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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Monday, January 30, 2017

Hooked on Love

HOOKED on LOVE

By Jill Vermeire, MFT, CSAT-S

You might be a Love Addict if:


  • You always fall for toxic or unavailable people
  • You would rather be in a bad 
  • relationship than be alone
  • Your life falls apart after every break up

But who doesn’t want to be in love?
Actually, Love Addiction isn’t about love at all. The term itself can be misleading. It’s a much broader term that embodies several different problematic or ineffective behavior patterns related to intimacy and relationships.
So why do we call it “Love Addiction”?
What it really has to do with is mistaking fantasy for love and using unrealistic expectations (denial) to maintain the fantasy resulting in persistent and escalating consequences when the fantasy is broken. As with all addictions, there are negative consequences that continuously occur and the patterns can’t be stopped despite attempts to try.
“Huh?”

Let’s start at the beginning

If you were neglected or abandoned as a child (emotionally, physically, and verbally), an empty space developed where there was supposed to be connection and nurturing from your caregiver. You then unconsciously feared that you could not survive without this connection. Then you began to imagine or fantasize about a different life, usually based on cartoons and movies.
For example, you may have played a lot of make believe or frequently got caught up in daydreaming. Because you didn’t have true, healthy role modeling for intimacy, you made up what it could be like. You were hoping someone would see you, understand you, and take care of you, which are appropriate things to want and need as a kid.

As an adult, you continue to find, and become attracted to, people who are unavailable because that is what’s familiar. Love addicts tend to believe that they have met “The One” and move very quickly into a relationship…over and over and over. It becomes a very problematic pattern. A love addict will twist themselves into whatever they think the object of their desire wants. It’s like a chameleon changing its colors to fit in.

The typical pattern includes ignoring red flags, giving up your personal interests for the relationship, and remaining in denial until something inevitably happens that shatters the fantasy. Once the reality has hit that your partner isn’t the idealized hero you thought they were, you fall into a pit of despair and overwhelming pain…and it’s nothing that ice cream and a sappy movie can fix.

Love addicts experience the end of a relationship as if it’s life threatening because that is what the original trauma of neglect tells them.  


At this point you will medicate and obsess and this is where the consequences of the addiction can become dangerous. It is important to note that the love addiction cycle can be a precursor to other addictions and relapses. When fantasy and denial are shattered, the love addict will attempt to medicate the intolerable feelings that follow. Sex, drugs, and food are common ways people will try and numb themselves. Starting an affair to cope with the painful feelings of betrayal or disappointment is also common and can result in underlying sexual compulsivity getting out of control. Obsession can present in many different ways, but always involves the non-stop, uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts about the other person. Love addicts can get to the point of life threatening consequences, such as cutting or suicide, to try and medicate their pain. Eventually, they either return to the toxic relationship or move quickly into another because being alone can feel like DEATH to a love addict.

To illustrate, let’s look at some famous fictional love addicts. In the Walt Disney movie “Frozen,” the character Anna is abandoned by her parents when they die in a boating accident. Her sister Elsa isolates herself in her room because she can’t control her ice powers. When Anna has her first encounter with a handsome prince, she instantly falls in love and agrees to marry him within that same day. Of course, if you’ve seen the movie, you know that the handsome prince turns out to be anything but charming or wonderful. It’s dramatic, intense, and the perfect example of love addiction. Luckily the moral of that story turns out to be about sisterhood and girl power…not about a damsel in distress being rescued by the prince.
On a newer television show called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” the character Rebecca Bunch quits her great job in New York City and accepts a lesser job in small town California to be near her object of obsession, Josh. She proceeds to try and sabotage his relationship, tries to spontaneously be where he is (also known as “Stalking”), pours over childhood photos of the two of them at camp, and basically eats, sleeps, and breathes all things Josh. Although her childhood trauma isn’t discussed, it would be safe to assume her upbringing was less than ideal.

Can men be love addicts, too? 

Of course! It is actually a common misconception that love addiction is a women’s issue. Men are abandoned and neglected in childhood just as much as women; therefore they are just as susceptible to love addiction. Look at Aladdin from another classic Disney movie! He was a homeless kid in India, obviously without any parents, and he instantly falls in love with the mysterious, beautiful girl he meets in the market. As it turns out, she’s the princess (the most unavailable girl in all the land), so he uses his wishes to become a prince in order for her to fall in love with him. Of course, with most fantasy cartoons, they end up living happily ever after. Unfortunately, for love addicts, there’s usually no happy at the end of the cycle.

So what do you do if you think you are a love addict? Treatment for Love Addiction is most successful when multiple modalities are used. The love addict needs education, cognitive behavioral interventions, experiential therapies, and trauma treatment. They need help reducing shame and guilt, as well as to begin finding ways to build esteem and confidence. Breaking the cycle of love addiction is no easy task. The addict must go through a period of emotional withdrawal and detox which can take much longer than the average drug detox. Having a supportive, caring, knowledgeable team of people and a safe, nurturing environment are also key components to treating love addiction.

The bottom line…Love Addiction, if left untreated, can result in very serious, damaging consequences…even life threatening. There is hope for happier, long-lasting relationships, but it can’t be done alone. It takes courage to reach out for help, but it can be one of the most important decisions a person can make.

Jill Vermeire, MFT, CSAT-S is the Program Director for Willow House, a treatment program for women struggling with Love, Sex, and Relationships at The Meadows. She received her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and in 2000 began her private practice in Los Angeles, specializing in sex, trauma, and addictions. She is a CSAT-S as well as EMDR trained and has worked at various treatment centers and organizations in Southern California and Arizona, including Promises, The Meadows, Clearview, The Sexual Recovery Institute, and Visions Adolescent Treatment Programs. Ms. Vermeire was a contributing author for “Making Advances: A Comprehensive Guide for Treating Female Sex and Love Addicts” with other leaders in the field of Female Sex and Love Addiction. Jill has become recognized in the mental health community as an authority on these subjects and has appeared alongside Dr. Drew Pinksy in VH1’s “Sex Rehab” which she later discussed on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2009. Other media appearances include “Extra,” “Issues with Jane Velasquez” on HLN, NBC News, the TV Guide Network, and KROQ’s “Loveline.” 

Resetting Household Rules Important for Teens With Substance Use Disorders

Setting new household rules for teens in treatment for a substance use disorder can be challenging for parents. But it is important because that teens do take their parents’ attitudes, opinions and beliefs into account when they make choices about substance use, says Christopher Hammond, M.D., Medical Director of the Johns Hopkins Co-Occurring Disorders in Adolescents (CODA) Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.

By the time families begin treatment for a teen’s substance use disorder, parents are often emotionally drained and burnt out, says Dr. Hammond, who is also assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. “We tell parents that one of the major ways they can provide positive support for their teen’s recovery is by taking a close look at how they set and enforce rules in their house and consider resetting their household rules to promote abstinence,” he says. Not only will consistently setting and enforcing rules help their teen, but it can help the family as a whole and take some tension out of the household. Dr. Hammond spoke about working with parents and families to improve outcomes for teens with substance use disorder at the recent American Association of Addiction Psychiatry meeting.

It’s so important for parents to firmly establish a rule prohibiting drug or alcohol use, even if they previously allowed their teen to drink or use drugs in the house alone or with friends. “Being the ‘cool parent’ who lets teens drink at their house is not only illegal but also associated with poorer outcomes for teens in treatment for substance use disorders.” 

Along with explaining the rules, parents need to tell their teen the rules are meant to keep them safe and healthy. “We tell parents to explain the impact of drug and alcohol use on teen brain development — there is no good reason for teens to be using drugs or alcohol.” He urges parents to assign teens chores to give them a sense of responsibility.

They also need to make clear consequences for breaking rules. Inconsistent limit setting teaches teens to not respect their parent’s authority. 

“A lot of parents I work with protect teens from the consequences of their behaviors,” Dr. Hammond notes. “Allowing this behavior is associated with poorer outcomes. Within the limits of safety, parents need to allow teens to experience the natural consequences of bad behaviors. For instance, if a teen gets drunk and misses their Saturday soccer game, I tell parents not to call the soccer coach and lie to them and say the teen was sick. Force the teen to approach the coach and experience the coach yelling at them for missing the game and benching them.”

Consequences for breaking rules on substance use can include restricting media access (including taking the teen’s phone away for a certain period) and taking away the car keys. “These are privileges, not rights,” Dr. Hammond says. “Parents must unapologetically monitor their teen’s media usage, especially in treatment and early recovery, since so much drug use occurs with friends.” Parents need to emphasize that drunk and drugged driving can be deadly. “These are areas where parents have leverage that they are often afraid to use. But phones and cars tend to reinforce bad behavior.”

