Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Numbing the Pain

By Cristine Toel, MA, LAC, S-PSB

Sex Addiction: An Ineffective Painkiller

As a therapist at Psychological Counseling Services (PCS) in Scottsdale, I see clients from all over the country who share the ineffective practice of numbing emotional pain with sex addiction. They come to PCS for our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and at intake report a common theme – I don’t like what I’m doing, but I can’t stop it, because nothing else works to soothe anxiety, depression, stress, fear, anger – nothing else works to soothe the pain. 

As we sit across each other establishing goals for the week, I feel the heaviness of the pain inside them. I can feel the frustration of the theme that runs through their body and mind; the theme of failure, loneliness, and loss. I begin to type in their words, “get sober from sex addiction,” “prevent future relapses,” or “learn healthier ways to cope.” Sometimes I can see a part of them wanting to snatch the words back, like Linus fighting Lucy for his blanket. 

Sometimes I see another part, a deeper part, who has done it long enough to know that what was supposed to numb the pain is only making the pain worse. That part has tallied the losses; the marriages, the jobs, and the friends. That part wants to shred the blanket in a million pieces and for good. 

Clients will often explain that sex addiction isn’t like alcohol or drugs — it’s not like you can just avoid the liquor aisle at the grocery store, or the bar, or the friends you used to do drugs with. Sex and sexual triggers are everywhere. Clients talk about the difficulties of going to malls where they face women in underwear with wings on their backs, and half-naked teens in sepia-toned ads on the storefronts where their kids want to buy blue jeans. Another overwhelming narrative from clients in terms of escalation or relapse involves the internet. 

Since the early 1990’s, internet pornography has redefined the culture by creating a readiness aspect to sexual content that didn’t exist before. As of 2015, the amount of content, including chat rooms, webcam sites providing live encounters, and downloadable apps (the list is endless) with access to casual sex, has exploded, making it difficult for addicts to establish, much less maintain sobriety. 

Seeking Real Intimacy

People have trouble hearing the word “sex addiction” without grimacing at the term. The public perception is that the individual is more of an ass**** than an addict.
Internally, I see something different. I see individuals who long to connect, yet fear vulnerability and the risk it takes for healthy intimacy. Typically they have a history of abuse, abandonment, and/or neglect — and have difficulty trusting that a significant other won’t replicate what has occurred in their past. Sex can “feel” like intimacy, which makes it easy for the addict to believe he or she is connecting to another human being. 

Real intimacy, however, involves the richness of building history with a partner, working through struggles and hardship together, and experiencing joy. “Faux” intimacy catches up when the connection only reinforces the loneliness and emptiness the individual had at the start. It’s a “cheap solution,” and the addict on some level knows this.

The pattern that typically plays out in the sex addiction cycle, involves numbing the pain through the sexual act, feeling shame and self-loathing for “acting out,” followed by a period of attempting to resist the behavior. The point of no return is different for every client. It can be the moment when yet another affair is discovered by the addict’s significant other, it can be the moment a boss discovers pornography on an addict’s work computer, or it can be the addict saying no more. 
While the preference would be the addict initiating treatment rather than an external forcing it, there is at least an opportunity for the addict to do life differently when he or she enters therapy. 

For *Wayne, *Tom, *Jason and *Karen, their reasons for signing up for an IOP at PCS varied. 

Wayne had been sober from alcohol for 25 years, and then started having affairs a year into his second marriage. He “got caught” a year ago, and since then has kept relapsing. He would say that his wife was the reason he sought treatment; however, he admitted he had never felt peace in his entire life, and needed to know what that felt like before he died. 

Karen was similar to Wayne in that she had been sober from alcohol for over 20 years, but lost her sobriety from sexual addiction four weeks prior to coming to PCS. She and her husband almost divorced three years ago, and he told her if she relapsed that would be it. After her relapse, he struggled to pull the trigger on the marriage. He listened as she described her desire to go deeper in her therapy, in order to get to the root of her behaviors, and decided to give the marriage a chance.

Jason entered therapy after his girlfriend broke up with him. He had spent most of his teenage years isolating and using pornography and masturbation to cope with the pressures of growing up. Now in his early-20’s he reported his life was going nowhere and he didn’t know how to stop. All three had resistances to therapy, but deep-down wanted to change. 

Tom was a different story. He entered therapy to try and end his fourth affair, saying, “I’m in love with this girl, but I don’t know. Maybe I need to let her go and try and love my wife. I don’t really want to, but my wife wants me to try, so here I am.” 

Wayne (age 55): Married, father of 2 adult children
When I met with Wayne for our second session, he shuffled around the couch and told me he was pissed at my colleague he named, “Alligator Shoes.” I tried to track his grievances, but by then he had moved on to wanting to punch yet another of my co-workers. It appeared he had been called on the carpet for flirting with a female visiting professional by buying her a box of cookies. In his view, he was merely saying, “thank you,” for an affirmation she offered him after one of his sessions. His therapeutic team, however, noticed a trend in the behavior, which linked to his tendency to groom women “innocently” before embarking onto a less innocent sexual encounter. In fact, his list of encounters were several pages long, and some involved unprotected sex, which was a health hazard to himself and his wife who had spent years trying to love him. He told me he was ready to run right now. I told him he could run anytime. I honestly didn’t want him to run, but I had to give him the opportunity. I had to allow him to make the choice of recovery for himself. He then spat out, “Well then you’re going to have to change my schedule. I can’t meet with any female therapists alone, because I guess I can’t be trusted.” I let him know that I thought he might benefit more from learning how to cope with the anxiety of being around female therapists and learning how to resist seeking affirmation from them. I then remembered his referring therapist sharing that Wayne was a “runner” and an “avoider,” and he wouldn’t be surprised if he left. Wayne took some deep breaths and this time he stayed. 

Karen (age 37): Married mother of 3 children (ages 9–15)
Karen was introduced to sex by an older male cousin at the age of 10. He brought her to his friends and per her report, they “messed around” with her. She had difficulty seeing that as abuse, because in her view, she enjoyed the feeling of being touched. She described a household where her father held a gun to her mother’s head in front of her and her siblings. She also recalled several instances of her father beating her mother, and seeing her mother taken to the hospital. For Karen, sex became the one thing in her young life that felt good. She used masturbation to calm herself down, to relieve fear and tension, and to escape the turmoil in her household. Masturbation also allowed Karen to take control in an environment where she had none. 

As she grew into her teenage years, sex was a way to feel attractive and popular. She continued using sex for attention and comfort well into her 20’s and 30’s. Compounded with alcohol, she crossed the line at work, and lost several jobs as a result. While part of her longed to have the simplicity of deep intimacy with her spouse and stability for her children, Karen had difficulty coping with her even deeper feeling of worthlessness.

In Psychodrama Group therapy, Karen volunteered to play the protagonist and worked on the scene where her father held a gun to her mother’s head. She realized for the first time, how painful her childhood really was, and admitted she felt suicidal most of her life. She expressed fear that if she allowed herself to begin feeling this pain, that it would somehow swallow her whole, and she wouldn’t survive it. After all, she had spent years “keeping it together” by telling herself it wasn’t that bad, and then soothing the pain with sex. At that moment, she wanted to go back and stop feeling, but at the same time, she knew there was so much more.

Jason (age 23): single with a girlfriend
Jason’s family system was infiltrated with a long list of high-achieving, outwardly successful grandparents, parents, and siblings. As the youngest of 7 children, he felt his “competition” was near-impossible to beat. Doctors, lawyers, business owners — all the outward signs of success. His parents were well into their 40’s when he was born, and the bigger part of him felt as if he was an after-thought in life. By his own admission, he believed he was spoiled and entitled, and since there was not much demanded of him, Jason felt there was likely not much expected of him either. When he was 12, he recalled hanging out with a friend who discovered his father’s stash of Playboy magazines and hid them in the back of his house. That was Jason’s introduction to what would become a pattern of using pornography and masturbation to ease his fears and escape from the pressures of reaching a bar of expectation he felt he had no chance of achieving. As he worked on his family Genogram, he realized that while his family was outwardly successful, they lacked emotional availability and connection. For the first time he began to challenge the definition of success. 

