Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sick as our Secrets

By Patricia L. Brooks, MAOM

Sober Truth

It is wonderful to have more than 30 years of sobriety. It is even more wonderful to have no more secrets. But ten years into my sobriety that was not the case. I was still clinging to my secrets.  As part of Alcoholics Anonymous, I worked a good program, went to a lot of meetings and did service work. Strong recovery people were in my life. My standing monthly lunch date with my AA and Al-Anon women friends took priority. But I held a big secret from them. 
My harmful secret, my sickness really, was controlling me. I was incapable of sharing any part of it in meetings or with my sponsor. Domestic violence was my secret. My current relationship had gotten physical very quickly. 

Day-after-day, immobile with fear, I did nothing to help myself. I justified what was happening by taking some of the blame. The bruises reappeared, the calls to police were repeated and my anger rose. All the things I had learned in my years in sobriety were at odds with the way I was living. My love addiction had surfaced with a vengeance. Standing with God was difficult for me and I was losing faith.

God chose my abuser for me, just as sure as if he introduced us. A connection was made to take me to my knees with the secret I held on to so passionately. No amount of shame for the way I was being treated both physically and emotionally stood in my way. No amount of guilt derailed me.
I was not in love with him; I was in love with the fantasy of love. It was as if I was drunk on love and blind to my disease all over again, but in a different way. The memories of my jail time faded. What I had learned in AA was not penetrating my thoughts.

My Addiction

We had things in common. He was not a drinker, but had come from an alcoholic home like me. He attended the Catholic Church and was divorced. He had a Masters Degree and I was attending graduate school at night. We enjoyed jazz and cultural events. 
He wanted to control things — when we were together and when we weren’t. We were not a good combination, yet we were often the same. I had a need to control too. That is love addiction. I had a unique perspective on addiction, but I could not see it clearly. I was neither ready, nor willing.

Our meeting was unexpected. I did not believe in coincidence. It was God’s plan for me. After a movie, my girlfriend and I stopped a jazz club in Old Town Scottsdale. We didn’t intend to stay long; I had studying to do the next morning. She drank very little and I was comfortable with that.
He noticed us as soon as we sat down. I did not ask anyone there who he was or what he was about. I was taken in by his Moroccan good looks and charming personality masked only by his mischievous smile. He was younger than me. I could tell he clearly enjoyed attention by the way he worked the room. 

We danced with eyes fixated and the games began. He wore a dark silk suit and Italian loafers. I was more casual in my khaki shorts and oxford shirt. It wasn’t what I normally wore when I went out to a club, but I had not planned to be there.
He was not really my type, too much of a pretty boy. He obviously knew a lot of the women in the club, but he was focused on me. I liked things good on the outside that might translate someday to the inside. 

My insecurities often soared in these situations, but with enough devotion, my love addiction kicked in. I hungered for praise. He was more than enough for me that night. I hid with him in this crowd. I shut down all I knew to be right and danced with him in the game of love. He was persistent all night long, finally insisting we go to breakfast after the club closed. We talked for hours, way past my originally planned early exit. 


I attended my home group meeting the next day, on Sunday night. I was a fraud, fearing success in the relationship as much as failure. I had failed twice at marriage in my 20’s and felt unworthy with many men. I told no one about this person. I did not love myself with this behavior. 

I went to Mass with a couple AA friends that night shortly after a meeting. My secret was shared only with God. I talked very little to anyone about anything. I was not at peace. I prayed.

It was hard to hide from my thoughts. I had learned in sobriety to allow myself the freedom to feel fully alive. Where was that now? I had graduate school as a temporary escape with all the homework demanded of me. I kept that thought in the forefront of my mind and allowed my drive to control work its magic in my classes. 

Coming in the door of my condo that night I saw the phone recorder blinking fiercely. Three messages, all from him! He missed me and wanted to hear my voice. He wanted to see me soon. He did not want to wait for the weekend to see me again; where was I? I was wanted. That adrenalin rush came over me.

A dozen red roses and a note awaited me at the office Monday morning. We are meant to be together. We should have lunch soon. 
I was the center of attention again, the envy of the women in the real estate office where I worked. 

Who was this mysterious man I had met over the weekend? What was he like? When would they meet him? The bars of my love addiction prison closed around me. I saw it happening and did not stop it.

My sponsor, if I had called her to discuss the messages, would have said, “Slow down, he is pushing too hard. Ask God for guidance. If it is meant to be it will happen in God’s time. Your sobriety and your classes are your priorities today. Do not lose sight of the goals you have set for yourself. You have worked hard to get to this point. You have prayed for all of this and not for him. Do not cheat yourself now.” 

But, I did not call her that night. Not the next day or even that next week. To be honest with her did not even register with me. I was losing my voice and love addiction trumped honesty. My sponsor was being replaced with a person who was not part of my sobriety journey — or was he? God was taking me face-to-face with my dirty little secret. 


This began two years of abandonment and disappointment, lies and deceit. I took him back when he showed up with a new TV after mine died. Another time it was tickets to a special event I desperately wanted to attend, tickets probably meant for someone else. I tried hard to make it work, overlooking abusive comments. 

Accepting his offers and looking away from the shame of the relationship when he taunted me after an argument became the norm. He did not make plans ahead of time, and I went to fewer meetings to work around his schedule and coercive control. 

I blamed myself. I was making too many demands of him. I took the bad girl role. The problems were mine. I usually joked about the situation or made light of it when I did talk to a friend about him. I avoided seeing the lies, the deceit or the insanity of the abuse for most of our two years together. My eyes were wide shut and harmful mostly to me. 


Barely hiding the bruises on my arms and legs and the sadness on my face, I finally allowed the pain in my heart to be heard in my voice when I spoke at a meeting. But I didn’t share my dirty little secret. My friends were waiting for that smile from my early sobriety to come back. Occasionally I eked out a smile to appear upbeat and light. I rarely called anyone. I did not go out for coffee with them anymore after the meetings. 

I overreacted to questions about where I had been or what I was doing. The self-doubt that had slipped away in my early sobriety returned with the post-traumatic stress now growing inside me. I was not being in the moment; I was thinking of what was going to happen that night if he came by my condo or called. 

My car tires were slashed on more than one occasion and a toxic liquid was poured in the gas tank totaling my car. It was only something a research chemist could have done, a research chemist like him. With no one prosecuted for the crimes and all the expenses going to me, I festered in silence. 
Post-traumatic stress settled in. My emotional attachment to his anger, control and aggressive actions ached in my weary body. My recovery had worked well for a decade in hope and gratitude. I had none of that now with domestic violence in my life. Some of my AA friends left me, or had I left them? My loyalty to my home group and working the steps was trumped by him and trauma. I did not see it coming but it took over just the same. 

