Loading
Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Thursday, May 7, 2015

To Thine Own Self Be True

By Dr. Shelley Uram 

Authentic Self...what is it? Where does it come from? Why don’t most of us know about it?

Most of us are well acquainted with aspects of our personality, like being a nice person, an addict, a good employee, the therapist, the hero, the traumatized person, and so on. The Authentic Self, however, transcends our personality, thoughts, and emotions.
From Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
Polonius says to his son, Laertes, who is about to embark on a long journey: “This above all: To thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
I just love this quote! Shakespeare so wisely understood the importance of tuning in to, and following one’s own inner voice, or Authentic Self. Polonius instructed his son to prioritize this “above all” else.
I wholeheartedly agree!

Did Shakespeare mean we should be selfish? No; I think he meant we should be Selfish. What’s the difference? The meaning I am giving to the word, with a capital “S”, signifies the Self that is the Authentic Self, or the Essence, or Soul, Spirit. It is the underlying core of each of us. It is to this unseen essence, or Self to which we should be “true.”

The Authentic Self, or Self for short, has the qualities of infinite wisdom, kindness, love, oneness, timelessness, “is-ness”, and acceptance. It is the UNSEEN Self we are born with and will ultimately die with; unchanged through our life’s journey. 

Our ability to be attuned and aligned with our Self is of paramount importance! In my opinion, this is probably the most important task of our lives. It is the Self that can lead us to the best paths and choices we can make during our lifetime. When our personality is aligned with the wisdom and knowingness of the Self, it becomes a most valuable compass.

Unfortunately, we humans have brains that have many “survival” remnants left over from millions of years. These remnants “grab” our attention far more loudly and with much greater intensity than the ever soft, gentle whisper of Self. The manifestation of our Self typically becomes forgotten and turned away from at a very young age.

Those of you who have been active in the 12-Steps may already be familiar with how dedicated we must be before our connection with Higher Power can be dusted off and revitalized. The “Self” in “To Thine Own Self Be True” is the same; the Self is the portal for Higher Power connection.
It is our Authentic Self that should be the compass from which our lives are guided; not just in the big picture, but also in the moment to moment experiences and choices that ultimately become the big picture.

Authentic Self Qualities

What happened with these Authentic Self qualities we were born with? I know few adults who consistently manifest these qualities. Yet, we all did as babies and young children! We couldn’t help but BE those qualities; that was who and what we were!

Here’s what happened…

When each of us was born, some parts of our brain began developing and maturing right away, while other parts came “online” more slowly.

One of those brain areas that began growing early is the part that enables us to have a sense of ourselves. At about three months of age, most humans experience their first dawning awareness that there is a “me”. Before that, we were very well aware of others, aware of interacting with them, etc., but had no real knowing that a “me” existed.  

Even though this “me sense” is still quite rudimentary at the tender age of three months, it is nonetheless a huge alarm clock for the ancient survival brain areas. Now that our survival brain recognizes that there is a “me” who is wholly independent of anyone else, this part of our brain has a heyday as it recognizes it must protect this newly identified person from any harm.

These survival brain areas become much more active; now that there is a “me” to protect. These brain areas interpret many more experiences as potentially dangerous. An analogy would be a dog whose family is away, versus that same dog whose family is present. The dog will be far more protective when the family members are present.

Our thinking brain continues to grow and mature throughout our early childhood years, leaving us with a more complex and sophisticated sense of “me”. Therefore, the survival response becomes intertwined and more often triggered as the definition of “me” grows in complexity and sophistication; there is more of a “me” to protect.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze 

What does “Survival Response” look like? It is usually packaged as a Fight, Flight, or Freeze response. Simply put, some areas of our very ancient brain signal other brain areas to release adrenaline and other chemicals to mobilize our body into quick and intense behaviors, like fleeing or fighting. At the same time, there are electrical signals supporting these fight, flight and freeze responses, as well as hormonal responses that try to sustain these survival responses, like cortisol.

