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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A New Tool for Healing the Cause

By Rosemary Ellsworth Brown, PhD, with Laura MacKay

Editor’s note: Much of this article is excerpted from Addiction Is the Symptom: Heal the Cause and Prevent Relapse with 12 Steps That Really Work (www.addiction-is-the-symptom.com).
Do you want to keep from relapsing? Are you in relapse and don't even recognize it? To really understand relapse — and to heal ourselves — we first have to step back and ask anew, what is addiction, and what causes it?
Over the course of a lifetime, I’ve experienced addiction personally, researched it academically, and, as a psychologist, treated it professionally. And I’ve come to define it more broadly than most: an addiction is any person, substance, or situation over which we have lost choice or believe we cannot live without — as evidenced by our continuing to consume or do or just want it despite the consequences for our health, mental state, family, and freedom. 

Alcohol and other drugs, food, gambling, shopping, sex, relationships, money . . . We can develop an unhealthy emotional and often physical dependency on any one of these and many more. And when we put down one, we very often pick up another. At any substance recovery meeting (and in the course of forty years, I’ve probably been to upwards of two thousand), you will find plenty of coffee, cigarettes, and sugar.
Years ago, while focused on relapse and twelve-step treatment as part of pursuing my PhD, I came to recognize the substitution of a different addiction, including a nonchemical for a chemical one, as a form of relapse. The substitution may be less—or more—immediately life threatening, but logically, any substitution indicates that the underlying problem has not been addressed. 

This interchangeability also suggests the fundamental sameness of addictive behaviors. In other words, the behaviors are the shape-shifting symptoms of a single underlying problem. Yet most treatment still focuses on the symptoms, one at a time. Consider the proliferation of Twelve Step groups, a different one for every symptom, and treatment centers with their niches.

And what is the underlying problem? I believe it is emotional dependency. All our relationships are emotion-based, not just those we have with people. And so it is emotional dependency, not alcoholism or codependency or overeating, that I have been treating with good results for three decades, both as a sponsor and in private practice. My tool is the spiritual process that is the Twelve Steps—but modified to target cause instead of symptom. 

The Roots of Addiction

Before I describe emotional dependency itself, let me explain where it comes from. Emotional dependency is deeply conditioned during childhood. Now, don’t think I’m blaming your mother; the parenting system is much bigger than any parent. It’s a trap in which we are all caught. One that crosses time and culture. The objective of this conditioning is control—the original addiction. And what better way to control children, to ensure their obedience, than to teach dependency? 
Dependency is readily achieved through rewards and punishments, and the fear they inspire. We never learn how to meet our own needs, only how to use others to get them met. Long before we ever take a drink or shoot up or start eating entire cartons of ice cream in one sitting, we become users. 

And to one degree or another, this is the model for all our relationships—with substances, with other people, even with ourselves. You don’t have to have what most people would characterize as an addiction to find your life compromised by emotional dependency. It casts a long shadow.
So back to emotional dependency itself. What happens when you are emotionally dependent in this way? What does emotional dependency look like? 

Emotional Dependency: The User Mentality

First, to be emotionally dependent is to be afraid. What else can you be when, deep down, you believe that you can’t help yourself but must instead rely on others for your survival? It is an encompassing fear that you will lose what you think you have or not get what you need or want. It can manifest as a general anxiety, or as quite specific fears. What will I do if I lose this job? What if she won't marry me? What if he leaves me? What if I get sick? What if I get fat? What if I can never lose this weight? What if I don’t succeed? What if . . . ? 

Relapse begins here. This fear, in turn, triggers conscious or unconscious attempts to control and manipulate—others, yourself, substances—the goal being to fill the need. How can I fix it? What can I say? What can I do to make him love me? What can I do to get my way? 
The subsequent behaviors are endlessly inventive. They may involve rewards or punishments, or they may be less directly manipulative. They can be as extreme as stalking a girlfriend, starving yourself, or getting sick to elicit sympathy, or as subtle as telling a white lie or speaking very softly (a way to manipulate people into giving you their attention, as is yelling). Yes, all these attempts to control and manipulate others are symptoms of emotional dependency, i.e. addiction.