A never ending cycle of abuse was in place. He had no trouble not keeping plans, breaking promises and denying commitments. I was on a downward spiral re-enacting my deep psychological wounds for attention. The red flag of physical abuse flew high. God revealed my reality with each blow. I lost touch with myself and went back to that shell of a person that protected my feelings.


Victims do not ask for abuse. They do not agitate to be hurt. But they are destined for it if unfinished business lays low and the cycle has not been broken. They do not seek to be a statistic, but silently become one. If also an alcoholic, alcoholic thinking hovers at all times. This was who I had become.
We can breakthrough with God, 12 Step Recovery and AA friendships. Just like any other addiction, I had to ask for help. I had to acknowledge my love addiction. I had to realize my shame could not overpower my reason to get help. 

How had I gone from being sober and free for more than ten years to hiding my secret of love addiction and domestic violence? How had I plunged to the depths of despair again? You might say the leap was highly unlikely, but it was not. It was natural for me. I had this secret long before he threw me out of a moving car, shoved me against the wall in my condo, or banged my head on the trunk of my car. 

I survived when he hurled me into the sharp edge of my dresser and knocked me into a white fog that sent me to the emergency room fighting for my life. I had not had a drink in over ten years, but I was not sane, not really sober in the true sense of AA. I was living a lie. I was captive in my addiction and domestic violence was the catalyst.

My love addiction issues had never been fully addressed in my 12 Step work. I was blind to this problem even when I was in harm’s way and fighting with bloody hands to get free of a locked door and my abuser. I was oblivious to how many times I was close to death’s door. Maybe even more times than when I drove drunk.

I loved my AA meetings, yet had found the most unlikely men there in that first decade of sobriety. I had several emotionally abusive relationships prior to this physically abusive one outside of my AA circles. My sponsor advised me to say no on more than one occasion, but that word remained unspoken until an assault almost took my life. My never ending pursuit for love cost me AA friends and my sanity. Thank God; not my sobriety. 

It is a miracle I did not drink. I exploited myself and continued to allow him back into my life. I could not quit him. I had a need for external approval dating back to childhood. I constantly needed reward in some way. I had lost sight of what it was to be truly sober.


To be whole again in my recovery, I had to let my truth out. It was my destiny to have come this way with a stop at a local shelter. Looking back, I am grateful for this relationship. It took my sobriety to a new level of understanding. I forgave myself and my abuser. I thank God for the outpatient treatment I went through with other abused women, similar to the out-patient treatment I went through with alcoholism. My many hours of therapy were necessary to penetrate the brainwashing I had endured.
Acceptance of this trauma broke the cycle of domestic violence in my life. The abuse I survived revealed how critical it was to go deep into my soul and leave nothing unturned in my 12 Step work. I knew I had many women friends who had walked this path too, both in sobriety and in abuse survival. 

Relating to other women with this part of my recovery was paramount to my anger management and my ability to move on to a life I could have only imagined. I did not tread carefully with my story amongst any of them. They understood me, and me them. Nobody talked about men in domestic violence at this time, but they were out there too, living in silence in the dark.
Sharing this part of my journey benefits others, just as my experience, strength and hope of thirty plus years in AA does. It is God’s plan. I tell my story when asked. There is a bigger reason for my sobriety now, and I am grateful for that too. It is my passion, my purpose to be of service.
I am no longer sick with secrets, tell lies or hide anything. Thank you, God. I have the freedom I have always wanted.

The Startling Stats
  • Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
  • In a 1995-1996 study conducted in the 50 States and the District of Columbia, nearly 25% of women and 7.6% of men were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime (based on survey of 16,000 participants, equally male and female).


Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence  602-279-2900 1-800-782-6400  www.acesdv.org 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)   www.thehotline.org

Patricia L. Brooks, MAOM, Author, Publishing Consultant, Workshop Facilitator, Human Rights Advocate, President and Founder of the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and President and Founder of Brooks Goldmann Publishing Company, LLC

Patricia is the author of Gifts of Sisterhood – Journey from Grief to Gratitude with a second memoir to be launched in this year; Three Husbands and a Thousand Boyfriends (Love addiction, domestic violence, post-traumatic stress and alcoholism recovery)
For more visit:
patricia@plbrooks.com    480-250-5556 cell

200% of Life

LIFE 101
By Coach Cary Bayer www.carybayer.com

Every day people talk about giving 100 percent effort; some even 150 percent. In this article, I’ll talk about two hundred percent.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who helped make meditation a household word, described 200 percent of life as being an enlightened millionaire. Buckminster Fuller said there were enough resources for everyone to live as a millionaire. 

Living in south Florida seven months and in Woodstock, New York about five, I’ve observed people focusing on different aspects of these polarities. In Woodstock, where ‘60s values live, many people are committed to spiritual development. Many don’t make much or have much money, and don’t worry about it. Their net worth is low, but their self-worth is high.

In south Florida, many people are extremely successful materially. They have and make lots of money, (if they’re not already retired), but many worry about money, especially if many assets are in stock holdings. Some monitor investments several times a day, and their moods rise and fall with their stocks’ prices. Many don’t realize that spiritual attainment exists; consequently, don’t put much attention there. Many have very high net worth, but low self-worth. I’ve coached some of them and have seen how they value themselves by how much money they have or what kinds of designer and expensive possessions they’ve amassed. 

A modern day materialistic maxim goes, “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” This worldview has a corollary maxim: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” A spiritual adaptation might go, 

“He who lives with the most consciousness, who has realized his higher Self, wins the Game of Life.”

But that’s not the prevailing cultural belief. Accumulating trinkets has become more important than accumulating wisdom. To update Jesus’ timeless question, we might ask: “What does it profit a woman to gain a Louis Vuitton pocketbook and lose her soul?” TV networks devote hours of programming to real housewives; none to real gurus. We watch anxious, conflict-creating materialists, but not peaceful, harmony-creating spiritual people. 
To live Maharishi’s 200 percent of life, “spiritual” people need to manifest more materially. Each needs a higher net worth to complement high self-worth. They need larger amounts of money in their retirement accounts; some need to create a retirement account. Many dress slovenly, focusing more on the unseen than the seen; they could dress up their look because first impressions are long lasting, and more opportunities could open with a more attractive exterior life.
Materialistic people need spiritual peace. Many think that peace comes from having enough “money in the bank”—or stocks, bonds, and real estate. Materialists, concerned with what’s seen rather than what’s not, are concerned with their appearance; they could find more happiness if they developed an attractive interior life.

It’s over-simplification that Woodstockers are spiritual and south Floridians are materialistic. Many Woodstockers are materialistic, and many Floridians, who’ve been students in my workshops, coaching clients, and meditation classes—are deeply spiritual, not at all materialistic. 

