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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Recipe for Sobriety



By Jim Corrington, Jr. LCSW
Director of Outpatient Services, Meadows Outpatient Center


Having worked in the field of addiction treatment and behavioral health as a therapist and Director for 30 years, it has been my experience that everyone who follows the suggestions in the AA Big Book gets better, everyone. They are suggestions, similar to when I went skydiving. I jumped out of a plane at 10,500 feet and after one minute of freefall, the instructors, tugging on my side, “suggested” that I pull the ripcord. We all have choices. 

A metaphor I like to use is the Tollhouse Cookie Recipe. Back in the ‘30’s Ruth Wakefield, living in a Cape Cod style house on the outskirts of Whitman, MA. in the “Tollhouse Inn,” (the original house built in 1709 charged passengers tolls for changing horses, meals, etc.) decided to add bits of chocolate to a cookie dough from an old Colonial Day recipe for Butter Drop Do cookies. 

She thought the chocolate would just melt out of the cookie, but it didn’t — and they turned out delicious. In 1939 the Nestles Tollhouse cookie recipe was published and printed on all the bags of chocolate chips. Today, 76 years later, if we buy the ingredients listed on the bag of chocolate chips, and follow the directions exactly as they are written, we get great cookies every time. 

That’s why I say there is a 100% recovery rate for people who follow the directions. 
In the same year, 1939, the book  Alcoholics Anonymous first edition was published. The AA Big Book says, “Clear cut directions are given showing how we recovered.” Page 29. It is simple. It is straightforward and “it works, it really does.” 

This article is about how to get and stay clean and sober the rest of your life, one day at a time. Relapse does not have to be part of recovery. The problem arises when we hear, “But you don’t understand, my case is different.” If one believes this,  the “recipe” doesn’t apply or work to them. 
I always say to those who feel they’re different, “surely in the millions of people in long-term successful recovery in the world (23 million people in the U.S. alone in “long term successful recovery”) – (Anonymous People movie)  there are people who have gone through nearly exact circumstances as yourself, applied the program of recovery outlined in the Big Book to their lives, received any outside help needed, and had the promises come true for them (each and every promise..pg.83). 

I also remind folks of the Herbert Spencer quote in the Spiritual Experience Appendix of the AA Big Book: “There is a principle which is a bar against information, proof against all arguments, and cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance; that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” 
In nearly every AA meeting in the world we read, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program.” 
In addition to the Big Book of AA, there are many tools and skills required, (trauma work, family of origin work, psychiatric services) if practiced and utilized can guarantee great results in sobriety. The following is my interpretation of the “Recipe for Sobriety.”

Total Abstinence

Most people who think they’re chronic relapsers are not. They simply have not given up their right to a chemical peace of mind. The first step means, I can’t have anymore — ever, one day at a time. And, no switching to another addictive drug. I get a sobriety or clean date, meaning I’m clean and sober. 

The good news is one only has to do this a day at a time. This is AA’s most well-known slogan for a reason. I always say, “Just don’t drink or use before you go to sleep.” If you do that, you’ll die clean and sober at the end of a long run of sobriety. 

The trick is, it appears difficult to stay clean and sober one day at a time, if one hasn’t given up their “right” to do a “little sumpin’ sumpin’ “ for life. The AA Big Book states, “We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.” (p.33) 

The most important ingredient in this recipe is to give up your right to drink and drug— for life….and then, immediately snap back in to just doing it One Day at a Time.
Don’t worry about the whole day, focus on this hour or minute, don’t drink or drug right now. If you not drink or drug right now, you’ll stay sober the rest of your life, as it is always now. 

There is a sign behind some bars that reads, “Free Drinks Tomorrow!” That’s the idea, give up your right to do it today — just for today. This is doable, isn’t it? 

The common denominator that makes all alcoholics and addicts the same — is they think they’re unique. It’s the voice in your head saying your case is different — this kind of thinking can lead to disaster. 

Here’s how it is explained in the AA Big Book, “Most of us have been unwilling to admit that we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. 

Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers are characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday, he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.” (p.30)

The Switches

Switching from one thing to another. Many people get into trouble in early recovery because they reserve the right to take something, other than their drug of choice, to deal with whatever is going on in their lives. There are hundreds of  switches that have been tried: whiskey to beer, beer to wine, alcohol to marijuana, oxycontin to percoset, percoset to heroin, shooting cocaine to smoking it, smoking heroin to snorting it, pot to ambien, whiskey to soma, methamphetamine to Ritalin, Ritalin to Adderall, and Lunesta to marijuana. (A need to medicate feelings can manifest in process addictions as well). 

There is a pamphlet: AA Members, Medications and Other Drugs. It is highly recommended to read. In the summary it states, “No AA member plays doctor,” and “consult a physician with demonstrated experience in the treatment of alcoholism.” Consult an addiction medicine MD (www.abam.net) American Board of Addiction Medicine Board Certified to treat addiction, and who is committed to the total abstinence model about what medications are safe to take. Some medications are lifesaving; others will change your sobriety date. As far as products containing alcohol (C2H5OH), I say 0.000% is how much I can have in my body. There are many products that contain alcohol.