But the strategy of control and manipulation can only fail. Ultimately, we are all powerless over everything outside ourselves, are we not? We can’t control what other people do or feel, we can’t control events. And so the fear, control, and manipulation (aka addictive behaviors) perpetuate themselves and progressively worsen. We don't get what we want, we still aren’t happy, so we become yet more fearful and desperate, more controlling and manipulative. 
When you continually look outside yourself to meet your needs, you may become dependent on a specific “other,” be it a person, situation, or thing. On the deep level at which the conditioning of emotional dependency took place, you believe that you need . . . insert your addiction here . . . to survive. So when the object of your dependency is withdrawn or is threatened to be, fear, control, and manipulation become even more intense, in proportion to the intensity of the dependency. Anxiety turns to dread; dread turns to panic; pleas escalate to threats and finally to violence. Drinking a little becomes drinking a lot becomes drinking yourself into the gutter or into an early grave. 
All of this is reenactment of the parent-child dynamic, but it can simultaneously be simple pain relief. 

When our control efforts fail, as they must, we feel not only fear but also pain. Some of us will reach for a drink or other drug, legal or illegal. Others for a slice of cake (or the whole thing), a sexual encounter, a roll of the dice, more time at work, a new outfit, a new relationship, more exercise, more therapy, more twelve-step meetings, more, more, more . . . And so the behavior both perpetuates and temporarily alleviates, or at least distracts us from, our pain. A vicious circle within the vicious circle. Talk about a trap.

Dismantling the Trap: Step One

Through my many years of research, sponsoring people as a member of AA, and working as a psychologist in private practice, I developed a precise and truly comprehensive modification of the steps—I call it the Brown Method—that shifts the primary focus from symptom to cause, starting with the foundational Step One:

We admitted we were powerless over life—people, situations, circumstances, substances—and that our lives and our minds were unmanageable when we tried to control any part of it.
So revised, this step requires much more of us, and it gives much more as well.

To think you can control that which is outside yourself is the very definition of insanity. The first step out of the vicious circle is to recognize your powerlessness over all of life, not just over your drug of choice.

In this respect, the original Twelve Steps set you up for failure. From the outset, you are focusing on the symptom—“powerless over X”—not the underlying control issues. Therefore you are likely doomed to drift from one twelve-step program to another as you engage in symptom substitution, or to give up in frustration because progress is so slow. As long as you are in a losing power struggle with everything and everyone around you, and as long as you are blaming anyone else for your misery, healing is impossible. 

It’s true that it is difficult to accept our fundamental powerlessness. (Steps Six and Seven speak to this, as does the mantra “Let go and let God.”) Consequently, acceptance is a lifelong daily spiritual practice. Indeed, Step One, understood in the broad way I’ve described, marked the beginning of my own spiritual life and continues to be its foundation; after all these years, I still have control issues. However, you can come very far, very fast. I’ve seen so many clients do it. And the rewards are tremendous. 

Once you recognize your powerlessness over other people and things, you have taken the first step toward personal power, toward self-control, toward restoring choice, toward healthy independence. In other words, Step One, practiced in this way, is the beginning of the end of emotional dependency, and thereby of addiction. 

Step Four: An Inventory of All Relationships

The place where the real work of the Brown Method gets done, though, is Step Four, “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Along with the associated fifth step, it is the focus of my step method. As I’ve modified it, it’s a precise and qualitatively different inventory of all relationships that directly addresses emotional dependency. It is the key to healing.  

One thing that makes the original Step Four a stumbling block for many people is the practice of doing it by personal interpretation, i.e., by trial and error. The very control issues that drive addictive behavior are responsible for the prevailing understanding in the program that no one can or should tell you how to do this step, or any other for that matter. Consequently, everyone muddles through, often going from one person to the next in search of suggestions. While you might luck out and find relief from your primary symptom, you won’t heal its cause.

And so I devised what I call the Fourth Step Algorithm: a set of precise instructions (outlined in full detail in my book) that empowers you to work the step with a facilitator—a professional therapist or counselor. Very little is left to chance. No more trial and error. 

But the algorithm does more than give structure to Step Four. The traditional approach to the step tends to focus on the wrongs you’ve done. Is it any wonder that many people relapse in the midst of this step, or never work up the courage to attempt it? The Fourth Step Algorithm turns this old approach on its head by exploring every relationship in which you have been emotionally hurt—including your relationship with yourself. Thus I’ve changed the step from “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” to “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of all relationships.” Let me repeat, it’s not about how you may have hurt others, but about the lifetime of hurts you yourself have suffered.

Through a literal inventory—a handwritten list—of all your relationships, you gain a comprehensive view of your emotional history. This may sound daunting, but again, the algorithm gives precise instructions, and all you’re really doing is spending twenty to thirty minutes a day making a list. Memory by memory, line by written line, you begin to see how you were conditioned into fear and how (once you were old enough to make choices for yourself) you designed ways to control and manipulate people, substances, and situations to meet your needs. You begin to see how all of this shaped and continues to shape your relationships. That is, you will become acutely aware of a lifetime of emotional trauma and addictive behavior—fear, control, and manipulation..
Simultaneously, the process begins to expose the part you’ve played in creating the majority of these hurtful experiences. With this awareness comes the ability—the power—to let go of the past, accept full responsibility for your actions, choose different behaviors, and create a very different life.