All said, with the electrical, neuro-chemical, and hormonal activity, a person quickly becomes overrun with the physical and emotional responses to the Fight, Flight, Freeze activity. This activity feels quite uncomfortable to us. Just think of the last time you had a “close call” with something, like a near-miss car accident, and your heart was racing, and you had rapid breathing, shaking, emotionally feeling fear. If these kinds of physiologic responses occur often, they can be very uncomfortable. When we are very young, our minds try their best to decrease these Fight, Flight, Freeze responses.

When we are little children, our thinking brain is one of those brain areas that take much longer to develop when compared to the survival brain areas. We simply don’t understand much of what is going on around us, or why our caregivers are responding to us the way they do. This “not knowing” is a perfect setup for us to misinterpret the meaning of their behaviors and interactions with us. Our little imaginations can run wild and come to very erroneous conclusions. Many of our misunderstandings of our caregivers actions can lead to these Fight, Flight, Freeze responses.

Aristotle and Sigmund Freud had described the pain-pleasure principle. Basically, this explains that human beings are “wired” to both move away from pain, and go towards pleasure.
When we were young children and our survival brains were triggering the Fight, Flight, Freeze responses, we would be left feeling quite uncomfortable. The Fight, Flight, Freeze responses are VERY stressful on the body and our emotional state.

What happens?

We start making up “rules of life” of how to keep our parents and other important people happy with us. There are potentially thousands of these “rules”. The purpose of them is to navigate our lives more successfully with our caregivers, and to decrease the frequency of FFF response.

A few examples of these “rules”, or “Deep False Beliefs” are:
  • “Whatever I do, I better do well!”
  • “I shouldn’t get angry”
  • “I should be nice to other people.”

Now, these aren’t rules like we create when we are older and think and analyze things in our thinking brain; rather, these are safety strategies our survival brain creates. These rules are the ones that are tightly bound with Fight, Flight, Freeze responses.

For example, the deep false belief “I shouldn’t get angry” often develops when a child is young and becomes very angry or rageful about someone or something. This is a totally normal reaction. When the child, however, sees the negative facial expression or reaction of their psychologically extremely important parents, the child may instantly go into a FFF reaction. After a few to several experiences like this, in order to avoid the powerful FFF bodily and emotional experience, the child’s relatively undeveloped thinking brain will figure out something like “Uh-oh, Mom looks like she doesn’t love me when I’m angry. I better stop it or I might lose her love.” Eventually, this belief may become something like: “I’m bad when I’m angry”. 

Parallel to this ongoing process of our young brains making up these deep false beliefs, our personality is evolving and developing. Since survival responses “trump” all other brain wiring, including personality development, our personalities have to grow through and around these many deep false beliefs. Our personalities that we hold near and dear to us are actually products from having been heavily influenced by all of these “rules”. For example, our personality may be very “nice”. It’s important to ultimately understand what aspects of ourselves are authentic and genuine, versus a response to deep false beliefs. 

By the time we are beginning school, most of us have layers of deep false beliefs that are meshed together with our personalities. We have lost touch with much of our Authentic Self. 
Is our Authentic Self gone or contaminated or pared down? No! It remains quietly present, usually without your awareness of it. In general, the “voice” of our conscious thinking brain and deep false beliefs are far louder than the “voice” (whisper) of the Authentic Self.
Now let’s move on to the next step of the flow chart in Figure 1:

What happens when a child has a deeply embedded deep false belief, like “Whatever I do, I better do well!”?

We form many, many expectations of others and ourselves from this one deep false belief. For example, the expectation of great school performance, or sports performance, may become offshoots of the deep false belief of “Whatever I do, I better do well”. These expectations may become offshoots of the Deep False Belief  “whatever I do, I better do well.” And remember that the Deep False Beliefs and expectations are bound together with the FFF responses. So when we don’t perform well at school, the deep survival brain response will become triggered. Notice this is different than our usual desire to do well at school; this FEELS within our body and emotion that we MUST perform well at school. 