East and West are Meeting

One reason many spiritual people are not materialistic, and many materialistic people are not spiritual is because of the expression, “East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.” East and west meet daily. Yoga studios are all over the Western world, and acupuncture, Zen, Feng Shui, and marital arts proliferate, too. If you go East, you find Hollywood movies, designer Italian clothes, and Coca-Cola. 

There’s another expression in our language that’s gumming up the works. I’ll italicize the ridiculous part for emphasis, and state it as a question instead of as a declaration: “You want to have your cake--and eat it, too? To which I answer...well, yes, what else would I do with cake instead of eating it, too? Dance with it? Play Frisbee with it? Cake is for having and for eating. You wouldn’t want one without the other because if you let cake sit around long enough without eating it, its blue icing might be complemented with plenty of other undesirable blue. 
In the same way that cake is for having and eating, money is for having (and spending) and enlightenment is for enjoying. And life is fully lived when both are present.

How to Get Out of a Coma

I  was honored to meet Morton Lauridsen, a genius musician considered by many to be the world’s greatest living composer of choral music. He is widely respected for his stirring opus, “Lux Aeterna” (“Eternal Light”). Morton told me that one of his dear friends, a conductor who often conducts Lauridsen’s compositions, fell into a coma. After several weeks, doctors could not predict whether or not he would awaken.

Morton went to visit his friend, who was lying inert in a hospital bed. After a minute Morton began to gently sing the chorus of “Lux Aeterna.” Then, to onlookers’ astonishment, the patient raised his hand as if he were conducting a chorus. This was the first time the man displayed any activity since he had fallen comatose. Eventually he was resuscitated. (For a moving journey into Lauridsen’s music, watch the documentary Shining Night, available at innerharmony.com.)
This healing incident is as metaphoric as it is literal. We have all fallen comatose. In the Book of Genesis we are told that “a deep sleep fell over Adam,” but nowhere in the Bible does it say that he woke up. 

We are all Adam, still immersed in the dream of limitation. We have become sleepwalkers, trudging through our days wondering who we are and why we are here. In the poignant film Joe Versus the Volcano, Meg Ryan’s character sums up our predicament: “Almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. Only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant total amazement.”

How, then, do you awaken from the coma of a dreary, burdensome, or oppressive life? The antidote is passion. Passion is the avenue through which life guides you to fulfill your unique purpose. When Morton Lauridsen’s friend heard music that stirred his soul, he found a reason to awaken and live. 

We all have a reason to awaken and live, but we must act on it to reap its benefits. 
In the classic movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferris phones his friend Cameron to ask him to play hooky. Cameron tells Ferris, “I’m too sick.” Ferris replies, “You’re not sick. You just can’t think of anything you want to get up for.” If you feel sick or tired, ask yourself, “What might I do during a day that would make me want to wake up in the morning to do?” Your honest answer to that question will open the door to your next important step in life. 

When you follow your bliss, you deliver gifts that stir others to find their passion and fulfill their purpose. Frederick Buechner declared, “To find our calling is to find the intersection between our own deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.” Acting on joy is not selfish at all. It is your gift to humanity. In a world where many people are suffering, those who choose happiness are the lifeline by which others find their own way home. 

I saw a documentary about a high school student named Steve who was getting poor grades and getting into trouble. His parents and teachers tried to correct him, but nothing they did worked. Then Steve discovered a bird sanctuary where injured birds of prey were given refuge, resuscitated, and released back into the wild. Steve was fascinated by this place and daily visited after school. He became a volunteer and eventually got a part-time job. Meanwhile he stopped getting into trouble. The final scene of the documentary showed Steve giving a lecture at the sanctuary to students on a class trip—the very class he had been flunking. When Steve found something that stimulated him, his life lined up. 
To be true to your passion, you must release activities that run counter to your joy. You cannot simultaneously be comatose and passionate. Every thought you think, word you speak, and action you do either enforces your coma or releases you from it. To get and stay awake you must tell the truth about what brings you life—It—and what saps your life—Not It.

An army general noticed that one of his soldiers was acting weird. The private would walk around the post, pick up papers, and after reading each one he said, “That’s not it!” The general sent the soldier to the psychiatrist, who concluded that the he was deranged, and wrote him a discharge order. When the private read that paper he spouted, “That’s it!”

Everything in the world either reinforces the insanity that keeps it in force, or opens the door to escape from it. Meanwhile there are bigger, wider, richer worlds that also reinforce themselves if we step into them.  William Blake declared, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

We are spiritual beings who have gone to sleep only to experience the joy of waking up. At this moment a genius is singing to you a song to stir your soul. The moment has come to lift your arm and return to the podium to conduct the chorus of your life. 

Alan Cohen is the author of many inspirational books, including Relax into Wealth. For more information about this program, alancohen.com, email info@alancohen.com.


by Dina Evan, Ph.D.

Let’s face it, people banter the word love around everything from chocolate ice cream to flannel pajamas. So how are we to know when love is real? Love is less about a feeling and more about action. For instance, if I really love myself, would I trick myself or lie to myself? Probably not, because that seems counter intuitive to what real love does. Therefore, if I am feeling genuine love for you, I couldn’t do that to you either. I couldn’t take advantage of your weakness or flaws any more than I could take advantage of mine.

You can’t plan to be in love, love is not cunning or strategic. Love simply becomes who you are. You can’t fall in love to get love — you can only fall in love to give it. If you fall in love to get love, the other person becomes an object for filling your needs and is not your beloved. Christopher Poindexter said… “It was rather beautiful, the way he put her insecurities to sleep. The way he drove into her eyes and starved all the fears and tasted all the dreams she kept coiled beneath her bones.” If you are in love, you are profoundly present. If you are still asking if you are in love…you’re not. When real love arrives, there are no more questions, no greener grass, no better options. It’s no longer about what you say, it about who you are and how you prove it…to yourself and your beloved.

Love is about your integrity 

Real love knows that even having an emotional affair is more traitorous than having a physical one because it involves the heart and spirit It’s the exchange of stolen words and feelings rightfully belonging to another. Affair of any kind involve cheating on ones own integrity, going back on ones own spirit.

Real love does not subside. It is forever beyond just falling in love. It deepens, moving gently beyond body parts into the private parts in the heart that are closer to one’s character and purpose. If you are able to love with a whole soul, you’ve done what you came here to do.

Love never promises that it will be free from difficulties and challenges. It just promises we will stay up all night to solve them together. It would rather be face to face with you than on a cell phone, an I-pad or Facebook. Love is more about who I am than who you are. It’s more about who you are, than who you love. Love comes to us as the teacher to reveals the truth of who we really are. It’s the only way to discover my level of patience, truthfulness and addiction to sameness.