Tom (age 46): Married father of 4 kids (ages 6-18).
Tom finished up a text as we began session, and then handed his phone to me and said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” His wife had accompanied him from the West Coast, and while not doing the program herself, decided to be with her husband during his IOP. She was sitting in the lobby reading a book, as her husband shared a photo of his affair partner. I attempted to begin a Trauma Egg with Tom, which comes from the work of Marilyn Murray (PCS Consultant) and helps the client organize significant disturbing events in their lives, uncovering how they felt, how they coped, what message they internalized, and what they needed or wanted instead. It’s an effective tool designed to uncover the underlying causes of addictive behaviors. Tom stated he had no memory of his childhood, but was able to recall current turmoil with his father, as they ran a business together. 
His face reddened as he described the ways in which his father belittles him and undermines him in business. He angrily relayed how his father will take money from the business, and then deny ever doing it. When I asked him how he dealt with it, he explained that he has tried to talk to his father, but nothing changes. When we looked at ways he could communicate and set boundaries with his father, Tom laughed, “There’s nothing I can do. I just have to deal with it.” Tom felt powerless in his relationship with his father, yet powerful in his ability to have affairs. In that realm, no one told him how it was going to be. When Tom was asked to consider how his wife pays the price for that dynamic, he acknowledged the possibility, but in all honesty didn’t want to change it. He was hoping we could figure out a way to teach his wife to stop complaining. 

PCS Intensive Process:

The IOP at PCS is unique in that it offers 30 hours of individual therapy, along with 20 hours of group therapy, including Psychodrama, Equine, Compulsivity, Codependency, Mindfulness, Communication, Adult Play therapy, called, “Get Real Group,” Anger and Forgiveness, and more. The design allows the client to begin to uncover on a deep level the origins of their emotional pain. Clients have the ability to process shame and trauma through experiential therapies, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Psychodrama, while also practically addressing their offense cycle (looking at patterns in offending behaviors), their tools to avoid relapse, and ways they will set up a healthy, balanced life. The client has more opportunity to go deep, as his or her sessions tend to build on one another and allow for greater momentum in their therapeutic work. For some clients, this shift occurs in a one-week IOP. For others, they experience greater reward in a two-week IOP.

Progress Notes:

Wayne: Wayne stayed for two weeks individually, and then decided to do a couples’ intensive with his wife for an additional week. The man who was ready to run on day 3 of his first week was breathing differently on the last day of his third week. They both wanted to process the pain of his last affair, an affair that endured longer than other encounters, and continued to burn inside his wife. As she processed with EMDR, he witnessed her grief. He was able to be present as she expressed her sadness and built empathy for her during the process. They both felt like they got to a place of deep intimacy, and Wayne felt the peace he had longed for.

Karen: Karen learned how to conquer the heaviness of her shame and feelings of worthlessness, by continuing to share her story with her group. This process allowed her to demystify what she previously deemed shameful and humiliating. Instead of judging her, the group acknowledged her pain, and allowed her to feel for the first time that she was human, just like them. Instead of hiding in shame, Karen began to own her shortcomings from a healthy adult perspective. She had a long road ahead in repairing her relationship, but felt hopeful at the prospect.

Jason: Jason learned healthy tools to help him cope with pressure and anxiety, and achieved a level of sobriety for some time. He began extending himself socially, and felt less isolated and withdrawn. His girlfriend had been on the fence since he began treatment, and a few months after his IOP she ended their relationship. He managed it initially, but loneliness prompted a relapse in his pornography use. He stayed in therapy and was able to successfully recover from the relapse. Through the growth and the life experience, he realized adult life is going to involve struggle, loss, and pain. For the first time, he felt ready to challenge himself to stay sober during the next inevitable disappointment. 

Tom: Tom decided to go against the encouragement of his therapeutic team and continued to contact the “beautiful woman” whose pictures filled his phone. On his last day, he expressed disappointment that he felt the same; he had difficulty connecting how his decision to maintain the problematic behavior was likely the cause. The shift that did occur involved his wife. Tom went back to the West Coast, while his wife stayed and did her own IOP. She had a difficult time facing the reality of her situation; however, she allowed herself to feel the pain, and in doing so, left PCS with the feeling of empowerment and serenity.

In the end, Wayne, Karen, Jason, and many more clients, began to learn that the best painkiller is to learn how to sit with the pain, face it, and work through it. Soothing it with sex addiction ensures the singular guarantee of more pain.
*Clients names and information have been changed in order to protect their confidentiality.

Psychological Counseling Services (PCS) is a group practice located in Scottsdale, AZ with over 40 years of experience offering high quality outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment options incorporating a treatment methodology, focused on the specific needs of the client, utilizing a staff of over 25 therapists. The PCS IOP model is a great option for clients needing additional work beyond their weekly appointment suffering from trauma, addictions, depression, anxiety, relational problems, intimacy issues, and narcissism just to name a few. Call and speak to one of our intake specialists for further details or to schedule, 480-947-5739.

Cristine Toel, MA, LAC, S-PSB
Cristine is a Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) in the State of Arizona, under the direct supervision of Dr. Marcus R. Earle.  She received her Master’s in Professional Counseling from Argosy University, and graduated with honors from Rockhurst University, in Kansas City, Missouri.  She is currently EMDR-trained, and a member of the ongoing Psychodrama Training Group through the Arizona Psychodrama Institute.  She also completed Advanced Training in Problematic Sexual Behavior from the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH) in 2013.
Cristine has worked with clients who have survived childhood abuse, adult children of alcoholics, those who struggle with addiction, and their effected family members. She has experience working with clients who encounter divorce, career change, remarriage, blended family concerns, parenting, and step-parenting.
Visit www.pcsearle.com for more information.

From Interstate to Internet to Inner Self

by Coach Cary Bayer
I just returned from teaching trips in Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, and New York, logging quite a few miles on I-95. Some of us probably take the Interstate Highway system for granted but it’s only a little more than half a century old, one of the great achievements of the Eisenhower administration. The technical name for the network is The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. I bring this up because, impressed by Germany’s connected Autobahn roads during World War II, General Eisenhower recognized America’s need to be able to transport military equipment and personnel easily and swiftly over smooth roads. He had such a system under construction by 1956, in the fourth year of his Presidency. As of 2012, this vast network included 47,714 miles of mostly free roads.

As I mused on networks and connections, I thought of the World Wide Web, more commonly known as the Internet, which is a much more abstract network, that also keeps us all connected. Email, websites, and social media are keeping us linked together in ways undreamed of in Eisenhower’s day. Consider this mind-expanding growth: the total number of websites on the Internet has grown from an August 1991 total of one to nearly 1 billion 200 million as of September 2014, according to NetCraft.

Internet usage has grown just as exponentially: As of December 1995 about 16 million people were using the Internet, about 0.4 percent of the world’s population. By June 2014, it had reached 2 billion 802 million people or 39 percent of the world’s people. In 2012, some $225 billion worth of business was done in cyberspace. According to eMarketer, that total could reach $434.2 billion by 2017, nearly doubling in just five short years.

Closer to home, there are stress management methods that keep you connected to your inner Self, your higher nature, deep within you. After many hours in the car last week, I pulled over at an Interstate rest area and practiced the Higher Self Healing Meditation that I had just taught on the Treasure Coast.

As I felt the fatigue from driving many hours and many more miles get expunged from my body, I felt the connection of my individual consciousness with the Universal Consciousness. As great as a connection as the Interstate highway system is, as astonishing a connection as the Internet is, neither are as profound as the connection to your inner Self—the truest Yoga—that serves as a foundation to everything else that you think, speak, and do in this life. 

