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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Your secret stash

By Alan Cohen

In the opening scene of the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we find the couple in a therapy session. Mrs. Smith tells the therapist, “There’s this huge space between us, and it just keeps filling up with everything that we don’t say to each other.”
While we might be inclined to define relationships by what we say to each other, they are more accurately defined by what we don’t say to each other.

My friend Carol owns a successful business she has built over many years with her executive assistant Marcia. In general the two women are good friends, but recently they had an argument. Marcia told Carol, “I am still deeply hurt by what you said to me a few years ago.”
Carol was stunned. She couldn’t imagine what she had said that had disturbed her friend so much. “Please tell me what I said that hurt you,” she asked, wishing to rectify the problem.
Marcia shook her head. “I’d rather not tell you.”

Marcia’s response indicates her hidden agenda to keep the problem in force. If she truly intended to heal her pain and maintain the best possible relationship with her friend, she would have revealed the incident by which she felt hurt. Then the two could have processed the experience until they came to resolution around it.

Marcia’s investment in holding on to the grudge than releasing it indicates that she held it as a “treasured wound.” She perceived a payoff for feeling slighted: she got to be “right” at the expense of Carol being wrong, and maintain a victim identity. Marcia knew that if she held the experience up to the light, it would dissolve. But she chose instead to keep it in the dark so she could continue to claim it. This perceived payoff kept the relationship, or at least a portion of it, underground, and impeded the friends from moving ahead together. One day the issue will be resolved, but only when Marcia perceives a greater benefit in releasing it than clinging to it.

Fear regards light as an enemy

Michael Pritchard declared, “Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.” Love, by contrast, is willing and eager to bring all things into the spectrum of greater awareness. If your intention is to heal, you can hold anything up to the light and it will serve the healing process. We have heard, “the truth hurts,” but the only thing truth hurts is illusions. Compassionately expressed, honesty works in your favor and that of those you touch. It has been said, “Those who are brutally honest are more interested in brutality than honesty.” Any communication delivered with love begets loving results.
What we withhold from relationships is what keeps us feeling separate and alone. I’m not suggesting that you tell everyone everything all the time; relationships can be damaged by too much information. I am suggesting that the important things need to be shared. If emotional pain is standing between you and your friend, putting it on the table can dissolve it. But take care how you share it, and why. If your intention is to punish your partner, be right, or fuel the same argument you have been having for years, you are better off keeping your mouth shut. If, however, your intention is to dissolve upset, come closer to your partner, and deepen your relationship, your communication will serve as a gift to both of you.

Your experience in all relationships is the result of your intention. You use relationships to project what you want to make of them. Some people create relationships to be a source of deep reward and soul fulfillment. Others use relationship to intensify discord, separateness, loneliness, combat, and pain. The good news is that even if one of your relationships, or many, have been horrid, you have to power to shift any of them by choosing harmony over discord. Your well being does not depend on the other person’s actions or attitude.

It depends on your choice. The other person may continue to choose upset, but if you choose peace, you have mastered the situation and bestowed upon yourself the only gift worth gleaning from it. When you choose peace for yourself you invite the other person to meet you on higher ground.

The key to healing relationships is joining—finding common ground on which you and your friend are unified. In my book Happily Even After I interviewed couples who had been steeped in bitter acrimony as a result of a breakup or divorce, and then found ways to harmonize and support each other. The most common theme I discovered was that couples who had children agreed that they both wanted the best for their children, which gave them a shared purpose and opened a door to joining. To heal a relationship you don’t have to have children, but you do need a vision of connectedness. “We are in this together, so let’s do what we can to make it a happy ride for everyone involved.”

In the world of separation, there seems to be a huge space between us. What we fill it with makes all the difference.

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.

Love Is....By Dr. Dina Evan

From masters to mortals, the past is filled with those who have attempted to define love. 

LOVE IS



Perhaps we keep trying because is love is ineffable and often inexpressible. It can’t be bought, sold, traded or downloaded. It creeps in next to our heart to create longing, desire, appreciation and reverence. The same energy that sits beside a dying parent holding on to each lingering moment is also that which lights up the night sky with excitement over a new chance meeting.

Love is the foundation of everything

It is the cohesiveness in the Universe and it is the motivation for every walk to enlightenment because that is the walk toward the Source of love itself. Love is not an action or a word. It’s two straws, one caramel chocolate shake. It’s grabbing the blanket for cold toes before being asked. It’s being more concerned about giving than getting. Love is art, it’s a soprano’s perfect high “C” and it’s in the center of forgiveness when humanness arrives.
 