The Foundation for Healing

I won’t tell you the Brown Method is easy, but it is simple. Not to mention, in my considerable experience with sponsees and clients, far more effective than the traditional steps. 
Why does this process work? That question is best answered by doing it, but the short answer is this: because it is the beginning of self-parenting, and therefore of healthy self-reliance, also known as freedom. Through these modified steps, particularly the Fourth Step Algorithm, you become acutely aware of the unconscious conditioning that’s been driving your addictive behaviors. Your learned dependency becomes the independence that is your birthright as you learn instead to turn to a higher power within for what you need. Most of all, you begin a lifelong journey of spiritual self-discovery that is the foundation of healing. That is, you can leave relapse and mere symptom management behind. 

What I’m telling you is that you have the power to heal yourself of addiction. I should say that if you’re addicted to chemicals, this doesn’t mean it will magically become safe for you to use; it means you’ll be able to stay stopped and feel good doing it. Whatever your addiction, or to whatever extent emotional dependency is running your life, you will regain choice. You will no longer have an addiction, in the broadest, deepest sense of the word. I myself am testament to this, along with my clients, several of whom you can meet via their testimonials in my book and in the video at my website.

Yes, I know . . . this directly contradicts everything many of us have been told about addiction, to alcohol in particular (“You don't graduate from the program”). Consequently, my work has not always been well received by people who are addicted or my peers in the treatment business. But the label “chronic” or “incurable” does not mean that something can’t be healed, only that no one has figured out how to do it. It’s taken me a lifetime, but I have figured out how to do it. My book is meant to empower you to do it too.

Let me leave you with this thought: You are not your addictive behavior. If you do the work of the Brown Method, you will come to see this more clearly. There is nothing wrong with you. What's wrong is all the garbage—the conditioning—piled on top of you. Take that thought to the mirror each morning, and try, for even a moment, to see who you really are. Not “an addict,” “an alcoholic,” “a binge eater,” “a sexaholic,” or whatever false identity you’ve been saddled with. No. A person. And a beautiful one at that.


About the Author
Dr. Rosemary Ellsworth Brown is a psychologist. She graduated from Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar in 1989 and completed her doctorate in counseling psychology at the Union Institute in 1993. Her academic research focused on relapse, in particular on why AA and its myriad Twelve Step offshoots proved ineffective for the majority of their members. 

Dr. Brown's research has been not only academic and professional in nature, but also personal. She attended her first AA meeting in 1968, stayed sober for a year, and then experienced a tragic two-year relapse. She returned to the program determined to understand and solve the problem of relapse and devoted the rest of her professional life, and much of her personal life, to doing so. 

Ultimately, she identified the primary cause of all addictive behaviors and modified the Twelve Steps to address it, eliminating their traditional symptom focus and trial-and-error aspect. She has been using her step method to heal the cause of addictive behavior and prevent relapse among her clients and sponsees for upwards of thirty years.

The Codependents Guide to a Happy Holiday

By Mary deYon

Are you looking forward to the holidays — or dreading the upcoming family gatherings? There is the worry about money, or deciding on the perfect gifts. I remember having the fear of impending doom every year while trying get into the Christmas spirit.

My family was not like the Christmas movies. But every year I would declare, “This year will be different.” I’d set about decorating the house and planning the menus that would make the holiday perfect.

One year I was intent on making a Martha Stewart cake from scratch. I focused on sifting the flour, fluffing the eggs separately, creaming in the sugar, not to mention the elaborate directions for the frosting. It took all day to make this cake resemble something like a snowball. Spending all that time on the cake made me really behind in preparing the rest of the feast. I had to stay up all night Christmas Eve to finish. The next day no one even cut into my snowball masterpiece, eating the cookies and fudge everyone else brought.

Another year I got lost decorating three Christmas trees. I searched for the perfect lights and perfect color of red ribbon for each one. Did I think if we had three Christmas trees instead of one I would insure a perfect holiday?

I remember getting up early every Christmas morning to make the stuffing for the turkey. I’d chop the onions and celery, sauté them while cutting up the stale bread to make the homemade stuffing that had been a tradition in my family for years. My son always asked me to make the stuffing out of the box too. Which I did, for years. Slaving over the homemade dressing AND making the box stuff that everyone liked better. Why couldn’t I let that old, worn out tradition go?