While my consciousness was hovering at the quietest level of thought deep within the mind near the Transcendent, it dawned on me that the Internet and the Interstate were both manifestations—one physical, the other cyber—of the Transcendent, the Universal Being itself within each of us and within all things, which pervades all of Life, and keeps all things connected. 
With the advent of social networking sites like the very popular Facebook, for example, the thousand or so people who you are connected to can, theoretically, connect you to many hundreds of thousands of other people. The extraordinary speed by which a You Tube video can go viral, for example, demonstrates this truth quite regularly.

I know that the world will be moving in the right direction spiritually when the numbers of people who connect to their inner Self through meditation and Yoga have a similar exponential growth. According to the Huffington Post, as of December 2013, more than 20 million Americans were practicing Yoga, making it a $27-billion industry. The Transcendental Meditation organization claims to have singlehandedly taught TM to more than five million people.

So I raise my glass to connections—in whatever form you find it. In business, it’s said that you need connections to get ahead in your career.  That may very well be the case. But when you have connection to your Inner Self, you are in tune with Nature’s flow, and She supports you as well as your desires, including your desires in business.

Are You the Only One Taking Your Medicine?

On June 10, The Alliance for Balanced Pain Management (AfBPM) today launched a new educational tool – “Are You the Only One Taking Your Medicine?” —  that consumers and health care providers can use to assess whether a home is at risk for medication misuse, abuse or diversion. The tool also includes tips for how to monitor, safeguard and properly dispose of prescription medicines, including pain medicines, to minimize the risk of inappropriate use.
This free tool can be accessed at http://alliancebpm.org/asset/2015-06-03-afbpm-checklist-pdf  

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 60 to 70 percent of teens say home medicine cabinets are their source of drugs. Furthermore, each year an estimated 71,000 children 18 and younger are seen in U.S. emergency departments for unintentional medication poisonings.
“While pain management, including prescription pain medicine when appropriate, is important, it’s critical to be aware of the potential for medicine abuse in the home,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, interim President and CEO of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and AfBPM Steering Committee member. 

“Two thirds of teens who report abuse of prescription medicine are getting them from friends, family or acquaintances. This new tool will help people understand what they can do to ‘mind their meds’ so that teens and others in their life won’t have access to their prescription medication.”
Access to integrated pain management, such as physical therapy and rehabilitation, psychological counseling, social support, medication and other complementary approaches, can help manage acute and chronic pain. If medications are prescribed, AfBPM encourages people to speak with their health care providers to ensure they take their medication properly and to store and dispose of it appropriately to help avoid unintended consequences, such as misuse, abuse or diversion.

AfBPM is a diverse collective of health care advocacy groups, patient organizations, industry representatives and other stakeholders with a mission to support both the appropriate access to integrated pain management and the responsible use of prescription pain medicines with an aim to reduce abuse and enhance patient safety. Member organizations and resources for balanced pain management can be found at www.AllianceBPM.org.

When Your College Kid’s Home for the Summer

Has your college kid moved back home for the summer? Your family is likely thrilled to have them under your roof again, but you all may be experiencing a bit of tension, fueled by your undergrad’s emotional state.

Perhaps they are struggling with the loss of independence, missing college friends, disappointed that high-school friendships aren’t what they used to be, uninspired at a summer job, frustrated to have to follow your rules or just really, really bored.

Your child is probably a bit anxious about being home.

Teenagers usually go off to college with a sense of excitement about the prospect of being on their own. It’s often their first taste of freedom from their parent. Your teen has spent a year in a more unstructured and unsupervised environment. They have new friends you probably don’t know. It was a year of growth and, in reality, you may not know your child as well as you used to.  Now they come home to a family that expects them to be the same person as you dropped off at school a year earlier.

For all of these reasons, it’s common to be a bit anxious about coming home. 

We asked parenting expert Sue Scheff to help parents better understand the state of mind of their living-at-home-again college student, and how they might help their child best cope and stay healthy and safe during this time of transition. She shared four things to keep in mind. (Partnership for Drug Free Kids)
One way to ease your teen’s anxiety is to talk with them about what they are going through. Remain calm, and really listen. Put yourself in their shoes and try to think about how you felt when you were that age. Remember to ask lots of open-ended questions (questions designed to elicit more than just a “yes” or “no” response) that keep conversations moving in the right direction.

Establish mutual respect by discussing the rules together

Respect is a two-way street.  Make it clear that you’ll respect their independence and will make allowances as they are now maturing into an adult, however, respecting your household rules, are a must.  Instead of getting caught up in a power play, remain calm and curious and treat them with the respect they want in return.
As soon as your college kid arrives home, sit down and negotiate the household rules and what you expect.  Be sure to discuss curfews, chores, if you expect your son or daughter to get a summer job, as well as your feelings about drinking and substance use. Instead of lecturing, have a conversation, respect their opinions and let them feel heard. 
You don’t have to agree to every request, but giving a voice will make your children feel understood.
Also, use this as an opportunity for your teen to establish what they expect from you in return regarding their own personal wishes.

Help your child learn coping skills

Your teen may be struggling to figure out where they belong. Friends may have changed, and maybe things aren’t exactly the way they thought they would be. Have a conversation with a sense of understanding and compassion.
Whatever it is your kid’s are  facing, help them understand that not everything in life will go the way we want it to. Learning healthy coping skills is an important part of being an adult. And using alcohol or drugs to cope with emotional pain is not a solution.
Show your concern and ask permission to help find healthy alternatives to dealing with difficult feelings than turning to drugs. Sit down with your teen and have them make a list of positive skills to implement in day-to-day life while at home. This could be whatever they enjoy, including sports, yoga, listening to music, hiking, dancing or even trying out a new activity. Volunteering is a great way to broaden awareness, meet new people and give back to others and it also instills self-esteem to help make better choices.
However, it’s important to stay alert to possible mental health issues. Between the ages of 18 and 25 are when a lot of disorders, like anxiety, can develop. There is a strong link between mental and physical health issues and the use of drugs and alcohol. Be sure to find mental health resources for your child if needed.

If they are drinking and using drugs

If you suspect your teen has a substance abuse problem, call the Partnership’s Toll-Free Helpline (1-855-DRUGFREE) to speak with a trained specialist.

Here are expert tips on what to do if you know your 19-25 year old is using:

Don’t overlook the prescription drugs in your home, which teens often have easy access to and can abuse. Be sure your prescription medicines are secured and that expired/unused medicines in your home are properly disposed of.

It is important to note that car crashes are the leading cause of death for US teens. And, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the deadliest for drivers ages 15-20. Drinking and driving, and texting while driving, are incredibly dangerous. Make it clear to your child this behavior is unacceptable, and that if she needs a ride or help getting out of a situation, you are there for him or her.

Lastly, remind them that you love and care about them, and you are there to talk about these — or any other issues they may be dealing with. 

It’s not all about the topic of drinking, drug use and safety — it’s about maintaining a generally healthy, supportive relationship. Your child needs to know that if any problems or difficult situations arise, they can always turn to you for help –  whether away at college or back at home.
Sue is an author, parent advocate, cyber advocate and the founder and president of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts Inc. (P.U.R.E., 2001). Over the past decade, P.U.R.E. has gained both national and international recognition for its success in helping thousands of parents locate safe and effective therapeutic schools and programs for their at-risk teens.

Healing the Hurt

A look at bi-polar episodes

By Dr. Barbara Bachmeier

Feeling Rejected and Misunderstood

  • Do you sometimes feel as if no one really understands what you are going through when you are facing the aftermath of a manic episode? 
  • Do you wonder if your friends and family even care to understand? 
  • Are they angry with you or blaming you?
  • Are you feeling a deep sense of failure and shame? 
This can happen, and these kinds of feelings can be devastating and debilitating. But you can recover and feel confident again.

Overcoming feelings of defeat are not only possible, but very important as we want to prevent the “other side” of bipolar to get you down — literally. Such feelings and thoughts can trigger a major depressive episode; so we must look at the events and possible poor decisions and impulse behaviors of the manic episode from a balanced and objective perspective. We can then revise our prevention and actions plans should another manic episode be triggered in the future.
There are two areas to focus on while recovering from a manic episode. The first is self education, and .....the second is the education of family and friends. 