A personal example of this recently happened to me. I had been raised by parents who deeply valued academic performance. I would shudder when looking in their faces when I would bring home a “not so great” report card. At a young age, my brain created the Deep False Belief that went something like: “I better do well at school or Mom and Dad will be very unhappy with me.” My survival brain was clearly tied to this, as my body would go into terror (Flight mode), whenever I would bring home a poor report card. That was many years ago.

Cut ahead to several weeks ago: I took a quiz in Oprah Magazine that tested the reader’s clothing IQ. Even though I have little to no interest in this area, I found my heart racing, respirations increasing, and my hands trembling a bit when I tallied up my score and found I had badly failed the quiz!
This demonstrated how our Deep False Beliefs become deeply embedded in our psyche, and are tightly bound to our survival brain’s FFF response. 

Other examples could be our performance in sports, a musical instrument, “looking right”, driving the right car, and so forth.

How many expectations could be spin offs of the one “Whatever I do, I better do well”? I would guesstimate thousands. I once tracked my thoughts for a whole day. Aside from being incredibly boring, I was amazed to find that I had expectations to do well with many things! From how well I brushed my teeth, if I ate right for breakfast, to if I drove too fast or slow.
We each have many thousands of these deep false beliefs… so how many expectations are most of us walking around with? Well, let’s do the math…

Most of us have thousands of deep false beliefs, and many of those have thousands of expectations that offshoot from the belief. I think we’re looking at a vast amount of expectations that are stored within each of us!

Again, what is happening with our Authentic Self as our mind/brain are inundated with expectations? We move farther and farther away.

By the time we reach the mid-adulthood years, many of us find we are not reaching an increasing number of our expectations that were put into place many years before. We find that we simply cannot do many things well. Or we may find that we cannot perform so well in sports any longer. Or our marriages just didn’t work out as we had expected. If we look at the flow chart in Figure 1, we see that negative feelings may follow when our expectations are not met. 
Research has clearly shown when a person harbors negative feelings for longer than a short period of time, i.e., anger, sadness, fear, our bodies “take a hit”; our immune function, heart function, resistance to cancer, heart disease, may become compromised.

Finally, we then fall to the very bottom of the flow chart, which is when we develop symptoms. This could be depression, anxiety, certain medical problems.
By the time we are adults, most of us have brains and nervous systems that are inundated with deep false beliefs, expectations, and Fight, Flight, Freeze responses. Our true Self is typically long forgotten about. It would be challenging to follow “To Thine Own Self Be True” simply because most of us are unaware of who the Self is.

What can we do about this?

If you want to increase the presence of your Authentic Self in your daily life, the two main strategies would be to:
  • decrease the frequency and length of time you fall down the “slippery slope” of the flow chart and you stay down there, and 
  • work on the highest levels as possible on the flow chart.

If you’re stuck down in the “symptoms” level of the flow chart, e.g., chronic depression, anxiety, and your current sole strategy is to take your prescribed medication (which only addresses the bottom level of the Flow Chart), you may feel better for awhile, but you still have the same batch of Deep False Beliefs and expectations lodged in your psyche. It may just be a matter of time before more of our expectations from Deep False Beliefs are not met, and fall down the flow chart into having symptoms again.

In addition to taking your medication, you might also consider spiritual practice, like a 12-Step program, and/or meditation or other mindfulness practice, connecting with nature, or whatever brings you closer to your Authentic Self. These interventions would be working at the top level of the flow chart.

Additionally, anything that stabilizes the brainstem and limbic areas of our brain will generally lead to greater calm and relaxation. This will automatically make us more available to connection with our Authentic Self. Some examples: Mindfulness practices, slow paced yoga, Emotional Freedom Technique, acupuncture, neurofeedback, Heart Rate Variability training, Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and many more.