Love is not an act 

Acts are not real love. True love is authentic presence.
Love is not a word. It is a verb — a whole-souled act of being real and risking everything for a moment in which you can stand emotionally naked and be completely accepted and adored.
Love caresses your mind, your soul and your spirit.
Love wants to help you shatter the protective walls so you get to what you came for.
Love wraps itself around your soul with reverence for every breath and every challenge that brings growth and deeper connection.
Love is committed to deeper connections, with every living thing.
 

Real love is not ownership

It is freedom and yet it binds us in grace. You can’t demand love, you can only invite it and if you feel bereft of love, then you have forgotten to give it.

Love is everywhere. It sits on street corners in shabby, dirty clothing after having given its heart and soul on a battlefield. It sits caged and waiting to be rescued at shelters, and every now and then, it get adopted in the form of a child or four-legged furry ball and becomes protected by people whose hearts have stretched to the limit.

Love is not pheromones, dopamine, nor epinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin, although this is what love offers as a bonus.

We didn’t come here to get love. We came here to become it. We do that by picking up the pieces of our shattered lives and remembering that love cannot be shattered by anything at all.

We can talk about love in therapisty ways. However, the bottom line is always that love is what crosses the divide when separation arrives. It motivates us to try harder again. It reminds us of our priorities and the reason we were born.

Love is an amazing thing, the greatest gift the Universe has to offer. Love never leaves you, but you can leave love. Even when that partner you thought would be a forever one leaves, love arrives the moment you realize you both did your best with what you had and learned a lot in the process. In every circumstance, there is truly only one question and one right answer. ”What would love do?”

We talk about love in very fun ways, with flowers and hearts and candy and trinkets in this month. However, we can go deeper. We can sit quietly and feel the air on our cheek and the sun on our face. That is love.

We can be thankful that we have this day and the next to do it better.

That is love.

We can feel gratitude for every person in our life who has opted to dance it us, help us grow and stay.
That is love.

We can cherish the moments of insight, awareness and grace. That is love. We can honor the challenges we have overcome, the milestones we have crossed and the changes we have made.
That is love.

We can look across the table and into the eyes of a beloved or friend and see our reflection.
That is love.

Life is filled with love. It is everywhere you are. Don’t miss a minute of it. Just breathe and feel it all. You are loved!

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.

Got Healthy Boundaries?

Boundaries are how we teach others to be with us, and how we express our needs and wants, to validate our emotion, or support or resolve what we feel. Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits we create to identify what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for others to behave around us and how we respond when someone steps outside the limits. Boundaries are built from a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning. They are also an expression of how we view something, what we feel about it, and what we want or need based on the feeling we are having about the event.

Why boundaries are difficult to establish

Many of us didn’t learn how to express ourselves or were not allowed to have boundaries ss we were growing up. We may have been told “no” to what we were feeling or wanted. Perhaps we were violated for expressing our thoughts and feelings — told we were wrong. We may have not been encouraged to express ourselves, how we felt or what we wanted or needed. 

Here is an example: One of our aunts came to our home wearing lots of make-up, thick red lipstick, she just smoked a pack of cigarettes and when she enters, we were told to give her a kiss. Her looks may have frightened us so we said “no.” Maybe our parents said, “Give her a kiss or .... go to your room.” If we said no again, we may have been punished for expressing ourselves.
In that quick scenario we learned what to think, feel or want and our self-care was denied. No one validated us for expressing our feelings — instead we were challenged, shamed and embarrassed by the incident. 

When we are allowed to express our thoughts, feelings and desires, we are having being validated. When what we think, feel and want is determined to be wrong, we are violated.

Walls are not boundaries

Growing up without healthy boundaries, we learn to use walls as defenses — hiding behind them to protect ourselves. We learn to yell or be quiet, leave, punish others and use sarcasm or another defensive behavior to push people away. As we learn to do this and our defenses work, we continue to reinforce our walls of protection as adults. 

We believe the walls in relationships will protect us from our fear of intimacy or rejection. But walls do nothing more than damage and destroy relationships. They are destructive because they are a mask we think will protect us from hurting. 
In reality they keep us from avoiding our right to share feelings, needs and wants. A wall is a defensive reaction to an emotion happening now, after something has happened that resulted in an undesired emotion. 