Only real love reaches from here to heaven. I believe, so long as you speak a persons name with love they are still alive within you. Love is oblivious to distance or time, it simply is forever. Even when love changes form it continues to exist. From friends to lovers, from husband and wife to co-parents, from partner to spouse from parent to child, love, real love, changes form but never loses strength or commitment.

Love is a choice. You can decide to be meant to be the moment you choose love as a gift to your life. You can choose it with your beloved, or the homeless person on the street. You can choose it with that wounded warrior or that screaming child. You can choose it with the perceived terrorist who has never felt love or you can choose it the next time you look n the mirror. One of the most import gifts love brings is the realization that we are all of these and there is no separation between us. Love is without judgment. It is without separation.

Love can be felt in music composed from the heart, words written from the heart and genuine vulnerability shared from the heart. Love can be felt in truth, honesty and genuine caring. It is in all things real. Some think true love is rare but it is only rare because we have forgotten to be it.

Don’t wait to be perfect to choose love. If you wait you will never choose love because no one is perfect. Don’t postpone it by tricking yourself with caveats that aren’t real. Love is the strongest energy in the Universe, therefore, it is also the most feared. When you look around it’s obvious we make up many reasons to avoid it. However, once you choose to be it, you discover it is simply the only reason for being here.

So, have a chocolate, send a Valentine, then put your feet up and decide that you want all that love offers and become it. We heart you (yes, that was flaky) and we are grateful you give us a reason for being … and that is real. Happy Valentines Day.

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

Call for State Legislation to Support an Increase in Abuse Deterrent Formulations (ADF) Allowing Chronically Ill Pain Patients Better Access to Life Giving Medication


By Barby Ingle, President
Power of Pain Foundation

Over the past few years conversations on opioid use have become more about the people abusing these medications and less about the patients who use them correctly.
In the midst of abuse and diversion of prescription opioid medications, a negative spotlight is being shown to the public with attention on the health and societal consequences of what the abusers are doing with these medications. I propose we move the conversation of opioid use forward in a productive and positive patient health focus approach. We need to address restricting the access to those who are abusing their medications while keeping those who are in compliance from any penalty. We need to ensure the patients in pain have appropriate access to opioid analgesics.

Call to Action

Prescription opioid analgesics are an important component of modern pain management. Abuse and misuse of these products, however, have created a serious and growing public health problem. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has worked to address this problem while ensuring patients who are in pain have appropriate access to opioid analgesics. Providers and pharmaceutical companies are working hard to provide access to care.

A call to action is needed to decrease opioid abuse and increase abuse deterrent formulations (ADF), allowing chronically ill pain patients who are properly taking prescription better access to life giving medications. Opioids remain an important option in the treatment of chronic pain. The Institute of Medicine recently put out a report on the state of chronic pain in the U.S. This report shows that pain is a major public health problem, which is costing the U.S. up to $635 billion a year in added health costs and lost productivity.

I have seen first-hand that ADF are an important component of modern pain management and a high public health priority. Many of my friends who are in chronic pain have limited choices and access to care, which does not involve opioids. Logically, these medications are a low cost and effective form of treatment, which can and will help the mass population of people who suffer with pain diseases.
 One important step towards the goal of creating safer opioid analgesics has been the development of opioids that are formulated to deter abuse. The FDA considers the development of these products a high public health priority. I propose that we employ the use of opioid medications more effectively through the use of ADF. As a leader in the pain community and someone who advocates for thousands of pain patients each year, I strongly believe we can combat the issues of abuse while still giving patients who need pain relief a safe, effective and accountable access to these medications.

We need to change our policies to develop a strong, lasting solution to this health crisis. There are four major actions we can take to ensure access to care remains a high priority for those millions of pain patients who need the medications and are taking them responsibly while deterring abuse.

States need to define ADF based on FDA guidance. 

Push for legislation which supports non-ADF products from being substituted by pharmacists for ADF, without approval of the prescribing health professional. This legislation should ensure that unless the substituted opioid is also a non-ADF or consent is obtained from the prescribing health professional, a pharmacist would be prohibited from substituting another opioid for an ADF.

The pain community and future legislation should advance patient safety. State legislation should place a high priority on ADF opioid marketplaces where more ADF treatment options exist and pharmaceutical companies are encouraged to create these safer medications making them more readily available for pain patients.

It will also prove beneficial that we support the removal of barriers to non-opioid therapies as a first line of treatment for pain.

Removing barriers to the use of branded and non-branded, non-opioid pain medications will allow patients greater options with less chance of becoming dependent on them. Providing medications including ADF can be done through physical and chemical barriers: chewing, crushing, cutting, grating, or grinding must be prevented. Chemical barriers can resist extraction of the opioid using common solvents like water, alcohol, or other organic solvents. An opioid antagonist can be added to interfere with, reduce, or defeat the euphoria associated with abuse. The antagonist can be sequestered and released only upon manipulation of the product.

For example, a drug product may be formulated such that the substance that acts as an antagonist is not clinically active when the product is swallowed but becomes active if the product is crushed and injected or snorted. Substances can be combined to produce an unpleasant effect if the dosage form is manipulated prior to ingestion or a higher dose than directed is used. Certain methods of drug delivery can offer resistance to abuse. For example, a sustained-release depot and injectable formulation that is administered intramuscularly or a subcutaneous implant can be more difficult to manipulate. Any combination of two or more of the above methods can be used to deter abuse even further. ADF will have the most value if they are universally adopted so people cannot switch to other medications that do not have the correct formulation.

We know we must find a balance between the pain patients who truly need opioid medication for daily living and those who are abusing them.

The responsible patients should not be punished by the crackdown on prescription drugs and opioid abuse. There is a need to stem the tide of drug abuse, but not at the detriment to those who need proper and timely care and access to tools for better daily living so they may function in a more productive way in our communities and provide greater benefit to society as a whole.

The Power of Pain Foundation’s mission is to educate and show support for Chronic Pain Patients, specifically those with Neuropathy Pain conditions including Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), Diabetic Neuropathy and Post Cancer Pain. www.powerofpain.org

The Economics of Happiness: Who Has More of it and Why?

by Debra L. Kaplan

According to a newly released report the world’s richest one percent is likely to control half of the world’s wealth by 2016. 
This report, released by Oxfam, a 17-member international organization working in global collaboration to fight against world poverty, offered up this finding that was timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This figure while staggering is not a new revelation and similar reports have circulated for years acting as harbingers of an impending global financial tilt. However, Oxfam’s report was different in that it said that the comparison had now become even more stark, “with the 80 richest people having the same wealth as the poorest 50%.” 

You guessed it; the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. 