The next very potent level of intervening in order to re-acquaint you with your Authentic Self could be identifying and correcting Deep False Beliefs. There are many ways to do this. Having a therapist initially could really speed up the process until you can do it more on your own. Therapists or books with cognitive approaches can assist you identify your Deep False Beliefs, and techniques like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization an Reprocessing), IFS (Internal Family systems (Richard Schwartz, founder), can help you clear them out.
Now, why do you think we would get a “bigger bang for the buck” with clearing deep false beliefs, over expectations? 

Both approaches are actually fine, however, when you identify and pull up by the roots even one large Deep False Belief, many, many expectations are simultaneously uprooted. So one Deep False Belief, like “Whatever I do, I better do well!”, can have thousands of expectations that are offshoots. Many of them will disappear when the underlying belief is corrected. If you had approached the process by mainly identifying and clearing out your expectations, although this is very good, it is much more tedious work, and may not clear out the underlying Deep False Belief, that may continue to generate additional Expectations.

Some interventions work at all levels of the flow chart. For example, the 5-day Survivors workshop at The Meadows addresses all levels of the flow chart.

Whatever approaches you choose to take in reclaiming your Authentic Self, just keep in mind WHERE on the chart you are working. This will help you over the long run to maximize your connection with Authentic Self.

Dr. Shelley Uram is a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She speaks around the world about psychological trauma, and how it often interfereswith our ability to thrive in life. She is best known for communicating very complex information in an interesting and easy to understand manner. Dr. Uram is a Senior Fellow at The Meadows, where she teaches patients and staff, and assists with program development. She is also a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Arizona College of Medicine. www.themeadows.com





 

Remember What’s Important

I attended a concert by the Brothers Cazimero, two talented and well-loved Hawaiian musicians. Early in the evening one of the brothers, Roland, fell ill and had to leave the stage. Suddenly his brother Robert found himself on stage in front of a thousand people without his partner, unable to perform the two-hour repertoire they had rehearsed. He had to wing it.

The audience was quite disappointed. Here we had paid for tickets and come out for this big event, and it wasn’t going to happen. We wanted Robert and Roland, not just Robert. Instead of complaining, however, the audience mounted massive support for both brothers. People called out, “We love you, Roland!” as he left the stage. We applauded wildly for Robert as he tried to patch together a concert. He made some chord errors, and one of the male hula dancers in his ensemble had his costume nearly fall off on stage while the troupe improvised a dance. None of that mattered. We all understood this was an emergency situation, and everyone pulled together to make the best of it.

By the end of the evening the musical presentation was not at all what we had expected, but the concert hall was filled with celebration. After the finale, Robert received a standing ovation. Many in the audience inwardly held Roland in prayer. Higher Mind reframed an awkward situation as a call for love, and transformed the event. As a result, the evening was far more rewarding than if we had simply heard the concert as planned.

A Course in Miracles tells us the world we see is inside out and upside down. We value the trivial and overlook the monumental. We are enamored with things and ignore people. We worship at the altar of limitation and forsake our potential. We live disconnected from the worthwhile and then wonder why we are in pain.

Dee and I recently had to reorder checks from our bank. We were amazed to find all the different motifs and mottos we could have imprinted on our checks. Finally we chose one that spoke to us: “Remember what’s important.” Now every time we sign a check we are reminded to value love more than money. And see money as an expression of love.
Jewish Theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old I admire kind people.” Contemporary education fills our minds with facts, but leaves our hearts empty.

Children are taught how to follow, not how to lead. When kids have to walk through metal detectors to get into elementary school, one must question what kind of education goes on behind those walls. A college degree does not mean you know who you are or what you are here to do. A professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the world told me that faculty members are fighting with each other constantly. One has to wonder how intelligent these people really are. They have amassed extraordinary technical expertise, but they have not learned how to get along. Are they truly successful?