One also simultaneously recognizes that we don’t have the “power” to stay away from alcohol/other drugs on our own…..we are “powerless” against the first drink/drug alone. That power must come from a “Higher Power” (God). 

Find the Right Meeting 

There are numerous 12 step groups (AA, PA, NA, CA, HA, etc.). When people tell me they didn’t like a meeting they tried I believe them. There are meetings that aren’t right for everyone. It is imperative to search them out until one feels right. We should feel a sense of hope, and experienced a solution to our problem. Keep attending until one fits. It is important, eventually to attend meetings where you will find identification. 

The reason Dr. Bob listened to Bill W. on Mother’s Day in 1935 is he believed, sitting across from him, was a man who completely and totally understood what he had been through, and he identified with the details of his story. If an 18 year old heroin addict, who has never had a problem with alcohol, goes to an AA meeting in Sun City, they will most likely not come back. Identification is huge, and why there are so many 12 step meetings, for identification. 

I say, “Find your chair, the place where you feel I belong here, I am not a visitor.” If you feel like you are watching a fish tank, you may not be in the right room. Or, you might not be ready for sobriety yet. Once you find the right meeting, find the good ones. Ask around, have a meeting list with you when you attend a recommended meeting. Listen for someone who makes real sense to you and after go over to that person and ask them to point out in your meeting list what their favorite meetings are. They’ve already done the research for you! 

The Sponsor and Sponsee 

The first person that comes along may not be the best fit for you. Look for someone happy, and of the same gender. This is a program of attraction, not promotion. People who sell themselves may not be the right choice. You get to choose, so trust your gut. The AA pamphlet, Questions and Answers on Sponsorship is helpful. The literature carries the cumulative wisdom and experience of many years and people. Heed the suggestions in the literature. Remember, you’re not married to sponsors, if it doesn’t work out, keep searching. After all, your life is at stake, it is very important to have a guide you can learn from. “He, who sponsors himself, is sponsored by a fool.” 

It is never a burden to ask for help, we help each other stay clean and sober. “You have to give it away to keep it.”  A sponsor’s main task is to guide you through taking the 12 steps. When we are new to recovery, it is helpful to have a weekly, face to face appointment with your sponsor to talk about what is going on in your life. It keeps you on the path. No matter how far down the road of recovery we go, we are the same distance from the ditch! In the beginning, we need to pay attention to the bumps on the road to alert us when we are getting close to ditching. A sponsor can do that for us. We often can’t see when we are off track, so this standing appointment can make the difference between making it or not. Working with others helps the sponsor as well. In fact, this is really where the magic of recovery transpires, one person, talking to another person, one on one.

Take the 12 Steps

 The “program” is the steps. “Here are the steps we took which are suggested as a program of recovery.” Remember, ripcord, right? Suggested? Simple. A sponsor’s purpose is to guide you through the 12 steps according to the literature. All of the steps lead to 12 — carry the message. In the middle of the 9th step is when the promises begin to happen. The steps are the directions. People who have relapsed may believe are failures — often are not if they look deeper. They may have unresolved trauma that was never dealt with or was overlooked in the step work. Working at The Meadows has allowed me to see the real necessity and benefit of doing family of origin work, which if not looked at, can prevent someone from taking the steps thoroughly. Perhaps there are still secrets after a 5th step; or amends were not made to everyone harmed by the behavior. 

Join a Homegroup

This is your home. Be picky, shop around. You’ll know your homegroup when you find it. Get involved. Ask when the next business meeting is and attend, offer to help setting up for a meeting, or volunteer to make coffee. Until you join a homegroup, attend the business meetings of that group. When you participate in all the group conscience processes and decisions, you’ll gain a better understanding of the service structure in 12 step groups. Make a commitment to the group and keep it. Many people worldwide when identifying themselves in their program will state their name, homegroup, sponsor’s name and service commitment. 

Daily Prayer and Meditation

 “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition”, it doesn’t have to be complicated. On my knees I say, “God please keep me clean and sober today.” I say the 3rd and 7th step prayer and the Serenity Prayer. I read several daily devotional or meditation books, seeking God. “God could and would if he were sought.” At night I thank my Higher Power on my knees for all the blessings and my sobriety. I pray for others. This is how I “plug in” to the power. Remember, “Lack of power, that was our dilemma.” 

I like to use the metaphor of the orange extension cord. Like the one hanging in your garage, it has no power. To make it useful, we have to plug it in to a source of power. Then it has potential, but not purpose. To make it useful and purposeful, we have to plug something else in to it. Only then do we have something going on. The juice is transferring energy (the source) to something that needs it (us). The cord is the instrument used to transmit the power, it is not the source. If you have many things (people) plugged in to you (the cord), if we get unplugged for a while the juice will still flow. 