If you reside somewhere along the continuum of the lower 99.99% you might presume that for the 1%, life is “funner,” more affluent, and happier. Perhaps it goes without saying that being rich certainly has it’s fun perks and that money tends to beget more money; but, happier? 
Are the chosen few who have ascended to the top of the gilded heap, happier? Superlatively speaking, there are a gazillion studies that have found that the relationship between having money (and lots of it) does not correlate to being happier. And, if that is indeed the case, is that because money can’t buy happiness or is it because the lucky few among them don’t know what happiness is? 

Many of the one-percent elite work or have worked on Wall Street.  Almost all of the elite share a dogged drive for success, working long hours and perhaps even to an addictive level. As for happiness, it’s virtually impossible to achieve a state of happiness and contentment while continually propelling upward one’s personal wealth quotient. While I was never privy to those select ranks, I did work long hours trading on Wall Street and participated in the pursuit of the money game so I don’t hold myself above reproach. 

Yes, I was happy, but like many today, I gauged my happiness on external benchmarks in lieu of measuring what happiness meant to me.  That level of happiness inevitably unraveled because I was only experiencing happiness, or lack thereof, as a precarious state of what I had yet to achieve, accomplish or acquire and not by how content I felt at the time. This externalized measure is what University of Southern California economist Richard Easterlin calls the hedonic treadmill. According to this theory, as a person makes more money his or her expectations and desires rise concurrently which has the result of rendering any gains in happiness, provisional. Put in other terms, one has to keep walking (making money) just to stay in the same place. 

After the Wealth

So, after wealth is accumulated the richer among us are still not quite the happier among us.  The happiness that we believed would materialize with that next financial milestone would apparently only dissolve once reached.  For most, reaching a goal is rewarding enough, perhaps even enthralling since the joy is in the accomplishment itself.  For those consumed with wealth obsession recognizing when enough is enough becomes the daily lesson.  
Predictably my clients’ goal, if not the goal during an initial therapy session, is to “be happier,” which, in turn, prompts my next question, “What would have to change in your life for you to feel happier?” Whether clients are living in the one or ninety-ninth percentile of opulence, happiness as they come to find is an inside out pursuit, driven more by mining the depths of their heart than the depths of their investments. Money, per sé becomes a tool to help cultivate happiness and not a yardstick by which it is measured. 

In Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, co-authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, a Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit at the Harvard Business School described how spending one’s money differently was more important than cultivating more of it. Taking a lesson (or five) from Happy Money would suggest that how we spend our money is a greater contributing factor to our happiness than needing more of it to be happier. Use money to buy an experience with a loved one or friend is more gratifying than buying things…that’s to say, money to live and experience life with loved ones is more rewarding because we create happy memories; Learn to relish and savor that which you have bought instead of binge consume that which you have acquired; Use your money wisely to make decisions that won’t deplete your time. As the adage goes, time is money; Pay for purchases upfront in order to put aside the tension of having spent the money. This will result in fully enjoying the moment; Money spent on others is more rewarding than money spent on self. Those that spent money on themselves did not fare as well in the happiness department as those who spent money on others. This is akin to doing service in 12-step which reaps many personal gains while building connection in a community of support.
Helping my clients recover from their addictions to sex or money obsession or “never feeling good enough” befalls a client regardless of his or her demographic and/or income percentile. And, recovery can only happen as they redefine their definition of what is financially “enough.”   That pursuit is also defined by their new definition for happiness. 
In the words of James A. Baldwin, “Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did.” 
As the über wealthy convene on Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum one thing is certain—they think of other things!

Debra L. Kaplan, MA, LPC, LISAC, CMAT-S, CSAT-S specializes in helping adults and adolescents overcome addictions, issues related to sex and love, relationship struggles  and unresolved traumatic stress (Complex Post Traumatic Stress-C-PTSD).  Debra’s expertise is also in working with sex addiction,  including working with couples and spouses affected by internet and pornography addiction, emotional / sexual affairs, and financial betrayal. Visit http://debrakaplancounseling.com/

What Money Can’t Buy

By Barbara Nicholson-Brown

While I never considered myself much of a risk taker — when I was “out of my mind” in an alcoholic stupor wandering the cities I lived in; Chicago and New York — most every step I took was a risk. In the throes of my addiction, I was walking target for danger and darkness. Drunk and defenseless.
So, no matter how hard I tried to hide the truth from myself and those around me — friends and family slipped away, and eventually only the drink remained. At the time nothing else really mattered. 
Even if my best intentions were to be reliable, accountable, honest and true to my word; every promise I made was broken. I was the risk. As my downward spiral was plummeting at the speed of light — there was a moment …. the moment where Grace stepped in. I hope I never forget it. 
Scared and fearful like most addicts and alcoholics; I didn’t know it then, but I was ready for the best investment I could ever make — to recovery, a life of sobriety. 
Today, I get to experience the challenges, upswings and downward turns. Without the aid of any substance, I feel everything from pain and joy to love and loss. My glass was always half empty in my using days. I don’t need a glass or a big bank account to measure the gifts I’ve been blessed with. 

No money in the world can buy the freedom I have. And, I’m eternally grateful.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Breaking the Silence

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

A New Year offers us the chance to embrace a fresh start and reflect on the lessons passing through our life. People come and go in our lives and today, I’m reflecting on my path that crossed with Lori. I’m sharing the personal journey we shared together in the hopes it will help others break through the silence and create a new beginning — before it’s too late.

I have spent my entire career focused on the prevention and education of substance use disorders. When one of my closest friends slipped down the path, all of my experience, knowledge and life’s work did not seem to help.

Lori was a dear friend. It wasn’t a perfect relationship but we knew each other so well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help save her. She silently suffered for years with mental illness and chemical dependency and her life played out in the predictable fashion when the disease takes over without adequate treatment and recovery support. It was humbling to watch it unfold and six months after her passing, I’m still trying to make sense of it all.

The final ending for her was marked by a short, but courageous battle with metastatic brain cancer. It was an aggressive disease that struck her brain. It manifested in the very place where for years, she battled severe depression and debilitating anxiety. Her physical and mental health was declining at a rapid pace even before the diagnosis confirmed the worst and I knew something was going terribly wrong.

I was one of a few still by her side near the end. So many relationships suffered along the way and it never felt right for me to walk away from her…even after so many times when she refused help. I was the one responsible for writing her obituary and had to sum her life up in eight short sentences. With the help of another close friend, we organized a tribute that made no mention of who she became in her disease. We focused on the brighter parts, like being a loving mom to her two beautiful sons, a doting daughter to her parents, a sister, an aunt, an amazing nurse (back in the day), an animal lover, avid horse rider, and a vibrant woman with a contagious laugh who always had a group of friends around her. That was when times were good and she was well. I knew her then and highlighted the good, leaving out when things went seriously wrong. After all, this was her final tribute.