Your self- education process will consist of taking an objective look at recent events. Take note of what you were think and feeling. Note the triggers. Track your recent behaviors, especially ones that might have elicited negative responses from family and friends. 

You cannot change anything in the past, or the events that have led to here and now. But you can move aside from yourself and look at the events from an objective point of view and assess the distorted thoughts that you have had. You can then assess what triggered distorted thinking that might have led to maladaptive behaviors. You can assess what makes you feel vulnerable. From this information you can revise your wellness and action plan and make adjustments to your lifestyle and relationships to prevent another manic episode, and or to teach other people about your manic episodes and how to help you

This leads us to the second area of focus; educating friends and family. There is no better time than the present for this. Consider setting an appointment with your therapist and asking your most trusted family member, your spouse, or a very trusted friend to come with you to an appointment.
During the appointment, have your therapist share with your loved one information that you have already reviewed together and that you have approved.

This will be an opportunity for your loved one, spouse, or friend to receive first hand education about your condition and will reinforce the fact that you need support and understanding. This is beyond simple psycho-education about bipolar and what bipolar is. Indeed, your family, loved ones, spouse, and friends, will benefit from learning this and I encourage you to encourage them to attend family support groups where they will learn more and more. But in addition to this, sessions with your therapist can make a huge difference. Over time, you might even be able to persuade your family to engage in family therapy with you.

Remember, you past does not define you. Your mental illness does not define who you are as a human being. You were born with innate gifts and talents. You are good human being and you deserve to be treated as such. So, you must also treat yourself with love and respect and understanding. Often, it is the sufferer who is hardest on him or herself. Check your self defeating and negative thoughts, and thoughts of self judgment and criticism and use your positive thinking skills to change those. Get back into the world, volunteer, and visit friends, it is important to stay in touch with others.

Stepping Stones to Spiritual Independence

Most of us are not sure what this experience on earth is all about. We are not sure are whether we are doing life, or is life doing us? We wonder why our experiences go from high highs to low lows with an occasional oasis of not much to worry about.

We live with the perception that who we chose to love, what we do to make money and what we accumulate in life is all that matters. We have been taught to believe these are the things that lead to happiness. And yet, when we have done our best to accumulate all of these external things we still feel unfulfilled. So what is the point? Actually this life is part of our spiritual process.

To put this spiritual process in context let’s simplify it. Let’s pretend that you are sitting somewhere, not here, on another plane of awareness. You are about to decide what you what your next life experience to look like and what lessons you would like to learn. You have all the time you need since there is no rush you peruse the past, your accomplishments and all the experiences you have had in each lifetime. You start to be curious about what else you would like to learn. Maybe you want to experience personal empowerment, or what it feels like to be the opposite gender, or a minority or someone who is ill. Why would you do that…because those experiences would add to your soul experience and learning

Since you understand each choice and decision is an education in and of itself, you choose some pretty specific themes. None of these are negative albeit some more challenging than others. After all, Einstein says, “The greatest spirits choose the greatest challenges.”

Once you have decided on your theme experiences, the right people and energy will be drawn to you to help you fulfill your purpose. They may be friends, family, partners or random people who cross your path. They are all master teachers whom you have invited in to help you with your spiritual curriculum. The moment you begin to understand this, you have graduated to spiritual college. You begin to realize everyone and every experience in life is really in service to your soul. They are all reflecting back to you, your values, goals, beliefs and all the places where growth and added learning are needed. They are offering you the profound chance to discover who you really are beyond the cultural mores, the traditions and the family of origin teachings.

Can you feel what an excellent design and experiment this is? Okay now breathe. Think about the people in your life and what they are teaching you. Think about the experiences you have been through, the challenges you have overcome and what you have discovered about yourself. Now, you can pause before taking steps into your future and ask yourself, is this next decision coming from old programming or from my next step in fulfilling my purpose?  

Start to look at your life, the circumstances and people in it objectively. Allow your self to invite fear in and question it. Is the fear coming from your past or is it simply because your next step is unfamiliar? It’s as if off in the distance you can see your true home, true purpose and true self. Each experience along the way is a stepping stone bringing you closer to that reality or taking you farther away with self-deception and ego. Pay attention to where you’re stepping and with whom. Is your next decision taking closer to your true self and your purpose here, or farther away?

Commit to the process without tricking your self. Notice your excuses and rationalizations for taking short cuts, avoiding the tougher lessons or not taking personal responsibility when you know you are wrong. Decide you are more powerful than all of your excuses and you are not willing to miss this opportunity to evolve in consciousness. Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. How else can you learn? And, be willing to feel the full gambit of your feelings including fear and angst.
Here is an example out of my playbook. I grew up in an empty room so I have an incredible awareness when people disconnect energetically from me. Being the child of an alcoholic and the middle child I always think that it’s about me, or something I have done. Old programming says, What did you do to make them stop calling? Fortunately wise mind steps in and says, Wait a minute, you don’t even know what’s going on with them. Pick up the phone and call them. 
When I do that, I hear “Oh gosh mom, I am so glad you called. I hurt myself at the gym and have been in bed all day.” 

The point is that it is never about me but ego always thinks it is. Ego fosters separation and spirit fosters healing and connection. So I ask what I can do to help and all the pain goes away. I stepped on the right stone. The one that leads me to my best self. You can do that too.

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

The Alcoholic Saint

by Alan Cohen

I heard about a fellow who set out in a spiritual quest to India. There he was recommended by word of mouth to find a particular saint who lived in a remote village. The seeker went to great lengths to travel to the village, where a shopkeeper told him he would find the saint under a certain tree, teaching disciples. Excited, the seeker made his way to tree, but instead of finding the saint — he saw a drunkard blabbing with a couple of guys. Disappointed, he returned to the shopkeeper and complained that he had given him bad information — all that he found under the tree was a drunk. 
The shopkeeper told him, “That was the saint. He is actually a very advanced soul, but his last lesson is to experience and overcome drinking. If you would have spent some time with him, you would have learned a lot.”

It is tempting to judge by appearances, to single out one trait of a person and evaluate him or her by that trait. Yet we are multi-dimensional beings. There is more to each of us than the traits we judge as good or bad. My mentor once explained, “Alcoholics, drug addicts, and people in mental institutions are often highly sensitive souls. They cannot handle the harshness of the world, so they retreat into a private world. If you pierce beyond their addiction or mental illness, you will often find a very creative and loving being.” 

The world we see is a result of the perception we choose and the aspects we key in on. A friend and I were having lunch at the restaurant of a tropical hotel where a parrot sat in a cage near our table. When I went over to say hello to the Macaw the restaurant manager saw me and grew nervous. “Stay away from that bird!” he called out. “He might bite you.” Although I was confident with the bird, I didn’t want to ruffle the manager’s feathers, so I stepped back.

During our meal I mentioned the bird to the waitress. “Oh, Keoki is the sweetest bird. He will give you a kiss if you approach him.” She went to the parrot and he gave her a sweet kiss on the cheek. I was stunned. Were those two people talking about the same bird? Then I realized that the restaurant manager was worried about liability, while the waitress valued connection more. Each person was seeing the bird through their own lens of perception — one based on love and one based on fear. 

Each experienced the result of the perception they chose. Even if you have chosen a fear-based perception, you can shift to a more rewarding perspective. This is the hidden gift of relationships that trouble us. When you aren’t getting along with someone, you have chosen to see that person through the lens of fear. The relationship as it is will persist (or another one like it will take its place) until you choose love instead. 

A Course in Miracles tells us, “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.”

My partner had a friend named Cynthia who used to visit our house and chatter endlessly. I found her quite annoying. One day while I was standing on a ladder fixing a window on the second floor, Cynthia stood opposite me and blabbed while I was working. I fantasized about tossing her through the window, but, being a sensitive new age guy, I restrained myself. 