That’s why some oldtimers fight over newcomers; they know they need someone plugged in to them to survive themselves. While most of us don’t understand electricity; we need it, so use it and benefit from it. In the 3rd step where it reads, “God as we understood him,” don’t let that stump you, nobody “understands God” …it means “experienced God.” 

The 11th step suggests, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.” The AA Big Book states “what we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” We must remember, it is not a time release medicine, we go to sleep and the reset button is hit. We wake up sober to start again — literally a day at a time. What I did yesterday has nothing to do with treating my disease today. It’s like Groundhog Day. 

Get a Service Commitment 

There are numerous ways to do this, clean up, set up, make coffee, and volunteer for various group offices. Have your sponsor help you find something. Getting a formal service commitment approved by one’s sponsor is imperative. 

Connection 

The telephone, we all have one. Talk with several other recovering people each day. Call and check in on them, call your sponsor and tell the truth about how you are. This helps us stay connected. Our disease is a disease of isolation. If you isolate, don’t be surprised if you slide into “restless, irritable and discontentment. Get connected — stay connected. 

Stick with the Winners 

I think we are a lot like chameleons. Whomever we hang around, we start to become just like they are. I think we are spiritually permeable. Pick your company wisely. Find the people who are happy and have what you want, then stick to them like glue. Ask them what meetings they attend, do they hang out together after and if  you can join them. You have no obligation to give attention or spend time with negative people.

Read the Literature

 The literature is where the answers are, not in someone’s opinion. There are many books and pamphlets to read. Start with ones you haven’t read.

Help Others

This is the essence of how AA got started. Bill W. knew that unless he found another alcoholic to try and help, he would be doomed. And, by the way, recalling that day in The Mayflower Hotel in Akron, Bill called eight churches from a pay phone trying to find someone who could connect him to another alcoholic to try to help. Had he stopped after one or two calls, history would be different.  
You can start this way, the next time you’re at a meeting, look for someone who looks worse than you feel that day, approach them, get them a cup of coffee without asking. Just say hello, ask them about themselves and listen as if you were interested. You don’t have to remember anything they say except their name, remember their name. The next time you see them, be welcoming, call them by name. You’ll be amazed how this simple exercise (getting out or yourself) can positively affect lives. Be a vendor of hope. 

Have Fun, Enjoy this Life! 

Page 132 in the AA Big Book says in the middle of the page, “We absolutely insist on enjoying life.” 
The people I hang around live this way. Remember, who you keep company with you become just like them. Stay away from the sad asses. I work with people who have had major traumas all day long, yet in my recovery and my life outside of work, I choose to be around people who are having fun. 

If you are young, there are many young people in recovery. Connect at The Pigeon Coop, attend ASCYPAA events, and get involved. Play sober softball. www.azssl.org. Ask around in your homegroup or meeting, what do people do for fun. When I was new, in my 20’s, attending a Friday night meeting in Columbia, MD., I asked that question and a few people said, “some of us are going over to the mall food court, would you like to come?” I thought, “OMG, is this what my life has come to, a food court mall on a Friday night?” It sounded so depressing. I went along anyway. 

They were laughing, having fun, enjoying each other’s company, and shared with me about all kinds of activities they did. Over time, I joined in. I’ve been whitewater rafting, skydiving, hot air ballooning, many travels and adventures; none of which I would have experienced had I been chained to a barstool. 

Stay with us on this journey, and your life unfold in ways in you may never have imagined. A day at a time.

Feel free to call me on my cell anytime: Jim C. 602-740-8403.



Jim Corrington, JR., MSW, LCSW, Director of Outpatient Services

Jim’s personal recovery from addiction and trauma began 30 years ago, and he brings strong passion to the process. He is very active in his personal 12-step program. Jim earned his Master’s Degree in Social Work at The University of Maryland. He has been in the recovery field as a Director/Therapist for outpatient programs for 28 years during which time thousands of patients and families have been treated in his IOP programs. He has also spent 15 years working with the Arizona Medical Board and Arizona Board of Pharmacy monitoring programs running weekly Relapse Prevention groups for impaired professionals. In addition, as a former athlete, Jim also has extensive experience working with impaired professional athletes. Jim believes recovery and miracles happen every single day.

For more information about programs offered at The Meadows, visit www.themeadows.com or call 800-244-4949.

Your Mind, Body and Language

By Cary Bayer  www.carybayer.com


Years ago, I forgave someone who deeply wronged my family and myself, and within seven days of that forgiveness I lost seven pounds without changing how I ate or exercised. 

In my “How to be at Peace with Anyone” workshop, I explain the forgiveness method I teach students, and coach my clients on. I can’t be certain of a causal connection between the forgiveness in my heart and the weight loss in my body. Causality implies physical storage of emotional states. Our language, of course, has long told us there is a strong correlation between mental states and the physical body, as you’ll soon see. 