Resetting household rules is not a one-time event but rather a process, observes Dr. Hammond. “Especially, if the parents are divorced and there are blended families with different perspectives, it can help to have a supportive mental health provider mediate the conversation on rule-setting,” he says. If parents decide to have a conversation about household rules at home, Dr. Hammond advises them to choose a time when they are calm.

It’s common for teens to test the new rules by increasing their bad behavior right after the parent resets household rules. “If parents are firm in setting and enforcing consequences, that behavior tends to diminish dramatically and pretty quickly,” Dr. Hammond says. It’s also important to address barriers that may interfere with a parent’s ability to consistently enforce the rules. “It takes a lot of energy, effort and time, and it can be inconvenient for them, so many parents may not stick with them and fall back to old patterns.”

Dr. Hammond explains many teens with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder such as depression or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This means it may take time for the new rules to sink in. He suggests parents post the rules on the refrigerator. “When you go to enforce the rules, if the teen tests them, you can point to them and say, ‘We discussed this, and this is why I’m enforcing them.'”

Parents can support their teen in recovery practically by helping with scheduling, transportation and moral support. Parents should seek to understand where their teen is coming from and acknowledge his or her experiences, thoughts and feelings as valid. Additionally “parents should make a point to let their teen know that they know that stopping their drug use difficult,” Dr. Hammond says. 
It’s important to empathize with what the teen is going through, along with talking about the negative side effects of drug or alcohol use.


Actors and the Infinite Field of Creativity Within

LIFE 101

By Coach Cary Bayer www.carybayer.com

When I watch the Oscars presentation, it seems like the stars are treated like Olympian gods and goddesses. Stars, after all, are lights in the heavens, so the Olympian reference seems apt.

We lionize actors because they perform valuable services. On the obvious level, their art lifts our spirits, opens our minds, and warms our hearts. More subtly, they sometimes portray heroes who embody life lived from full potential. They put their egos aside so their characters can take over. The very best channel many different kinds of characters from their center. We delight in watching such channeling because we yearn to find that center in ourselves, which can open vast creativity.

A Transcendental Meditation teacher for decades, and now founder of Higher Self Healing Meditation launched in 2010, I’ve given many hundreds of people the experience of that center, the higher Self within. This is a pure field of creative intelligence, a source of limitless creativity that can manifest as acting, music, art, or less “arty” fields, like gardening, managing, and virtually any human activity.

True genius actors draw from within themselves a wide range of characters; I’m thinking of Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman, rather than Sylvester Stallone, who’s often played the same character.

Meryl, Dustin and the Cosmic Role of Actors 

Meryl Streep’s oeuvre is remarkable for how many different characters have lived inside her. Perhaps the highest role she plays each time she plays a role is she reminds us that we, too, play roles. As the transcendental Being in us manifests as human, the Universal becomes an individual. Your Being plays roles as whatever you do in the world. As Teilhard de Chardin put it, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.”  

Meryl Streep has portrayed with pitch-perfect accuracy accents that were Polish (Sophie’s Choice), Danish (Out of Africa), Italian (The Bridges of Madison County), British (Iron Lady), Irish (Dancing at Lughnasa), Australian (A Cry in the Dark), and Chilean (The House of the Spirits), as well as American accents from the South, Midwest, and New York. She’s played women who are straight, gay, dying, even dead. That she’s won only three Oscars, while passed over the 16 other times she was nominated, is a mystery to me.

Dustin Hoffman has played a transvestite (Tootsie) autistic savant (Rain Man), street hustler (Midnight Cowboy), 120-year-old raised by Native Americans (Little Big Man), grotesque criminal (Dick Tracy), and pirate (Hook), to name a handful.

Naturally, Streep and Hoffman are separate from their varied roles, like your inner Self, because it’s transcendental, is separate from your body, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and personality. Like actors who play many roles, so do you: spouse, parent, child, sibling, employee, client, rep, etc. More cosmically, as expressed in the Bhagavad Gita, the textbook of Yoga, the actor, remaining detached from the roles he plays, is like your higher Self, which, remaining detached, has played the role of many individuals through your soul’s many lifetimes. This lifetime it’s been you, in a past life someone else, in a future one, assuming you don’t realize your higher in this lifetime, someone else.
In the Gita, Krishna, the teacher, tells his student, “As a man casting off worn-out garments takes other new ones, so the dweller in the body casting off worn-out bodies takes others that are new.” (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi translation)

The actor detaches from who he is to let another being live through him. When you realize your true nature, you let another being live through you; not a new character but who you’ve always been. You’ll see that your personality is really a role, just like Clark Kent is a role Superman plays. To paraphrase the Wizard of Oz,  “Pay less attention to the actor behind the dropping curtain. Not because he’s a fraud, like the wizard, but because he represents the infinite creativity within yourself.

While he might not invite you to play Hamlet, Stanley Kowalski, or Groucho’s Rufus T. Firefly, he quietly invites you to connect to the silent, yet infinitely creative source within yourself through meditation.”



Community Calendar

Tuesday, Feb. 21—FREE Professional Networking Luncheon — Psychological Counseling Services (PCS) 12:15-1:45 p.m. Mark your calendars. If you have attended in the past, join us. If you are new send an email request to pcs@pcsearle.com or call Ellen Hamilton for details 480-947-5739. 

Feb. 10—Tucson Behavioral Health Professionals Networking Breakfast, presentation by Craig Lees, LMSW, LISAC. 8:30-10:30 a.m. Westward Look, 245 East Ina Road, Tucson, 85704. $20. Register DesertStarARC.com/Workshops, CEUs: 1.5, info@desertstararc.com. 520-638-6000

Feb. 18— Sierra Tucson presents the 2017 Southwest Alumni Renewal - Skillfully Aware: Tools for Transformation with Mark Pirtle, DPT. Join Mark Pirtle, DPT, for a life-changing “edutainment” 1-day workshop. If you are struggling with stress or stress-related illnesses, or you simply want to live more healthfully and happily. Contact Tim McLeod, Alumni Relations Manager (866) 638-1650, E: Tim.McLeod@SierraTucson.com. Registration deadline Feb.15. Space Is Limited. Starfire Golf Club, 11500 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

March 6  - 11th Annual Department of Problem Gambling Symposium 8:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.Gathering Perspectives on the Road to  Recovery. Black Canyon Conference Center, 9440 N. 25th Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85021. Visit https://problemgambling.az.gov/ to register

Mondays– Scottsdale – FAMILY  RECOVERY GROUP—The Meadows Outpatient Center. Brough Stewart, LPC. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Designed to help begin/continue family recovery. Stop enabling, set healthy boundaries based on Pia Mellody’s Model. No charge. The Meadows Outpatient Center, 19120 N. Pima Rd., Ste. 125, Scottsdale. Contact: Jim Corrington LCSW, 602-740-8403.

SIERRA TUCSON— Alumni Groups. Scottsdale, Tues., 6:00- 7:00 p.m.Valley Presbyterian Church. 6947 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley. 480-991-4267. Alumni meet in the Counseling Center (Parlor Room). Park in west parking lot, follow signs to the Counseling Center in chapel complex. Contact: Rob L. 602-339-4244 or stscottsdalealumni@gmail.com.

SIERRA TUCSON— Continuing Care Groups in Phoenix.Wednesdays — for Family Member Alumni (18 and over). (PCS) Psychological Counseling Services, 7530 E. Angus Drive, Scottsdale. 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Thursdays — for Patient Alumni, PCS, 3302 N. Miller Rd., Scottsdale, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Facilitated by the clinical staff of PCS. No charge for Patient and Family Member Alumni.

On Going Support 

Celebrate Recovery —Chandler Christian Church. Fridays 7 p.m. Room B-200. For men and women dealing with chemical or sexual addictions, co-dependency and other Hurts, Hang-ups and Habits. 1825 S. Alma School Rd. Chandler. 480-963-3997. Pastor Larry Daily, E: larrydaily@chandlercc.org.

Valley Hospital— IOP Group for Chemical Dependency/Co-Occuring. Mon., Tues., Thurs. 6:00-9:00 p.m. 602-952-3939. 3550 E. Pinchot Avenue, Phoenix. www.valleyhospital-phoenix.com

Open Hearts Counseling Services — Women’s Therapeutic Group for Partners of Sex Addicts. Find comfort, strength and hope while exploring intimacy issues. Cynthia A. Criss, LPC, CSAT 602-677-3557 for details.

