and inner peace we have been promised? Can I have a job that fulfills my soul and provides me with a substantial income?  Can I meet someone who truly matches me? Can I find harmony with my current partner? Is there a place on the planet that feels like home? Will my body work as well as I would like it to? Can I be happy?

While you may have not yet planted your flag on terra firma, signs will show up that let you know you are getting close. You may make a business deal that is not your ultimate goal, but offers a taste of how you would like it to be. You may feel physically well for a period of time, and although the sensation is not permanent — for now — you realize you can feel good. You visit a place that resonates with your spirit, and you find comfort knowing that such a locale exists and you may one day claim it or one like it as your home.

Or you meet someone who could be a great partner, but that person turns out to not be available or has a deal-breaking flaw. Disappointed again, you may be tempted to complain that you were teased or let down by the universe. But it’s the other way around: the universe is letting you know that what you want is possible, and you can feel the way you want to feel with someone right for you. That person was not the person, but he or she was a representation of the energy and experience you value and intend to manifest. If one such person exists, there must be others. Don’t curse the experience because it did not become permanent. Bless it as a sign that the real thing is not far behind.

In the early 1900’s a shoe company dispatched a salesman to Africa to open up that market. A month later he sent a telegram to the home office: “Disaster! Disaster! These people do not wear shoes. Bring me home immediately!”

The following month a salesman from another shoe company was sent to Africa with the same assignment. He, too, soon sent a telegram home: “Opportunity! Opportunity! These people do not wear shoes. Triple production immediately!”

Opportunity or Disaster?

Disasters and opportunities are not necessarily logistical facts. They are interpretations. Psychologists have determined that your subconscious mind, the matrix of beliefs that creates your experience, cannot distinguish between imagination and reality. When you imagine something to be so, your body, mind, and emotions kick into gear and create the experience of it being so. Imaginations of failure lead to the experience of failure. Imaginations of success lead to the experience of success.
That’s why it’s important to notice twigs and celebrate them. The ratio of big ocean to small twigs is gargantuan, but it’s what the twigs represent that makes them more powerful than the expanse that outweighs them in size but not meaning. “Faith,” said Rabindranath Tagore, “is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.” When you hear the bird singing, no matter what the environment currently indicates, you can be sure the sun is not far behind.
If something can be done, it will be done. This is why “Kitty Hawk moments” are so significant. When the Wright Brothers flew their first flight in a heavier-than-air craft at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the flight’s duration was only twelve seconds. But what those twelve seconds meant was far more important than the flight itself. They meant that air flight was real and possible. Those twelve seconds were the portal to a new era in human history, leading only 66 years later to a man walking on the moon. That twig was a sign of a vast new territory not very far down the road.
You can hasten your arrival in the new world, symbolized by this new year, by being keen to observe the twigs that float past your bow.
Celebrate and magnify them.
Seize every sign that your good is on its way — actually already here — and let success be the theme of your exploration and expression. Columbus and his crew were powered by stories and visions of a life they had never known, and they found it. You, too, have heard about dimensions that transcend the ones you have known, and you, too, will step into them. That’s what makes the new year new.

Alan Cohen is the author of Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment. If you would like to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your career or personal life, join Alan’s celebrated Life Coach Training Program beginning March 4. For more information about this program, Alan’s books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com, or email info@alancohen.com.

You’re worth it

The words I use when talking to myself can be rewarding or punishing. When self-talk is positive, my value, worth and esteem heads in that direction. When I choose criticizing, blaming, threatening, or punishing words then my value, worth and esteem diminishes. 

My Core Belief of Self

Shame is about core beliefs. It’s a heartfelt internal negative belief defined by “I am” followed by a negative statement of me as a person. Such as, I am ‘not good enough’, ‘unworthy’, ‘bad’, ‘unlovable’, ‘defective’, or some other core negative belief about myself. Once I believe the shame as a core belief I take on a role to make it true. I begin to filter everything I hear through the shame statement. The relationships I choose will support my shame and encourage low self-esteem. 

Shame Is Learned

Shame is not how we are born, but is something we were taught at a young age. As a child, we have simplicity and seek love. If I’m told something negative about myself often enough, I’ll believe it knowing someone older than me would never lie. 
If you were told “you’ll never amount to anything” you can take on a shame belief of “I’m a failure” or other negative shame statement. Shame is not always given in an obvious manner. Sometimes messages are subtle: “Let me show you how to do it.” If you hear this often enough, you may take on a belief of “I’m not smart enough.” 
We take on these false beliefs for two reasons. Between the ages of five and ten our brains cannot process what is false, and since we want to be loved — we modify our behavior to please another to be accepted. This is why often as an adult, we know the truth that “We are worthy”, but our emotional selves, say we are not.

The Power of Shame 

Shame has power, especially in addiction. When we feel shame, we emote fear someone will know what we believe about ourselves. We defend and push people away to protect our fear. 
On a scale from one to ten, when shame is felt at level ten, the shame belief is absolutely true. The result of shame reaching a level ten is we pull away; self-talk turns negative and we isolate or defend ourselves at all costs. 
As a child, I didn’t know what to do, all I remember is my addiction helped relieve the shame and pain. 
Shame is about someone seeing who we truly are, which makes us fearful someone can see the truth. Therefore, we disengage, won’t make eye contact, often looking down out of the fear of shame.