Then one day while I was receiving a massage, Cynthia came to mind. In my relaxed state my resistance was diminished, so I thought about her from a more peaceful vantage point. I realized that Cynthia was actually a very nice person. She had always been very kind to me and my partner. I had been basing my judgment of her on one particular trait. When I looked beyond that trait, I saw someone I truly liked. From that time on I enjoyed her. 

Everyone is our Teacher 

Some teach us through joy and others through challenge. Reframe challenging people as angels who have come to help you clean the glass of your perception. Everyone is potentially loveable, but we must choose to claim the potential of our relationship rather than the limits we have superimposed over it. When we reframe relationships as opportunities to experience love, they shift in our favor. 

All perception is selective

Out of an infinity of choices of what we may see, we choose but one. If you do an Internet image search for “spectrum of light” you will discover that the physical eye sees but a tiny range of the many different frequencies of light available. Our vision is quite limited compared to what is out there. William Blake said, “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.” 
Devils and angels are less about ultimate reality and more about choice of perception. We cannot change the people around us, but we can change how we see them. Then, regardless of what they do, we find inner peace, the only perception worth choosing. To love thy neighbor is to see your neighbor clearly.

Alan Cohen is the author of many inspirational books. 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 information about this program, Alan’s Hawaii Retreat, books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com.

Standing Together to End the Stigma

At a very young age, I felt the shame of my mom’s problem with alcohol. It was the secret we kept within the walls of our home. So all of us, my mom included, lived with a giant gorilla in our home.

This is 2015, and millions of people are in recovery from a seemingly hopeless disease. More of us have the courage to openly talk about it without shame or the fear of being judged, and if we are; I say so be it. But the stigma associated with addiction still exists.

The month of September is ours....National Recovery Month. Created by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 26 years ago, there are walks, runs, town meetings, rides and events like the Art of Recovery Expo. (www.recoverymonth.gov).
We aren’t bad people, we are sick people when active in our addictions. Anyone who has struggled and survived are the lucky ones, we made it out of the abyss alive.

I’m blessed and fortunate to be associated with the recovery movement taking place across our nation. I want to stand alongside and walk forward with those who believe there are many options and ways to treat this disease.

Together, we must continue to encourage our friends, families, communities and leaders to start conversations about the prevention, treatment, and recovery of behavioral health conditions at any stage of life.

Many of the successes of recovery often go unnoticed by the broader population; Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. In doing so, we help to increase awareness and a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders.

A few important events to consider being a part of:

September 19, 10th Annual Art of Recovery Expo, Phoenix Convention Center.
Free Admission to the public. www.artofrecoveryexpo.com

October 4 – Washington D.C. UNITE to Face Addiction is a grassroots advocacy effort organizing people, communities, and organizations to face addiction and stand up for recovery.

October 22 –State of Arizona, Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family
“Now You See Me” The Elephant in the Room. Details to come.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Many Faces of Recovery

By Allen Nohre, Terros

What’s it like to stop using alcohol and drugs and live a life of recovery? I have the privilege of interviewing people at various stages of recovery, asking them how they stay clean and sober, and what their recovery life is like. I have come to a conclusion: recovery has common elements, yet each person’s recovery is unique. 

Typically, I interview people who are relatively early in their recovery. They openly describe their struggle with addiction and the havoc it has caused. I am amazed by their willingness to share their story and I admire their courage. After they share their stories, I wonder how they are doing, if their lives are continuing to get better, if they are growing in their recovery, or if their progress has hit a bump in the road.
I followed up on my curiosity by reaching out to a few people I’ve interviewed before. Each person described what their recovery looks like today.

Jacquie: “I Have a Cool Life!”

“I now have everything I used to dream about: a wonderful relationship with JD, my seven year-old son, a cooperative joint-custody arrangement with his father, a great job, a rebuilt relationship with my parents, and wonderful new friends. I have a cool life, not glamorous, but beautiful.”
Jacquie is 33, and after fifteen years of drug use, she is nearly three years into her new life. She is grateful for many things and said, “I even have health insurance, and that makes me feel like a grown-up.” 
Asked what recovery is like now compared with the first few months, she said, “A big part of my recovery at this stage is cleaning up my past by making relationship and financial amends. I am paying all of my past bills even though it takes nearly 40% of my income. And, I’m sober. In fact, I couldn’t be more sober.”
Jacquie said her spiritual program is the center of her life. She begins each day with prayer, attends support group meetings four times a week, stays in touch with close friends who are on a similar spiritual path, and works with newcomers. Jacquie continues to donate recovery literature to clients at Terros Maverick House where her sobriety and recovery got its start in August 2012.
She said she doesn’t have the urge to use or drink. She believes the key is to recognize feelings and behaviors that always come before using like shunning her close friends and avoiding support groups. “Recovery is a lifelong process.”
Jacquie left our Saturday morning interview at Starbucks and headed to her parents’ home where she and her son, JD, will enjoy spending time with family, enjoying her parent’s cooking, and swimming in the pool. Life for the entire family has changed for the better.

Stephan: Reasons to Smile

I met Stephan a year ago when he was enjoying his first year of recovery from using drugs and alcohol. His infectious smile told me he was happy with his new life and his accomplishments. A year later, I visited with him again, and his smile was even bigger. He proceeded to describe the good things that happened in his second year of recovery.

Stephan has experienced dark times. He used and sold drugs, was arrested and served time. He was broke and embarrassed that there were times he asked his mother for money. All of that has changed. He has a full-time job as a cook at a drug treatment program, he and his girlfriend are doing really well, he has paid off fines, is off probation, and with a satisfied smile he said, “I haven’t had to ask my mother for money.”
Stephan said he stays away from drugs because, “I don’t want to lose everything again. If I used, I would go down quickly in drugs and breaking the law. I would lose my job and my true friends in recovery who support me, unlike my former drug using, so-called friends.”
Stephan knows what keeps him in recovery. He said, “The key for me is my recovering friends in support groups and at work who keep me centered on what is most important. My higher power is important to me and in a surprising way my friends are also my higher power.”
For fun, Stephan plays in the Costco Sober Softball League on Sundays and he and his girlfriend have a date night every other Friday. His advice for others as well as himself is: go to meetings that are meaningful for you, have a sponsor, and rely on people who are sober.

Tommy: I’m Becoming Who I Really Am

Tommy has been through a lot in his twenty three years: a childhood of being abused and an adolescence of using and selling heroin, jail, and failing to find recovery after two treatment programs. When I first met Tommy in May 2014, he was living at Terros Maverick House Sober Living, maintaining his sobriety that began nine months earlier.
I met Tommy again, ten months later. He had just returned from work; and, he looked more mature and spoke with greater confidence than a year earlier. After 15 months of living with 27 other men at Sober Living, and having been promoted to Senior Resident, he felt ready to take the next step. He is now living with two friends who are also committed to a life without drugs. Tommy said, “We support each other in our Twelve Step program, but being sober doesn’t mean we don’t have fun. We go to movies, bowling, mini-golf, and have alcohol and drug-free parties with other people our age.” 
I asked him if he worries about using drugs again. He said, “Sometimes I get a little shaky, and that is usually when I am angry about something. But I am able to recognize and manage my feelings. I pray a lot. I don’t get the urge to use and my obsession with drugs is gone. It is a power greater than me that keeps me sober. I call that power God.”
Reflecting on his recovery journey, Tommy said, “During the first year. I was doing what I needed to do to stay away from drugs and I couldn’t have done it without Sober Living. In my second year without drugs, my life started to happen. I became aware of my emotions and I began to feel happy. I call it emotional sobriety. I can feel myself growing up and becoming who I really am. That makes me so happy.”