I saw a documentary about a man who was killed in a crazed gunman’s spree on the Long Island Railroad. His wife tearfully reported, “When I said goodbye to him that morning, I thought for sure I would see him that evening — but I didn’t.”
We all expect that we will see our beloved family and friends again. Most of the time we will. Sometimes we won’t. How much more meaningful would our moments with loved ones be if we treated them as if this might be our last time together? We would not squabble over petty issues. We would remember what’s important.

Author Diane Cirincione tells that she used to get irritated when her husband Jerry Jampolsky would make toast in the kitchen each morning, and then leave crumbs on the counter. Diane asked him to please be more conscious about cleanup, but then the next morning she would walk into the kitchen and find crumbs again. “Then one morning I had a stunning thought,” Diane reported. “The only thing worse than finding crumbs would be to not find crumbs because Jerry was not there. From that time on the crumbs didn’t bother me. They were unimportant in the light of the love we share.”

The purpose of our journey through life, including all of our experiences and relationships, is to remember what’s important. As children we knew what is important. We had light hearts, laughed often, expressed ourselves honestly, and gravitated to people we loved. Then we were trained in what is important instead, and our lights began to dim. At some point we begin to recognize that what we were told is important, is not, and what we know is important, is.

You can tell what you believe is important by what you are doing and what you are getting. We are always choosing between one thing and another, and getting more of what we focus on. We can focus on the love or the crumbs. We can complain that our partner came home late, or celebrate that they came home at all. Every moment is precious.

Alan Cohen is the author of many inspirational books, including I Had it All the Time. Join Alan’s Life Coach Training Program, beginning September 1, 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 Hawaii retreat, books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com.

Life: A Sprint or Marathon?

By Dr. Dina Evan

My friend Cesar is a marathoner. I have watched him over the years, building endurance and strength, signing up for greater and greater challenges to his body, mind and spirit. He bears the pain and frustration while holding fast to finishing the race and meeting his goal. When he’s done, he’s exhausted and his body feels broken. What he is doing is simple. He is living a truth that Einstein shared which is profound. Einstein said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

We are impatient. We are addicted to instant gratification. We want what we want NOW! The secret of creating healing and a life well lived, is understanding that the desire to heal and push our soul forward, is what provides the momentum and purpose of our lives. It’s fabulous that we get to work on it until we leave the planet.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. In order to get to the finish line as a winner, we must allow our hearts and minds to break open with new ideas, new tools and the willingness to create that, which may often feel impossible. At the same time we need to recognize our mistakes and use them for quantum leaping along the path.

The finish line looks different for each person. What constitutes a life well lived for me is probably not the same for you. Regardless of how different each looks however, there are some keys to making to the finish line.

  • First, we must be willing to embrace our mistakes as lessons, get out of self-judgment and get back in training and the race. There are no prizes, brownie points or certificates in heaven for suffering. Suffering does no good and the frequency (the energy), of suffering will create delays in your progress and self-loathing. Punishing yourself past having gotten the understanding of the lesson, is self-abuse. The whole point of being on this planet is to make mistakes and learn from them. So if you are doing that, you are doing what you came here to do. Mistakes are the product of an inquiring mind and a courageous soul. If you are not making mistakes you are standing still in mediocrity. 

  • Second, take personal responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life! No, not a volcano, hurricane or blizzard. However, I actually think the truth is we are responsible for creating those as well with our ignorance about how to care for the planet. What I mean instead is, stop blaming your parents, partner, boss or anyone else for your choices, unhappiness or failures. People can spend eons saying, “Well if he wouldn’t do this, I wouldn’t have to do that.” NOT! That is always a lie. We all do exactly what we want to do because WE WANT to. 

A Perpetrator perpetrates because they want control. Liars lie because they are protecting themselves from the truth or are not willing to deal with the fallout of telling it. Your parents did the best they could with what they had in that moment. 
You and I are responsible for doing it better. 