Families Anonymous—12 step program for family members of addicts. Phoenix -Mon. 7:00 p.m., First Methodist Church, 5510 N. Central Ave. 602-647-5800. Scottsdale Sun. 4:00 p.m., 10427 N. Scottsdale Rd., N. Scottsdale Fellowship 480-225-1555 or 602-647-5800

NICOTINE ANONYMOUS (NicA) Fellowship for those with a desire to stop using nicotine. Phoenix Sat., 5-6:00 p.m. at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 1212 E. Glendale Ave., Glendale, Sun., 9:15-10:15 a.m. Fellowship Hall, 8910 N. 43rd Ave. 480-990-3860 or www.nicotine-anonymous.org

Chronic Pain Sufferers “Harvesting Support for Chronic Pain,” 3rd Saturday of month, 12-1:00 p.m. Harvest of Tempe, 710 W. Elliot Rd., Suite 103, Tempe. 480-246-7029.

Jewish Alcoholics, Addicts, Families and Friends (JACS) 1st / 3rd Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 2nd floor. 12701 N. Scottsdale Rd. 602-971-1234 ext. 280 or at JACSarizona@gmail.com
 
COSA (12-step recovery program for thosewhose lives have been affected by another person’s compulsive sexual behavior) Thurs. 11:00 a.m.-Noon. 2210 W. Southern Ave. Mesa. 602-793-4120.

Women For Sobriety — www.womenforsobriety.org. Sat. 10-11:30 a.m. All Saints of the Desert Episcopal Church-9502 W. Hutton Drive. Sun City. Christy 602-316-5136.

Co-Anon Family Support - Carrying the message of hope and personal recovery to family members and friends of someone who is addicted to cocaine or other mind altering substances. “Off the Roller Coaster” Thurs., 6:30-7:45 p.m., 2121 S. Rural Rd., Tempe. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Donna 602-697-9550 /Maggie 480-567-8002.

COTTONWOOD TUCSON  Alumni—First Wednesday of month 6:00-7:30 p.m. 4110 W. Sweetwater Drive. 5:00 p.m. dinner. 800-877-4520 x2141. cottonwoodtucson.com 

ACOA Thurs., 7:00 p.m., North Scottsdale United Methodist Church, 11735 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale.www.aca.arizona.org

ACA. Tucson. Wed. 5:30-7:00 p.m Streams In the Desert Church 5360 E. Pima Street. West of Craycroft. Room A. Michael 520-419-6723. 

(OA)- 12 Step program for addictions to food, food behaviors. 520-733-0880 or www.oasouthernaz.org.

Pills Anonymous (PA)—Glendale Tues. 7-8:00 pm. HealthSouth Rehab 13460 N. 67th Ave. Rosalie 602-540-2540. Mesa Tues. 7-8:00 pm, St. Matthew United Methodist Church. 2540 W. Baseline. B-14. Jim, 480-813-3406. Meggan 480-603-8892. Scottsdale, Wed. 5:30-6:30 pm, N. Scottsdale Fellowship, 10427 N. Scottsdale Rd., Rm 3. Tom N. 602-290-0998. Phoenix, Thurs. 7-8:00 pm. First Mennonite Church 1612 W. Northern. Marc 623-217-9495, Pam 602-944-0834, Janice 602-909-8937.

GA Meetings —Tuesday/Thursday Spanish 7:00-9:00 p.m. Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 8801 N. 43rd Ave. Sunday, Spanish 7:00-9:00 p.m. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 3040 N 7th Ave. Sunday, English 6:00-8:00 p.m. 5010 E. Shea Blvd., Ste. D-202, Contact Sue F. 602-349-0372

SAA www.saa-phoenix.org 602-735-1681 or 520-745-0775.

Valley Hope Alumni Support Groups, Thursdays 6-7:00 p.m., 2115 E. Southern Ave. Phoenix. Tues. 8-9:00 p.m., 3233 W. Peoria Ave. Ste. 203, Open. 

Special Needs — AA Meetings. Cynthia SN/AC Coordinator 480-946-1384, email Mike at mphaes@mac.com

SLAA—Sex and Love Addict Anonymous 602-337-7117. slaa-arizona.org

GAM-ANON: Sun. 7:30 p.m. Desert Cross Lutheran Church, 8600 S. McClintock, Tempe. Mon. 7:30 p.m., Cross in the Desert Church, 12835 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, Tues. 7:00 p.m., First Christian Church, 6750 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, Tues. 7:15 p.m. Desert Cross Lutheran Church, Education Building, 8600 S. McClintock, Tempe, Thurs. 7:30 p.m. 

DEBTORS Anonymous—Mon., 7-8:00 p.m., St. Phillip’s Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave., Palo Verde Room. Thurs. 6-7:00 p.m., University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell. 520-570-7990, www.arizonada.org.

Crystal Meth Anonymous www.cmaaz.org or 602-235-0955. Tues. and Thurs.Stepping Stone Place 1311 N 14th St.

Raise the Bar on LOVE

“Sometimes  the  people  who  are  hardest  to  love  are  the  ones  that  offer  us  the  greatest  reward  once  we  master  the  lesson  the  relationship  is  bringing  us.”  
by Alan Cohen

Every  February,  in  honor  of  Valentine’s  day,  I  explore  loving  relationships.  Many  of  us  have  faced  challenges  in  relationships,  and  we  struggle  with  how  to  create  truly  rewarding  connections.  We  search  for  our  soulmate,  wrestle  with  friendships,  and  dread  going  home  to  see  our  relatives.  At  some  point  it  dawns  on  us  that  “this  cannot  be  the  way  I  was  born  to  live.”  Then  we  get  serious  about  creating  relationships  that  work.  If  we  are  sincere,  that  will  happen.  

At  the  end  of  a  visit  to  a  town  where  I  used  to  live,  I  was  on  my  way  to  return  a  rental  car.  I  stopped  at  a  gas  station  to  fill  up,  but  could  not  find  the  lever  to  open  the  gas  cap.  So  I  decided  to  just  return  the  car  half-full.  Along  the  way  I  discovered  the  lever  and  stopped  at  a  gas  station  near  the  rental  car  return.  While  filling  up,  I  saw  a  friend  of  mine  at  the  next  pump.  He  is  a  sincere,  ecologically-minded  guy  who  has  been  running  for  county  council  for  years,  and  was  up  for  election  once  again.  We  shared  a  hug  and  schmoozed  for  a  few  minutes.  I  told  him,  “I  can’t  vote  for  you  now  that  I’ve  moved,  but  if  I  could  I  would  surely  get  behind  you.”  A  big  smile  lit  up  his  face  and  he  answered,  “That’s  worth  a  lot  of  votes  right  there.”

As  I  drove  away,  I  marveled  at  the  synchronicity  of  meeting  my  friend.  If  I  had  found  the  gas  cap  lever  at  the  first  station,  I  would  have  missed  that  encounter.  I  like  to  think  that  the  universe  had  set  up  that  meeting.  A  deeper  wisdom  was  behind  the  apparent  error,  leading  to  a  moment  of  rewarding  connection.  Life  is  always  guiding  us to  be  with  the  people  we  belong  with,  if  we  are  open  to  follow  internal  guidance  and  external  signs.

Why Settle?

We  must  not  settle  for  less-than-rewarding  relationships.  Any  form  of  enmity,  conflict,  or  abuse  is  not  life’s  intention  for  us.  Yet  we  put  up  with  pain  because  we  believe  we  cannot  do  better.  But  we  can  and  we  will.  Before  we  can  do  better,  we  must  change  our  minds  about  what  we  deserve.  You  can  always  tell  what  you  believe  you  deserve  by  what  you  are  getting.  When  you  are  in  pain  in  a  relationship,  the  universe  is  sending  you  a  wake-up  call  to  realize  that  you  have  been  accepting  too  much  suffering.  Then  you  must  do  whatever  it  takes  to  extricate  yourself  from  sorrow  and  create  a  relationship  that  works.  Sometimes  that  can  be  done  right  where  you  stand,  and  sometimes  you  must  leave.  Either  way,  you  must  find  your  way  to  higher  ground.  Our  tolerance  for  upset  is  too  high.  We  must  raise  the  bar  on  love.

A  Course  in  Miracles  tells  us  that  it  is  the  destiny  of  all  relationships  to  bring  us  joy.  Sometimes  the  people  who  are  hardest  to  love  are  the  ones  that  offer  us  the  greatest  reward  once  we  master  the  lesson  the  relationship  is  bringing  us.  The  only  purpose  of  relationship  is  to  deepen  our  capacity  to  give  and  receive  love.  Abraham  Lincoln  said,  “I  don’t  like  that  man.  Let  me  get  to  know  him.”  Everyone  we  don’t  like  is  pointing  us  to  shine  light  on  a  judgment  we  are  holding.  When  we  examine  that  judgment,  we  realize  it  is  not  valid,  and  we  recognize  the  unnecessary  pain  that  holding  the  grievance  is  causing.  Then  we  can  let  it  go  and  be  free.  The  relationship  has  served  us  well.  The  Course  further  tells  us,  “The  holiest  spot  on  earth  is  where  an  ancient  hatred  has  become  a  present  love.”