Reducing Shame

Since we aren’t born in shame, there actually was a time when shame was the lie. To reduce shame we need to do several things. We need to identify what our shame belief is. Ask yourself “What is my shame belief?” It’s the statement that happens when it’s a 10. It will be the core negative belief of self that says “I’m unworthy, not good enough, defective.
Know it’s a lie. It is learned, not part of us. If we can accept it as a lie, then what is the truth? We must define a truth, such as, “I’m worthy, acceptable, remarkable — enough.” It is the “I am” statement that I know is the truth of who I was born to be. 
Now say it and own it, practice it and — practice it again. 
It’ll feel like a lie but it’s the truth. We’ve told ourselves the lie thousands of times and now we have to practice the truth. 
For shame to lessen, we need to convince ourselves of the truth. Think back to the time when the lie first was believed. Tell the younger part of you the truth.
Shame reduction can be another first step; “We admitted we were powerless over shame and our life has become unmanageable.” I must abstain from the lie of my shame and accept the truth of my quality. I am remarkable just the way I was born to be. Shame can be so powerful, that sometimes professional support is required to diminish its power. Be willing to ask for help. 
Reducing shame will increase self-esteem and value — and you’re worth it. 

Internal Conflict: Fight it or Feel it?

Feeling different, depressed, lost or alone can come as the result of a stressful life event,  series of events or, seemingly, from nowhere.

If you are like most people, a large part of your pain is the feeling you’re alone and afraid and if you let anyone know how bad you feel and why you feel that way (if you have a clue yourself), you’ll be instantly branded as “crazy.”

So we hide feelings — pretending to be happy, life is good — even though our hearts may be breaking and our spirit is crushed by the darkness within.

When we deny our feelings or cover them up many of us can become angry or exhibit impulsive behavior. Without realizing what it, we lash out at parents, family, friends or teachers all in an attempt to discharge the hurt lodged inside. In an indirect way, emotional outbursts let out pain, in an unhealthy way.

So why not deaden the feelings with alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or eating disorders, not always realizing what you’re doing and why.

The big problem with these ways of dealing with painful feelings is they will only add to loneliness and depression.

By hiding feelings, people who might help don’t know they are needed  and the opportunity to reach out for loving support is lost.

By covering up painful feelings with angry, impulsive behavior, will not warrant the understanding you need so much.

Running away — either from home or from feelings or situations that need to be resolved simply prolongs the pain.

Finding a Solution

What can you do when you are feeling so low and hopeless it’s almost too much? How can you keep from making things worse for yourself instead of better?
Knowing what you are feeling is an important first step.
It isn’t always easy to know exactly what you are feeling when you are feeling bad. All of us have ways of dealing with pain that keep us, at least for a time, from feeling overwhelmed by problems. Alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or food may be temporary ways of handling painful feelings for some. Others try to ignore feelings of pain and discomfort by keeping too busy to reflect on what they are really feeling. Still others look to other people or things to distract them: maybe shopping compulsively or partying nonstop, hanging out with friends all the time to avoid those uncomfortable moments alone. Think about how you cope when you are feeling bad. If you have been reaching for temporary solutions that aren’t helping, you are far from alone!
Depression can happen in a variety of ways and for many different reasons. At times, what some people call “depression” is not depression at all. Depression is often used as a sort of catchall phrase to describe a variety of symptoms. It is often the result of a complex mix of social, psychological or physical factors that can trigger sadness, hopelessness and feelings of inferiority, powerlessness and helplessness. While some people experience depression after a major loss or setback — when it becomes grief that just won’t quit— others experience these feelings for reasons that are not clear cut. For some, depression can be a lifelong illness that comes and goes in a recurring cycle.
You may experience a depressed mood suddenly in response to a loss situation. It may be relatively brief — a few days or a few weeks — or it may occur over an extended period of time. But it is usually linked directly to a specific situation and is quite identifiable as sadness or unhappiness.
Maybe you have been thinking that you need to talk with someone about feelings that are interfering with your life: a depressed or irritable mood most of the day, nearly every day; loss of interest or pleasure in activities you have always enjoyed before; the inability to concentrate; a diminished or increased appetite; withdrawal from friends or alienation of them with your outbursts of anger or irritability; having trouble sleeping or the feeling like sleeping all the time; restlessness or being slowed down; persistent fatigue; feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt; recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), thoughts of suicide, with or without a specific plan and/or suicide attempts.
All of these feelings— some which are signs of major depression are the very reasons to see a mental health professional immediately.
Needing help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated.

Let’s make it the Year of Gratitude

It seems to be a proven fact when take a moment here and there in our busy lives and think about what we are grateful for – the stress seems to disappear… at least temporarily.
I was taught early in my recovery I can’t be in fear and faith at the same time. Being a fear driven person, at least in my using days… that statement stopped me in my tracks. I discovered when I got out of head and into my heart, and thought about the gifts life has given me – how could I not be grateful? Like many of us who found ourselves in the abyss of addiction — if we are here today, alive and breathing we have much to be thankful for. My sponsor suggested I write a list of everything I was grateful for when I’d call her complaining about how unfair life was.
I still make lists…and being grateful is not just about the good stuff. Difficult as it is I must be grateful for the pain and struggles, because every event, and every person teaches me something, it’s up to me what I do with that information.
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In the spirit of gratitude, for the last six years Sierra Tucson has hosted the Annual Gratitude for Giving Breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore which honors professionals in the field of addiction recovery who through their contributions help others find the road to hope.




2013 winners:

From left: Spirit Recognition - David Besst, Hope Recognition- Donese Worden, NMD,
Gratitude Recognition- Dottie DeLugt Collins,Compassion Recognition: Lisa Jane Vargas.

Let’s practice more gratitude this year, are you with me?