I made pounds of fudge each year to give away but that hardly ever happened. I needed plenty of sugar to go comatose from all the drama around me. I was not unlike my husband in his drunken stupor.

All of this obsessing over decorating and preparing the perfect meals was a definite form of denial. If I made myself really busy under the guise of creating the perfect holiday I wouldn’t have to deal with the real issues in my life.

Even when we were invited somewhere else for the main event, I would worry whether my gourmet salad would be up to their standards. Or if my sister would point out the 20 pounds I had gained or if my mother would say, “I liked your hair better before you cut it.”

There was the worry they wouldn’t like the gifts I spent way too much money on or in how many ways my husband would embarrass me this year. Many times I either feigned illness or made myself sick to get out of going to these events. I wish I would have learned earlier what I know now.

We have no control how people will react to the dish we prepare, the presents we have chosen or how our alcoholic or addict will act.

When I learned this beautiful thing called detachment, my life became so much happier. The holidays are a great time to practice detachment.

What if you could step back from the drama, stress, worry and look at the whole situation like an extremely comical Christmas movie?

If I had I would have seen the humor in my Dad passing out in his plate and actually blowing bubbles in his gravy. Or I would have laughed about the sitcom-like event watching my husband falling down drunk in the driveway, then sitting at the Thanksgiving table in a bloody shirt and a forever changing purple goose egg on his forehead.

And I would have laughed when my daughter-in-law spit out my goat cheese and arugula salad saying, “Yuck, that tastes like dirty feet!” rather than looking at her in horror.
What if you could step back and see the humor in all the drama unfolding in your life? When we laugh we alter our consciousness from the reality in front of us. Isn’t that what we are trying to do when we turn to drinking, drugging or eating too much—altering our consciousness?

Laughter is a great way to change your attitude about what’s going on. Then you might be having too much fun to notice the craziness.

What if this holiday season you don’t overspend on gifts to get approval or you don’t worry whether the ribbons match or that the cake and stuffing you made came out of a box or that your sister thinks you are fat?

What if instead of doing everything perfectly, you decided 80% was good enough? What if instead of doing it all yourself, you let others help you. People like to be involved, it makes them feel included in the party.

What if you declined invitations instead of making yourself sick to avoid them? What if you said, “I’m not able to do that,” instead of taking on other people’s responsibilities? You have the right to be happy and joyful through the holidays in spite of the crazy people around you. Remember:

It doesn’t have to be perfect. 80% is good enough.
Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all.
You are allowed to have boundaries. It is OK to say “NO.”
Honor yourself. Eat well, rest. Take a nap if you need it.
Don’t overspend to get approval.
Be realistic in your expectations of having the “perfect family.”
As drama unfolds, step back and pretend you are watching a comical movie.

Mary DeYon is an author, speaker and Codependency Coach who insists on bringing humor to the Truth. For more about her programs, Podcasts and events, visit marydeyon.com. You can contact Mary at mary@marydeyon.com.

Buzzed.....


The holiday season is right around the corner. As Americans prepare for festivities with family and friends, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to remind all drivers that it’s dangerous to drive after drinking. You have to choose your role before drinking begins: will you drink or will you drive? Remember, even if you only have a little bit to drink and think you’re “okay to drive,” you could still be over the legal limit, because Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

A lot of folks think they know their own limits. They think that if they’re just a little ‘buzzed,’ then they’re still good to drive.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth. “Time and again, drivers who may have only had a couple of drinks put themselves and others at serious risk.  Driving with any alcohol in your system can be dangerous.

For some people, it doesn’t take much to reach the dangerous level. All Arizona drivers need to understand that you don’t have to be falling-down drunk to be impaired to drive.
This anti-drunk-driving campaign aims to inform all Americans about the dangers of driving after drinking — even after drinking just a little. Drunk driving is a terrible killer on our nation’s roads. In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in drunk driving crashes. This time of year is especially dangerous due to holiday celebrations and frequent parties. In December 2013 alone, there were 733 people killed in crashes involving at least one drunk driver or motorcycle operator. In 2013, a third (31%) of all crash fatalities in America involved drunk driving.

This holiday season, plan ahead: designate a sober driver. If you plan on drinking at all, don’t plan on driving. Don’t assume that you’ll know whether you can safely drive or not at the end of the night.
Even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction time and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk or having a crash.
Plan ahead; designate a sober driver before the party begins.

When you know you’ll be drinking, leave your keys at home or give them to someone else.
If you have been drinking, do not drive—even a short distance. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, use public transportation or UBER. Try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend by identifying their location so they can be picked up.
Walking while impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.