All  healthy  relationships  are  founded  in  self-love.  If  you  don’t  love  yourself,  it  is  going  to  be  difficult  to  love  others  or  receive  their  love.  We  project  our  fears  and  self-judgments  onto  the  world  “out  there,”  which  exists  more  in  our  mind  than  as  an  external  entity.  We  make  up  stories  about  other  people  based  on  the  stories  we  make  up  about  ourselves.  If  you  can’t  find  someone  outside  to  love  you,  you  haven’t  found  someone  inside  to  love  you. 
 Loving  people  around  you  reflect  your  love  for  yourself.  Unloving  people  represent  your  self-judgment.  Don’t  attempt  to  change  what  you  see  in  the  mirror  by  rearranging  the  images.  Rearrange  the  source  of  the  images—your  mind—and  the  images  will  rearrange  themselves.  

A  while  back  I  had  a  little  Honda  Civic  to  sell.  I  parked  the  car  at  a  gas  station  with  a  sign,  “$1100.”  The  car  sat  for  a  long  time  without  an  inquiry.  Then  one  night  I  attended  a  healing  service  by  a  Christian  minister  who  took  up  many  collections  during  the  evening.  His  solicitation  was  quite  bold.  During  one  basket-passing  he  announced,  “God  told  me  there  are  five  people  in  this  audience  who  can  donate  $1,000,  and  He  wants  you  to  give  it.”  Although  I  later  learned  that  the  preacher  was  a  charlatan,  I  was  impressed  by  his  confidence  to  ask  for  money.  That  night  I  went  to  sleep  with  the  realization,  “I  deserve  to  get  $1100  for  that  car.”  The  next  morning  I  was  awakened  early  by  a  phone  call.  “I’ll  give  you  $1100  for  your  car,”  a  voice  said.  Within  an  hour  the  car  was  sold.  It  was  not  waiting  for  any  market  conditions  for  me  to  sell  it.  It  was  waiting  for  my  recognition  of  my  deservingness  to  sell  it.

So  it  is  with  all  of  our  relationships.  They  are  just  waiting  for  us  to  receive  the  love  we  deserve.  Let  this  Valentine’s  month  be  the  month  we  let  love  in.  

Alan  Cohen  is  the  author  the  bestselling  A  Course  in  Miracles  Made  Easy:  Mastering  the  Journey  from  Fear  to  Love. For  more  information  about   his  books  and  videos,  free  daily  inspirational  quotes,  online  courses,  and  weekly  radio  show,  visit  www.alancohen.com.


Love is…

by Dr. Dina Evan

"From masters to mortals, the past is filled with those who have attempted to define love."


Perhaps we keep trying to define love because is love is ineffable and often inexpressible. It can’t be bought, sold, traded or downloaded. It creeps in next to our heart to create longing, desire, appreciation and reverence. The same energy that sits beside a dying parent holding on to each lingering moment is also that which lights up the night sky with excitement over a new chance meeting.

Love is the foundation of everything. It is the cohesiveness in the Universe and the motivation for every walk to enlightenment because that is the walk toward the Source of love itself. Love is not an action or a word. It’s two straws, one caramel chocolate shake. It’s grabbing the blanket for cold toes before being asked. It’s being more concerned about giving than getting. Love is art, it’s a soprano’s perfect high “C” and it’s in the center of forgiveness when humanness arrives. Love is not an act. 

Acts are not real love. True love is authentic presence. Love is not a word. It is a verb — a whole-souled act of being real and risking everything for a moment in which you can stand emotionally naked and be completely accepted and adored. Love caresses your mind, your soul and your spirit. 

Love wants to help you shatter the protective walls so you get to what you came for. Love wraps itself around your soul with reverence for every breath and every challenge that brings growth and deeper connection. Love is committed to deeper connections, with every living thing.

Real love is not ownership, it is freedom and yet it binds us in grace. You can’t demand love, you can only invite it in and if you feel bereft of love, then you have forgotten to give it. Love is everywhere. It sits on street corners in shabby, dirty clothing after having given its heart and soul on a battlefield. It sits caged and waiting to be rescued at shelters, and every now and then, it gets adopted in the form of a child or four-legged furry ball and becomes protected by people whose hearts have stretched to the limit. Love is not pheromones, dopamine, nor epinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin, although this is what love offers as a bonus.

We didn’t come here to get love. We came here to become it. We do that by picking up the pieces of our shattered lives and remembering that love cannot be shattered by anything at all.
 
We can talk about love in therapisty ways. However, the bottom line is always that love is what crosses the divide when separation arrives. It motivates us to try harder again. It reminds us of our priorities and the reason we were born. Love is an amazing thing, the greatest gift the Universe has to offer. Love never leaves you, but you can leave love. Even when that partner you thought would be a forever one leaves, love arrives the moment you realize you both did your best with what you had and learned a lot in the process. In every circumstance, there is truly only one question and one right answer. “What would love do?”

We talk about love in very fun ways, with flowers, hearts, candy and trinkets this month. We can go deeper and sit quietly and feel the air on our cheek and the sun on our face. That is love. We can be thankful that we have this day and the next to do it better. That is love. We can feel gratitude for every person in our life who has opted to dance it with us, help us grow and stay. That is love. We can cherish the moments of insight, awareness and grace. That is love. We can honor the challenges we have overcome, the milestones we have crossed and the changes we’ve made. That is love. We can look across the table and into the eyes of a beloved or friend and see our reflection. That is love. Life is filled with love. It is everywhere you are. 

Don’t miss a minute of it. Just breathe and feel it all. You are loved and with every breath, you have a chance to be it, again and again!

Dr. Evan specializes in relationships, personal and professional empowerment, compassion and consciousness. 602-997-1200, DrDinaEvan@cox.net and www.DrDinaEvan.com

Hot Topics

River Source offers Outpatient Programs and New Location

The River Source’s outpatient treatment center offers one of the most comfortable, affordable, and serene environments for those working on their recovery for the first time or as a continuing care program from addiction. The River Source understands that effective outpatient treatment is flexible. The outpatient facility in Mesa, AZ is open days and evenings making it the ideal solution for patients looking for flexible options due to work, school, or other obligations. Family Participation is encouraged which includes family day, education workshops, family counseling sessions, and more.Most major insurance is accepted. For information visit theriversource.org or call 866-582-0101.

Parents: Are you ready to get more involved? 

Parents with experience in our system of care who decide to become more involved based on their personal journey and the knowledge they gained while navigating the system for their child/family. We share our personal experience as peer parents with lived experience and as content experts.
We collaborate with professional partners in our system such as: the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Behavioral Health, the Department of Child Safety, Juvenile Justice, the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Physical Health Care, Foster Care, Schools and others at the local and state level.

We sit as equal partners and collaborators on local and state level boards, committees, councils and workgroups and share our perspectives and insight based on our lived experience.
If you are interested in becoming more involved or would like to learn more about the Arizona Statewide Family Network Parent Leadership Team, please contact: Lynette Tolliver, Project Director, Family Involvement Center at 602-­412­-4092 or 877­-568-­8468 or email at lynette@familyinvolvementcenter.org.

Relaxation Techniques For Depression 

Are you looking for relaxation techniques for depression try exploring relaxation techniques that include deep breathing, exercise, and journaling.

The first tip to prevent depression and deepen relaxation is to engage in deep breathing exercises, whether its meditation or simply deep breathing. Deep breathing is an easy practice you can engage in wherever you are to ground yourself and gain better insight into your daily routine and feel better about yourself as well. Consider giving deep breathing a try.

According to everydayhealth.com, the following can be stated about using deep breathing to deepen your relaxation:

Deep, slow breathing can help release anxiety and relax the body from head to toe. Try it at set times throughout the day or whenever stress begins to build. Combine deep breathing with meditation for even greater relaxation, stress relief, and focus.
In addition to deep breathing, another way to engage in relaxation is to exercise. You do not have to run a marathon to experience the benefits of exercise. Consider exercising for 30 minutes five days per week. You will feel better about yourself, and your stress level will diminish as well, leaving you more relaxed.Yoga is a particularly beneficial therapy because it focuses on meditation, balance, deep breathing, and relaxation all at the same time.