Every friend, family member or associate in your life is a master teacher for you. Don’t miss the lesson in each circumstance, or you will also miss the gift. Victor Frankl says, “The last of the human freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.” Each time you make your lessons the fault of someone else you have given that person your power for change and your chance for greatness. That is not to say people are not cruel or stupid at times, however the question is not about them or how to change them. The question is how will you choose to respond to those people and change yourself and your life?

Finally, be careful what you choose to focus on and empower. Everything you ruminate, criticize or hate about yourself or anyone else gets bigger, heavier and more burdensome because YOU are feeding it your energy. “Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.” Look behind you. My bet is that most things you fear in your life have never happened. If you feel unworthy of relationships, no doubt people keep leaving you. If you feel helpless, no doubt you find yourself getting victimized frequently. You are living what you believe today and tomorrow you will live what you believe. The gift is you get to choose. Choose that which is loving to you and everyone else. You deserve it.

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

In the News

The River Source opens Youth Program

The River Source Youth Substance Abuse Rehab Program provides treatment to adolescent males (ages 12-17) for drug and alcohol addiction by offering services in a safe, residential environment. Aligning with their philosophies in drug and alcohol treatment, they focus on treating the underlying issues rather than just the symptoms of this disease. River Source’s integrative approach uses traditional medical detox with a team of medical and support professionals that focus on healing the whole person; physically, mentally and spiritually.

Youth Addiction Rehab Program Highlights
 Detox: The River Source is one of the few teen rehab treatment centers offering detox as part of the residential inpatient program. 
Holistic Methods: As the body and mind are restored to harmony and balance, patients are taught yoga and meditation techniques to enhance their mind, body, and spirit connection. Patients meet individually with counselors and interact in group education where they learn how to rebuild and shape their lives for success.
Education: Once the body is stabilized and free of the toxic effects of drugs and alcohol, patients begin nourishing the mind through education, music and art therapy. They will have the option to attend online classes, or receive coursework provided from their schools. Our academic program provides support for teen patients to focus on their studies. For those interested, our GED assistance program prepares patients for taking the GED.
12 Step for Teens: With a focus on peer support and active involvement, our 12 step rehab program incorporates the Big Book, 12 x 12, Interactive Journals and more. There will be opportunities to participate in youth centered 12 Step meetings, as well as peer support groups.
Family Enrichment: Family involvement and supportive activities are encouraged where the patient and family can grow together helps to build trust and repair family bonds. All parents will have access to the youth treatment team where they will be able to receive updates, message their child’s medical team or counselors, and remain an active participant in their son’s addiction recovery. 
For more information call 888-687-7332 or visit www.theriversource.org.

Transitions through Divorce
Recovery Group

Divorce can be a frightening, emotional journey, but it does not need to be taken alone.
The Transitions Counseling Divorce Recovery Group is an experiential group program designed for individuals who are experiencing or have recently experienced the end of a primary relationship through separation or divorce.  
 Divorce can be a frightening, emotional journey, but it does not need to be taken alone. Divorce Recovery is not only about endings, it is about new beginnings. It is about finding the path back to our true selves. Transitions Through Divorce is a program that will provide the tools and opportunities to learn and grow through this life experience. If you are confused and hurting, this program can help the transition through the divorce process with compassion and support.  
 The Transitions Divorce Recovery Group will be held bi-weekly on Thursdays from 6-7:15 PM beginning May 7 at the Transitions Counseling Office, 19420 N. 59th Avenue, B-247 in Glendale. Weekly groups are $45 per session. Payment plans are available. Visit www.transitionscounselingandconsult.com/group-treatment or contact Meagan Foxx, LPC, LISAC (602) 363-0629 or meagan@transitionscounselingandconsult.com to register and for more details.