If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement when it is safe to do so.
If you see someone you think is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them get home safely.

Remember, it is never okay to drive after drinking. Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving and texting while driving can be just as lethal.



“THOUGHTMAIL™: Mastering the Inner Technology for Happiness

By Cary Bayer

You’ve mastered voicemail and email, now it’s time to master Thoughtmail. Thoughtmail, you ask?  Thoughtmail embraces five inner communication techniques to transform your mind, purify your heart, awaken your Spirit, and create the life you’d love to live. It incorporates these powerful practices:
  • Affirmation (Positive communication with your own mind) 
  • Visualization (Picturing a goal with a mental JPEG) 
  • Meditation (Your mind connecting to your higher Self)
  • Prayer (Your heart speaking with God) 
  • Telepathy (Your mind transmitting to another mind)

Affirmation

Typically, a person affirms a positive message in a repetitive manner in one of five different ways: through thinking, writing, speaking, reading, or listening. To master this inner technology, it’s essential to release a negative thought that’s blocking the affirmation from becoming your reality. Write that thought as step “B. “ Then transform that limited thought through the larger awareness of your higher Self in step “C.” These three steps, comprising one repetition, might look like this:
A) “I can make money doing what I love.”
B) “What you love doing is a hobby people won’t pay you for.” 
C) “People purchase my products and services when I share them enthusiastically.”

Visualization

We say that “Seeing is believing;” the truth is that believing is seeing. In other words, when you believe the images you see in your mind’s eye, the more quickly you’ll manifest them in the physical world, so others see them, too. We also say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but when it’s the picture you’ve visualized within yourself, that picture could easily be worth a thousand dollars--or a million.

Meditation

Meditation is that mental process by which the conscious mind becomes consciousness.  Normally, your mind is conscious of something—the ocean I’m looking at as I write in my office; your thoughts about dinner tonight; your love for your mate, child, or grandchild. There’s you and the object of your consciousness. When you meditate effortlessly, you let the power that beats your heart, breathes for you, and takes you from waking to sleeping to dreaming and back to waking again—take you from waking to your higher Self. This transforms you from a human doing or a human thinking to a human Being. 

Using effort to get to this Transcendent is like using effort to get to sleep; you know how futile that is. That’s because going from one state of consciousness to another always takes place without our effort—the higher Power naturally takes care of this. . In the case of sleep that means turning off the light, laying down in bed and putting your head on the pillow. And then we let a natural process happen. In the case of meditation, that means closing your eyes, sitting comfortably in a chair, and letting the mantra that’s best suited to your nervous system, do the rest.

Prayer

Prayer is a mental or emotional technique in which a human being asks the higher Power for something he or she lacks. When you understand the Law of Attraction, which states that what you focus on expands, your prayer that focuses on what you lack strengthens the lack. 
Affirmative Prayer thanks the higher Power for giving you what it is you might ordinarily pray for before it manifests. The difference between these two ways of praying can be huge.

Telepathy

As a life coach I often teach clients about how to protect their boundaries and respect those of others.  So I don’t recommend invading the thoughts of others. We’ve all had the experience of thinking of a friend and then hearing the phone ring seconds later only to discover that person is calling.  
If you’d like to progress in telepathy, play with it in a light and relaxed spirit, not squeezing your closed eyes tightly to concentrate. In fact, don’t concentrate at all. Just allow the idea that you have access to far more information than you ever thought possible, and see if you can “hear” the thought of the person you’re doing this experiment with. As you become more comfortable mastering these four other Thoughtmail skills, this last one will seem far less daunting.
Enjoy!

Why the Holidays Don't Matter

For the many years I’ve been writing this column, I conclude each year with an inspirational message about the importance of the holidays. This year I would like to take a different approach. I would like to suggest that the holidays don’t really matter and there is nothing you really need to do about them.

Such a suggestion, of course, reads like heresy. “But the holidays do matter!” a voice in your head chides. “They are religiously significant, a season to gather with family, a time to complete the old year and prepare for a new and better one.”

Certainly. But try this approach on for size and see how it might fit:

The holidays, while fun and significant, drive lots of people crazy. There are pressures to buy the right presents for the right people; obligatory family and office gatherings; commercialism up the wazoo; running up credit card debt; pregnant women trampled to death by Black Friday shoppers rampaging the superstore at 5 AM; hassling with companies that don’t ship presents on time; traffic and travel gluts; fielding invasive questions from obnoxious relatives and co-workers about your relationship status; fighting over whether the kids are going to stay with mom or dad; and on and on. 