Another technique to try is journaling. When we journal we enable ourselves to express all our thoughts and feelings, this enables our mood to stabilize.

If something’s bothering you and you just need to get it off your chest, a diary or journal can be your best friend. Take a few moments each day — or any time you feel down or stressed — to write about your fears, concerns, or frustrations.

Sharks in the Desert

By Barbara Nicholson-Brown

To my colleagues, those of you who diligently help people find the path to recovery, it’s truly heartbreaking there are sharks who view rehab and detox as a way to make a quick buck.

Anyone with ethics, integrity or a conscious knows — people with addictions are not pawns — and should never to be placed in treatment to the highest bidder.

Fortunately, through an exclusive investigative report on Channel 3 News, Patient Brokering has been exposed, http://www.azfamily.com/story/34358336/saving-lives-or-selling-souls-dark-side-of-addiction-recovery

In our November 2016 issue, Carey Davidson wrote about An Ethical Compass:  Navigating the Maze of Addiction Treatment (togetheraz.com/pdf/archive/2016Nov.pdf). And now, Davidson and many others have sounded the alarm.

Multiple addiction industry insiders told Channel 3 reporter Brandon Lee, Arizona is flooded with body brokers because it’s unregulated. However, that could soon change.

After watching the report, State Rep. Noel Campbell, R-District 1, is entering HB 2333 into the state health committee for debate. The bill will make it illegal for anyone to receive or pay a cash kickback in the addiction treatment industry.

While there are predators — we have more respectable treatment centers, detox units and professionals in our State THAN NOT.

I am proud and honored Together AZ is supported by many of the leading professionals in the field.
This publication will never accept advertising from any practice or facility who is part of the shady underworld. I encourage you to use this paper as a resource, and I personally guarantee you will be working with the most highly qualified people whose sole purpose is saving a life.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

From Pills to Heroin: CBI Attacks the Opioid Epidemic

By Stephanie Siete, Director of Community Education, Julie Wonsowicz-Moore, Senior Director of Clinical Services and Natalia Chimbo-Andrade, Community Education & Outreach Manager

A new year usually means new beginnings, goals, resolutions and change… the same can also be said for overcoming drug addiction. But what do people really know about drug addiction unless they have been personally affected by it. The word “opioid” has been tossed around a lot lately in news reports, presidential addresses, and in the treatment of managing pain. However, identifying opioid drugs, current trends, behaviors, and withdrawal, needs to be addressed as a majority of the general public is not familiar with the deadly problem opioids have recently created. In 2014, 28,647 drug deaths involved some kind of opioid, including heroin. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates about 19,000 of these deaths were from prescription opioid pain relievers.

Drug Deaths on the Rise in the US

From 2000-2014, the number of unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States increased 137%, while opioid specific deaths rose 200%. Sadly, during those 14 years, almost 500,000 people died from drug overdoses. The US is currently experiencing more people dying from drug overdoses than car crashes every year. In 2014, alone there were 47,055 unintentional drug overdose deaths, approximately one death every 11.16 minutes and over 60% of those deaths (28,647) were due to opioids. (CDC National Center for Health Statistics/Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR); January 1, 2016).

In the most recent report by the CDC, newest data shows from 2014 to 2015, drug overdose deaths increased by 5,349 (11.4%), totaling 52,404, signifying a continuing trend observed since 1999. Opioid death rates increased by 15.6% (33,091) from 2014 to 2015. (Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015 (MMWR); December 16, 2016)

We Have an Opioid Crisis

Remember a few years ago all the campaigning and educating around methamphetamine? People identified meth use with “ugly” as users deteriorated: skin lesions, rotting teeth, gaunt appearance, etc. The opioid user is harder to identify. She can be a stay at home mom with 3 kids, a functioning full-time employee, or a 19 year old homeless teen. Opioids come in many forms and there is no typical user. Signs of use can vary from each person; however an individual can be extremely lethargic while violently sick experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, bone pain, or the shakes. The drug user is desperate to feel better, and may engage in risky behavior (theft, drug sales, and continued use despite the dangers) to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

These are key signs everyone must be aware of and respond to as most abusers die of respiratory failure. We have seen such cases in recent celebrity deaths: Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour, Hoffman and Prince. All were found unresponsive and unable to resuscitate due to an opioid overdose. Yet, they all died from different types of opioids: prescription pills, heroin and fentanyl.

Types of Opioids and Trends

Prescription painkillers are regularly used to treat chronic pain. Doctors readily prescribe them to individuals who have gone through a surgical or dental procedure. Historically, the accepted medical protocol was prescribing meds to patients who complained of pain without evaluating their past, until last March when the CDC provided new guidelines for providers suggesting they “start low (dose) and go slow” with the prescriptions.

The CDC is reacting to the prescription drug crisis in America, as identified in the data above. Prescription drug abuse continues to be the fastest growing drug problem in the US and the 2015 increase in opioid deaths seems to be attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl and heroin.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but up to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl is a schedule II prescription drug and is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or cancer. When prescribed, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transdermal patch, or in lozenges, however, the fentanyl associated with recent overdoses is produced in clandestine laboratories.

This non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is sold as a powder, spiked on blotter paper, mixed with or substituted for heroin, or as tablets. People can swallow, snort, or inject fentanyl, or put the blotter paper in their mouths. The lab -created fentanyl will most likely not be detected in routine toxicology screens for opiates and if administered outside of injection, much more of the drug will be needed in order to feel the effect.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more than fentanyl, which itself is 50 times stronger than heroin. Often disguised as heroin, carfentanil is used as an elephant tranquilizer. This potent drug can be extremely dangerous, not only to the user, but anyone that comes into contact with it. In September of 2016, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) issued a carfentanil warning to the public.

Pink a.k.a. U-47700

This synthetic opioid is a new arrival to the scene. It is similar to heroin and prescription pills in look and effect, yet more potent, like most designer drugs. It has been seen in powder and pill form, usually as a counterfeit tablet. Commonly manufactured overseas, the identity, purity and true effects are unknown. It is considered dangerous as there have been almost 100 known deaths in the US. The DEA placed “Pink” into Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act on November 14, 2016, on a temporary basis for 24 months until more can be understood about this drug.

Heroin continues to be a threat as use and deaths are on the rise. According to the most recent CDC report, 12,989 deaths were attributed to heroin in 2015. This is a 20.6 percent increase from 2014. Purity levels are the greatest we’ve ever seen. In the 1980’s, 3-4% pure heroin was floating around.

Today, potency levels can be upward of 70-90% resulting in death or addiction with a single use.
There has been a recent trend of heroin mixed with fentanyl, which seems to be worsening the drug crisis in America. New data about increased drug deaths due to both drugs was released mid-December, 2016. The DEA issued a nationwide alert in March, 2016 in response to a surge in overdose deaths from heroin laced with the narcotic drug fentanyl.

“Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement.

Clearly, we are trending in the wrong direction. Drug deaths are on the rise. Opioids are the main source of this increase and new synthetic opioids are appearing every day. We need to get educated about this reality and share the knowledge with as many people as possible so they are able to identify the behaviors and respond.

CBI Responds 

Community Bridges, INC. (CBI) has been acutely aware of the opioid epidemic for some time and has continues to developed and adapt programs to ensure we are utilizing evidence- based and best practices programs in order to tackle this societal concern. CBI has an Opioid Intervention program, a comprehensive model designed to treat opiate addiction, while meeting the behavioral and physical health needs of the individual. The Opiate Intervention program utilizes trauma-informed care and multidisciplinary approaches to help those persons who struggle with opioid addiction recover their lives. There are three equally important aspects of the model: medication assisted treatment, therapeutic counseling, and family and friends support.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) allows the individual to regain a normal state of mind, absent from drug-induced highs and lows freeing the person from thinking all the time about the drug, while reducing withdrawals and cravings. This assists the individual in making treatment and recovery their primary focus. Some of the medication utilized at CBI includes Suboxone, Subutex, Vivitrol, and Methadone. Along with MAT, is a counseling component, which can include family and friends.

At CBI, we know addiction can sometimes create strains on relationships, yet we also know those relationships can be a powerful part of one’s journey to recovery. We find the more natural supports involved in someone’s treatment, the more likely they are to be successful in their recovery. It is also important to attempt to repair broken relationships and assist family and friends to understand addiction as a disease.

Additionally, CBI developed the UnScript program to target individuals who have become dependent on opiates or substances, as a direct result of compliance with a prescription for a legitimate pain condition(s) and then being unable to cease the medication. The UnScript program takes a holistic approach to assist individuals in tapering off of the pain medications and utilizes non-habit forming medications to treat the physical pain. Through education and alternative treatment approaches, patients increase pain management skills while decreasing the use of medication and reliance on medical services.