Yogis for millennia say there are seven non-physical centers of energy within the body, ranging from the rectum all the way up to the top of the head. Below is a head-to-toe mind-body language map, in which expressions you use regularly speak to the intimate relationships between what you think and feel and their corresponding connections in your body.

Your Brain

When you have something vital to say to someone you need to give him a “piece of your mind.” If you do, you feel better, having let go of something you were storing in your consciousness, or brain. Did it weigh seven pounds? Most likely not, but perhaps one day a delicate scale will measure the weight of intangible thoughts and feelings.

Your Head

Taxing people and situations give you “a headache.” Relief is available with ibuprofen. My name being Bayer, I prefer a particular aspirin — said to work wonders.

Your Tongue

Sometimes you need to communicate deeply held feelings but get nervous and the words don’t come. People say you’re “tongue-tied,” that your tongue is physically unable to express what your mind wants to say.

Your Neck

Extremely burdensome situations or a difficult person is a real “pain in the neck.” In other words, troubled emotions lodge in your neck.

Your Collar

When you’re very angry you’re “hot under the collar.” Anger has heat, and one day a machine may be able to measure it. 

Your Shoulders

Most of the 300 different massage therapists whom I’ve privately coached say people carry much tension in their shoulders. Micromanagers who think they have to do everything themselves often feel as if they’re “carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.” Some bodyworkers posit a connection between highly responsible people who often use the word “should” and “should-er” tension. 

Your Chest

You have to “get it off your chest,” friends say when there’s something you strongly need to communicate. If not, it festers in your chest, and that can’t be good for your heart. Which leads us to…. 

Your Heart

Romance novels and epic poetry are full of stories of unrequited love and relationships that crash on the hard rocks of life, leaving delicate people with a “broken heart.” Such literature is also filled with stories of characters who wind up dying of that broken heart.

Your Guts

Frightened people are accused of having “no guts,” making it virtually impossible for them to act with courage, whereas those who “have the guts,” act courageously by drawing from them.

Your Colon

When you don’t tell the truth, you’re accused of being “full of s—t.” In other words, physical constipation makes it harder to be honest.

Your Stomach

Demanding situations sometimes stress you so deeply you’re “sick to your stomach.” 

Your Knees

Fear can make you literally “weak in the knees.” 

Your Feet

Brides and grooms sometimes get such “cold feet” that those feet scamper away from the altar. They might have been weak in the knees, but not too weak to run.

Less localized parts of your body also carry mental states. When you’re angry, your blood “boils,” when you’re terribly frightened your blood “turns cold.” Your bones can be psychic, enabling you to intuit such truth “in your bones.” Arthritis sufferers sometimes predict the rain, which they feel in their bones. And when you’re relieved of a great burden you can feel light as a feather. Perhaps even enough to lose seven pounds.


The Power in Each Moment — Finding You

by Dr. Dina Evan


Sylvia Boorstein, founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, has a mantra.  It is... “May I greet each moment fully.  May I greet each moment as a friend.”  There is a world of meaning in that mantra. Can you feel it?

First, this mantra implies that we alone are in charge of how we choose to greet life including all the people and events in it. We can own our own perception and decision to either greet life fully or stand back as a non-participant in fear.

We can courageously ask what is this moment here to teach me about who I am? You won’t greet each moment fully, unless you are willing to know the answer. In addition, you won’t be willing to know until you realize the knowledge you receive erases the fear and brings enormous empowerment with it.

Most of us spend our lifetime, avoiding the wealth of knowledge right in front of us. Perhaps we think it’s in a book, someone wiser should tell us, or that knowing the truth will be painful. Honestly, sometimes it is painful to acknowledge the ways in which we have hurt ourselves or others. However, which is more painful, having the chance to correct that or to continue doing it?

I remember standing on the balcony of my college just weeping after a child development class when I realized how much I had not given my children in the way of emotional support. 

That realization grieved my spirit and made me very sad, however, it also allowed me to have compassion for myself because I had never been given the tools to provide that for them. Asking what is this moment here to teach me about and who I am, moved me to committing to always being there differently for them from the moment of that realization to now. 
It’s not as if we see anything less than perfect about ourselves, that we can’t fix it, or we are bad. 

Actually, seeing what is less than perfect is our assignment while we’re here. It’s the secret to our empowerment. It all comes up when you meet each moment fully and as a friend.

There is a wealth of information about you in every moment you embrace fully. If you greet each moment as a friend, you get the gift each moment brings.
I was a total jerk to my Mom and Dad when they died. Mom was an alcoholic and I had little or no compassion for her. We were estranged — with a high wall of memories looming between us. On it were pictures of me in tears at age 11 driving her to the hospital repeatedly after suicide attempts; of my brother and I chasing her rapist all over town, of late night excursions to her favorite bars and threats from me at age nine to bartenders who served her too much and couldn’t care less if she drove home and made her own children or some other children motherless. 