Thus the season of cheer becomes the season of stress. 
If your holidays have become more and more work and less and less fun, this year don’t do anything for the holidays that grates against your soul. Don’t do anything because you are supposed to. Or because you always have done it that way. Or because you might disappoint someone if you don’t. Or because you feel guilty. Or because you are afraid.  

A coaching client told me she had planned to go on a 10-day silent meditation retreat, but she was receiving lots of pressure from her family and friends to cancel. I asked her why she might not go. “I’m afraid I might lose their friendship,” she answered.
I replied, “So what you are saying is that you have lots of dysfunctional relationships in which other people selfishly want you to live the life they would choose for you to meet their own neurotic needs, and they want you to sacrifice your joy so they can feel secure in their own little controlling world . . . . And you are afraid of losing such demeaning relationships?”

She had to laugh. I was dramatizing the situation, but not by much. Real relationship empowers everyone involved to be more of who they are and to follow their joy. If your holiday relationships fall into that category, they are truly serving you. If people are pressuring you to do what they want you to do, or your inner critic is beating you up for not making someone else happy, you could make this the best holiday season of your life by letting go of everything that is dysfunctional and embracing only what brings you peace. 

We are told that the three wise men followed a star to the Christ child in Bethlehem. The wise men represent the highest use of body, mind, and emotion. The star is the guidance of your soul. The Christ child is your true self. When you follow your inner peace, you are led to the Christ. When you burn the flame of your soul, you light a menorah that can never flicker. It’s all about finding and fanning your inner light, your only purpose in life. 
You are an eternal begin who lives beyond time. You are greater than any cycles that occur in form. Jesus was born on Christmas, but the Christ is eternal. The miracle of Hanukah occurred a long time ago, but there are new miracles, and many, given each day. And why would a New Year’s resolution be any more important or powerful than any affirmation you would declare on any other day of the year?  

A Course in Miracles tells us that the only purpose of time is to learn to make the best use of it. This year make the holidays your own. Do what is uplifting to your soul and release all else. Your primary responsibility is to your spirit. My friend Angela loves Christmas trees. Last year she put up 27 Christmas trees in and around her home. For her, the ritual is holy. She is making the most of her season. Others would rather not go to one party. For them, staying home is holy. 

The holidays are holy not for anything we do, but for the consciousness we bring to our acts. This year choose your activities consciously. Be where you want to be, not where you should be. Be with the people you want to be with. Wipe the slate clean of history, tradition, rules, and expectations, and make each day your own. Start a new tradition of soul honoring. Other people can legislate rituals, but only you can—and must—legislate your consciousness.  Let joy be your compass. 
“Holiday” means “holy day.” Every day is holy. 

The sacred abides with you at every moment, everywhere you are. It is in you. You carry it with you. You are swimming in a sea of blessedness at all times. If you are going to celebrate anything this holiday season, celebrate the light in you and around you at all times. Then the angels will truly sing. 

Alan Cohen is the author of A Course in Miracles Made Easy. Join Alan and intuitive Dougall Fraser in Hawaii, February 21-26 for a life-changing retreat, The Guru in You. For more information about this program, Alan’s Life Coach Training Program, free daily inspirational quotes, and weekly radio show, or visit www.AlanCohen.com.

As Marijuana Use Doubles, Elements’ Dr. David Sack tells Newsweek More People are Seeking Treatment


Marijuana use has more than doubled in the U.S. over the last decade and the increase in addiction during that time was nearly as large, according to a government survey.


Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that nearly 10% of adults in the U.S. used marijuana in 2012-2013. That’s up from 4% in 2001-2002. The results also showed that three out of every 10 Americans who used marijuana in the last year were classified as having an addictive relationship with the drug, which adds up to about 6.8 million Americans with marijuana use disorder. The study, based on in-person interviews with more than 36,000 adults, was published in JAMA Psychiatry in October.

“These findings highlight the changing cultural norms related to marijuana use, which could bring additional public health challenges related to addiction, drugged driving and access to effective treatment,” said Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which contributed funding to the study. Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have legalized medical marijuana and four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for recreational use.
It’s clear that the new legal landscape reflects a waning in the stigma surrounding marijuana and cannabis products. A new Gallup survey found that 58% of Americans believe marijuana should be legal, a seven-point year-over-year increase. Approval was highest among young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, with 71% backing legalization.

Americans’ support for legalizing marijuana is the highest Gallup has ever measured and the momentum is only expected to increase. “Given the patterns of support by age, that percentage should continue to grow in the future,” Gallup researchers wrote.