Rather that expressing the emotion and we push away with defensive behaviors. 
Walls can be expressed passively by the use of silence. They can be passive-aggressive, by being nice now and getting even later, or aggressive by the use of anger and rage. Our resentments fester as a result of not knowing how to express a boundary. Resentment is withheld communication stemming from a fear to express what we are truly experiencing. When we withhold, we are actually giving the other person instructions on how to treat us. If we erupt, we blame others for doing something they didn’t even have a clue was unacceptable. 

Learning to set healthy boundaries

As adults we carry the training we learned with boundaries. But we can learn to acknowledge what our thoughts, feelings are and what we desire. We can change by sharing who we are. 
To express a healthy boundary, one of us shares what we think, feel and want and the other person listens. The listener is validates the other by really listening. Someone stating a boundary is asking for support.  
Stating a boundary might feel risky at first. After all, the person receiving the boundary can say “no.”  To be vulnerable with others will give you information about who supports you…. and who doesn’t. Boundaries will help us find the best people to be in our circle. When we have healthy boundaries with others we move towards that person with a sharing of intimacy. Healthy boundaries are about taking care of what ‘I’m feeling with the expression of wants’. Remember, we can learn to express a boundary, as well as learn how to support others with theirs. 

Michael is the co-founder and Clinical Director of North Pointe Counseling Center. Michael holds a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering and Technologies. Visit www.npccaz.com/


Addiction & Narcissistic Shame

By ROBERT WEISS LCSW, CSAT-S


I used to think that I was the problem. Now I understand it was my behavior and how I conducted my life that was the problem. Despite the bad choices of my past, I now understand I am a man who is worthy of love and a good life, simply because I exist. Understanding this fully has not made day-to-day recovery easier, but it sure helps me get through the rough spots and gives me hope about life, and for myself as being a useful and good man. 
— Damien, a former Sexual Recovery Institute client

Active Sex Addicts Violate Themselves

While active in their addiction, sex addicts often nurture fantasies and engage in behaviors that are anathema to their core values and beliefs. Most often, their behaviors start out somewhat in line with their moral center, but as addictive patterns escalate, some progress from “vanilla” interests like soft-core porn and fantasizing about sex with someone met on Facebook to hardcore porn, illegal porn, affairs, voyeurism and/or exhibitionism, buying and/or selling sex, fetish behaviors, coupling illicit drug use with sex, and so on.
Each time an addict violates his or her core values, he or she typically experiences an ever-growing sense of guilt, shame, and remorse. And because they are addicts, these individuals often respond to these uncomfortable emotions by “self-medicating” with more of the same addictive escapist fantasies and behaviors — thereby creating even deeper feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse. This defines the addictive cycle. 

Over time, as the individual spirals downward into his or her addiction, these negative feelings add to previously internalized beliefs like: “I am a bad and unworthy person,” or, “I am incapable of receiving love,” eventually becoming incorporated as an integral part of the addict’s personality and thinking. This negative self-talk is often bolstered over time by the consequences that addicts routinely experience as a direct result of their problem behaviors. For many such individuals, ruined relationships, lost jobs, financial problems, declining emotional and physical health, and even arrest can feel earned, deserved, and even unavoidable.
As my hidden sexual acting out progressed, I found myself getting turned on by more hard-core stuff, materials that I had avoided viewing in the beginning. Eventually I wanted to act these things out in real life, and I started playing out those scenarios with prostitutes. I contracted an STD from one (or several) of them and ended up passing it along to my wife, but even that didn’t stop me. In fact, when she moved out with our only daughter and filed for divorce, I just ended up acting out more often, as I no longer had to be accountable at the end of the day or on weekends. 
In retrospect, I see when I first “crossed the line” I felt bad about what I was doing, but I still felt like a decent person. Over time, as the behaviors progressed, my perception of myself changed. The sexual activity still seemed bad, but my feelings about myself became a lot worse. By the time I finally got arrested, I truly hated myself, and I honestly felt like I deserved all the bad things that were happening in my life. Over time I came to believe I was such an awful person that there literally was no hope for me, which made it easier to keep digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole. After some time in therapy and addiction treatment, I now see these negative messages were in many ways already there, planted in me during my childhood. In essence, my addictive behaviors merely exacerbated the pre-existing low self-esteem and shame I’ve always felt. 
— James, a 47-year-old man, interviewed one year after attending primary sexual addiction treatment