Robert: Recovery is Freedom

Robert is in his late thirties, stands well over six feet tall, and has the powerful physique of a body builder. However, it is his mental, emotional and spiritual strength, not his physical power that is helping him find recovery from addiction.
When I met Robert in May 2014, he had completed a four-week residential treatment program and was continuing his recovery at Terros Maverick House Sober Living. He said, “The most important thing I got out of treatment was talking about the severe abuse I received as a child, letting myself experience those feelings, and even crying in front of others. I had never done that in my life.” Robert went directly from treatment to Sober Living because, “I knew I had one shot at this.” 
At Sober Living, he had the support and feedback of 27 men, all of whom were learning how to walk the challenging path out of addiction and into recovery. The high point for Robert was a Thanksgiving dinner at Sober Living. That day, his wife told the group that because Robert had changed so much she was moving to a nearby apartment so they could spend more time with each other while Robert continued to work on his recovery at Sober Living.
The next time I met Robert, in March of 2015, he walked over to Sober Living from the nearby apartment where he lives with his wife. He had moved out of Sober Living after 21 months and life is going well for him. He has a full-time job and said, “It’s a great feeling to be able to pay my bills every month for the first time in many years.” He is especially excited about the coming birth of their son, who will be named Ivan. He and his wife plan to move into a house in a year. 
Robert’s recovery began two and one-half years ago. I asked him what recovery is like for him today and he said, “I can summarize it in one word: freedom.”

Further Stages of Recovery

After touching base with Jacquie, Stephan, Tommy, and Robert, I was also curious about what recovery is like for those who have been in recovery for many years. So, I talked to people with 8, 25, and 28 years of living without drugs and/or alcohol.

Suzanne: It’s About Service to Others

Suzanne is certain that the key to her eight-year recovery is helping others who are at various stages in their struggle with addiction. “I have the opportunity to be a positive impact by participating in support groups - especially Celebrate Recovery, volunteering at my church, and sponsoring women. My life is very good because of my service to others, which is also service to God.” 
Suzanne, 45, is the mother of her fifteen year-old daughter whom she says is an amazing girl. “We do a lot of things together like talking and going to the movies. We even get pedicures together. When I talk about serving others, of course I also mean my relationship with my daughter.” Suzanne’s job as a behavioral health referral specialist is also an opportunity to serve others.
After 18 years of drug and alcohol abuse, sobriety and recovery is serious business for Suzanne. “I no longer have urges and triggers that tempt me to use, yet there is no guarantee I’ll not use again. I know that if I do, that will be it — the end of me.” Suzanne said she struggled with a major crisis when she was two and one-half years clean. Her friends from Celebrate Recovery, her sponsor, and her faith in God helped her through that crisis.
“I want to continue to grow and develop as a person, as well as stay clean and sober. I’ve also learned more about myself by attending growth and development trainings at work. They help me be open and honest with others. It’s all a part of recovery, and I’m never going to be done in recovery. It’s a good life!”
Suzanne’s advice for people in the early stages of recovery is the same advice she gives herself: go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the Twelve Steps, be accountable, be of service, and be open to possibilities.

Glenn: Finding the Right Connections

 “Recovery is now a normal part of my life. In fact, I rarely think about it.” Those are the words of a man who 28 years ago had a serious drug and alcohol problem. March 1988 was the beginning of Glenn’s recovery. “Today I have no desire to use drugs or alcohol and I don’t have triggers or urges tempting me to do so.”
But Glenn hasn’t forgotten his struggle in the early years of his sobriety and recovery. “When I got into outpatient treatment, I was homeless and in bad shape. My first four years of recovery were a mess. I wasn’t using, but I was poking the snake with a stick. It was critical for me in the first ten years to follow the guidelines of the recovery program by going to meetings and having a sponsor. I also needed to do things I enjoyed. I was a biker and I found other bikers who were clean and sober.”
Today Glenn has purpose and meaning. His marriage and his 17-year old son enrich his life. It is also important to him that his 89 year-old mother lives with them. Glenn is a licensed professional counselor and manager of behavioral health treatment programs. 
Glenn found a spiritual connection by participating in Native American sweat lodge ceremonies. “An Apache friend helped me connect with the Spirit, and the sweat lodge ceremony gives me the opportunity to share with others.” 
For Glenn, recovery is “using your skills and knowledge to your advantage, learning your character defects by interacting with others, and moving forward.” His words of wisdom to those in the early stages of recovery is: work the steps, go to meetings, get a sponsor, and especially pay attention to who you are and what you are doing.

Barbara: Still a Miracle

A year ago, Barbara Brown, publisher of Together AZ, shared her 24- year journey of recovery with her readers (“Nothing Short of a Miracle” June 2014). She wrote, “I got sober in 1990 from alcohol and drugs, and by the grace of God I was given the opportunity to start my life again. It is nothing short of a miracle!”

A year later, I met Barbara at a Starbucks and asked her about her 25th year of recovery. She said, “I never thought I could stay sober one day at a time and accomplish sobriety. I didn’t think people did this because, at the time, I didn’t know anyone who did. Now I know there are thousands of others like me who are living examples that not using alcohol or drugs, one day at a time, can accumulate to 25 or more years of great living.”

“Today, it feels so natural. Sobriety and recovery are a part of who I am and the most important thing in my life. Without it I have nothing. Fortunately, I still have a healthy fear of alcohol and drugs because I could lose everything in an instant if I went back to my old life.”
I asked her if going to three or four meetings a week gets boring after 25 years. She said, “Sometimes I think that, but I take it as a signal that I need to go to a meeting. My late husband Bill, said there is never a bad meeting if you go there to learn. So I walk in, take my chair and remind myself that I am there to stay sober, not to be entertained.” 

What does recovery look like in year 25? “For me, it is living a life of integrity and honesty, and doing the best I can every day to be of service to others.” Barbara is of service to more than her friends. She helps people she doesn’t even know with the publication of Together AZ. 
When I asked Barbara what she will do on June 17, 2015, her 25th anniversary, she said, “The most important thing I will do on that day is wake up sober and go get my 25-year chip. What can be better than that?”

Allen Nohre is a writer for Terros. Terros helps people manage addiction and mental illness, provides primary medical care, restores families, serves veterans with PTS, and promotes healthy communities. For information and assistance call 602-685-6000 or visit www.terros.org.

Anger and ADHD: Triggers and Solutions

By Dennis M.Ryan MC LPC

Introduction to ADHD

Like many young men across America, it was my job at home to mow and trim the lawn. While many sought to avoid this onerous work, none could equal my talents at avoidance. I’d take one sweep, two sweeps, maybe three and then sneak off to my room to read until my father would interrupt my solitude with his shouting and threats. I’m sure that one of the books was Tom Sawyer. I was never able to talk my friends into doing the whole thing the same way Tom was able to talk his friends into whitewashing the fence but they were always done with their chores before me and for some reason desired my company. So they pitched in. My ADHD was not officially diagnosed until my mid-fifties.

The central attributes of ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder include inattentiveness, hyperactivity or impulsivity, or both. There are a number of other symptoms as well. All “official” descriptions of ADHD are helpful but fail to paint the whole picture as ADHD manifests itself in as many ways as there are personalities. .

There are certainly many plusses to ADHD. While the need to multi-task can lead to flooding; there are times when it can be a valuable asset. One author on ADHD points out that ADHD may be a residual component of brain development from when we humans hunted to keep food on the table (the hyper-focus was a great contributor in the stalking process). Hence, many successful business people have the hyper-focus variety of ADHD. Creativity is often an ADHD asset. When the ability exists to minimize the problematic aspects of this disease, room is provided so these assets can evolve.

A Bit about Anger

 Anger is a natural healthy emotion. It is there to set boundaries, appropriately defend territory, and protect our lives. The problem is this: the anger emotion is easily distorted. Flooding or high adrenalin set for the ADHD person may create an elevated sense of endangerment. This gets coupled with the fact that the base of our brain stem that has to do with rage responses (sometimes referred to as “the reptilian brain”) does not have a quick way to differentiate between physical and non-physical threat. For those with ADHD the ability of the developed brain to override the misread nonphysical threat is greatly reduced. The outcome is similar to an individual with PTSD. The healthy brain’s ability to moderate anger is compromised and the individual with ADHD is left with either an over-response or under response (rage or shutdown).