Marijuana Harms in Myriad Ways

The legalization and increased availability of marijuana have convinced many people the drug is harmless. However, studies funded by NIDA and NIAAA have shown that marijuana impairs driving performance, and that since the legalization of medicinal marijuana in Colorado, drivers involved in fatal crashes were much more likely to test positive for marijuana. What’s more, a French study linked cannabis with heart problems and past research has found that even casual marijuana use causes critical changes in the brains of adolescents from which they may never recover. Short-term effects of marijuana use include memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem­-solving, and anxiety.

Another false notion surrounding marijuana is that it isn’t addictive. While it’s true that marijuana is less addictive than drugs such as heroin, alcohol and nicotine, a study conducted by NIDA researchers found that 9% of people who try marijuana will become dependent on it. Dr. David Sack, chief medical officer of Elements Behavioral Health and Promises Treatment Centers, recently told Newsweek that the idea that marijuana dependency doesn’t occur is a myth. “It has a very predictable set of withdrawal symptoms. It usually starts in 48 hours and peaks within seven days,” he said. Long-term marijuana users who try to quit experience both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, stomach pain, fever, chills and headaches.

Awareness Is Lacking, Dr. Sack Says

Dr. Sack told Newsweek that he has seen a marked increase in the number of people seeking treatment for marijuana use. He particularly worries about baby boomers, who had positive experiences with “grass” in the 1960s and 1970s. “They’re much more likely to use it today,” he said. “They’re familiar with the drug, they’re not afraid of it. I think we have to increase awareness in the general medical community to identify the addiction and to start asking about marijuana use.”

But boomers do have something to fear in today’s pot — sometimes called “trainwreck” or “green crack” — because it’s nothing like the product of a generation ago. The concentration of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) has been steadily increasing over the last few decades, which, NIDA says, could mean “a greater chance of an adverse or unpredictable reaction.”
Dr. Sack noted that there aren’t specific treatment protocols for marijuana addiction. For his patients, Dr. Sack frequently turns to cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy that is also used to address smoking, problem drinking and other addictions. Medications such as benzodiazepines or antidepressants may also be used to help with withdrawal symptoms, he said. On average, adults seeking treatment for marijuana use disorders have attempted to quit more than six times.

As for the NIAAA’s study and the permissive attitude toward marijuana, the researchers’ findings show the need for a more cautious approach to legalization.
“As is the case with alcohol, many individuals can use marijuana without becoming addicted,” the authors wrote. “However, the clear risk for marijuana use disorders among users suggests that as the number of U.S. users grows, so will the numbers of those experiencing problems related to such use.”
Reprinted with permission http://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/

It's all about how you HO HO HO


If you look at the world today, you may feel like it’s a bit hard to be Ho, Ho, Ho-ing. Or you may be out shopping till you drop rather than to even be thinking about it all. My son and I recently had this discussion because he was feeling, understandably, overwhelmed with all the discord in the world and in his life. His sadness made me look at what I most value in my own life and it all came down to choice.

In every parable or story of this season, whether you believe them or not, there is an option for the hero or heroine to make a choice and that choice is the basis for the end result or out come.

Our situation today is no different 

We can get overwhelmed that the world out there does not seem to be changing in a positive way. I would agree. The rhetoric seems more caustic, the news seems more sensationalized and the world seems to be going to pot (no pun intended) …or not. But in my world, the truth is that it doesn’t really matter what the world does. What matters is what I do in the world.
In every situation that arises before us, there is a moment in which we can ask the question, What am I here for, and what is this circumstance here to each me? And, the only thing that matters in that moment is our choice and our answer to that question. No one of us can tackle the issues on this world stage alone. However, if each one of us stands in our own integrity and compassion, that alone can change the world dramatically, one person at a time.  Can you see how powerful you are and what a gift your free choice can be?

  • Where there is fear, you can choose trust in yourself.  
  • Where there is apathy, you can choose commitment. 
  • Where there is distance, you can choose intimacy. 
  • Where there is pain, you can choose healing. 
  • Where there is separation, you can choose connection and unity. 
  • Where there is judgment, you can choose acceptance. 
  • Where there is hatred, you can choose love. 


YOU get to choose and that is the greatest gift of this life and this earthly experience.  You get to choose, and your choice matters more than anything going on in the world anywhere, because when it’s all said and done, and you life is over, you get to say, I did what I came here to do.
So as you celebrate this season and those whom you love and who celebrate with you, try to remember the greatest gift is not the one given during Kwanzaa, or wrapped with a bow or under a tree or near beautifully lit Hanukkah candles. The greatest gift is your choice and you get it every minute of every day all year long.

I know Barbara,  and all of us who are privileged to share our thoughts with you each month are so grateful for you in that you have given us this forum in which we can fulfill part of our purpose which is truth-telling and sharing our deepest beliefs. You have given us a place in which to make that choice and we thank you and we thank Barbara.