Healthy vs. Toxic Guilt, Shame, and Remorse

In active sexual addiction, sex addicts (most often in secret) act poorly toward themselves and those they love. They engage in sexual fantasies and act out sexual behaviors that violate their own values, their relationship vows, and even the laws of their community. All the while they lie about what they’ve been doing to spouses, families, friends, bosses, and literally everyone else in their lives — all so they can continue to engage in their intensity based, repetitive, problematic patterns of sexual addiction, and, ironically, to avoid feeling more shame. 
Many sex addicts are actually quite adept at living a “double-life,” heaping one semi-plausible excuse on top of another, seemingly without a second thought, oftentimes convincing even themselves that the lies they tell are actually true. Given a sex addicts’ consistently deceptive behavior, loved ones often find it hard to believe that an addict is even capable of feeling anything like guilt, shame, or remorse. But quite often they do. For most addicts, when the sexual acting out is over, the negative feelings begin. And when an addict attempts to get sexually sober, these emotions hit doubly hard.
These negative feelings are not a bad thing. For a sex addict to experience some degree of guilt and shame after violating his/her morals and principles, especially when this has caused harm to the addict and/or others, is actually a good sign. It shows there is an internal compass the addict can utilize to guide his or her future choices, that the individual does know the difference between right and wrong. In this sense, the “negative” emotions of guilt, shame, and remorse, which are directly tied to problem behaviors, can be catalysts for positive changes in behavior. These feelings can serve to discourage sex addicts from repeating their hidden past behaviors, at the same time encouraging the development of empathy for others and the making of amends to those harmed in the past.

Toxic Barriers

For some, the internalized feelings of self-hatred, shame, unworthiness, guilt, and remorse are tied more to their sense of self than to any specific activities or behaviors. These individuals (most often with early life histories rooted in family dysfunction, abuse, neglect, and attachment deficits) begin to think that they themselves are the problem — that they are bad, unlovable people — and that their addictive sexual acting out serves as proof of this fact. When this occurs, a phenomenon generally referred to either as a “shame spiral” or as “narcissistic withdrawal” can leave the addict unable to see beyond his or her own shame, pulling the individual further into depression and isolation, both of which are serious obstacles to healing. The internalization of these negative feelings may also lead sex addicts to believe they are not worth the effort of recovery, that they have no control over their behaviors, and they do not deserve to be healthy, happy, and free from their addiction. When this occurs, guilt, shame, and remorse have become toxic barriers to recovery rather than a reminder that it is time for behavioral correction, apology, or both.

Flipping the Script

All addicts in early recovery are vulnerable to the “stinking thinking” caused by toxic emotions. Oftentimes they are facing for the first time the full extent of their addictive behavior and the destruction it has caused. For many addicts this can be somewhat overwhelming, and some may feel the only way to “turn off” the fear, anger, self-loathing, and sadness is to “numb out” with more of the same destructive behavior or, in extreme cases, via self-harm (cutting, burning, suicide, etc.)
As such, it is often a primary job of clinicians treating sex addicts, particularly early on, to help them understand that living in the past — a past that can’t be changed — helps no one. 
Instead, recovering addicts should focus on the present, on behaving differently one moment at a time. Wallowing in the wreckage of the past (or fear of the future) can and usually does keep addicts from doing the necessary work of recovery. Guiding such individuals into certain life affirming, esteem-building therapeutic tasks can be incredibly helpful. 

These tasks include:
  • Attending 12-step sexual recovery meetings, finding a sponsor, and working the 12 steps. This encourages interaction with other recovering addicts, which is absolutely essential to sexual addiction recovery. It also helps the addict to become honest about what he/she has done and to eventually make amends, which usually goes a long way toward alleviating toxic feelings.
  • Being better today than yesterday. This helps the addict to better understand that recovery is a journey, not a destination. Aiming for perfection is not realistic. A more reasonable goal for the recovering addict is to not repeat the mistakes of the past and to become, over time, a better person.
  • Building a support network of peers in recovery, beyond just a therapist and 12-step sponsor. Sexual addiction is a disease of isolation. As the recovering addict builds his/her support network and learns to trust these caring individuals, he/she is able to more easily reach for help when triggered to act out.
  • Trying new and enjoyable activities with family, friends, and the addict’s support network. This helps the addict understand that even though he or she has made mistakes, he/she is worthy of a second chance and deserves a better life. It also provides the addict with new hobbies and interests he or she can engage in instead of acting out.
  • Volunteering or being of service. This helps sex addicts see that in addition to harming themselves and others, they can also make the world a better place - and making the world a better place feels good. The better addicts feel about themselves and their place in the world, the less likely they are to act out.
  • Gaining insight into the origins of the addict’s sense of shame and unworthiness. This helps the sex addict understand that his or her problem behaviors are a maladaptive attempt to self-sooth and make healthy connections, no matter how far off the mark. It also reinforces the idea that those behaviors are not a sign that he or she is inherently bad, unworthy, or unlovable.