“Flakka” is latest Synthetic Drug to Worry Experts

A drug known as “flakka” is the latest synthetic compound to raise concern among public health experts, Fox News reports. Flakka is a tweaked version of bath salts.
In some cases, Flakka can cause heart palpitations and aggressive, violent behavior, the article notes. Use of the drug can affect the kidneys, leading to kidney failure or death.
Flakka use has recently been reported in Florida, Ohio and Texas. The name is derived from the Spanish word “flaca,” which means “skinny.” The drug is sold in other parts of the country as “Gravel.”

In Florida, Flakka contains alpha-PVP, a substance that provides an instant sense of euphoria, according to Jim Hall of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. The drug also gives a boost in physical strength that is similar to other stimulants, such as Ecstasy and cocaine, he said.
Hospitals in South Florida are admitting 20 new patients a day for Flakka abuse, Hall told Fox News. “One of the reasons we think alpha-PVP is such a problem is because it is extremely dose-specific, and even just a little dose will give a person the desired effect they want,” he said. “Just a little more can create a number of serious adverse effects to the point the user doesn’t even know.”
Flakka, which comes in crystalline rock form, can be snorted, swallowed, injected or vaped in an e-cigarette. While its effects are generally felt for three or four hours, they can continue for days. It is being sold in Florida for $5 for one-tenth of a gram.
“It’s cheap like crack cocaine,” Hall said. “This is as close as we’ve come to a crack cocaine problem since 1995 in terms of the severe reactions, low prices, and that it’s available to young kids, and even homeless populations are now impacted.”
There is a concern it could soon pop up in Arizona. “Understand that just because it’s not in Arizona yet, doesn’t mean it can’t be,” said Stephanie Siete, the Director of Community Education for Community Bridges, a nonprofit organization that helps those battling addiction.

Use of Opioid Painkillers in Pregnancy Increases Risks to Baby

A new study finds a woman’s use of prescription opioids during pregnancy increases the risk her baby will be born small or early. Such use also raises the chance the baby will go through painful drug withdrawal, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, HealthDay reports.
The study of more than 112,000 pregnant women in Tennessee found almost 28 percent used at least one prescription opioid, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone. The risks to the baby increased if a woman also smoked or took antidepressants, the researchers report. Of the babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome, 65 percent had mothers that legally filled prescriptions for opioid pain relievers.

“Historically, drug withdrawal for newborns has been described among illicit drug use such as heroin or women treated for previous opioid abuse, but this is really one of the first studies to look at legal prescriptions for pregnant women,” lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick of Vanderbilt University in Nashville said in a news release.
Taking a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors along with prescription opioids also doubled the risk of the syndrome. “Infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome have longer, more complicated birth hospitalizations,” Patrick said.

Social Media Campaign Targets Overdoses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a social media campaign called “When the Prescription Becomes the Problem.” The campaign is designed to raise awareness of prescription painkiller abuse and overdose.
The CDC is encouraging people who have been affected by prescription painkiller addiction to share their stories on social media, Forbes reports. The campaign urges people to write their six-word story or message, create an original picture or a video tagged #RxProblem, post it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by May 15, and ask friends and followers to share it.
“Help us tell the stories of the many people whose lives have been affected by prescription painkiller addiction or the death of a loved one,” the CDC says on its campaign website. “Encourage those in need to seek treatment for addiction. Celebrate others who are already working to change lives, and inspire our communities to improve patient safety and the way we treat pain.” There were 16,235 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2013, an increase of 1 percent from 2012, according to the CDC.

The Power of Denial in Alcoholism

By Mark S. Gold, MD


Denial is a characteristic distortion in thinking experienced by people with alcoholism.