Five Symptoms That Create Anger Triggers

Hot Temper: Paul Wender, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine, included “hot temper” as one of the symptoms of ADHD in his “Utah Criteria for Adult ADD”. 
Flooding is the experience of having too much floating around in your head at the same time coupled with an experience of over whelm. One form of stimulation can be added to the heap of swirling items in your head and the added item becomes the pin pulled out of the grenade. The person with ADHD feels like the neat little world that they have to struggle so hard to create is under attack. BOOM the anger explosion takes place.

Shame Relative to Recognized Inability to Handle the Basics of Life can trigger both depression and anger and resentment for the ADHD individual. This shame often is increased when the ADHD person seeks to self -medicate through using addictive substances or behaviors. The anger response is heightened when others are critical.

 Independent Assessment of Reality is created by frustration with not being able to do things in the established fashion and often developing “better” more creative ways of doing things. This can lead to not “suffering fools well.” An ADHD individual may tend to do things their own way in spite of cultural norms or organizational expectations. This can be a set up for conflict and the poor handling of anger.

Adrenalin Craving or High Adrenalin Set keeps those with ADHD more on edge than those in the general population. For some with ADHD adrenalin craving can cause them to seek out tension provoking situations or participate in dangerous behaviors to garner an “adrenalin rush.” For others being on edge is a way of life due to a high adrenalin set. Flooding helps maintain adrenalin. Any one of these three situations can be a precursor to poorly handled anger.

Strategic Interventions

Meditation is an excellent maintenance tool for those plagued with this disease. Unfortunately, many meditation disciplines are too involved for the beginning ADHD practitioner and the practice is often given up before it is even started. I recommend an easy three breath re-centering meditation for starters. When triggered or under stress…stop and breathe slowly and deeply with the mind’s eye focused on the breath going in and then out. Repeat this two more times. You will likely find yourself, at least momentarily, more centered. After learning this rudimentary breathing strategy one can expand to other meditation techniques keeping in mind not to impose perfection on the process.
Flooding awareness is an imperative strategy for managing anger. It is helpful to develop a way to scale the intensity of flooding. How over-whelming are feelings? Is there need to shut down momentarily in order to re-center? Is there extra difficulty gathering sufficient focus to accomplish things? These are all indicators that you are on the edge of handling your anger poorly.

Certainly the two strategies suggested above are not the complete answer in managing ADHD induced anger. Finding ways to reduce both shame and entitlement is a sound strategic path to follow. The following are important as well; trigger awareness, medication (if needed), appropriate recovery program for whatever addictions may exist, application of sound nutritional strategies and healthy use of exercise (exercise that is cross hemispheric is highly recommended).

I hope the comments I have made regarding anger and ADHD have been helpful to you. They are meant only to be a primer. For a more complete introduction to ADHD and strategies for management I highly recommend Driven to Distraction by Edward M.Hallowell and John J. Ratey.

Dennis M.Ryan MC LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in men’s issues, anger management, and ADHD. He can be reached at ryantransform53@aol.com.Anger and ADHD: Triggers and Solutions

Stealing your Identity and Ignoring your Identity

By Coach Cary Bayer 

Much is made about thieves who steal people’s identities. Americans victimized by such crimes suffered more than $24.7 billion in direct and indirect losses in 2012 alone. That’s more than $10 billion more than losses incurred due to burglary, other property theft. 

More than 16.6 million Americans were victims of such identity fraud, with two thirds suffering direct financial loss: on average $9,650 per person from misused personal data, $1,003 on average from credit card fraud. These statistics were supplied by dailyfinance.com.

However, there are no statistics compiled on direct and indirect losses suffered because people have ignored or misrepresented their identity, but the number is far greater than 16.6 million. Some of you are scratching your head, asking, “Whatever is Cary talking about?” What I’m talking about is very simple—namely, your true identity, and the remembering of it; more specifically, the living from it.

You’re the one stealing your identity every time you say that you are a father, mother, husband, wife, employee, entrepreneur, and so on. Every time you cite your religion, political affiliation, or one of your social roles as who you truly are, you misrepresent yourself and ignore your real identity. I’m not suggesting you’re not a wife or mother, husband or dad; sure, you are. Clark Kent was a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, but he was also Superman. 

Who You Truly Are

You might be a mild-mannered reporter, banker, baker, or candlestick maker, but you have a super self, too. It’s your higher nature, your higher Self, and it’s beyond your perceptions, your thoughts, your feelings, your ego — it’s the Transcendent within you. 
As the old Coca-Cola television commercials said, “In the back of your mind/what you’re hoping to find/It’s the real thing.” This “real thing” is your true or secret identity. I say “secret” because at the moment, you’re not aware of it, so your identity is a secret to you. The experience of your identity, even for a second in meditation, for example, brings deep peace and bliss.  

Living out of this higher Self on a 24/7 basis — what we call Enlightenment or Self-Realization — brings a peace that lasts long beyond a second — it’s a peace that doesn’t go away, ever!
You steal this identity every time you say things like: “I’m ADD.” No, you’re not. You might have attention deficit disorder but, I assure you, are not the disease. The Spanish language has a more intuitive understanding of my point. If you’re living in America and your stomach gurgles, you say, “I am hungry.” But if you’re Hispanic and hungry from Barcelona to Bogota—you say, “Tengo hambre,” which translates literally as, “I have hunger.” What follows the words “I am” is profound.

When Moses stumbled upon the burning bush and confronted the Higher Power of the Universe, he asked Him/It what Its name was, and the answer came booming back, “I AM.” (Exodus 3:14). 
In the Vedic wisdom of India, there’s a well-known expression, “I am That.” That, in this case, refers to the unbounded consciousness that is your true nature at the transcendental level of your mind. Popeye himself seems to have grasped this deep spiritual point. The great hero identifies himself in this memorable way: “I am what I am and that’s all that I am, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!”
It’s important to know this but it’s more important to experience this, to be this. 

That’s where spiritual practices like Transcendental Mediation and Higher Self Healing Meditation come in because they bring about such contact. I cite each of these because I know from experience, having taught the former from the ‘70s through 2010, and the latter since then. And because your true Self is your essential nature, experiencing it, in truth, should be simple to do. 

What can be simpler than to simply be who and what you are? 
For as Walt Whitman, wrote, “What is common, cheapest, nearest easiest, is Me.” Note the capital M for me. The experience of your true identity, your true I, and my true Me, occurs in meditation absolutely effortlessly and absolutely delightfully.  Oh, and one other thing: this identity can never be stolen from you.

47th Annual Southwestern School for Behavioral Health Studies

The 47th Annual Southwestern School for Behavioral Health Studies Conference will be held August 23-27, 2015 at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona. 

This year’s theme is “Strengthening Communities through Innovation & Excellence”. 

La Frontera Arizona EMPACT-Suicide Prevention Center is hosting this event, which has more than 50 participating Sponsors and Exhibitors. The agenda will include a dynamic group of expert speakers on topics significant to mental health, addiction, criminal justice, child welfare, cultural diversity and ethics. 

This year’s event offers a Preconference on Sunday, August 23, 2015. 
In addition, there will be more than 70 breakout sessions as well as 8 plenary sessions beginning Monday, August 24, 2015. Earn up to 37.5 hours of continuing education for your attendance! There will also be various networking opportunities to share ideas with hundreds of professionals from across the state of Arizona. 

Visit www.azsws.org for more details and to register for this exciting event! 

When Push Comes to Shove

We live in a world where most of us want other people to give us the answers, make our decisions or tell us what to do.  
As someone who grew up in an empty room, I started out that way too. It didn’t take long however, for me to realize that the person who made the best decision for me, was me. I was the one I could trust most. So, I started a relationship with my wise mind…and yes, you have one as well. 