Our hearts are with you as be begin a New Year and we invite you to stand with us hand-in-hand and continue to make the choice to be who you can here to be and to fulfill the purpose you came here to fulfill.

We are a circle of light, and no one can make your personal contribution to light in the world but you. The Universe saves your place until you are willing to step into your power and make that choice.
Go ahead.

“Nothing you have ever done in the past and nothing you will ever do in the future diminishes or defines you in this moment. You have the right and all the tools you need to be your best self and the Universe has your back, and so do we.”

Go for it and have the best Holiday and 2016 ever.
           

NEWS

Hunkapi Programs 2015 Farm to Table Gala

Watching a vision come to life is pretty amazing, isn’t it?!
Especially, when you are moving with people driven by purpose, great vision and love.
Hunkapi is a Lakota word meaning we are all related. In essence, we ALL need one another to grow and thrive. Hunkapi Farms therapeutic programs, including horse, garden and mindfulness therapy creates the best care, the strongest relationships and more peace for individuals and families.
Terra Schadd of Hunkapai Farms proves farm is chic! 

On November 22, the first annual Farm to Table Gala benefiting the programs at Hunkapi Farms and sponsored by No Woman Left Behind.

Seventy five percent of the clientele that Hunkapi serves are diagnosed with:autism spectrum disorders, ADD, oppositional defiant disorders, emotional disorders and PTSD.
Congratulations to Terra Schaad, Executive Director, and her team for a most beautiful heart opening event. To learn more about Hunkapai please visit http://hunkapi.org.



CHAPTER 5 Treatment Programs Awarded Behavioral Health Care Accreditation 

Chapter 5 Treatment Programs announced that it has earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval® for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization's commitment to providing safe and effective care.
Chapter 5 underwent a rigorous on-site survey in September, 2015. During the review, compliance with behavioral health care standards related to several areas, including care, treatment, and services; environment of care; leadership; and screening procedures for Yes, September 17, thanks for inquiring. We would love to have your partici=
pation this year. I know Seth Born very well... great guy! the early detection of imminent harm was evaluated. On-site observations and interviews also were conducted.

Established in 1969, The Joint Commission's Behavioral Health Care Accreditation program currently accredits more than 2,100 organizations for a three-year period. Accredited organizations provide treatment and services within a variety of settings across the care continuum for individuals who have mental health, addiction, eating disorder, intellectual/developmental disability, and/or child-welfare related needs.

"Joint Commission accreditation provides behavioral health care organizations with the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas related to the care of individuals and their families," said Tracy Griffin Collander, LCSW, executive director, Behavioral Health Care Accreditation program, The Joint Commission. "We commend Chapter 5 for its efforts to elevate the standard of care it provides and to instill confidence in the community it serves."

"Chapter 5 is pleased to receive Behavioral Health Care Accreditation from The Joint Commission, the premier health care quality improvement and accrediting body in the nation," added Peter Thomas, Executive Director at Chapter 5, "Since our founding in 2003, Chapter 5 has been driven toward consistent quality and improvement. It has always been our goal to serve our clients at the highest level, and to be good neighbors in the community we serve. We are delighted to have achieved accreditation, and by the opportunity it presents for continued quality and improvement."

The Joint Commission's behavioral health care standards are developed in consultation -with health care experts and providers, quality improvement measurement experts, and individuals and their families. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help organizations measure, assess and improve performance.

For details on Chapter 5 in Prescott, AZ: www.chapter5recovery.com, call 888 541-0690  email  Ben@Chapter5Recovery.com.

2016 Arizona Problem Solving Courts Conference

Join fellow criminal justice, healthcare, behavioral health and social work professionals next year for this 2.5-day conference to help improve Arizona’s problem solving courts.
Arizona Association of Drug Court Professionals (AADCP) and the ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy (CABHP) are thrilled to announce that the 2016 Arizona Problem Solving Courts Conference will be held once again in Prescott, AZ, April 25-27, 2016.

This year’s theme is All Rise for Solutions. Join with probation and parole staff, judges, attorneys, behavioral health providers, social workers, law enforcement, and problem solving court coordinators for education on how we can better serve those throughout Arizona who have involvement with problem solving courts.
We are seeking proposals for breakout sessions within a variety of tracks, including Core Principles, Juveniles/Young Adults, Mental Health, Treatment, and Veterans. Click here to submit a presentation proposal. The deadline to submit your proposal is January 1, 2014.
Contact Tara O’Brien, at tara.obrien@asu.edu