What Makes Community Bridges, INC. Effective? 

At CBI, we have an understanding that each community and each person is unique and we insure that your path to recovery is defined by what works for you. CBI takes a “no shaming and no blaming” approach to working with individuals experiencing addiction or dependence. Each of CBI’s facilities employs a comprehensive team that treats holistically, medically and behaviorally to support positive change.

CBI practices a “no wrong door” policy and anyone who comes to us seeking treatment will be received with compassion and respect. The individuals that pass through the always open doors at Community Bridges have reached a point in their lives where they need support. Many of the individuals we see have no one else to turn to and their lack of housing creates an unsafe environment for them to live. At CBI, we meet as a team to identify how we can enact a continuity of care that will foster patient success. We understand that each patient is unique and what may work for the 19 -year old homeless individual, may not work for the first responder who has been on painkillers for the past 20 years.

CBI Identify What is Working through Data

 CBI does so through data outcome measures: patient abstinence of opioids, sustained reduction in patient substance use, patient functioning (e.g., return to school, return to work), readmission inpatient rates, ED utilization, medication adherence, and compliance with behavioral and medical appointments, improved legal status (no rearrests), and reduction of crisis episodes. CBI never misses an opportunity to serve individuals who are fighting to navigate a chronic illness that is the result of a lifestyle involving opioid dependence. We insure that our facilities are accessible and heighten patient engagement. The CBI team coordinates your care, whether it begins in the community our front door.

When a member of the community enters one of our facilities and expresses an interest in undergoing medication assisted treatment, we begin the process by having one of our physicians provide a history and physical exam. The physician begins by ordering labs to determine if there are any medical risks that need to be managed in order to provide the most effective and efficient treatment possible. From our nurses and nurse practitioners to our counselors, emergency medical technicians, peer support specialists, navigators, program managers, psychiatrists and family practitioners, CBI provides monitoring and maintenance with care. Our integrated teams facilitate “trauma informed care,” highlighted by their extensive training, while adhering to evidenced -based practices. At CBI, we embrace the opportunity to serve persons struggling to recover from opioid dependence and never stop believing that a person can be in recovery. We believe in maintaining the dignity of human life and we do so by providing a continuum of care that begins with community education and outreach and continues for individuals and families through treatment and recovery.

Education & Awareness Shedding Perspective on the Growing Epidemic

Most people know an individual who has been touched by substance abuse in some capacity. As opioid overdoses continue to increase, relatable stories of addiction or death with pills and heroin are becoming more common. At CBI, we realize providing services such as the Opioid Intervention program is only a piece of what can be done to help fight the opioid crisis.
The Community Education and Outreach Department at CBI is passionate about providing up-to-date information, educational resources, and offering training opportunities to the public. CBI’s approach to inform, alert, and educate the public is broken down into the following focused areas:


  • Help individuals find appropriate treatment
  • Provide evidence- based trainings and presentations
  • Promote the recovery of individuals 


Finding the Appropriate Program

When a family member or individual is ready to take the first steps into recovery, it can bring some fear, anxiety, and confusion. CBI is committed to helping these individuals and offers a 24/7 Access- to- Care call line for those with questions or concerns. Our Community Education and Outreach team also provides educational presentations to health care providers, law enforcement, corporate offices, and first responders catered specifically to their line of work. Workshops of large or small group presentations can be arranged at any location. The goal is to help individuals have a better understanding of treatment and program options.

Evidence- Based Trainings and Presentations 

CBI offers a variety of trainings and presentations to diverse groups of audiences.
Classes are available for high school students and adults of all ages. The hope is to provide more information in the field of substance abuse and mental health to those who are not in the behavioral health field, thus identifying and understanding the need for CBI assistance.

The Community Education and Outreach Department goes into various middle and high schools across the state educating students about the harms of prescription medication. The RX360 class is evidence -based statewide presentation designed for students, parents, and community members and provides valuable insight about the risks and dangers of prescription drug misuse. The presentation guides participants through how to start a dialogue with youth, while demonstrating ways they can build resiliency to ensure they make healthy decisions. The youth presentation is energetic, interactive, and teaches students about the consequences and dangers from misusing prescription drugs.

According to the AYS (Arizona Youth Survey), more than half of Arizona teens report taking medication not prescribed to them that they obtained from a friend. Natalia Chimbo-Andrade, CBI’s Community Education and Outreach Manager reports, “Going into the community… teens and adults have disclosed stories of taking prescription medication not prescribed to them, because they thought it was safer”. By providing prevention education to the community about the harms of opioids, it is a hope that individuals will be cautious of taking the medication as prescribed and be aware “sharing is not caring” in the world of prescription medication. Due to a recent grant awarded to CBI’s Community Education and Outreach Department, awarded they are able to provide this resource for free.

Stephanie Siete, CBI’s Director of Community Education, has been providing her “Street, Script, and Synthetic Drugs” trainings to the public for 15 years. This course offers insight on the most abused substances; where they come from, what they look like, and how their potent effects are killing individuals at a rapid rate.

Stephanie provides trainings to probation officers, school administrative staff, law enforcement, corporate offices, and even the Arizona FBI. The FBI Phoenix Division recently awarded Stephanie the Director of Community Leadership Award for her outstanding work in drug prevention.
When it comes to the opioid epidemic, CBI takes pride in being the go to experts of education in the field. Our talented staff knows the need to inform, educate and activate the community. Together we can raise awareness, to be proactive, and “Be in the Know”.

Promoting Recovery 

Community Bridges stands for valuing, sustaining, and recovering human life. We understand those who have walked or continue to walk the path of recovery and are able to provide the outreach support needed to help begin the journey.
CBI provides a number of services for those who are ready to take their first steps into recovery. Our peer team is literally out in the trenches providing outreach and resources to people in need. Because many of our Peer Support Specialists are successful in their own recovery, they are able to emphasize and offer important words of encouragement to others hesitant in seeking services.

As we enter 2017, CBI will continue the fight against the opioid epidemic through our expansion of services and education. From our peers, counselors, medical team, and administrative staff, to the outreach department… we all speak a common language to inspire that recovery is possible!
For more information visit- communitybridgesaz.org


So Long, Leonard Cohen

By Coach Cary Bayer www.carybayer.com

“In streams of light I clearly saw
The dust you seldom see,
Out of which the Nameless makes
A Name for one like me.” —Leonard Cohen, “Love Itself”

In November, Leonard Cohen, the great poet singer/songwriter and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died at the age of 82. Or more aptly, went home, for as he wrote in “Going Home,” one of his most deeply spiritual songs:

“Going home/Without my burden
Going home/Behind the curtain
Going home/Without the costume
That I wore.”

Leonard Cohen wrote a great deal about the mysteries of love, as well as the mysteries of existence. Born in Montreal to a middle-class Orthodox Jewish family — his paternal grandfather was the founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, while his maternal grandfather was a Talmudic writer. “I had a very Messianic childhood,” Cohen said. “I was told I was a descendant of Aaron the high priest,” he added, referring to Aaron, the brother of Moses. Even while touring, giving concerts, he would observe the Sabbath, eschewing Friday night shows, for example, quite a rarity for performers on the road.

Zen Meditation

But while he was always connected to his religion, he was also deeply drawn to Zen Buddhism, and many of the lyrics to his songs speak to that influence. In 1994, he retreated to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles, where he would spend the next five years, much of it in seclusion. Two years into his retreat, he was ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk, taking the name Jikan, which translates as silence. It was here that he served as personal assistant to Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, the roshi, or spiritual leader of the center. Cohen said of his spiritual practice that, “Buddhist meditation frees you from God and frees you from religion. You can experience complete at-homeness in this world.”

“Occasionally I’ve felt the grace of another presence in my life,” the poet has written. That other presence seems to speak in “Going Home.”  That song, some of whose lyrics are quoted below, is among the most popular songs I play and discuss in my workshop, “Rock ‘n; Roll Yoga: Pop Lyrics, Higher Consciousness & Meditation.”

“I love to speak with Leonard/He’s a sportsman and a shepherd/
…But he does say what I tell him/Even though it isn’t welcome
He just doesn't have the freedom/To refuse
He will speak these words of wisdom/Like a sage, a man of vision
Though he knows he’s really nothing/But the brief elaboration of a tube
I want him to be certain/That he doesn’t have a burden
That he doesn’t need a vision/That he only has permission
To do my instant bidding/Which is to say what I have told him
To repeat.”