I was in my twenties when she died and I was filled with too much pain to make room for compassion or understanding. She had four brothers and a father who were all alcoholics. She had no support and no friends who would have thought to get her to a meeting right near by. 
And, I was in my indignant twenties and filled up with so much judgment and not knowing then  — what I know now.

Asking myself what is this moment here to teach me about who I am now, allows me to see my mother as a master teacher in my life and I love her dearly.  

We have made peace. 

She taught me what it looks like when you don’t love yourself. I wouldn’t be who I am without that invaluable lesson. 

My father, who was a manipulator and liar, taught me about what the wrong use of will and power looks like. Because of his abandonment, I learned not to abandon myself. I am forever grateful to him as well.  

Our last moment together was to remind him to tell my sister how much he loved her before he left the planet. He did that for the first time in twenty years. Wherever they are, they are at peace and they get it and I have met our moments together fully and each moment was indeed a friend which has taught me so much about myself. I look forward to meeting both of them again in moments filled with compassion and understanding.

Some moments like mine will bring you to your knees and others will break your heart open with joy. Try not to close down, but rather, greet each moment fully as a friend and know that it is waiting with a great gift for you. Don’t miss 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
 

How Many Miracles Do YOU Get?

A coaching client reported that years ago when she became pregnant, her doctors told her the baby would not survive. She and her husband prayed fervently for the child’s well-being, and the baby was born healthy and went on to live a happy life. Since that time she had a few miscarriages, and now the couple very much wants another child. “Do you think we each get a certain allotment of miracles, and when we use it up, we get no more?” she asked.

“That’s not how it works,” I told her firmly.  “Miracles and well-being are our natural state, given freely forever. Only the human mind lays limits over the good available to us. It is not God’s grace we need to beg for. It is our own. And we don’t need to beg. We just need to claim it.”

We were all born in utter freedom 

Every limit you perceive has been learned, a tight and restricting cloak laid over the magnificence that you are. One of the most exhilarating explorations in life — really your only purpose — is to discover the illusory limits you have adopted, shine the light on them to reveal their untruth, and grow beyond them. 

Guilt — also learned but not true — tells us that we are selfish to want good things for ourself. It warns us that if we become happy we will somehow remove the happiness of others. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your happiness contributes to the happiness of others. Because you are a spiritual being, the energy you exude influences others more than your actions. Thus your genuine joy is your greatest contribution to humanity. Accepting your blessings does not diminish the quality of life for anyone else. The nature of blessings is to expand. 

A woman named Sara attended my Life Mastery Training in Hawaii. “I worry about money, I yearn for a relationship, and I don’t feel good,” she told the group. During the training Sara examined, questioned, challenged, and moved beyond her sense of smallness and non-deservingness. She experienced “aha” moments and opened to greater prosperity.

The day before the program concluded, Sara told me, “I just did something I have never done before. I phoned the airline and ordered an upgrade to first class for my flight home. It cost me $875—but I’m worth it!”

“Congratulations,” I told her. “You just graduated from the training.”

A few weeks later I phoned Sara to find out how she was doing. “Fabulous!” she told me. “I loved my first class flight, and when I arrived home I had a miracle. I was going through some financial papers and I found some unknown funds that exactly equaled the cost of the training plus travel, including my upgrade.”

Sara’s experience provides a shining model of expanding prosperity. The more you claim your right to well-being, the more the universe provides. Life gives all to all, but we each receive what we are willing to let in. 

After a man departed from the world, God was showing him around heaven. When the two passed a locked room, the fellow asked, “What’s in there?” 
“It would make you very sad to see what is in that room,” answered God. 
“I want to see it anyway,” the man insisted. 

God opened the door to reveal a vast chamber of treasures. There were exotic jewels, sophisticated electronic entertainment devices, and luxury cars. “Wow, what a collection!” the man exclaimed. 

“Why would these riches make me sad?” 
“These are the gifts I offer people,” God explained, “but if they are not willing to accept them, I must keep them here.” 

“That’s incredible!” the man replied. “Look at that Rolls Royce over there!” He went to sit in the Rolls and was astounded to find a tag with his name on it. “This was the car I always wanted!” he said. “Every night I prayed to you for a car. . . How come I never got this one?” 

“Yes, you did pray every night for a car, and I heard your prayer,” God answered. “But you prayed for a Ford.” 

Instead of asking for what he really wanted, the man asked for what he thought he could get, so he manifested not according to his possibilities, but his expectation. The universe is happy to fulfill our grandest visions, but we must have the confidence to ask for them. Do not be shy when asking God or people for what you want. Bring a small cup to the ocean, and you will come away with a small volume. Bring a larger cup, and it will be filled. 
Somerset Maugham said, “It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” You cannot ask for too many miracles. There is no limit on what you can receive. All is give

When you accept, the transmission of love is complete. 