Integrating a history of past trauma, abuse, or neglect. Insight into past trauma, abuse, or neglect can serve as a vital source of shame reduction and self-forgiveness, both of which are necessary to healing and the development of a healthy life.

For most addicts, early feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse are partly healthy, partly toxic. It is the therapist’s job to observe and reflect on these feelings, noting that healthy shame and guilt do serve as motivation for behavior change, while self-hatred is an unproductive foundation for healing. When these feelings are toxic, the therapist needs to assist the addict in flipping the script, helping the addict understand that feeling like a bad person doesn’t mean he or she actually is a bad person.

Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is the author of three books on sexual addiction and an expert on the juxtaposition of human sexuality, intimacy, and technology. He is Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute and Director of Intimacy and Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch and Promises Treatment Centers. He also founded the Stimulants and Sexual Disorders Program at Promises, Malibu. Mr. Weiss is a clinical psychotherapist and educator. He has provided sexual addiction treatment training internationally for psychology professionals, addiction treatment centers, and the US military. A media expert for Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times, Mr. Weiss has been featured on CNN, The Today Show, Oprah, and ESPN. Rob can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/RobWeissMSW and Twitter at @RobWeiss MSW. elementsbehavioralhealth.com

When IOP is Not Enough

By Jaime Vinck, Program Clinical Director North Ridge Counseling

Danny successfully completed a great residential treatment program, extending his stay from the traditional 30 day to 45 days. He moved into a reputable sober living home, began an Intensive Outpatient Program, attended 12 Step Meetings and worked with a sponsor. In spite of his best efforts, he relapsed before he got his 60 day chip. When asked about his biggest triggers for use, he immediately responded “boredom” and “stress over family relationships”. Danny was eager to re-enter sobriety, however, he felt he needed more support, without returning to residential treatment. 
Janet completed residential treatment one year ago. She has been alcohol and drug free, since then, however, mildly depressed. Janet admitted that she has not been “working a program” and has disconnected from her therapeutic supports. Last week Janet lost her job and convinced herself that she could control her drinking. This week the drinking has controlled her. 
 
 Danny and Janet’s stories are all too common. Early recovery is a fragile time and many people suffer significant emotional and  mental distress making it difficult for them to manage their life in a work, school or home setting. Reality and /or Post -Acute Withdrawal set in just when they are out of the treatment bubble. Unfortunately, they return to their familiar coping mechanism.
While their problems may not warrant a return to residential treatment, clients often need more services than a traditional Intensive Outpatient Program can offer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the principles of effective treatment is — “treatment and service plans must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure it meets his or her changing needs.” 
A client may require varying combinations of services and treatment components during the course of treatment and recovery. In addition to counseling or psychotherapy, a client may require medication, medical services, family therapy, parenting instruction, vocational rehabilitation or social and legal services. 
Depending upon the situation, a Day Treatment or Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) may be just what is needed to gain insight into their behavior, improve their coping skills and alleviate “boredom.” Returning to their family or sober living home at night, they are able to practice the new skills they have learned while promoting their new found confidence and independence. A renewed commitment to recovery will also benefit concerned family members, as well as Sober Living managers, who are constantly seeking additional ways to provide additional layers of support. 

Offered in many different settings, Day Treatment Programs are ideal for those seeking intensive short term structured services. These settings are considered ideal for those who are thought to lack sufficient motivation to continue treatment, have a severe co-morbidity or history of relapse post treatment. 
Day Treatment Programs are also indicated for those who are returning to a high risk environment, have limited psycho-social supports or who are not thriving in their intensive outpatient program. Upon completion clients can be returned to their referring Intensive Outpatient Program. 

The terms partial hospitalization, day treatment and intensive outpatient programs may be used nearly interchangeably in different parts of the country. The ASAM patient placement criteria defines structured programming in partial hospitalization programs as 20 hours per week and intensive outpatient programs as 9 hours per week. Partial hospitalization programs provide ancillary medical and psychiatric services, whereas intensive outpatient programs may be more variable in the accessibility of these services. Some clients enter these programs directly from the community. These programs can be used as “step-down” programs for those leaving residential settings or “step up” from an intensive outpatient client who has relapsed but does not require medical detox. A client who has entered into a high risk period for relapse, or has experienced an exacerbation of a co-occurring medical or psychiatric symptom would also be likely candidates for a PHP. 
PHPs are staffed by therapists, licensed clinical social workers, registered nurses and physicians providing support and treatment with a 24 hour on-call emergency professional. 