In “Anthem,” he writes of the great Light that virtually all the great spiritual teachers of all time have spoken of at length or written enthusiastically about:
“There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”

He speaks of the Buddhist concept of impermanence and detachment in “The Smokey Life:”
“It's light, light enough
To let it go
It's light enough to let it go.”

His legendary spiritual song, "Hallelujah," which has been performed by almost 200 artists in various languages, is probably the work he’s most famous for. Consider the opening two lines, which blend music and spirituality:
“Well I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord.”
Later in the song, he writes:
“But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah.”

Just a few days after his death, Saturday Night Live, that most irreverent of comedy shows, opened its November 13 broadcast with Kate McKinnon at the piano alone, reverently singing “Hallelujah.” The program could easily have opened with some satire about the Presidential election that had taken place the day after the singer’s passing. McKinnon, after all, had starred in numerous episodes as Hillary Clinton. Instead SNL chose to honor this recipient of the Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honor his nation bestows.





Handle With Prayer

By Alan Cohen



The most rudimentary form of prayer is worry. How, you ask, could worry be a form of prayer? Worry is not only a form of prayer, it is the form most often practiced by the most people. How can this be? Our understanding of prayer beginis with one basic principle: To think is to create.

Every thought you think tends to manifest according to its nature. Everything in your life began with an idea. If you are going to build a home, you start with a blueprint. If you are painting a portrait, the model sits before you as you set your hand to the canvas. If you are traveling from Chicago to Seattle, a thought precedes your first step. The notion of something coming into existence without a thought preceding it is as preposterous as a flower growing without a seed to start it. This brings us to our second prayer principle: All thoughts create according to their own kind.

Apples make apples, and oranges form oranges. An apple seed has never grown an orange, and it never will. In the same way, thoughts of love, light, and joy beget more of the same; and thoughts of fear, lack, and smallness attract their own kind. To change your life, begin by changing your thoughts.

Because most people do not understand that every thought is a prayer, they attempt to change their lives by rearranging the outer world without addressing the negative thoughts they are holding about it. This is called a "geographical cure," which does not work. It is useless to try to change your outer world unless you first change your inner world. if you attempt to make external changes before doing the necessary inner transformation, the outer world will just keep repeating the same pattern. The movie Groundhog Day illustrates a very entertaining lesson in how we keep re-creating the same situation over and over again until we change our mind. The moment our attitude shifts, so does the situation.

If you want or love something a great deal, you will attract it into your life. And if you fear or worry about something with emotional intensity, you will attract the object of your fear. The universal manifestation machine is unbiased in turning your thoughts into reality.

If you are not aware that your thoughts are powerful, you will spend a great deal of time thinking and talking about what you do not want, and you will receive more of the same, until your life is a mess and you have no idea why. You will identity yourself as victim, find people who agree with you; and discover news stories, scientific studies, and all manner of evidence to prove that life is unfair and you are just a pimple on the complexion of the universe.

There is another way. You weren't born to live small, and you don't have to. You can shift your attitude now and begin to think about what you do want instead of what you don't. Then, the universe will have no choice but to give you what you are concentrating on in your favor, instead of against it.

Worry is the power of creation turned against your own best interests. The same engine that runs your car in reverse will move it forward if you reposition the gearshift. To shift from reverse to drive, reframe your experiences to find the blessing rather than the problem. Then you will become the master of your universe, rather than its victim.

What you become is not a result of what happens to you; it is a result of how you think about what happens to you. Six-year-old Tommy's parents were aghast as they watched their son repeatedly throw a baseball in the air, swing at it with a bat, and miss it by a foot. Finally, Tommy's dad could take it no longer. He approached the boy, put a hand on his shoulder, and compassionately told him, "Well, son, I guess you're just not meant to be a hitter."
"Hitter?" the child looked at his father questioningly. "Who cares about hitting? I'm going to be the greatest pitcher who ever lived!"

When Jesus taught, "As a man thinketh, so shall it be," he was reminding us that we must keep our mind on our hopes, not our fears. We must focus on our heart's desires rather than our nightmares.
Here is your antidote to worry: Choose a phrase that brings you release, relief, and empowerment, such as "Peace, be still," "The power of God is within me," or "Love is the answer." Whenever worry begins to set in, consciously and meditatively repeat your positive phrase until you return to peace.

The mind is capable of paying attention to only one thought at a time. If you focus on ideas that uplift you, your mind will be unable to dwell on fearful issues. Eventually you will develop the habit of positive thinking, and the worry that once haunted you will have no reality. Begin to master the power of prayer by replacing self-defeating thoughts with visions of your brightest future.

Today I set my mind and heart on a new path. I focus my energy on love, appreciation, and my highest possibilities. Today I claim responsibility for my own success, and step forward with a new enthusiasm to manifest unprecedented good. I use my mind to create only the best, and I draw unto me all the support and resources I need for positive change. Thank you, God, for opening the door to a life filled with blessings.

Divine Discontent

There is a classic scene in the movie Network in which Peter Finch, utterly fed up with life he has become embroiled in, sticks his head out of his office window and yells at the top of his lungs, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" As he reaches his boiling point, this character recognizes in a dramatic way that the life he has created is destroying him, and it is time to make a move toward changing it.

If the life you have created (or part of it) is not working for you, you need to tell the truth about it. You do not need to get angry, make anyone wrong, or yell out a window, but you do need to get in touch with the place within you that realizes that what you have been doing does not match you and your vision.

The feeling "This can't be it" is a very powerful form of prayer. It is the agony of the separated self longing for reunion with wholeness. It is the call of your soul urging you to return to your own path and purpose. It is the force of evolution driving you home. Do not try to deny or override your divine discontent. Heed its call; capture the wave and ride it home.

Knowing that "this can't be it" implies that you do know what is it. You may not be able to verbalize what it is, but somewhere inside you, your knowingness lives. Now that you recognize what you don't want, what do you want?

The moment you shift your attention from what you don't want to what you do want, you set into motion a series of dynamics that will lead you to fulfillment. Positive thinking does not mean making believe something is serving you when it isn't.

Positive thinking means finding the good in all experiences, including the ones that guide you away from repeating them.

Divine discontent also grows through more subtle, long-term experiences. You don't have to be hit between the eyes with a two-by-four to gain the benefits of divine discontent. You may be in a career or relationship that brings you a gradually increasing uneasiness that "there must be more." If you have such a feeling, give thanks for the signals your soul is sending you. Boredom is more insidious than emergency, for when we gradually adjust to numbness, we are unaware that we have lost our passion, and we fall into the ranks of the living dead. When crisis occurs, however, we are forced to feel deeply, and we have a blessed opportunity to reclaim the life force we have denied.

If you feel there must be more, there is more.

Your sense of boredom, contraction, or resentment is your soul's way of letting you know that you are settling for less. While we fear that we may get hurt if we go for our dreams, we hurt ourselves much more by putting up with painful, dysfunctional, or unfulfilling situations.
When your discomfort with the status quo out-weighs your fear of making a change, you will move ahead and be grateful for the motion bestowed by divine discontent.

Free Your Mind and Your Life in 2017

By Dr. Dina Evan

Has the past imprisoned your mind and hijacked your life? 


Too many of us define ourselves and our worth based upon what we do, don’t do or what we have done in the past rather than who we are at our core level. Changing this can feel difficult, and in fact, it is because it’s not just about changing your thoughts, it’s also about changing your brain.

I was recently shopping with my granddaughter, who admits she has a hair trigger rage that frequently comes up and gets the best of her before she knows it. We talked about why that was happening and I told her that her response was normal. She had been with an extremely controlling partner who told her she was worthless, got in her face and demanded that she do exactly as he said about everything. So now, even though she is no longer with him, if anyone makes a comment or suggestion that differs from her point of view, she feels threatened — as if they are as criticizing her and imply she is at fault or a bad person. I explained this happens because the comments are heard through the filter of her past. When that happens, a white-hot flash of fear and rage shoots down the center of her brain and she is in fight mode.

It’s time for her to begin managing those feelings instead of the feelings managing and screwing up her life. I suggested the moment she feels that flash of rage, to ask herself what percentage is from the past and what percentage is about the now. She admitted that about 90% was from the past and only 10% from what was happening in the moment. I suggested as soon as she realizes this, she could take the control back and decide how she wanted to process the past feelings — i.e. in therapy, writing about them, talking to a sponsor or counselor or friend, but for the moment she could store them in an imaginary container inside her brain until she had the time and a safe place with support to deal them.
Then she could deal with whatever the 10% remaining feeling were about. The great thing is that our brains don’t know this is not really happening so immediately the anxiety and rage diminish and she can respond from a conscious place.  She tried it and began to respond differently. In essence, she is creating a new neuronet that she will begin to respond from automatically in the future. Sounds simple, it is, and it works great. You can email or call me for more details.