Alan Cohen is the author of A Course in Miracles Made Easy. Join Alan’s celebrated Life Coach Training Program, beginning January 6, 2016, 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, free daily inspirational quotes, and weekly radio show, or visit AlanCohen.com.

The Deadliest Drug on the Planet

By Gary F. Patrone, ARCpoint Labs of Tempe & Phoenix


The United States is in the grips of one of the worst heroin epidemics in its history, due in part to a flood of cheap doses of the drug. It can be ordered easily and delivered right to your front door. In some regions of the U.S. heroin is deemed "highly available" in more than three times the number of communities as it was just a few years ago.

The resurgence of heroin has sparked a flurry of action from governors' mansions all the way to the White House. Government studies estimate the number of heroin users is up about 75% from 2009 and nearly 300% from 2003. It's a level of regular usage not seen since heroin's peak in the mid-1970s and is growing faster than all other drugs of abuse.
Heroin is not a new drug. It’s been around since 1874, when chemists, working to find a less addictive form of morphine, created heroin. They ultimately discovered heroin had twice the potency of morphine, and heroin addiction soon became a serious problem. So what’s new? A new breed of heroin user is emerging.

From painkillers to heroin

The government, law enforcement and medical experts now concur that the heroin surge can be traced to the rise of prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. Prescription painkillers are heroin's chemical sibling — containing compounds derived from, or similar to, opium.
"Heroin is just a symptom of the prescription drug problem," said Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, during a Senate hearing in May 2014. Doctors wrote millions of prescriptions for opioid painkillers, and from 1999 to 2010 sales increased 300%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The drugs are now prescribed to 12 million Americans a year with hundreds of thousands becoming addicted.

With the reformulation of prescription opioids to make them harder to abuse combined with a government crackdown on prescribing them, availability is dropping and driving up the cost. Those addicted to pills are seen turning to heroin as a readily available and cheaper option to feed their addiction. Mexican heroin, which now dominates the American market, sells for $4 to $10 a dose compared with $40 to $80 for an 80-milligram opiate pain pill. "People are going to go where the drugs are, and right now, the cheapest and easiest way to keep that addiction going is through heroin," DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said.

The ‘new’ cheap and very potent heroin can be snorted or smoked, giving the same effects as if injected. This removes a psychological barrier for some users and is leading to experimentation by younger users of school age, and others, who have an aversion for needles. Using needles is associated with hardcore junkies while smoking heroin is regarded as being a more casual user, giving the false impression that addition can be avoided.
"Now we have people openly admitting a heroin habit of 20 bags a day, and I haven't talked to a single person who did not get started by using the pills," said Jim Baker chief of police in Rutland, VT. "I've been blown away by the depth of the addiction problem. I've been doing this a long time, and I've never seen anything like this."

Ellen, an addict in Portland, admits “I did a lot of pills and then I moved up here and I started doing heroin ‘cause its way cheaper.” Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says surveys show about 80% of recent heroin addicts switched from opioid pain pills.

Lawmakers are scrambling to find answers

"It's really on the top of everyone's radar from a public health perspective," said Thomas MacLellan, previous director of homeland security and public safety for the National Governors Association. Even Capitol Hill and the White House are weighing in on what's become a full-blown health crisis that cuts across geographic, social, racial and economic boundaries. At least 18 state legislatures addressed new heroin bills in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"We've got soccer moms on heroin," said Burlington, VT Police Chief Michael Schirling, who said heroin trafficking cases there increased 500% in two years. "This is a completely underground, behind-closed-doors phenomenon."

In the Great Lakes region, the DEA's National Drug Threat Assessment reported that 9% of law enforcement agencies deemed heroin highly available in 2007. By 2013, the percentage rocketed to 40%. In New England, the percentage rose from 40% to 55% over that same time and in New York and New Jersey, jumped from 30% to 45%.
Vermont Govenor Peter Shumlin, in January 2014, devoted nearly his entire State of the State Address to what he called the "rising tide of drug addiction and drug-related crime spreading across Vermont…It is a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many, but is already highly visible to law enforcement, medical personnel, social service and addiction treatment providers, and too many Vermont families."

In Massachusetts, after deaths from heroin and opioid drugs spiked more than 90% since 2002, Gov. Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in March 2014. "Sometimes it takes a crisis with big numbers to get the public's attention," said Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett. "Heroin is such a harsh drug that no one figures that it will be a part of their lives either through themselves or someone they know until it's too late," Bartlett said.

In Kentucky, heroin abuse is "spreading like a cancer," Senator Mitch McConnell told a Senate narcotics group in May 2014. "We are losing close to 100 fellow Kentuckians a month to drug-related deaths. This is more lives lost than to fatal car crashes."
Overall drug related deaths now exceed car fatalities nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the federal agency that studies drug abuse and policy. In Knoxville, Tennessee, 73 people died from drug overdoses in 2013, more than from homicides and traffic accidents combined. Opiates of some sort were involved in at least half of those deaths. "Heroin got here later than other places, but it is here now full-blast," Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said. Ginger Marshall, the volunteer alcohol and drug treatment coordinator for the local Lost Sheep Ministry stated "This is just overwhelming everyone."