The treatment components of PHP’s may include some combination of individual and group therapy, vocational and education counseling, family meetings, medical supervision of medication, random drug testing and treatment of co-occurring disorders. Most PHPs meet five days per week from 9am to 3 pm. The most effective programs combine psycho education, psychotherapy and activity or experiential therapy. The experiential therapy assists clients in cultivating different interests in their lives and teaches them how to plan and enjoy their downtime. These therapies can range from art and equine therapy to a community milieu group where clients experience recreational and service opportunities in their new sober world, saying goodbye to boredom as an old familiar trigger. 

North Ridge Counseling offers Day Treatment, IOP and groups for addictions and co-occurring issues. 480-878-6987. www.NorthRidgeCounseling.com

AZRHA Sober Living Section

Recovery Housing in Arizona






By Duane Mantey

For those new in recovery having a sober living environment can be critical to long term sobriety. It offers the opportunity to ease into a lifestyle with continued structure and the support of like-minded peers. Whether coming right from treatment, or re-entering society from prison, recovery housing is an integral part of the process.

Long term sobriety is rarely achieved after only 30 days of treatment. A recovery housing program is a supportive bubble that nurtures a sober lifestyle through the people and resources associated with it. Sober living, in whatever form, connects us to a sustainable sober, healthy, and self-sufficient lifestyle.

The Business of Sober Housing

I entered the recovery housing business as a realtor looking for investment properties for a family member. I remember driving around Glendale in some rough neighborhoods, scrounging for deals. We found a property being run as a “halfway house” on a notorious street of halfway homes. The neighborhood was not the best choice for my uncle who lived out of state and I would be managing the property.
There were some rough looking guys walking up and down the street. All I could think of was how it would be to manage the property and collect fees on this street in the dark. But, neither of us ever shy away from a challenge.  We made an offer and bought two of the seller’s homes, both poorly  run as halfway houses. We refurbished them, put in new clients and management, talked to the city planners and with their blessing off we went.
I could have taken the sales commission and walked away, but I saw another opportunity — to give back to the next guy looking for support in sobriety. It has not been easy, but there is great reward in having a purpose and a mission. Soon after taking over operations we renamed ourselves “ViVRE” Recovery Housing; (a French phrase which means “to live.”)
I met with a friend who works for Adult Probation to pick his brain about the business. I liked the people, the mission, and creating innovative programs. To see someone fresh out of the prison system come to our program and flourish in sobriety with their head help up high was the reward.
My friend at probation said if you want to be in the halfway house business, you need to connect with Arizona Recovery Housing Association (AzRHA). They will be helpful for your startup and get you the resources and people you will need. That was the best advice for what has become a benchmark Ex-Offender Re-entry Program (ViVRE) with 110 beds and three facilities in a few short years. I’ve witnessed first hand the impact of AzRHA.
I’m honored to have served on every committee in AzRHA. Our meetings are filled with dedicated people who are truly in it for the right reasons. People with a shared goal to raise the bar for recovery housing. We joined AzRHA and their certification put our program on the map, with AZ Dept. of Corrections, Adult Probation, and raised our program standards for health and safety.

What is AzRHA?

AzRHA is a membership organization with a mission to set and maintain standards for quality and safety for residential recovery housing. Choosing an AzRHA member facility to reside in means choosing a program that meets a higher standard for quality. Formed by a small group of programs and stakeholders about 10 years ago, AzRHA has grown to a statewide organization representing over 1,500 beds of quality housing providers throughout our state.
We are honored to be partnering once again with Barbara Brown and Together AZ with our new sober living section. Here we will offer relevant and informative content related to our industry. Thank you for your support of this newspaper and our organizations!
For more information about AzRHA please visit http://azrha.info

Duane Mantey is President of the Board of Directors for ‘ViVRE Recovery Housing’ and serves on the Executive Committee for AzRHA.

For Young People Addicted to Painkillers, the Path Less Taken

By Stephen J. Pasierb & A. Thomas McLellen PH. D.