Here’s the thing. You are not your feelings! Your feelings are not facts! They are just your feelings and you have the right to manage them in a way that provides the most growth and allows you to be your best self. That is what you came here to do. Imagine for a minute what our planet, and our lives might be like if we just took one moment to manage our feelings and respond differently.  

So, bottom line?

You have no idea how amazing and loved you are. Nothing you do or feel from your past or future will ever change this. You are free to fulfill your purpose, live your principles, become the role model you know you can be, regardless of anything external in your life or in your world. No one else can take your place and the Universe holds your place until you are ready to step into it because that’s what you came here to do. You are in charge.

Believe it or not, you have the makings of a leader, an amazing partner, a conscious parent or a change maker waiting inside. There is one in every family. One in every company, and many in this world. Don’t miss your chance to do what you came here to do. It’s called emotional intelligence. You can be the smartest person in the world but if you can’t control and manage your emotions, you can’t fulfill your purpose. You have the right to do that in his life or the next...but why wait? This can be your year.

Dr. Evan specializes in relationships, personal and professional empowerment, compassion and consciousness. 602-997-1200, DrDinaEvan@cox.net and www.DrDinaEvan.com.

Finding Financial Recovery

By Renee Sieradski, EA, Owner, Tax Intervention,

When people are in crisis, we tend to go off track with our finances. In the context of recovery from addiction, when we get sober, we often find we have debts resulting from credit cards, hospitals, institutions, doctors, the government, or others.

Dealing with dysfunctional family modeling around finances as well as shame from abuse, can set us up to have an unhealthy relationship with money. 

As a survivor of childhood abuse and dysfunctional financial habits, I can speak from experience that although overwhelming — it's not impossible to learn to have a healthy relationship with our finances.

I was the oldest of four, my mother had me when she was a teenager. She had mood swings, from extreme rage to anger and took out her frustrations by beating my backside and telling me I couldn’t do anything right. Or she would be depressed and spend all day on the couch. Each day was unpredictable, and out of fear I would try to read her moods. 

In school, I developed poorly; had low self-esteem and a skewed sense of reality because I believed it to be true when my mother said I wasn’t good enough or doing anything right.
Being the oldest of four kids, my father told me he expected me to care for my three younger siblings and my mom. So I took on the role. I learned how to clean, cook, do laundry and get the kids ready for their day. Around seventh grade I started developing stomach problems to the point where I kept having to leave school early.

My parents decided to take me out of school so I could be home to deal with my stomach problems while at the same time helping my mother cook clean and raise the three kids. One night Sally Struthers was on a late-night television ad on how to get a high school diploma through a mail order service. Mom had it delivered and she handed it to me — and that was how I got my high school diploma. I didn't go to high school, I just taught myself at home without any adult supervision. This kept me very isolated which did not help my sense of figuring out reality. I had no concept of finances or how to handle them and much of this had to do with the financial chaos I saw modeled by my folks. I believe my mother was a shopping addict and my dad covered for her. 

I remember my father opening up a savings account for me — only soon after asking me if he could borrow the money less than a month later because my mom had gone out and spent all we had. 
When I married at age 18, my mother shamed me into buying brand-new furniture and vehicles even though neither of us were college graduates and we only had part-time jobs. In the first five years of marriage, we went thru debt consolidation (CCCS) twice. We finally started to figure out how to not use credit cards. When I was 26 my suppressed childhood emotional and physical abuse memories surfaced and I sought out professional help.

In therapy, I learned I had an eating disorder, co-dependent issues and incredible amounts of debilitating shame to the point where I could not function. I craved everything to stop the pain and stop the shame. I joined every 12 step group I could and one point was going to at least one meeting every day. 

After EMDR therapy, a compassionate loving therapist and an amazing sponsor and determination I was able to stand on my own two feet and feel somewhat like a normal human being. How grateful I am to my therapist and my sponsor for listening to me talk hour after hour, week after week, year after year. 

I've been an accountant for 17 years now and enjoy helping others in the Phoenix community dig out of their financial situation specifically by writing about how to save money on taxes, and mediating with folks who owe the IRS back taxes.

The main thing to remember is that it's okay to learn things later if you didn't learn it when you were young. I would advise you to ask yourself these questions: 

Why are you having so much financial chaos in your life today? 


Is it because you need to address an emotional factor through therapy, 12 step meetings, medication management, journaling or other healthy recovery methods? Or you just need to learn some of the basics about how to manage your finances as an adult? It could be both; they definitely feed into each other. If you came from a place of trauma and/or abuse and were raised by wolves, it’s not hopeless. You can get your finances on track, heal your inner child and become a fully functional adult. It will take time but I am living proof that it is possible. As many recovering friends say “we go from surviving to thriving” and I can definitely say that my life has reached the state of thriving so I encourage you to go ahead and not be afraid of looking at the numbers that make up your financial picture. Avoiding the numbers and not looking at them is scarier than looking at them. 

The first step is the most important — coming out of denial that your finances are in chaos. Get some basic training from someone you trust about how to manage your money or take a course at the local community college or call my office and we can guide you through learning the basics. We can get to where we want to go in life by means of money despite where we came from or what we've been through.

Renee Sieradski, EA, Owner, Tax Intervention, Renee Sieradski is a tax advisor in Phoenix. Renee has been in practice since 1999.       
 
Her areas of specialty include: Tax services, acounting for businesses, tax relief and reducing back tax debt, and the real estate industry. Renee regularly posts tax advice blogs on her website at irstaxaz.com. Services include bookkeeping in Quickbooks and individual 1040 tax preparation. Renee can be reached by email at renee@tax-intervention.com or call 602-687-9768.

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Research on substance abuse and bullying — surprising findings

By Celia Vimont

Researchers looking at the relationship between bullying and substance use in teens are coming up with some surprising findings. This is especially true in the area of bullying victimization and substance use, according to Amanda Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, Graduate School of Education at the University of Buffalo in New York.
“A fair amount of research has found higher rates of substance use among bullying perpetrators,” says Dr. Nickerson. “Substance use may be one part of a cluster of problem behaviors, as well as aggressive and rule-breaking behaviors, among bullying perpetrators.”

Certain factors that lead to bullying perpetration may also lead to substance use; such as less parental monitoring and having a more difficult temperament. Some of the motives may be the same for bullying and substance use, such as sensation seeking or trying to obtain higher social status, Dr. Nickerson said.

Findings about bullying victimization and substance use have been mixed, she notes. “Some people have found there isn’t a link. Others have found kids who are victimized and also bully others are more likely to engage in substance use, but pure victims are not.”
Some research suggests bullying victims are more likely to be depressed or withdrawn, which may protect against substance use. “If they are more withdrawn, they may shy away from peers who are using substances,” she says. Other research suggests bullying victims may use substances to try to reduce the stress that comes from being bullied. “We have found that to be true more in adulthood and more in females,” Dr. Nickerson observes. 

Dr. Nickerson, along with colleagues Jennifer Livingston, PhD and Kathleen Miller, PhD, are conducting a longitudinal study of 13- to 15-year-olds looking at teen health and relationships. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, has enrolled about 800 teens. 
One subset of teens who say they have been bullied is providing information online daily for eight weeks on their experience of being bullied, coping strategies, and whether they are using substances. “We are trying to figure out whether starting to use substances is related to their bullying experiences,” Dr. Nickerson said. “We’re looking for risks and protective factors — are there particular things about them, their family situations or coping strategies that protect against substance use?” Overall about one-quarter of the teens in the study say they have been bullied.

Researchers are also examining the relationship between caffeinated energy drinks and bullying. “We want to see if there are differences between young teens who use energy drinks and those who don’t in terms of bullying victimization and perpetration,” Dr. Nickerson says. “We have found that teens who use energy drinks are three to 10 times more likely to engage in other problem behaviors, such as smoking, trying alcohol and illicit drugs, and having sexual intercourse, compared with their peers who don’t use energy drinks.”

Another area is the relationship between bullying victimization, alcohol use and parental support. The researchers looked at 119 kids who said at the beginning of the study they had consumed alcohol in the past month. They found teens who were severely bullied and who had strong support from their mothers and family cohesion — such as family members asking each other for help and spending free time together—were less likely to drink than bullied teens without strong maternal support and tight family bonds.

“This tells us there is something about parental support that makes them less likely to drink if they are severely bullied,” Dr. Nickerson says. “Often parents of adolescents don’t think they’re making a difference. This suggests they do. It is clear that listening to their child, and believing them when they say they are being bullied, is really critical.”