Lori’s story is far from unordinary. In fact, it’s more common that we realize and in this day and age. We don’t talk about it enough. It’s a story that hides behind the stigma of a disease that leads to so many suffering in silence. Lori wasn’t a bad person. She wasn’t weak. She had an illness many people simply do not understand until it crosses their path. This disease also takes a toll on family, friends and everyone around them. It’s safe to say that when I was focusing my energy on trying to help Lori, even my family suffered.

Early Warning Signs

I was aware of some of the earlier red flags that Lori’s mental and physical health was declining. She was struggling from obvious anxiety and depression that was to be expected following a tumultuous divorce and impending financial problems. I encouraged her daily to seek professional help knowing that with the right treatment, what she was facing could be a manageable condition and things could get better, if she took that first step.

This was not the direction she was ready for at the time and it may have felt like a thousand mile journey, on foot. This however, is where our loved ones fall through the cracks and the silence and suffering begins to take over. Lori would periodically visit a physician for prescription medication to treat her condition but lacked the proper therapy and support that would assist with developing the proper coping skills to manage it effectively. She was prescribed powerful benzodiazepine’s that were effective in treating her symptoms, but over time, she became tolerant to their effects and physically dependent on the medications that were supposed to be helping her.

This continued downward spiral progressed to self-medicating with more prescription pills and alcohol as a way to cope and numb the pain. The deeper she went, the further she withdrew. This pattern went on for years and little by little, her support system also withered away. I’ll never forget a defining moment when I was able to reach out to her oldest son and hear firsthand what was going on in their home behind closed doors. Only through the eyes of her son, could I comprehend what was really happening when people were not around.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in four adults (approximately 61.5 million Americans), experience mental illness in a given year. They are our loved ones facing depression and anxiety that begin to interfere with their daily life and routine and reduce their quality of life. Statistic’s reveal that individuals who are living with serious mental illness also face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions and die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions. Lori was only 50 years old when she passed away.

Could things have played out differently? 

When someone is refusing help or lacks the ability to surrender to others who may be able to help, our instinct may be to back off or look the other way. And there is definitely a fine line here. There were times when I was doing all the work and wanted her recovery more than she did because I knew what was possible through the right help. But she didn’t want it. That was the hurdle most people cannot overcome. Her situation was so far beyond my capabilities and I had to recognize my own limits. Instead of trying to play the hero, I asked other professionals to step in who had the proper training to assist. And still, she refused.

There was a point in our relationship when I had to walk away for the benefit of my own emotional health. That was an incredibly hard thing to do because I really cared for her. However, I knew that the longer I held on and took care of her; I wasn’t really helping her at all. She needed to see the bottom and recognize her own will to fight for this to stick.

Her story didn’t end well. Lori represents the side that don’t overcome this battle and die from a preventable and treatable disease. I regret that she had gone down this path but I can say that I am proud of the strength she showed near the end. There was a level of clarity and wisdom at the end of her journey that took hold and I want to make sure I never forget it.

She always said, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or next week. There was always an excuse as to why now was not the time. But in the end, when time was running out, she showed me how precious life really was. She wanted to live and make things right. This is the part that will stick for me forever. Witnessing the depth of her love for her kids despite the darkness and end of life circumstance she was facing.
She walked that path, accepted where she ended up at the final crossing and took her last breath on May 7th, 2014. My job now is to share her story so others can learn from it. My mission will be to make sure her kids know how much they were loved. I will make sure they know the truth and understand their mom’s journey when they are ready for it. “Don’t look back…you’re not going that way.”

This gentle reminder helped both of us. Lori actually gave me one of the greatest gifts at the end of her life. She taught me to embrace every minute of this precious life and never take for granted what I hold dear to my heart. On the day before she passed, she thanked me for sticking by her. I didn’t realize that was going to be our last moment together and I never want to forget the sincerity in her eyes.

Fast forward to six months since she passed — I feel her all around during quiet moments of reflection. I really miss her laughter and advice when times were better. As I look ahead to this fresh start without her physically present in my life, I’m finding comfort in knowing she is looking over me and those she loved so much. I am at peace with sharing her story because I know it will help change the course for others and serve as a reminder that the time is now to take action. No one has to suffer. Through her, we are breaking through the silence. Thank you for that lesson, Lori.

Kristen Polin has contributed to the Together AZ Newspaper for 14 years. She has worked for Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI) since1997 and serves as the Vice President of Community Relations & Development. In this role, Kristen oversees the operation of CBI’s prevention and community education programs and public relations. She has a passion for sharing meaningful stories that inspire recovery and highlighting the great work of the entire CBI family. Visit www.CommunityBridgesAZ.org


Mental and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. Learning about some of the most common mental and substance use disorders can help people recognize their signs and to seek help.

According to SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) an estimated 43.7 million (18.6%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness. In the past year, 20.7 million adults (8.8%) had a substance use disorder. Of these, 8.4 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Mental disorders take many different forms, with some rooted in deep levels of anxiety, extreme changes in mood, or reduced ability to focus or behave appropriately. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorders, followed by depressive disorders.

Co-Occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders

The coexistence of both a mental illness and a substance use condition is referred to as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. There are no specific combinations of substance use disorders and mental disorders that are defined uniquely as co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders may include any combination of two or more substance use disorders and mental disorders identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). They are also referred to as having a dual diagnosis.
People with a mental health issue are more likely to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder than those not affected by a mental illness. Approximately 8.4 million adults have co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of symptoms. In many cases, one disorder is addressed while the other disorder remains untreated. Both substance use disorders and mental disorders have biological, psychological, and social components.

There are many consequences of undiagnosed, untreated, or undertreated co-occurring disorders including higher likelihood of experiencing homelessness, incarceration, medical illnesses, suicide, and early death.

  • The best treatment for co-occurring disorders is an integrated approach, where both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously.
  • Recovery depends on treating both the addiction and the mental health problem. Whether the mental health or substance abuse problem came first, recovery depends on treating both.
  • There is hope. Recovering from co-occurring disorders takes time, commitment, and courage. It may take months or even years but people with substance abuse and mental health problems can and do get better.
  • Combined treatment is best. The best chance of recovery is through integrated treatment for both the substance abuse problem and the mental health problem. This means getting combined mental health and addiction treatment from the same treatment provider or team.
  • Relapses are part of the recovery process. Don’t get discouraged if there is a relapse. Slips and setbacks happen, but, with hard work, most people can recover from their relapses and move on with recovery.
  • Peer support. People benefit from joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. They offer a chance to lean on others who know what you’re going through and learn from their experiences.