Abuse of prescription (Rx) medications, particularly of Rx opioids (medicines that treat pain), continues to be one of the nation’s most concerning health problems. Mistakenly, many adolescents believe that Rx opioids are safe because they are prescribed by a doctor. But when abused, they can be as potent and as deadly as heroin. In fact, many teens and young adults who abuse Rx opioids move on to heroin abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls prescription drug abuse an “epidemic,” and we see it as a public health issue that disproportionately impacts our kids.

But Rx opioid or heroin abuse does not have to be lethal. There are behavioral and pharmacological treatments that can save lives and bring even seriously addicted kids into long-term recovery. The problem is  many treatment programs have chosen to either rely on only behavioral treatments or only medications; and most physicians do not have sufficient training in either medication or behavioral therapy to provide effective treatment. So, when parents find themselves at the critical crossroads of what to do for an opiate-addicted child, what can they do to get help? What are our doctors providing, or even offering, to them?
While no one treatment approach is right for every teen, it is clinically sensible — but not easy — to find comprehensive care. We tell families to look for three things: First, the availability of professional counseling; second, medications and regular monitoring for the affected teen; and finally, family therapy to help that teen.
Teens who abuse opioids require professional counseling, combined with regular monitoring, as a minimum requirement of effective treatment. Their families can also benefit from professional therapy, helping them better understand the basis of their teen’s addiction. This therapy can help both them and their child create a practical plan to recovery.

But these essential elements of good care are often not enough. Many young people who have abused Rx opioids will require medication to protect them from physical withdrawal and to reduce their cravings for Rx pain relievers or even heroin.

We are just learning about the biology of opioid abuse and there is much to share with two critical stakeholders in a teen or young adult’s life: doctors and parents. What we know is that there is a biological basis to teen substance abuse, and it’s impacted by a number of factors, including family history and mental health issues. We know too that medication-assisted treatment can aid in the long-term treatment of opioid addiction. But first, parents must learn enough about medication-assisted treatment to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed choice.

All of us in the field of substance abuse treatment, and in health care — clinicians, researchers and educators — can start by helping families understand what medication-assisted treatment is and how it’s used.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved three products to treat opioid addiction: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. These are very different medications with very different effect and side-effect profiles:

Methadone and buprenorphine have some of the same properties as other opioids. They can be abused like other opioids, but at the proper dose, they are effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Naltrexone is quite different. It is an opioid-antagonist that blocks the effects of prescription and street opioids. It can only be prescribed to a patient who has been completely free of all opioids for at least 7-10 days. When taken, it will block the effects of any opioid use. It is basically chemical armor that protects a person in early recovery from experiencing any “high” or other effects of prescription or street opioids.
None of these medications has an effect on non-opioid drug use; none will prevent the use of marijuana, cocaine or other types of drug use.

These medications have undergone rigorous safety and potency checks, much like maintenance medicines for other diseases like hypertension or diabetes. They’ve also been proven to be successful when used as an integral part of a broader addiction treatment plan and continuing care. Medication-assisted treatment is, as Harold Pollack said in The Washington Post, “an imperfect, yet essential tool” to treat opiate disorders, and as we see it, critical in preventing the migration from prescription painkiller abuse to heroin.
Families can, and should, insist that their treatment providers offer these medications as part of a treatment plan for teen and young adult patients who are struggling with an Rx opioid addiction. It is possible that medication-assisted treatment will not be necessary, but there should be monitoring and management in place to determine whether or when behavioral treatment alone is not adequate. Thousands of young adults are dying needlessly because some treatment programs ignore FDA-approved medications or because physicians have simply provided medications without appropriate referral to family and individual counseling.
All components of care are needed to ensure effective treatment. It is past time to re-think the treatment ideology and professional prejudices that have prevented the comprehensive treatment that is so needed for our teens and young adults. We can and we must do better as prolonged recovery is now an achievable result of comprehensive addiction treatment.

Let’s work together to reduce the misunderstandings associated with the disease of addiction.
And, with the roles of behavioral, pharmacological and family therapies in the comprehensive treatment of this illness, we can help parents bring about recovery for their son or daughter. We need doctors and parents to learn more, and that starts by understanding that medication-assisted treatment can, and is, addressing a real need.

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

Follow Stephen J. Pasierb on Twitter: www.twitter.com/StevePasierb

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to Cultivate and Disseminate Misery to Alienate Family, Friends, Acquaintances, and Strangers

by Dr. Marlo Archer

Complain about situations you created.

TIP: These complaints will be even more effective if you can think of someone unrelated on which to blame the situation. Good choices include your spouse, your children, your parents, your employer, God, the church, the current President, and the former President.

Reject compliments you receive.