We have simply been taught not to listen to that part of ourselves. Yet, how many times have you said to yourself, I knew that would happen or I knew I should have gone there first, or should have believed what I thought in the first place. That wise mind you have is the intuitive, conscious and connected part of you. It’s actually a miracle maker and it can help you fulfill your purpose. Let me share an example.
On Saturday I realized my drivers license was expired and I kept getting this push to go immediately on Monday to get it renewed. I wondered what that urgency was about. Was I worried I’d get a ticket? What?  After a while just I gave in.
So, I got up at 6 am Monday morning and went to the DMV. I arrived at 7am and stood in line with about 15 other people. A sweet, round, young Hispanic man about 30 years old was sitting next to me and I kept getting the feeling of a little girl around him. 
She was very happy, holding a basket and playing with flowers. I didn’t say anything because other people were nearby. After we got in the building, I asked him, “Do you have a little girl in your life.” He said no. I said, “Did you ever?”  He thought a minute then said his sister had a child who died. I said, “She was a girl about 11 years old right?” He said yes and yesterday would have been her birthday. I said, “Well she wants you and your sister to know that she is incredibly happy. You know she only came to bring joy to your family right? He said yes. I said, “Well she wants you to tell her mommy to get more joy in her life.” He shook his head knowingly, got a bit teary, thanked me and promised he would tell his sister.   
The moral is when the Universe pushes; there is probably a reason even if you don’t understand. I use intuition as a main part of the work I do, but I almost never walkup to people and talk about it. However, this time the Universe didn’t just push…it shoved and I am so glad I listened. 

Most of the time the messages you may intuit, receive, hear in your head or simply feel, are going to be messages of guidance for your decision-making and life. We get information in all of those ways and no one way is better than the other. However you receive the guidance, empower that and don’t compare it to how others receive information.

The point is that your wise mind is the best friend you have. It knows so much more than what you are cognitively aware of and it ALWAYS wants what is best for you. Want proof? Just ask yourself when was the last time you took a job, got into a relationship or bought something that your wise mind told you not to, and when you did it anyway, you ended up cleaning up the mess for months…or years?
When you are listening, your wise mind will always be right, even when you don’t always understand why or how. How do you know it’s your wise mind and not your ego speaking? It speaks without judgment for you or another. It speaks in ways that create greater connection and safety for you and others. And, it always creates more love and peace in your life in the end. The more you listen, the more you will trust every little and mighty shove.

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 Meadows to offer Mind & Heart: A Mindful Path To Wholehearted Living

The Mind & Heart Workshop helps participants to cultivate greater awareness and compassion for their self-defeating patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving — which are critical steps in making meaningful and lasting change.
This workshop is an innovative approach to healing the pain of the past by mindfully and wholeheartedly stepping into the present. Based on years of scientific research and clinical experience, Dr. Jon Caldwell, D.O., Ph.D., has developed a unique workshop that uses time-honored mindfulness techniques to bring gentle awareness, acceptance, and compassion to the memories, beliefs, and emotions stemming from difficult life experiences. Participants learn how early attachment relationships with caregivers and family members have shaped how they relate to themselves, others, and the world. Participants cultivate greater awareness and compassion for their self-defeating patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving—which are critical steps in making meaningful and lasting change. Through rich instruction and therapeutic exercises rooted in mindfulness and loving kindness, participants learn practical ways to heal past wounds so that they can more fully live from their truth and enjoy genuine intimacy.
Workshops run 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. The schedule is flexible, accommodating the group process.This workshop is scheduled on the following dates in 2015: September 7-11 and October 26-30.  
For more information or to enroll, please contact us at 800-244-4949. www.themeadows.com.

Alcoholism Medication may help treat Meth Addiction

The drug naltrexone, used to treat alcoholism, may also be useful in treating methamphetamine addiction, a small new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles found naltrexone decreased the desire for meth and the pleasure derived from using it, UPI reports.
The study included 22 men and 8 women who used meth an average of three or four times a week. 

Half of the participants were given naltrexone on days three and four of a four-day hospital stay, while the other half received a placebo daily. After 10 days, they spent another four days in the hospital. Those who had been given naltrexone took a placebo for four days, while those who had been given a placebo received naltrexone.

On the last day of each hospital stay, participants were given a dose of meth. After three hours, they were asked how they felt and whether they wanted more of the drug. Those who took naltrexone had less desire for meth, and said they enjoyed it less when they took it.
“The results were about as good as you could hope for,” researcher Lara Ray said in a news release. The study appears in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Larger clinical trials of naltrexone as a treatment for meth addiction are now being conducted with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Marijuana Edibles being Transported Illegally across State Lines

Law enforcement officials are reporting an increase in marijuana-infused edible products being transported illegally across state lines for resale.

Edibles resemble candy or home-baked products, and often have no smell that indicates they contain marijuana, The New York Times reports. Missouri troopers confiscated 400 pounds of commercially made marijuana chocolate in February. New Jersey state police seized 80 pounds of homemade marijuana sweets. Oklahoma officers seized about 40 pounds of commercial marijuana products, including taffy-like “Cheeba Chews” and bottles of marijuana-infused lemonade.

In Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal for adults 21 and over, edible marijuana products have become a popular alternative to smoking marijuana. Adults 21 and over can legally purchase marijuana edibles at state-licensed stores. Marijuana is now available in products ranging from candy to soda and granola. The amount of marijuana in edible products varies widely. In some cases, products contain levels so high that people experience extreme paranoia and anxiety.

The high produced by edible products comes on more slowly than smoked marijuana. Inexperienced users may consume too much, causing severe impairment. Some experts are concerned that marijuana edibles smuggled into other states may appeal to teens.
Colorado health officials are trying to find a way to prevent people from overdosing on marijuana edibles. The products have been implicated in two suicides and one murder in the past 13 months. Almost five million edibles were sold in Colorado stores last year.

Marijuana edibles are also legal in Washington state, and will soon be legal in Oregon and Alaska. Edible products are also available to medical marijuana users in at least six of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs, the article notes.

Decline in cigarette smoking

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows  from 2003 to 2013 levels of past month (current) underage cigarette smoking among those aged 12 to 17 have dropped significantly in 49 out of 50 states.

The only state that did not experience a statistically significant decline was Utah which has traditionally has one of the lowest levels of underage cigarette smoking in the nation.  

Overall the national level of current underage cigarette smoking dropped sharply from about 12.6 percent in 2003 to less than 6.1 percent in 2013. 
“The decline in underage cigarette smoking during this period is encouraging and shows that spreading the word to young people about the risks from smoking can make an enormous positive difference,” said Fran Harding the director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.
“Unfortunately, far too many young people still use tobacco products. According to the Surgeon General if current trends continue, 5.6 million American youth currently under age 18 will die prematurely during adulthood because of their smoking. This is why every segment of the community must reach out to young people about the importance of not smoking, or quitting smoking if they have started.”     

Studies have shown that adolescents’ perception of risk regarding smoking can influence their behavior toward it. The more likely an adolescent is to associate cigarette smoking with a great health risk, the less likely the adolescent is to smoke cigarettes.  
However, increases in e-cigarette and hookah use are offsetting declines in use of more traditional products such as cigarettes. A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and 

Prevention shows that current e-cigarette use (use on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students.
Among middle school students, current e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014—an increase from approximately 120,000 to 450,000 students. The report concludes that because the use of e-cigarettes and hookahs is on the rise among high and middle school students, it is critical that comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies for youth focus on all tobacco products, and not just cigarettes.

SAMHSA manages several grant programs that states can use to prevent underage tobacco use, including the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) and the Partnerships for Success grant program.

SAMHSA also administers the Synar program, a federal and state effort which helps states enforce their laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18. States also must conduct annual, random, unannounced inspections of over-the-counter tobacco outlets and vending machines to ensure compliance with the law. States must comply with the Synar Amendment in order to receive their full SABG funds. The most recent Synar report shows that 9.6 percent of inspected retail outlets illegally sold tobacco products to youth at any time in 2013. That number is significantly below the 20 percent target rate set by the program, and far lower than the highest reported state retailer violation rate of 72.7 percent when the Synar program was established 16 years ago.