For decades, people who treat alcoholics, and recovering alcoholics themselves, have puzzled over why alcoholics continue to drink when the link between alcohol and the losses they suffer is so clear.
Denial is an integral part of the disease of alcoholism and a major obstacle to recovery. The term “denial” underlies the primary symptom described as drinking despite adverse consequences.
Treatment professionals are beginning to recognize that not all individuals with alcoholism have the same level of denial. In fact, people have various levels of awareness of their alcohol use problems, which means they are in different stages of readiness to change their behavior. Professionals have taken advantage of this insight about alcoholism to develop treatment approaches that are matched to a person’s readiness to change and that motivate people to enter the change process even when they are frightened of what’s in store. However, despite these advances in treatment, many individuals with alcoholism persist in denying their problem, and typically, the more severe the addiction, the stronger the denial.

The power of the alcoholic’s denial may be so strong that it carries over to the alcoholic’s family and important people in his or her life, convincing them that the alcoholic’s problem is something other than it is—weak health, bad luck, accident proneness, depression, a tendency to be preoccupied and worried, a mean temper and countless other possible problems.
Many adults young and old have experienced a shock of recognition when they look back over their childhood and realize that their mother or father, a beloved grandfather or a family friend was an alcoholic.

“No one talked about it; everyone covered it up. The stigma of alcoholism and the many myths that have merged to form a distorted portrait of people with alcoholism have strongly contributed to denial both on an individual and a societal level.”

The hope of health professionals and others who have worked to educate the public that alcoholism is a disease and not a defect of willpower or a moral failure is that, now and in the future, fewer people will have to experience this shock of recognition when it is too late to do anything about it, and that people will get the treatment they need when they need it most—before alcoholism has led to irreversible consequences.

When people close to an alcoholic are affected by their own and the alcoholic’s denial, they often act in ways that protect the alcoholic from experiencing the full consequences of his or her behaviors. This type of protective behavior, although often motivated by love and concern, is referred to as enabling, because it permits the individual to continue drinking and allows the disease to progress, the symptoms to intensify and the consequences to become worse for all concerned. Like denial, enabling is another one of the symptoms of alcoholism—a symptom displayed by others, not by the alcoholic—that is not specifically mentioned in the diagnostic criteria, but that is a well-recognized aspect of the disease. Special groups, like Al-Anon and Alateen, have been established to help people concerned about the alcoholics in their lives to understand them and to help them, largely by gaining the strength to stop enabling.

Overcoming denial and enabling is often the first step into treatment for the alcoholic.

Someone to Watch Over Me

Someone to Watch Over Me


While finalizing this edition, I decided to listen to some Sinatra and “Someone to Watch Over Me,” began to play. I smiled, felt a chill, closed my eyes for a few seconds and thanked my Higher Power for allowing me to be alive and most importantly become a woman in long term recovery.

When I was active in my addiction I sure gave my “guardian angels” a run for their wings. One angel in particular comes to mind. He was a New York cab driver and I believe he saved my life one snowy, dark, freezing night in the city.

My intention was to meet some friends for dinner. All I had to do was take one subway, walk a few blocks and meet them at a restaurant. But before I left my place, I decided to down two bottles of cheap red wine for a buzz. Well, the buzz hit quick and once out in the cold — I was instantly drunk.

Stumbling to the subway, I somehow managed to get on the right train, even off at the right stop  — and then — blackout.

It was hours later when I heard someone call out.... “Hey lady what are you doing over there?” Immediately I came to, looked at my surroundings, then panicked.  It was past midnight, I was near the Hudson River in an area I wouldn’t dare visit during daylight hours. All of a sudden a cab pulled up next to me and the driver told me to get in. I did.

This gentle giant drove to my building, escorted me to the door, asked for the keys, opened the two entry doors to the foyer and walked me to the elevator. I was crying, embarrassed, scared and full of shame. And in my drunken stupor thought “here we go, he’s going to kill me.” He pressed the number 4 for my floor, then told me to take care of myself and vanished. He is an angel I will never forget. (I never did make it to dinner with that night with my friends.)

I truly believe God sent that angel to lend a hand to a helpless drunk like me. And, there’s no doubt someone is watching over me.