Previous U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged the epidemic "snuck up on us" at a national law enforcement summit on heroin in April 2014 and referred to the heroin resurgence as "an urgent public health crisis."

Heroin availability has skyrocketed

Customs officers in Nogales, AZ have seized more heroin in the first six months of fiscal 2014 than during each of the previous three full fiscal years, said Joe Agosttini, assistant port director in Nogales. "We're catching juveniles, young kids that are in middle school or high school and even people who are 82 years old, bringing narcotics to the U.S.," Agosttini said.

In 2013, the DEA seized more than 2.3 tons, of heroin at the Mexican border. That's more than triple the amount seized in 2008 and they weren't specifically targeting heroin. "A couple of years back, if you would find a pound of heroin, that would be a big load," said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, "Nowadays, it's common to interdict 50 or 60 pounds, up to 100 pounds, of heroin."


Opium war #1 started in 1839 between China and Britain. Opium war #2 spanned from 1856 to 1860. Are we due for our own opium war?





Gary F Patrone is CEO of ARCpoint Labs of Phoenix (PhoenixBC.arcpointlabs.com) and ARCpoint Labs of Tempe located within the Phoenix Valley. Gary serves both corporate and private clients in drug, alcohol, DNA and on-site testing services, creates workplace policies for both DOT and non-mandated companies and manages consortiums and random testing programs for corporate and private clients. Gary is an active member of the Tempe-South Rotary Club, an Ambassador of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce and member of the Business Development Committee, member of the Advisory Council for Brookline College and PIMA Medical Institute. Gary has authored articles for the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association, the Arizona Small Business Association and writes a monthly column for the Arizona Republic.  Contact Gary Patrome at (602) 753-2901 or email gpatrone@arcpointlabs.com


References:
Chasing the heroin resurgence, James Pilcher and Lisa Bernard-Kuhn , The Cincinnati Enquirer, 2014
Heroin's hidden journey, Paul Giblin , The Arizona Republic, 2014
Drugs, Inc: Cartel City: Arizona, National Geographic documentary series
Drugs, Inc: Heroin: The deadliest drug on the planet, National Geographic documentary series
Drugs, Inc: Seattle, National Geographic documentary series
Drugs, Inc: Pill Nation, National Geographic documentary series
Drugs, Inc: Dope-Landia  (Portland), National Geographic documentary series
The International Heroin Market, UNODC World Drug Report 2010  (United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime)



In the NEWS

FDA Tells R.J. Reynolds to Stop Selling Four Cigarette Products


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday ordered tobacco company R.J. Reynolds to stop selling four cigarette products. It is the first time the agency has ordered a major tobacco company to stop selling products, according to NPR.
The four products are Camel Bold Crush, Vantage Tech 13 and the regular and menthol versions of Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter cigarettes. The FDA has ordered companies to stop selling products before, but they involved much smaller companies with much less popular products, the article notes.

According to the FDA, R.J. Reynolds failed to prove the four products were no more dangerous than brands that have been on the market for a longer time.
“These decisions were based on a rigorous, science-based review designed to protect the public from the harms caused by tobacco use,” Mitch Zeller, Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement. “The agency will continue to review product submissions and exercise its legal authority and consumer protection duty to remove products from the market when they fail to meet the public health bar set forth under law.”

Under powers given to it by Congress, the FDA can require tobacco companies to prove new products pose no more risks to smokers than cigarettes that were on the market before February 15, 2007.

“The scientific basis for these four decisions include a failure to demonstrate that increased yields of harmful or potentially harmful constituents, higher levels of menthol, and/or the addition of new ingredients in the currently marketed products – when compared to the predicate products – do not raise different questions of public health,” the FDA stated.

Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Worsening Overdose Crisis, Officials Say

Fentanyl-laced heroin is worsening the nation’s overdose crisis, officials tell NPR. Some drug dealers are using an illicit version of fentanyl, an anesthesia drug, to increase the potency of heroin that has been diluted.
In March, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a nationwide alert in response to a surge in overdose deaths from heroin laced with fentanyl, the most potent opioid available for medical use. According to the DEA, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues produced in illicit clandestine labs are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin.
Fentanyl is potentially lethal, even at very low levels, according to the DEA.
Federal drug agents say in the last two years, Mexican cartels have increased production of a variant of fentanyl called acetyl fentanyl, and are smuggling it into the United States.
“Heroin is bad enough, but when you lace it with fentanyl, it’s like dropping a nuclear bomb on the situation,” Mary Lou Leary, a deputy director in the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, told NPR. “It’s so, so much more dangerous.” There were at least 700 fentanyl-related deaths from late 2013 through 2014. Only a few states have added acetyl fentanyl to their lists of banned substances, the article notes. The DEA added the drug to the federal list this year.