TIP: Blushing and turning away is not sufficient. You must say something to let the complimenting party know how very wrong they are. It can be helpful to mention a few ways in which the compliment is not true, or attribute the credit to someone who had little or nothing to do with the situation.

To accomplish something new, find someone who has never done it, either, and use them as a role model.

TIP: A good way to find an appropriate role model is to look for people considerably younger than you are, with less money and/or less education. They will often be happy to tell you how they think you should do things.

Reject advice from successful people.

TIP: Occasionally, you may attract the attention of successful people who want to help. This must be discouraged as quickly as possible. Ways to dispatch these busybodies include telling them how you already tried everything they did and that it didn’t work for you and discrediting their success by attributing it to magic, chance, or other supernatural causes.

Criticize yourself out loud in public.

TIP: This is especially effective at holiday gatherings and in public venues to which you were invited with a friend. It fits in well upon first meeting someone when they are trying to establish common ground with you by complimenting you on something they just discovered about you.

Resent people who have been rewarded for doing things you’re completely unwilling to do. 

TIP: This increases in effectiveness the more difficulty and trouble the rewarded person has had in their lives prior to the reward. Alienation is more likely if the resented individual is blind, elderly, an orphan, was abused as a child, or was born in a 3rd World Country.

Expect return without investment.

TIP: Everyone wants to win the lottery. You should expect to win the lottery without ever buying a ticket. Better yet, expect someone else to buy you a winning ticket and deliver it to your door. Do not share your time, money, talents, or self with anyone, but do expect others to extend themselves to you. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do for other people, and expect they will give freely to you.

Repeatedly speak of things you reportedly don’t care about.

TIP: This can include things you used to do that you don’t do anymore, things you used to own, but don’t have anymore, skills you used to have that have faded, or people you used to know that you don’t see anymore. If your talk attracts anyone’s interest, change the topic quickly.

Criticize others for things you do.

TIP: If confronted about your behavior, cry and call attention to how mean it was for someone to criticize a behavior so desirable that both you and the originally criticized person both do it. Further, deny that you ever criticized the original person. Claim misunderstanding on the part of the confronting party.

If someone agrees with you, immediately withdraw or reverse your opinion.

TIP: If you find yourself in the uncomfortable position where someone actually agrees with you that your life is terrible, attempt to shame them for their negativity by quoting the Dalai Lama. If, upon rejecting a compliment, the complimenting party agrees that the compliment wasn’t warranted in the first place, cry about how mean their hurtful statement is. When others begin to stop caring about the things you frequently report to not care about, voice loudly your injury over their insensitivity.

Dr. Marlo Archer is the founder of Down to Earth Enterprises. Psychological Services for Children, Teens, and Their Families, Married and Parenting Couples, and Individual Adults. Marlo is the author of  “Up From the Pavement.”
Visit www.drmarlo.com or call 480-705-5007.

A Love Note

To this day, I have not met one person in recovery who had much love for themselves when they started their journey. I did not feel an ounce of love for myself when I first got sober, it was more like self -loathing. Self-love was something I would have to learn,otherwise, I would never be capable of extending it to anyone else.

Psychologist Erich Fromm proposed that loving oneself is different from being arrogant,conceited or egocentric. He believed loving oneself meant caring about, taking responsibility for, respecting, and knowing oneself (being realistic and honest about one’s strengths and weaknesses). In his book, The Art of Love he states, “Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an ordination of character which determines the relatedness of the person to the whole world as a whole, not toward one object of love.”

So here we are in February, the month of love, chocolates, roses and valentines — but isn’t it more? 


Love has thousands of interpretations and ways it can be expressed. Sometimes love hurts – we want to possess it, or we’re afraid we’ll lose it, we fall in it and sometimes out of it. It grows when we nurture it and is forever evolving – just as we do. It is way more than fantasy. Love can teach us compassion, empathy, patience, acceptance, commitment, truth— it dares us to be real, and vulnerable. Love taught me to be in a relationship with my Higher Power, family, friends and yes, self.


In my fifth year of sobriety — love found me. And many of you knew him. While in this physical realm he isn’t with me any longer — his love is. I feel it. It’s just different.


So on the 18th of this month, I plan on taking a little time to reflect on 19 years ago. I stood on a beautiful beach in Maui, about to marry my handsome Bill, barefoot in a tux, his twinkling eyes, our toes in the sand — thanking God and him once again for one of the greatest experiences of my life. Love is one of life’s most beautiful gifts — it is here everyday... not just the 14th.