What’s New at Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI) 

Unscript opens in Scottsdale, AZ

Unscript is a non-invasive integrated system of education and physician monitored protocols specifically designed to treat unintentional physical dependence on prescription medication. Our prevention and education support teams help our patients understand how well-meaning medical treatment can quickly result in a physiological dependence on opiate-based and/or other controlled medications. Unscript will introduce you to a new understanding of the physical, psychological, and social impact of chemical dependency. There is no “blaming, shaming, guilting” or psychotherapy. Unscript is a new approach to more effectively deal with an old, but growing problem. Patients are not treated as criminals. They are treated as men and women who, while addressing a legitimate medical condition, became unintentionally dependent on increasing doses of prescription medication.
CBI’s Addiction Medicine Physicians (or Physician Specialists) are supported by an integrated team of medical and behavioral professionals that provide:

  • Integrated Medical/Behavioral Health Care
  • Evaluation and Medical Consultation
  • Outpatient Medical Detoxification
  • Inpatient Medical Detoxification (when necessary)
  • Education and Wellness Curricula
  • Family Education

CBI recently opened a new location in Scottsdale, AZ. For more information, call 480-520-7000. For additional resources to locate substance abuse or other mental health services in your area: www.samhsa.gov/Treatment.

All Arizona TV Stations to Simulcast ASU-Produced Special Report on Heroin

In a highly unusual collaboration, every broadcast TV station and most radio outlets across Arizona will air simultaneously a 30-minute commercial-free investigative report produced by Arizona State University student journalists on the growing perils of heroin and opioid use.
Teams of advanced journalism students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication also will produce packages of digital stories and data analyses available on the Web, an accompanying mobile tablet app, and Spanish-language and radio versions of the documentary.

The statewide simulcast of “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona” will air Jan. 13 on the 33 TV stations in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma and most of the state’s radio stations. Air time is 6:30 p.m. on most stations.

Art Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Broadcasters Association, developed the idea after learning of the seriousness of the issue and organized the backing of the state’s broadcast industry.

“The scourge of heroin and opioid addiction is killing hundreds of Arizonans, and the growing problem is reaching epidemic levels,” Brooks said. “Broadcast stations are fiercely competitive, but our industry leaders are bonding together on this public danger in order to save lives.”

During and after the telecast, the ABA will sponsor a call center for viewers seeking counseling or more information on heroin and opioid addiction. A 100-phone center with trained counselors will be set up in the studios of Arizona PBS on the sixth floor of the Cronkite Building on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Gordon Smith, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Broadcasters, lauded the Arizona initiative.
“It is nothing short of extraordinary to have every TV broadcaster in a state come together and jointly agree to air – commercial free in a widely viewed time slot – an important piece of public service journalism,” said Smith, a former U.S. senator from Oregon who leads the trade association of the nation’s TV and radio broadcasters.

“It is a testament to the greater leadership of the Arizona Broadcasters Association and the general managers across the state and their tremendous commitment to their communities,” Smith said. “I have no doubt that the Cronkite heroin project will make a real impact on this critical public health issue and save lives.”

Keeping Your New Year’s Evolutions

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions which, according to many surveys, don’t last very long. Many are gone by the end of January, and most are gone by July. Most resolutions have to do with losing weight, saving money, and taking self-improvement courses. All worthy goals, to be sure.

But why do most resolutions tank?

I was coaching a woman who was burdened by a terrible sense of overwhelm. She could not keep up with all the “should’s” banging at her from inside her head, voices of her parents and other dead authority figures. After listening to her painful litany, I told her, “There is no way you are ever going to succeed at keeping up with all of your self-imposed obligations.”
“Why is that?”
“There is no joy, intention, or true choice in any of them. Your life is one big ‘I have to.’”
“Then how do I change?”
“Shift from ‘discipline’ to ‘blissipline,’” I suggested. “You will always succeed at things you choose because they make you happy. You will never succeed at things you do just because you owe.”

There are, of course, things we have to do whether we like to or not. But there are other things we would love to do, but don’t. When we take the time and self-honoring to do the things that fill our soul, the other stuff becomes easier, lighter, and in many cases the volume of distasteful activity miraculously diminishes. You can create a tipping point in favor of joyful activities by engaging from the heart rather than the head.

This year forget about your New Year’s resolutions and pay more attention to your New Year’s evolutions. Resolutions imply an imposition of will over joy; of forcing over allowing; of demanding over flowing. You are on a trajectory of awakening, healing, and self-expression, achieved by cultivating your true self and letting life live through you rather than marching into the black hole of endless obligation. Following bliss requires a leap of faith. You must trust your inner voice and act on it rather than falling prey to outer demands, internalized until you think they are your choices. But they are not. Your true choices proceed from love, not fear.

A fellow told me that he did not know what he should do with his life. “My ex-wife wants me to do one thing, my girlfriend another, my kids another, and my boss is pushing me in another direction. What do you think I should do?”
“What would you like to do?”
The man looked confused. “I don’t know. I never thought about that.”
“Take some time to answer that question. It will save your life.”
A few weeks later I received an email from the fellow, telling me that the question was the most important one anyone had ever asked him. When he got in touch with his true choices rather than the choices others were attempting to make for him, he discovered a path that would really work for him. He was grateful beyond words.

Your evolution is proceeding without flaw. All the experiences you have ever had have led you to where you now stand. Now all you have to do is honor what makes you happy more than your need to please or prove. You don’t have to wrestle your destiny to the ground like a big growling bear. Simply cooperate with what wants to happen. “May the Force be with you” is a twisted wish. A more accurate blessing would be, “May you be with the Force.” The Force is already with you. You just have to let it work on your behalf. Quit telling the universe how to run. It already knows.

At this point relaxation will yield you more effective results than more pressure. If adding more pressure to your life worked, you would be happier. If something you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work better. I’m not suggesting you be lazy or irresponsible. Ironically, acting from fear is the laziest and most irresponsible attitude, because actions that proceed from fear are non-productive. Actions that proceed from choice and joy bear results that will serve you and everyone you touch.

This year resolve to evolve. Goethe said, “When you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” He was echoing the advice of Buddha: “Now all that is left is for you to become yourself.” Let evolution take you where you want to go. The will of God is your own will. At a delicious point it all comes together. This year would a very good one to be what you already are.

Alan Cohen is the author of many inspirational books, including Relax into Wealth. 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.  For more information about this program, Alan’s books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com, email info@alancohen.com.

What insurance coverage does your recovery business need?

By Nancy Germond, MA, SPHR, ARM, AIC, ITP

Insuring a sober living home, consultancy or treatment facility can often pose a challenge. Insurance is one area where business owners may try to cut costs. To protect your business and future assets, you need to have a highly qualified insurance agent evaluate all the risks you face and offer solid coverage solutions.
Even organizations that operate on tight budgets must protect themselves with at least two types of coverage. Let’s explore the coverages that are most important — professional liability and general liability. 

What does the professional liability policy cover?