Poison Control Centers See Big Jump in Children Ingesting Hand Sanitizer

Poison control centers have seen a nearly 400%  jump in calls related to children under 12 ingesting hand sanitizer since 2010, according to CNN. Calls increased from 3,266 in 2010 to 16,117 last year.
The findings come from an analysis by the Georgia Poison Center. “Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there’s a percentage of them going to the emergency room,” Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the center’s director, told CNN.

The amount of alcohol in hand sanitizer can vary from 45 percent to 95 percent, the article notes. In contrast, wine contains about 12 percent alcohol, while beer contains about 5 percent. In some cases, ingesting as little as two to three squirts of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning.
A child with alcohol poisoning from hand sanitizer can experience confusion, vomiting and drowsiness. A child with a severe case of alcohol poisoning can stop breathing.
Lopez sent a letter last week to Georgia’s school systems to warn them about the danger. He said children ingest hand sanitizer for a variety of reasons. They may be trying to get drunk, doing it on a dare, or drinking it because it looks like it would taste good.
“A kid is not thinking this is bad for them,” Lopez said. “A lot of the more attractive (hand sanitizers) are the ones that are scented. There are strawberry, grape, orange-flavored hand sanitizers that are very appealing to kids.”
He advises parents and teachers to store hand sanitizer in a place where children cannot reach it, and monitor its use. Sanitizing wipes or non-alcohol based products are alternatives to hand sanitizers, Lopez noted.

THE REALTY OF ADDICTION

An Ohio mother of two shared a photo of her family posing next to the casket of her children’s father to highlight the harsh reality of drug addiction.
On September 10, Eva Holland, of Cincinnati, Ohio, posted a picture on Facebook of 26-year-old Mike Settles lying lifeless in a coffin. In the photo, Holland and her two children stand next to Settles’ coffin and smile at the camera.

In the Facebook post, Holland said she shared the photo because it shows “the reality of addiction.” Holland said Settles died from a heroin overdose, though his family has cautioned that the coroner’s office has not confirmed the cause of his death, WKRC-TV reported.
Settles’ aunt, Stephanie Evans-Flinchum, told WKRC the family appreciated that Holland posted the picture to “spread awareness and save lives,” but thought it was unfair to assume that he died of a “heroin overdose before the coroner’s report is released.”
Holland said she shared the story “in case it can help anyone else” dealing with addiction.

“If you don’t choose recovery every single day this will be your only way out,” Holland wrote in the post. “No parent should have to bury their child, and no child as young as ours should have to bury their parent. This was preventable. It didn’t have to happen, but one wrong choice destroyed his family.”

Holland said Settles’ addiction started with painkillers which led to heroin use. She said after a stint in rehab last year, he seemed to be improving and was finally the “dad that we all needed him to be again.”

“He had found his purpose for living again, he found his gorgeous smile again,” she wrote. “He became the man, the son, the brother, the dad that we all needed him to be again.”
After taking painkillers for a “toothache,” Settles slipped back into addiction, according to Holland.
She said instead of seeking help Settles said he could handle the addiction on his own, according to her Facebook post.

“Well he was wrong, he took his last breath,” she wrote. “My kids father, the man I loved since I was a kid, a great son and a great person lost his battle. I just needed to share his story in case it can help anyone else.”

Holland’s post had been shared 250,000 times. Holland said since she posted the picture she’s received “countless messages and comments from people all over the world.”

Too Much Wasn’t Enough

There once was a time when I could not imagine not being ‘out of my mind’ from a drink or some drugs. It was the thing to do within my circles of friends.

Our motto was “Too Much Ain’t Enough.”

In fact, there was a huge neon sign over a bar in NYC with that very saying. I loved it. And trying to live up to that sign I always drank more than my body could handle, and usually never made it past 9:00 at night.

I cannot drink. I cannot ingest anything that alters my metabolism, or brain chemistry. 


I was one of those people who could get utterly smashed on one drink and as always, the ugly happened. There was absolutely nothing — nothing attractive about it. While I wanted to be a classy lady, when I drank or used it was the opposite. Yet, I did it over, and over, and over again with these results: shame, fear, panic, remorse, hangovers, headaches, lies and depression to name a few.
When we hit bottom, wherever it is on the scale, it’s actually the greatest day of our lives. If, and only if, we are ready for change. I’ll always be grateful and mindful of the day it happened for me.
The beauty of sobriety is comprised of so many things I could fill volumes of why I feel so blessed.

Sobriety is not always a walk in the park, but neither is the real world. While I may have lost myself in addiction for 24 long painful years — the beauty is now in my recovery.

I’ve been able to find my purpose and reason for being here. I’ve been guided and supported through the difficult times and celebrated the wonderful moments with people who I consider my family, my fellows on the road.