Any professional consultant needs professional liability coverage, also called errors and omissions. The professional liability policy may be worded as follows:
“The company will pay on behalf of the insured any loss excess of the deductible not exceeding the limit of liability to which this coverage applies that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay because of claims made against the insured during the policy period for wrongful acts of an insured or because of personal injury arising out of wrongful acts of an insured.”
This wording shows the limited scope of the professional liability policy. The intent is to cover only negligent professional or “wrongful” acts. The policy also provides limited protection for personal injury, such as libel or slander, committed by the insured against a third party.

What does the commercial general liability (CGL) policy cover?

The CGL covers bodily injury to a person or damage to the property of others caused by an organization’s negligence. A CGL policy is not intended to cover the quality of a company’s advice or service. This helps constrain a contractor from low-bidding a job, performing poorly and then relying on the insurance carrier to cover that risk.
Look first at CGL policy language under the insuring agreement, the heart of the policy:
“We will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as compensatory damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ to which this insurance applies.”
Here are a few of the exposures covered under the CGL:
  • Premises and operations liability for persons injured or items damaged while on your business premises or because of your business operations.
  • Additional insured coverage when you sign certain written contracts or agreements such as leases.
  • Tenant’s liability in the event your business operations accidentally start a fire in rented premises or cause some other type of damage. 
  • Defense for covered claims.
  • Bonds and court courts associated with a claim.
  • Limited financial remuneration when assisting your carrier in the defense of a claim.

In addition to bodily injury and property damage,CGL covers personal injury liability, libel and slander, as well as advertising injury. Coverage can vary widely from one company to another. An independent agent should help you determine the coverage differences and help you make strong choices to protect your growing organization.

What are some CGL exclusions?

Intentional injury – You are entitled to protect yourself. Carriers should defend a case of self-defense unless it appears the insured intended to inflict malicious injury.
Care, custody and control of property owned by others.
For the organization that keeps its clients’ property while they are in treatment, for example, some coverage may apply.

Liability arising from an aircraft, auto or watercraft — If you use any of those in your business, you’ll require specific coverage to protect your assets. However, if you provide an automobile to an employee who gets in an accident, you may have coverage, depending on the coverage form and the jurisdiction.

In today’s complex business environment, no organization that provides professional services should go without two types of coverage – professional and general liability — at a minimum. An experienced independent agent can help you ensure your business prospers in the coming years.  Find an agent who specializes in social service business and understands the unique exposures you face to ensure you get the best advice. 
Nancy Germond, MA, SPHR, ARM, AIC, ITP. Southwest Insurance Brokers, LLC. (602) 263-0777

We each have the Courage

by Dr. Dina Evan

It’s 1-2-3 in 2015. Yippee! It’s a new year. Right? 

Well, 2014 may have been stupendous for some, yet for many of us, hmmm, not so much. Most of us will say we encountered new challenges and some exhausting difficulties. So, we may also say we want something new, something more from 2015, perhaps less stress and more joy but how do we create that?

First, let’s all agree that basically, we are crazy. No, you can’t agree? Well let’s think a minute about what those around you might say if they were to hear all the repetitive, fearful, mundane thoughts, song lyrics, musings and fears that are repeatedly spun through every atom and neuronet in your brain over and over adnauseam. Phew! Well, me too.

Perhaps you can recall how many times you’ve told yourself, I am just not going to think about that anymore, and whoosh, faster than the speed of sound, you were right back hearing the very same issue yet again pivoting and rotisserieing (my word) around inside your head. Okay, so perhaps now you can agree you are in my club, called crazy. And now that you know we are in the same club, you might be wondering how the heck do I get out!

The Simple Act of Breathing

Let’s start with the premise that we are all changing, like it or not. The simple act of breathing puts us in the position of hearing new thoughts, new ideas, different paradigms and concepts. Some of these, even without our conscious decision, go into our neuronets and make subtle or drastic changes. Given that, what others did to you ten years or even ten minutes ago becomes irrelevant unless you drag it into the moment and make it an issue.
Stop and think about how many of your thoughts and feelings are about the past, over which you have no control and no ability to change a thing. There are no do-overs about the past. What is done is done, however you can, if you come into the present moment, decide how you want your future to be. You can make a decision to learn from and change some of the responses and behaviors of your past.

I am not asking you to do that new-agey thing of naively moving to higher ground or think only positive thoughts. No, instead I want you to invite those negative and worrisome rascals in for tea. I want you to give them a voice, have a conversation with them, and ask them directly if what they fear is really even about today. Ninety-percent of the time it won’t be, because ninety-percent of our thoughts are about the past and things that will probably never happen again at all. It’s important to remember that if the majority of our thoughts are from the past they are from experiences that you have already survived and feelings you have already managed. So, the driving energy is your fear of something happening today that you have already lived through and you are now not only surviving but also may be flourishing. The experiences of your past — if you are awake —  have made you who you are now and have filled your endurance bag with tools for today’s challenges.
Having a better year in 2015 may be as simple as 1-2-3. When you feel yourself becoming upset or fearful:

Identify the feelings and responses to have to the person or circumstances. Take a breath and name it before you respond. I feel afraid, I feel insecure, I feel unsafe etc.

Decide how much of your response is about the past and how much is about the current situation (give it a percentage). Usually it’s about 80%-90% from the past and 10-20% from the current situation. This because when ever you have a response that is bigger than the situation at hand, an old wound or past pain has been triggered.

Once you realize what the 10-20% is really about ask yourself how you want to respond from your wise mind or adult self. How will you choose to respond with out that filter from the past?

That little exercise will allow a room for a great deal more joy in your life. It’s a good idea to work on the old unresolved issue when you can, and if it feels fearful, find support. Most of us were hurt when we were alone. We don’t have to heal alone. We each have the opportunity to choose trust over fear, love over apathy, intimacy over distance and healing over pain. That’s a choice results in a joy filled new year. Happy New and Better 2015 from all of us!

Faith over Fear

Most of us have heard we can’t be in fear and faith at the same time. 

Being a fear driven person in my using days, I wonder if I knew anything but that crippling feeling it gave me.

One of my biggest fears was when people who really loved and cared about my well being — confronted me. Fear of being found out and less than also added to the mix. I was unable to face the truth and was full of shame and guilt about my addictions and lifestyle. Being in fear paralysed me, so the only way I knew to temporarily be rid of it, was to numb out. It was a vicious cycle and it almost killed me.

When I got into recovery I was told if I am in fear then I cannot be in faith. After awhile I realized I had a choice. I could let it consume me or do something about it. I could ask for help.

Now the magic happens when I breathe, take a minute and remember my Higher Power who has had my back all the days of my life — is right here. 


Through the years on this journey, the fears have lessened and I hope my faith never stops growing. 
It is a New Year and this is a New Day and I’m very very blessed.